Life Altering

The past couple months have been life altering for my wife and I. I have a son from a previous relationship that lived with his mother. She, (my child’s mother) was going on 5 years of continuous sobriety – as far as I am able to verify. She was a heavy IV cocaine user and would occasionally shoot up heroin to control the cocaine come-down. I wrote about her in my memoir.
She is now dead.
Another person added to the never ending list of addiction related deaths. Another, so close to home. A family torn apart. A daughter gone forever. A mother gone forever. A son, forever without his mom.
My wife and I have made all the necessary adjustments and changes to be the permanent care takers and parents for my son. The transition has been going really well considering what the poor boy has been through.
I quit my full time job and will be a stay-at-home dad for the near future. I want to build a stable bond with my boy. He has had so much change and disarray in his life that he needs a great deal of consistency and care from a stable and sober role model.
My wife has been completely amazing and flexible through this life direction whiplash. I have so much to learn from her generosity, love, and her unshakable companionship. She never ceases to amaze me.
My son’s chances of becoming dependant on drugs and/or alcohol are very high. Both parents’ were drug/alcohol users which covers the gene side of addiction and he comes from a single mother household, now a deceased mother, and already has an ACE (adverse childhood experience) score that is higher than his age. Individuals with an ACE score of 5 or more are 7 to 10 times more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. That covers the environment and statistical side of things.
He has a huge mountain to climb and many obstacles in his path. We will do everything we can to get him through this with only minor bumps and bruises. It will take a lot of work and a lot more luck. Of course I am not a determinist, so I know everything I mentioned does not determine his life outcome, however, for us NOT to look at these things would be cowardly, and very dilatory parenting.
I will try to post another update on things within the week. I know I haven’t been consistent with my posts but things are beginning to mellow out here at home. More to come soon.
Any thoughts or comments in general would be great. 🙂


Remember the eve of Christmas


Remember the eve of Christmas,

I spent shivering, in a cell.

Detoxing off of heroin,

A cold and bitter hell.

Remember the eve of Christmas, ice-crystal-222274_1280

I spent homeless, on the street.

Poison flowing through my veins,

But my heart still beat.

Remember the eve of Christmas,

ice-crystal-222274_1280When I was all alone.

The wind blew, through my soul,

It sliced right through the bone.

Remember the eve of Christmas,

When I finally, faced my fears.

ice-crystal-222274_1280The battle came, to a bloody end,

After so many painful years.

Remember the eve of Christmas,

Dark years, have long passed by.

I’m staring at our Christmas tree,

ice-crystal-222274_1280As water fills my eye.

Remember the eve of Christmas,

When life was good, indeed.

I need not open, a single gift,

I have all I’ll ever need.


WARNING: Graphic Drug Use

The silver hollow sliver. Small but deadly.

The silver hollow sliver. Small but deadly.

The small excerpt below is taken from the story of my addiction. I must warn readers to its graphic and very detailed nature. It is a small piece of my true story; my relentless addiction to heroin and other drugs. If you are new in recovery and sensitive to any drug triggers, strong thoughts of using, or if you are still glorifying drug use- you may want to skip this post until you have both your feet firmly planted in recovery. The sequence of events below took place in the midst of my addiction when the capsizing wake of my addiction had already sunk my ship. I was homeless and had nothing but heroin, a spoon, some cotton and a needle. Any vestige of my true-self had been almost completely defeated…

(excerpt from my book)

