Recovery Spotlight: Matt U

My name is Matt; I am 22 years old and my clean date is March 24th 2013. My drug of choice is heroin. That was not the only drug that I had chosen to do but it was the one that had brought me to my knees. I was born and raised in Bronx NY. I was the middle of three kids, an older sister and a younger brother. My childhood for the most part was normal; mom and dad are still together to this day. We did not have much money growing up but it never stopped my parents from giving us everything we needed and more. Growing up I was always a bit of an outcast. I was not very athletic and I was a below average student. I only had a small group of friends. My real story doesn’t start until I turn 15 years old. It was around April of 2010 when I had gotten severely sick. I remember throwing up and being in more pain than I could ever describe. Both lymph nodes on the sides of my neck had swollen up to the size of golf balls. I had been taken to the hospital and they diagnosed me with the flu. The doctors gave me medicine and sent me home then within a week I was starting to feel like myself again. The swelling on the left side of my neck however, did not retract like the right side had. After a few weeks of the swelling not going away, we started to worry. I went back to the doctor and they (many other doctors got involved at this point) started running all sorts of tests. The mass in my neck (the swelling) turned out to be a cancerous tumor. By December of that year, not even six months later, they had to surgically remove it. After my surgery, I was prescribed painkillers to cope with any discomfort. I had messed around with drugs before but never with anything this strong or serious. They had given me enough meds to last 30 days…it only lasted three. As soon as I took that first pill something in me changed, a feeling I can’t put into words. That first high would be something I would chase after for the next three years of my life. My addiction took off very quickly after that. Six months after that first pill I had landed myself in my first (out of four) rehab. I was sixteen years old and this only fueled my addiction. Here is where I met the person who would introduce me to heroin. Thus, began my ride to hell that took place for two and a half years. I don’t want to focus on the using part of my addiction because that’s not the point of me writing this. I got clean because my mom gave me the choice to either getting dropped off at the local homeless shelter or going to rehab. My decision to go to rehab that day was made solely on the fact that I knew rehab would be way more comfortable than a homeless shelter. When I got out I still wasn’t allowed back home so I chose to go to an oxford house by the jersey shore. When I look back at this decision, I realize that if I had chosen to stay in New York, I would have never stayed clean. Don’t get me wrong, when I first got to that oxford house I still wanted to get high. It wasn’t until about three months clean that I started to see things differently. I started meeting people who actually gave a fuck about me and my well being. I started to try this whole going to meetings thing and ended up finding a sponsor. Him, along with the friends I still have today, are huge reasons as to why I am now four years clean. Writing this and looking back at everything makes me grateful. Grateful about every decision I have made, even the bad ones. If I never struggled and fucked up like I had, I might not be sitting here today writing this sitting across from my fiancé with our cat in our two-bedroom apartment that we made home. By struggling and hurting, I know what it feels like to be in a dark place and I will never forget that. Anytime I feel like nothing is going my way I am always humbled and brought back to the reality that my life is so good today and I wouldn’t change a thing. I hope by writing this you can connect to something or just even have the realization that you are never alone and never will be. There is always a chance to make a decision that will change your life, it’s up to you whether that change will be positive or negative.