It’s been a year since one of the worst nights of my life. That was the night my son Gunner called me at 2am, and overdosed while talking to me.
A lot happened after that. He went to the hospital, he survived, he was arrested for drug possession. He spent time in jail, then he went to rehab. He finished rehab, and went to a halfway house. Then he moved to a long-term halfway house.
This was all great news for us, because on the roller coaster of addiction, many of these milestones get skipped, or interrupted, or failed. Gunner himself has done all of those things in the past… walked out of rehab, refused to go, quit then relapsed, etc etc. But not this time. This time, Gunner completed all of it.
Let me tell you, recovering with a drug felony on your record makes it an uphill climb. It’s hard to get a job. It’s hard to do many things that we all just take for granted. But he’s doing it, because he’s determined.
He lost his car when was in the midst of his drug-use. So now, he doesn’t have one. You know what he does? He rides a bike or walks anywhere he needs to go— even if it’s miles.
He started out with a job at KFC, which wasn’t glamorous, but it was a job. Then, he moved on to a full-time job in a machine shop, learning the machinist trade. He has been there for eight months now, riding his bike through the heat or the rain– and has only missed one day of work. It’s hard, it’s hot, it’s dirty, but he’s doing it. He makes an honest paycheck every week with his own two hands.
I am beyond ecstatic to announce that Gunner has been clean for an entire year!
This is an amazing accomplishment for him, and he has put in the hard work. He went to two NA meetings a day. He hasn’t missed a single meeting with his Corrections Officer. He’s never late to work. He has put on weight— going from a 6’6″ 160 pound skeleton, to a 6’6″ 220 pound healthy man.
A month ago, his son celebrated his first birthday party, and Gunner was there, clean and sober and proud.
Gunner doesn’t crow about this one-year-clean milestone. In fact, he doesn’t want to focus on it. He says he doesn’t want to become distracted from the fact that he has to focus every day, every minute, on being sober. He can’t afford to slide backwards at all by becoming cocky. Living with it is a way of life now, it’s with him every minute.
Last month, I saw an absolutely repugnant video on social media, slamming drug addiction, and declaring that it wasn’t a disease, that addicts were just lazy, that they didn’t want to get better, that they just say they have a ‘disease’ so that they have an excuse to use.
I almost threw up.
Addicts don’t want to be in the spiral that they are in. They don’t want to be in the clutches of such a horrible thing. They don’t want their families to be torn apart. They made a mistake– by using drugs in the first place. But then… then… addiction takes over, and turns them into people that they aren’t. People who will lie and steal to feed their addiction. These people do have a disease, because addiction literally changes the chemicals in the brain.
To climb his way out of the hole addiction put him in, Gunner has had to live in a crappy motel (because apartment complexes won’t accept him with a drug charge), and he rides a bike to work– even in the snow. That is NOT someone who makes excuses. The idea that all addicts or recovering addicts are lazy is just… an UGLY LIE.
Opioid addiction has become a pandemic in America, and it’s one that will have to be addressed, because we’re losing more and more people to it every week… every day. Often times, it begins by someone using painkillers. Then, when the scripts stop coming from the doctor, the user starts buying illegal drugs to replace the painkillers… and so it begins.
I’m thankful (SO thankful!) that I haven’t lost Gunner. That he’s still fighting, that in fact, he’s THRIVING. It’s been a long road, and it will be longer still as he fights his way back to where he was before. His teeth were ruined during his drug use– so they all have to be pulled and replaced. But! He’s doing it. He’s living clean.
On Friday, he gets to check one more thing off his list. He’s moving into his own place. He’ll still go to NA meetings, and check in with his Corrections Officer, but he’ll do it with his very own address.
Thank you, to every single one of you who pray or have prayed for my son. I appreciate it more than you will ever know.
God is good.
PS. This is Gunner today– on his break at his job. 🙂