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For many years, I walked aimlessly with no goals, no dreams, no passion, and no excitement for anything, while trying to connect with a world that I didn’t understand. It was impressed upon me that financial success was what was most important, which required good grades in school and a college degree to serve as the proof that I was educated to fulfill the responsibilities for the career that I desired. What I wanted and what others wanted were two different things because I wanted to be happy and live a life that felt good instead of the material world that I felt that I lived in. I felt different from most of the people I interacted with, and I couldn’t understand why pleasure seemed to be forbidden, which was my greatest pursuit. Success to me wasn’t money but instead to eliminate all the horrible anxiety and depression that seemed to consume my existence.

I have a story that I want to tell that may give hope to those who feel lost and shunned by a society that fails to teach you some of the most important lessons that you need to learn, which are self-control, self-respect, self-worth, and self-confidence. “Just say no” has been the mantra that was expected to slow down or stop drug abuse but hasn’t fully worked because it fails to consider the mind’s desire to understand and make choices to solve problems that drugs temporarily fix. All those lessons identified above that we should teach can be found in a drug-induced state temporarily, and by the time the drugs stop working, dependency has taken hold, and lives are lost.

My story in this book is designed to offer an example of someone who has walked through the depths of hell while on drugs but was able to emerge with my head held high. Many times, horrible things happen to us that can either destroy us or lift us. I decided many years ago to allow my weaknesses in life to become my greatest strengths and advocate. Drugs and alcohol no longer control me, and through everything that I went through, I can now share this story with you and hopefully help people save their own lives.

There are many ways to finding success in recovery and a black-and-white approach can be a disservice to people because everyone is different, and my way may not work for you. It’s possible to find that happy, serene, and joyful life that’s free from chemical abuse. I’ve remained vague in certain areas of this book to allow you to draw upon your own conclusions without any influence on my opinions, values, and standards that could potentially sway you.

This book was designed for families, those struggling with addiction, individuals currently in recovery, anyone interested in learning about the difficulties of drug dependence, and clinicians. The dialogue that’s included in the stories is as accurate as I can recall, but my memory isn’t completely intact, as many of the examples I use were heard or occurred while under the influence of chemicals. Names have been changed, and it’s designed specifically for substance-abuse disorders instead of co-occurring psychiatric disorders, even though some are mentioned.

Much of this book is based on my opinion through years of research, studies, personal experience, and lessons that I’ve learned from the clients that I’ve worked with, as I’ll always remain a student. I believe that we’re all teachers, and we’re all students, which is an attitude that allows me to keep an open mind to new possibilities. I’ve defined abstinence as the way to success for myself, but that’s my solution based on years of experimenting with different tactics. Everything failed, and trust me when I say that I attempted every option I could think of because I really enjoyed drugs until they nearly killed me.

Most chapters begin with a poem because, for me, poetry is an expression of beauty, creativity, and inspiration that I feel that connects me with hope. If you’re newly clean or sober, you’ve caused brain damage, and I understand how horrible that sounds, so our brains need a good workout and creative thought can do that. I encourage everybody to grab a piece of paper and pen so you can take notes, identify how this applies to you, and then make it personal. I’ve included questions at the end of some chapters so you can make your recovery your own.

There are sensitive topics in this book that I’ve included, such as politics, religion, youth violence, suicide, criminal activity, and other ideas that are very controversial. Substance abuse is killing people in record numbers, and it’s time we talk about everything that’s happening in this country. There’s no better time than now to bring these topics to the forefront. It’s time that you allow your pain to be your teacher and review your understanding of failure and misery so you can start looking at the world differently.

About The Author

Eric McCoy, who is working to give a voice to those that have died from a drug overdose and advocating for those still suffering by sharing his story of pain and how he was able to use his suffering to achieve a success he never imagined. He is a certified counselor who has been working in the substance abuse industry for about sixteen years and has acquired an ability to reach people by his unique tactics that doesn't fall in the normal scope of treatment. He is a six time convicted felon who was facing fifteen years in prison in 2001 which is where he has impressed upon a conviction that, "no matter where you have been or what you have done, you can do anything you want if you are willing to fight for it."