drug addiction - From Dealer to Dad

Troy – From Dealer to Dad

A journey of overcoming drug addiction

Early home life

My dad was an alcoholic and drug addict. He drank heavily, but would also use cocaine to keep the binge going. Verbal abuse was a constant part of the family dynamic, and he was especially verbally abusive to my mom, which was scary to me. It also made me look for his acceptance because I was scared of what he would think of me. I was very intimidated by my father. My mother was always the happy, carefree type, yet also an enabler to my father and myself. She was my comfort blanket as I was hers. I have a half-sister that is 16 years older than I, who was my babysitter while my dad and mom were out partying. She also had a father who was an alcoholic that wasn’t there for her life, but still, she became an addict herself. I didn’t realize what was going on with my dad until I was about 18. I always remembered telling my mom, “I will never be like my dad.” I promised her, but I ended up being exactly who my dad was.


The start of my addiction

I got into drinking and smoking weed at about 16 or 17. It didn’t take long till I got into ecstasy. That sorta came along with the high school sports. I managed to continue through high school while doing ecstasy every week. Partying became my whole agenda. I would party all night long and then try to go to school and work. That, of course, didn’t work out well. After high school, I started college at Utah Valley State College in Orem Utah. I lived with seven sober roommates and was able to get on the straight and narrow for a while.

“I came across $10,000 and stole that too; it only lasted a few days.”

I was 20 when my daughter, Lexy, was born, and that helped me steered clear of drinking or drugging. I was excited to be a dad. I worked three jobs just to provide for her. One of my jobs was with a concrete company. One of the guys I was working with asked me if I knew how to get any “uppers,” meaning crystal meth. I didn’t even know what that was at the time. My recollection of a meth user was a homeless guy with no teeth, but this was a highly functioning manager. He was my manager, and he was doing meth. I knew a friend that had some, so I started supplying my manager. At that point, I started selling weed again, also. I sold it in kilos because it was easier to move. Dealing drugs made me feel like someone. I felt like I had power and it played to my insecurities; I was still a young, egotistical person.

When I started dealing meth, I was still not using it, but there was such a supply for it that I became interested. One night, when my friends and I all went out for a birthday party at a club, I decided to try meth myself. I remember it like it was yesterday, I thought it was the best thing I had ever done. It felt like I had found the one thing I was looking for all my life. It was better than the euphoria of the ecstasy. At first, I’d only do about $20 worth of meth a month, mostly when out partying. I started with sniffing it and then graduated to smoking it. That jump from sniffing it to smoking it was so intense that I promised myself I would never “slam” (inject) it. I did continue to smoke and sniff it for four and a half years.

In those four and a half years I experienced a lot of depression and had many suicidal thoughts. I started victimizing myself and lashing out in anger at my family. I remember punching holes through my mom’s closet doors just because she woke me up to ask me where her car keys were. My relationship with Lexy’s mom became very toxic. Neither she nor my mom had any idea what was going on with me. There was one occasion when I pulled my shoe off, and a baggy containing drugs fell out, onto the floor. I thought “I’m busted now, ” but they said nothing about it because they didn’t know what it was. My relationship with Lexy’s mom fell apart, and I was a huge part of that. She deserved better than what I had provided.


Spiraling out of control

“I had my head down on the payphone so that the other cellmates wouldn’t see me crying.”

At that point, I started disappearing for days on end. My ex would be expecting me to pick my daughter up, but I wouldn’t show. I didn’t care about anyone else but myself. I started to lose job after job because I’d crash for three days at a time. It finally got to the point that I didn’t care to work, so I began stealing from people’s homes. I’d grab anything and everything that I could get my hands on to supply my habit. I didn’t have money to supply my drugs, so I had to provide things I stole. I never had the guts to steal unless I was high, so I’d get fronted with the drugs and then supply the dealers with the items they wanted. I’d just go to people’s garages or cars and steal whatever I wanted. Interestingly, I was scared of stealing my whole life. When I was six, I stole two pocket knives, and my mom turned me into the cops. Meth took that fear away and even made it exciting for me.

I was lost in extreme depression. I was angry and suicidal. And I was malnourished. Eventually, I came across $10,000 and stole that too and went on a binge with it. I was so delusional that I left my pipe and scale out on the counter at my mom’s house. When my mom came home, she found it and freaked out. She was going to call the cops on me, but I told her it wasn’t mine. The $10,000 only lasted a few days.


