Losing Hope and His Family and Finding Them Both Again

According to Tony, meth likes everyone. There are no stereotypical users. He himself has multiple college degrees and is an accomplished chef, and yet he almost lost everything, including his life, because of his addiction.

And like many meth addicts, Tony’s struggle didn’t end with just one treatment. In fact, he was able to quit practically whenever he wanted. He’d get tired of meth, of how it made him feel, of how it ruled his life, and he’d quit for long periods of time.

“The problem with quitting on my own without help,” Tony said, “is that I would eventually go back to it. I didn’t have the skills or the knowledge to stay clean. And every time I would go back, it would be like I’d never left, and I’d need more and more to get me high.”

In the end, he lost his girlfriend and his friends, except those he used with. His parents tried tough love. They tried everything, really, but nothing they did worked. He had to want to change. And finally he did.

“I just didn’t like who I was on meth,” Tony said. “You lose all control. You have no inhibitions. There are no such things as risks on meth. Everything is possible in your mind. I did a lot of bad things. I just wanted it to end.”

Luckily there was a bed available for Tony when he walked into the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change seeking treatment. Otherwise, he says he probably wouldn’t have had the strength to try and stop on his own again. One of his biggest fears was losing his family. His drug habit changed how his parents and his brother and sister treated him. He was afraid they would never trust or love him again.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Tony said. “When you clean up, your family comes back together. My dad never used to tell me he loves me. Now he hugs me and tells me he loves me every time I see him.”

Tony completed his treatment and stayed on in the stipend program, putting his culinary skills to use for his fellow treatment residents. It helps him, he admits, to be a mentor to the younger clients. He wants to be a role model, to show others that it can be done.

“I’m not quite ready to think about the distant future,” Tony said. “I still take it one day at a time. I probably will for awhile, but each day gets a little easier.”

As Tony started his treatment, his mom began chemotherapy. The two share a special bond and even joke that her treatment and the way she deals with her disease is very similar to what he has gone through and his own 12-step program.