[…Cars zoom past me as if late for an important meeting. I stand alone on the faded yellow curb. A local transit bus squeals to a sudden stop to my right. The sounds of leaky hydraulics radiate from under the frame as the bus driver opens the scissor-style doors. As the passengers’ board and fight their way to an empty seat, I notice a young boy staring at me through the scratched window of the bus. He is all alone. He is wearing a blue and yellow mask that he probably made at school. The eye-holes are cut out as well as a small slice for his mouth. For some reason I can’t break my focus from this little boy. As I stare in bewilderment, he gives me what looks to be a half smile that is projecting an unspoken message. He slowly shakes his head side to side. Is he telling me no? What is he trying to say? Why is this bothering me? I feel a shiver forming through my body. I continue to stare at the boy as the bus pulls away. He raises his hand in the shape of a pistol and puts it to his temple. He pulls the trigger and drops his head down on an angle so that I can see his mask as the bus pulls away.
The exhaust is still billowing into the air as I walk across the street to a local gas station. My thoughts are still turning the odd visuals of the little boy, his mask, and the bus. As I approach the station, my attention is diverted to a man on a Harley Davidson. He is wearing a worn black leather jacket that looks like it has seen its share of highway miles. His Levis are torn on the knees but held together by a few, small white threads. His face looks as if it has never been under a shade tree. The lines and wrinkles on his weathered face tell me he’s had a rough life. As I approach his motorcycle, he asks, “Hey, man. You have a light?”
“Yeah, sure.” I hand him my lighter and as I do he says, “Can you get me some cocaine?”
“I can get it but I don’t have a way to get it. I don’t have a vehicle,” I respond.
“I’ll give you a ride. Hop on.”
The powerful acceleration of the motorcycle jerks me backward. The wind fills my ears with empty air sound. We fly down the road with one thing in mind. One purpose, one reason. Our determination pays off as we approach an area well known for its high volume of illegal activity. My ears are still ringing as he kills the motorcycle engine. For a brief moment, I recall the boy on the bus. The thoughts are washed out by the voice of my new biker friend.
“Hurry up, I don’t have all day,” he gruffly reminds me.
“I’ll be quick man, no worries.” My heart starts beating fast as I realize I am about to get heroin and cocaine.
Before I met this guy I had no money and no way to get any. Once he gets his cocaine and I get my heroin, we will probably go our separate ways. It doesn’t matter though. We do whatever it takes to get our fix.
With the dope safely secured in my tightly closed fist, we drive to a local grocery store. Their bathrooms serve as a safe haven for shooting up. When you are homeless it is hard to have privacy. Public bathrooms provide that privacy.
We pull into the grocery store and park the bike next to the building. I am nervous as I approach the entrance. The automatic doors open swiftly to the motions of shoppers and children. A gust of air hits me as I enter the store. My focus is on the back of the store where I see a blue plastic sign pointing the way. My fast-paced walk gradually turns to a jog. I can hear my friend keeping pace but I don’t acknowledge him.
Since I reach the bathroom first, I go into the stall that is against the wall. I like these stalls the best because if someone comes in while I am using, I don’t run the risk of having people on both sides of me. My new friend goes into the stall next to me. I see his hand lower under the stall wall. I hand him his cocaine, a spoon and a needle. I start to get my heroin ready, but he interrupts me saying, “Hey man, let me try some of that stuff.”
I know he hasn’t used heroin in a while and I’m a little worried to give him some. He doesn’t seem like the type of person to reason with though, so I hand him my leftovers under the metal door.
I return to my own priorities. I draw back the heroin and fill the needle. A couple shakes of my wrist and the air rises to the top of the syringe. I push the air through the needle and spin the needle around with my fingers. I look down and gently place the needle’s sharp point against the vein protruding from my left arm. One quick tap with my index finger and the needle tears a hole. I pull back on the plunger to see a deep red color mix with the liquid heroin. PUSH. The warm mixture enters my veins with vengeance. Within seconds I feel the world’s troubles subside into total bliss.
As I wipe the blood from my battered arm, I open the stall door. I look up and see my friend leaning towards the mirror with both hands on the sink. Sweat runs down his temple and off his forehead. He looks as if he is staring through his own reflection.
“Hey, are you okay?” I ask. He takes a slow deep breath and says, “Yeah.” He lets go of the sink with both hands and his body drops to the hard tile like a bag of wet sand. Images of the boy on the bus flash back and start to haunt me.…]

What do you do? What do you do when a man drops dead right in front of you? In a public bathroom, with no doors- after shooting up heroin that you gave him only moments ago? The man’s pockets are littered with balloons of cocaine and remnants of heroin; spoons, needles, and cash scattered over the bathroom tile. It is impossible to hide the bloody track marks up and down your arms… So… Do you call the police? Do you yell for help? Or, do you run?