Locked up in county jail

Shortly after that, I was pulled over for speeding while driving to my dealer. I had five warrants out for my arrest at the time. Because the officer searched me and found a bag with meth resin in my coin pocket which, of course, was possession of a controlled substance. He arrested me, but that same day I was bailed out by my dealer. I kept using until the day I was sentenced. The night before my sentencing, I went out partying and using as my last hoorah. I didn’t know how long I would be sentenced for, but I was hoping for the worst, because I wanted to get clean but just couldn’t do it, and I knew I’d have to in prison. I went to my sentencing with my pipe and lighter in my pocket. I tossed those into the trash right before entering the courthouse to be sentenced. I was sentenced and handcuffed right in front of my mom. I could hear her crying and felt so ashamed, but I couldn’t even turn around to look at her or say I was sorry. At that point, I was 26 years old, and I was sentenced for 30 days at Weber County Jail in Utah.

Before this sentencing, I had been in and out of jail for five years. But never for very long. Mostly due to traffic violations and failure to appear in court or pay fines. Each time I went to jail, I would tell myself, “You’re going to get clean,” but I would be so excited to do drugs again that I’d use the same day I left jail.

A couple of days into this sentencing, I started having panic attacks and anxiety to the point that I couldn’t breathe. I started feeling very nervous, and I was locked up in this cell with no place to go and no drugs to suppress my emotions.


My turning point

“That’s the moment something clicked inside of me, and I said, “I have to make this change.””

On Thanksgiving day, while still in jail, I got a call from my daughter, who was about five at the time. She didn’t know I was in jail and she was asking, “Daddy, when are you going to come see me?” I told her I couldn’t, and she just started crying. I had already let her down time after time, but this was Thanksgiving. Hearing that disappointment in her voice was devastating. I remember getting off the phone with her and just crying. I had my head down on the payphone so that the other cellmates wouldn’t see me crying. I didn’t want to show that I was weak, so I just acted like I was still talking to her until I could collect myself. That was the first time I experienced raw emotion without having a drug to suppress it.

I lived with that for a couple of days, and then three days later on the following Sunday, a fellow inmate, who was also in there for possession of meth, got a phone call. It was his wife calling to tell him that his 22-year old son had just committed suicide. I thought to myself, “Here is a guy whose son needed him the most, and he wasn’t there.” That made me reflect on how Lexy sounded on the phone, and realize that she also needed me the most. That’s the moment something clicked inside of me, and I said, “I have to make this change.” Unfortunately, I will always be thankful for that man’s loss, because it changed my life.


My release from jail and my new life

The day I was released, on December 10th 2008, that same gentleman came into my cell, and said, “Troy, I just lost my reason for living, and you need to be there for your daughter when she needs you.” After that, I never looked back. I was on probation with AP&P for two years. I did whatever they told me to do with the ego and rebellion I had as an addict and 26-year old kid, I was under their thumb and had to jump through all the hoops they wanted me to.

Once I was about three months clean, I began to see how toxic my relationship with Lexy’s mom had become and how toxic I was around her. And as much as I needed to be there because I wanted this family to be together, I ultimately discovered that I needed to do what made me happy because my happiness would greatly affect my daughter’s happiness. So I decided to leave that relationship and start over with my current wife, and she has been my biggest support. I was with her on a beach in Hawaii when my probation officer called to tell me that I was successfully terminated from probation and that I could have my felony reduced to a class A misdemeanor. That was an amazing feeling, to know I had accomplished something after so many years of abuse. My wife has pushed me to better myself all along the way. She has helped me to be who I am in a healthy way. I really don’t know where I would be without her, or if I had not made that change. She just wants me to be happy, and I am. My job now is to help others struggling with drug abuse, just as I was, and it is well worth every minute of it. I get to connect with these other addicts and assist them to find recovery. Now my wife always tells me,  “I’m so happy that you get to do something you love to do.” Yet, she is the one who has allowed me to do that. We have been married six years now.


My relationship with my family now and advice for other addicts

“The wonderful thing is that I get to break the cycle for my kids.”

I now have three kids. My daughter Lexy is 14, an honor student and a dancer. I couldn’t be more proud of her. We have a great relationship and my wife and two little ones love her. Her mom is married to a great guy that I really get along well with, and a lot of that has to do with my Lexy.

My relationship with my father is a million times better now. He still struggles with alcoholism and substance abuse, but I will always be a support for him. I do have to set boundaries, but I won’t turn my back on him. The wonderful thing is that I get to break the cycle for my kids. They don’t have to see or live in the world that I lived in growing up. For anyone that is struggling with addiction, just know that even though your dad was an addict and your grandpa was an addict and you were an addict, it doesn’t mean that your children have to be that way. They don’t have to grow up with a dad in a dysfunctional lifestyle.

I have been clean for 8 years now, and the thing that I love to help people understand is that you just have to surrender and do what is asked of you. Your treatment and discharge plan is a huge part of your success. Whatever your treatment team asks of you for the first few years, you just have to do it. As much as we don’t want to, we need that guidance. If it weren’t for AP&P, IOP treatment, my wife, and others who opened my eyes to the consequences, I wouldn’t be here today.

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