Here at Cenikor, we see people from all walks of life, often with only one thing in common – addiction. Every day we strive to help those people understand who they are and how they can be the truest version of themselves. Our client Cooper has shared his journey through understanding and overcoming the crippling addiction that so many people face while working through his own internalized biases of what it means to be an addict.
My name is Cooper, and I just wanted to share a little bit of my testimony with the intention it will give hope to those who still suffer from the ruthless disease of addiction. This is not just for the addict who is in “active” addiction but the family members that are also affected. I have been battling this awful disease for the last 17 years. Over those years, I have experienced every consequence that addiction has to offer. Homelessness, incarceration, psych wards, 20+ inpatient treatment centers, and 50+ detoxes, just to name a few.
Many people have this preconceived idea of what addiction looks like. If I’m being honest, I had this same idea when I was growing up. Addiction was the homeless man standing at the corner holding a sign in one hand and holding a tall boy (in a brown bag) in the other. Addiction was the person who experienced some form of traumatic experience as a child and never “treated” it properly. Addiction was the prostitute walking the streets doing whatever was needed to get that next fix. The idea that if I’m not doing these things, there’s no way I’m an addict. Furthermore, addiction was a choice, and if an individual made that choice and was unable to stop using, they must have a character flaw, weakness, or a lack of willpower. It wasn’t until years later that I would learn that addiction is NOT a choice but a disease.
I grew up in Waco, TX. I had a mom and dad who loved me unconditionally and a big sister who always looked out for me. My childhood was filled with love, joy, and many blessings. I never had to experience any form of abuse or neglect or any other adverse childhood experience. However, I can remember as a young child that I always felt different from those around me. I couldn’t express that feeling verbally, but it was something I recognized at a very early age.
I started using when I was 15 years old. From the first time I put a substance in my body, I felt, for the first time in my life, that I could fully breathe all the way in and all the way out. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but when I snorted that first line, I knew I had found it. All my anxiety had gone away. Any kind of self-conscience thoughts disappeared. I was ready to take on the world, and nobody was going to stop me. I actually felt somewhat normal. I never in a million years would’ve thought that night would turn into a 17-year stint in absolute hell. Using would become a full-time job, and I would go to any lengths to get my next fix. I went from snorting cocaine to shooting heroin multiple times daily, just to get through the day. I lost everything in my life, multiple times. Sobriety/recovery seemed impossible. The vicious cycle of addiction would be my master, and I would relapse over and over to the point of death, possibly suicide. When my disease would call, I’d answer regardless of what consequences were on the line.
Over the years I had tried any and everything to get sober. Not just to get sober but to stay sober. – long-term inpatient, short-term inpatient, cold turkey detox, medical detox, different religions, methadone, holistic approaches, outpatient treatment, IOP, PHP, celebrating recovery, marijuana maintenance, and so much more. I couldn’t string together more than a week of not using, no matter how badly I wanted to stop. I was completely hopeless. A feeling that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I literally saw no way out. By the grace of God, I was introduced to the MAT program this last time I was in treatment. The closest thing I had tried to this program was the methadone clinic, which is a freaking nightmare. There is no accountability, and it is very poorly run. When my counselor proposed the MAT program, I was quickly turned off because of my experiences with methadone clinics. However, once I was explained to how the MAT program worked and understood all the aspects that made the program, my counselor had my attention. Because of my extensive history with addiction, my current health, my many failures at sobriety, and the level of disparity I experienced, I was willing to give this program an honest shot. In addition to having a personal relationship with God and being an active member of AA – working with a sponsor, I implemented the MAT program into my current recovery as well.
The MAT program has 100% changed my life. In the short time that I have been on the program, approx. 5 months, I have experienced things I’ve never experienced before. These things are nothing short of a miracle. I don’t wake up in the morning wondering how I’m going to get through the day without being sick. I no longer go through the day plotting and scheming how I’m going to get my next fix. Today I don’t have to lie and manipulate everyone I come across to get what I want. Today I don’t want to end my life. I have people in my life who truly love and support me. I also have people in my life that hold me accountable. For the first time in my life, possibly since I was a baby, I feel happiness. I have commitments that I actually follow through with. I have a full-time job that I show up for every single day, even the bad days. Today I’m financially independent – legally at that. Today I have dreams, goals, and aspirations that I want to achieve. For the first time in my life, I wake up with hopes of helping somebody instead of hurting them. All these things are 100% directly correlated with the MAT program.
With the combination of having God in my life, working an honest AA program, and faithfully following the MAT program, I get to experience life today. The MAT program is life changing. From a hopeless dope fiend to a healthy, confident, and purpose driven individual, I am honored to share my testimony and to share the direct benefits of the MAT program. Don’t get me wrong, not everyday is a great day, and I still have struggles and issues on the regular, but I’m also equipped with the tools needed to deal with those things in a healthy and productive way. I will end with this: I am not responsible for my disease of addiction, but I am 100% responsible for my recovery. If you are anything like me and are willing to do whatever it takes not just to stay sober but fully experience life, then maybe you should consider the MAT program.