Recovery Spotlight: Karl Otto

I was asked to write down a little bit about my experience with recovery from drugs and alcohol. Over the years I have experienced a ton of pain and suffering due to my inability to stop drinking and using. It all started with alcohol and it ended with Heroin and I did everything in between. I actually found for a time that it was easier to hide being high from opiates than it was to hide being drunk or stoned. Using was fun at first, then it was fun with problems, then it was just problems. I could talk for hours about the complete despair, loneliness, pain and suffering I’ve experienced from this horrible disease. It lowered my standards and morals to a point that baffles me. Broken relationships, jails, and arrests were just a small part of the consequences of the life I lived. My loving family couldn’t trust me and lost sleep worrying about me for years. I was beyond help. They tried everything to save me from me, but nothing worked. As an addict, we become extremely selfish people. We are only able to see things as we see them. I thought that I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself. I was so wrong. We are also people that are full of fear. I would have denied that and believed it at the same time. I was scared of being a failure, scared of what you thought of me. Scared of being alone; scared of not being loved. I was insecure with an ego to mask all of these things. I thought I was tough, but in reality I was a mouth looking for a scream. I have a disease that centers in my mind. My mind has a built in mechanism that tells me that it really wasn’t that bad. Or maybe you can moderate better this time. It was explained to me that I have a spiritual malady. I am powerless over drugs and alcohol. I can’t stop when I’m drinking or using and when I stop I can’t stop thinking about drinking or using. Therefore, I’m completely hopeless according to that description. Fortunately I have found a solution. The only way we can transmit this solution is if someone reaches a point of desperation and willingness to take suggestions.
My last run ended January 15th 2014. I had accumulated some clean time and life was good until I got my wisdom teeth pulled out. I remember thinking that it’s not a big deal to take the Percocet because it was doctor prescribed. Within 6-8 months I had completely destroyed my life. Towards the end I was desperately trying to stop. I went to a rehab in California but left AMA (against medical advice) because I thought that I could stay sober and clean after being there for 12 days. I could have passed a lie detector test that day. I was convinced that I was done forever, with no return to drugs or alcohol. When I returned home I was high within a few days. Honestly, I think I had given up at this point. I almost accepted that I was going to die from this thing. I began selling drugs to maintain my heroin habit. I was so physically sick that I couldn’t function without getting high. I was driving to Baltimore daily to get what I needed. I was stopped January 9th 2014 by the Frederick City Police Dept. I was arrested that day for a long list of felonies. I was sure that I was headed to prison for a very, very long time. My plan was to bail out and kill myself. Thankfully my plan wasn’t the same as God’s plan. I ended up at Mountain Manor rehab and graduated after 28 days. Shortly after I was released from rehab I entered into a program called Drug Court. I truly believe that Drug Court, 12 step meetings, sponsorship and helping others saved my life. I had finally become sponsorable. I was no longer listening to my own thoughts and ideas. The 3rd step says we turned our will and our life over to the care of God – as we understood Him. At first I thought of God as good orderly direction. My belief has grown since then through my experiences.
Recovery is action. It’s for people who do it, not want it. I’ve met lots of people that ask us to help them get clean and sober. I say sure, are you willing to do what we do? If the answer, followed by action is “yes”, then they recover. I’ve found that all it takes to stay clean and sober is consistent action and willingness to take suggestions from the amazing network of recovered friends that I have. I spend a lot of my time trying to help others achieve the gift of recovery. Many do not make it. In the last 5 weeks I have had 2 very close friends die of a drug overdose. They were both staying at my house. They were new to recovery and my roommate and I were trying to help them stay clean. June 30th my roommate Rick found our good friend Chris. We attended his funeral as pall bearers a few weeks ago. It is so sad to see what this disease does.
Just yesterday I found our other roommate overdosed and deceased. Today is a very heavy day with lots of tears and saddened hearts. It hurts and there are so many emotions that I’m feeling right now.  Recovery hasn’t been easy but it’s been an amazing journey. I graduated Drug Court last year. I’ve been asked to share my story with the Frederick County Health Department and also at a Heroin Task Force town hall meeting. I frequently go back to Mountain Manor to carry a message of hope to the patients. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I spend a lot of time with my 9 year old son Kye. He is an incredible kid, smart, polite and very talented. Sometimes I tear up with gratitude because of the life I have today. I have started to make amends to my family. I am very close with my sister Kelda, my Dad, my Mom and step mom. I know over the years I have put them all through a lot and I try to let them know as often as possible how much they mean to me. They have had my back through all of this. I couldn’t ask for a better family.
For anyone who reads this, I hope that my story has helped. There are many of us, in recovery that would love to be part of your recovery. I was told that I have to give it away to keep it. What an amazing gift I’ve been given. My heart and love goes out to you or anyone’s family that has been affected by this disease.