Get High or Get Higher Power?

deity-229216_1920I have been wanting to do a blog on my version of God; or more accurately, my higher power for many weeks now but I kept putting it off. The topic is controversial to say the least- mainly if the status quo deity is put into question. Religion beliefs are often a topic in recovery and I feel that having an honest and open discussion is relevant and absolutely necessary in my own personal recovery. Some of you may disagree with my beliefs and that is perfectly fine. My goal is not to argue that my higher power is right or wrong or that any of my reader’s belief’s are incorrect. I am only explaining my experience and what works for me.

Many conversations in the rooms of AA/NA, give strong evidence that many addicts struggle with finding, keeping and believing in a God or any form of higher power. I want to explain my higher power so that others who are struggling can see that they are not alone in their struggles. I also want to explain how I finally found what I believe to be- my higher power.


I was raised in the LDS church as a young child. Up until my mid 20s, I believed in the Judeo-Christian ethical standards as well as a living, breathing deity who had a flowing white beard and had a homestead somewhere above the highest of clouds. After continually struggling to make even a single right turn into the driveway of virtue, I began to question what kind of Satan-spawn I had become. The harder I tried to do right by God, the further he faded from me. No coffee or caffeine? No hot drinks? No nicotine? No masturbation? God must have known me quite well. I was doomed right out of the placenta bursting gate.


Despite my appalling past; homelessness, IV drug use, robbery, theft etc., I have always thought I was a decent and respectful human being. It may be difficult to believe that, and after reading that previous sentence, I think I may have threw up a little from the ridiculousness of my statement. Anyone who has been addicted to drugs I’m sure can relate. I knew I had done some really terrible things and for God and my sober self, that was a big problem. The thought of going to hell drove me to study religion and to study it passionately. Both sides. Both arguments and even other religions. So that is what I did. I studied Christian, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism. After studying these religions* and reading their doctrines, I began to study agnosticism and atheism. I knew I couldn’t make any accurate or true claims about anything if I didn’t understand both sides of the religious coin- belief and non-belief.


After countless hours of work, I came to my own conclusion based on empirical evidence, logical consistency, and facts. I now consider myself to be an atheist. However, just because I do not believe that Gods or Deities’ exist, does not mean I do not have a higher power.


When I first realized I was in fact, a strong atheist, I began to feel an emptiness. Like my life was missing something crucial. A pinging vibration of hollowness echoed throughout my body. “If I did not believe that Gods’ exist, how could I ever stay sober?” AA/NA taught me that to continue a happy and fulfilling sober lifestyle, I had to find a higher power!


I had heard in a meeting one time that someone was using a doorknob as their higher power but I felt more powerful than a doorknob. After-all, I could turn one and walk through a door so I knew the doorknob would not suffice as my higher power. I think the point of a higher power is choosing something that is more powerful than me and something I CAN’T control- unlike the turning of a doorknob. That is however, only my amateur opinion. If a doorknob works for someone as a HP, then grab hold of it!


My HP had to be something much smarter than me, much stronger than me, something I could not control, something I do not understand, something that would keep me safe and something I COULD allow to run my life so I didn’t screw it up again. After pondering these strict and crucial requirements for my next potential higher power, I finally realized this higher power was right in front of me the entire time. It was with me throughout my entire life and it knew me much better than I knew myself. It is thousands of time stronger than me and it is thousands of times smarter than me. Its capabilities are known to be almost limitless.This amazing higher power I am describing is the subconscious mind.

Actual X-ray of my big yellow-purple brain dots.

Actual X-ray of my big yellow-purple brain dots.


Being conscious of our unconscious mind is extremely helpful for living a successful life; even if you think having it (subconscious) as your higher power is ludicrous. For many years, I thought of my subconscious mind as an abstract concept and I never put much “thought” into it. Today, I work to provide a conduit of clear communication between my conscious and subconscious mind. A working relationship between the two is essential for my daily recovery. Having this deity-free higher power has continued to keep me sober and has help me understand so many things that used to baffle me.

I welcome all troll-free comments but if any of my readers are having a hard time with God or a higher power, please feel free to comment. Also, I would love to hear any of your thoughts on this topic. I appreciate all my readers support. Thank you all!

Dustin J.

It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” –Andre Gide

(*) Taoism can arguably fall outside the religion category but is still taught as a religion.