An Addict In Recovery from Johannesburg
Hi, My name is Clinton and I am an addict. I live in Johannesburg but spent a large part of my teens in the beautiful city of Cape Town. I have a loving mother who brought me up as a single parent for most of my youth, although I had to learn a few life lessons on my own. I also have a lovely daughter and I love spending time with her more and more.
My journey of destruction started around standard five in primary school. It became obvious that I battled to relate with other kids my age. Which I blamed on my mother for moving to a new home and new school almost every year since I could remember. I started to dabble with smoking and drinking neat hard liquor on weekends. I was a loner but spent time with another loner kid that blamed the world for his circumstances and I came to adopt his behaviours. This got a reaction from other children who I thought were cool and the ‘in’ crowd.
I moved onto high school and I used the same behavioural techniques in my friendships. I mirrored my peers, which allowed me to hide my true feelings. I was actually terrified of other kids and could not bring myself to tell anyone so I just acted and played the part of the guy who actually does not really care about anything or anyone. Drugs and alcohol became a regular part of my life and with that I was involved in many different social circles where my only connection to them was my using and excessive acting out by way of breaking rules, sexual activity with a variety of partners, stealing drugging, self-mutilation and so forth. So I became very socially inept and found myself planning my spare time around a lifestyle suited to ‘the show” I was putting on.
I had a serious accident that almost took my life in my matric year, I mention it because it slowed my using down but, make no mistake, I was using just a few weeks after waking from my coma. My diminished mental capacity didn’t allow for me to easily manipulate and take advantage. My resentment and hatred for life grew.
I excelled at work which opened doors to my managers letting things slide without consequence, like coming to work drunk or late, sometimes missing a shift, or making sexual advances on the women I worked with. I began to feel entitled to do anything I wanted now. I gradually started to use and do insane things in my spare time. I moved a few jobs regularly, had vastly different groups of friends from very different social circles and would take on the fun party guy title. I minimised my isolated lifestyle by saying that nothing tied me down and I was free but frustration grew inside of me.
I lived like that for years until I move to Johannesburg and found my drug of choice which in turn led to insane levels of alcoholism, drug induced euphoria and promiscuity. Looking back, I actually don’t know what was more prevalent in my life in the end. I had experienced a lot of success at the company where I had been working for eight years and the sizable extra commissions were paying the way for a life where I could give up on all the “friendships” I had and base myself at dealer’s houses, sex clubs, dirty cheap hotels, casinos and live my addict life. I was completely consumed by an illusion of grandiosity and was stuck in a sick and dangerous criminal element at night. I was living a lie at the office where people just assumed I was a fun loving guy who had an interesting social life. Every day in my life had become an episode in some crazy and unbelievable show of ignorant and shameless life. And one day it caught up to me. Drugs weren’t working, people had died, I had made some poor woman pregnant and the list of consequences I was ignoring grew every single day. But still I was unwilling to give up on the daily adventure. I had accepted that this was my life a long time ago and just hoped it would fix itself eventually but it never did.
In the haze of a party I realised that I was stuck in a cycle I had no idea how to get out of and I phoned Houghton House. I did not consciously believe that I had any addiction problems at the time. But it became evident that what I needed was for the denial to be arrested. My life had become a haven for my poisonous behavior.
In treatment I learnt the extent of what my life had become. My physical, mental and spiritual existence had withered away and nothing was left. Once I was inside this place I saw that there wasn’t going to be a social technique, go-getting attitude or sexy smile that was going to win the group over. I had to work hard and keep doing the right thing and I accepted very quickly that I needed to listen to what I was being told. The commonality amongst my fellows in Houghton House was apparent and I could relate to everything and everyone. I grew to love this place after the fear was gone and came to believe that it saved my life and opened my mind to a world of possibilities of a life that meant something and not being a slave to interpretations of external illusions and false concepts I had created in my mind.
I am learning to deal with new things every day now and I find joy in the unlikeliest of places. The more I give to my recovery the more I get out of my recovery, my mindset is not one of avoidance and fear of the possibility of failure and going back but to accept my state of mind and accept that everything is going to be okay. Some days are hard but I know that there is no substance out there that is going to fix anything and make anything I have in my life better. My programme of self-discovery is a journey and I know my path has led me to this point in my life for a reason beyond my understanding.
I cannot speak of any one day that stands out as a day of happiness because every day is a day that I need to be grateful for. I wake up every day and I stay clean, I don’t know how, or why, or try work it out. Life in recovery with my fellows is not what I imagined but it is a solution to my problem and I in turn feel like I am part of that solution, I find happiness in unselfish things and enjoy the freedom of thinking that a job or money is more important than who I am and the joy I get in living a life filled with a higher power being able to connect with others. I know in my heart that I don’t run a perfect programme and that is okay. I do what is necessary and ask for help when I need it. I know that I belong now.