Former addict turns life around after years of abuse


Staff Writer

The road to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is a difficult journey that can take years. But the help is there if someone wants it.

“I wonder what my father must have felt,” said Alfred, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, who does not want to reveal his full name. “My father was a police officer for 38 years, down by the Shore.”

Alfred had the opportunity to go to a program for several years and participate in the recovery process.

“I got to know myself,” Alfred said. “So I can honestly say there are some things that I can look back on and clearly see where this was leading.”

Alfred, who did not reveal his age but appears to be in his 30s, started on the path to addiction in his early teens.

“It started with what I thought was fun at the time,” he said. “It was a weekend thing. I was 13 or 14 years old. I was drinking beer or whatever I could get my hands on, [although] there wasn’t much available at that point.”

As the years passed, that steadily progressed into a variety of other things, he said.

Had he known then what he knows now, he said he obviously would not have made the same choices.

There was a steady pattern. As a teen, he would go out on the weekend, and when he returned he would go right to his room, so his parents wouldn’t get a chance to look at him.

“I’d borrow money or steal money,” Alfred said.

He explained that it really didn’t matter how he got the money for his habit. But one thing for sure, he always got it somehow.

“I used and abused the love and tolerance of my parents, and as the years went on, I got very good at it,” he said. “I honed that skill. I was very deceptive.”

The recovering addict said his problem came out into the open when he started doing more serious illegal things.

“I got into legal trouble where even my father couldn’t bury it within the family,” Alfred said. “I was helpless and hopeless as far as anyone even trying to help me, especially my own family. My parents had no knowledge of this disease [called] addiction.”

He said he had to deal with frustration, despair and hopelessness. There was nothing anyone could do to make him feel any better.

“I kept on going back [to drugs],” Alfred said. “I always felt hopeless. I would live a life of drug and alcohol addiction. I got myself into some trouble, and [then] God put a lot of people in my life.”

The recovering addict said the one message that rang clear for him was that there was hope in faith. It was the firm belief in God that brought him to where he is today, he said.

“If you stand by someone who is struggling with this, we do recover,” Alfred said. “My family stood by my side to the very end.”

Alfred said in the eyes of his mother, who passed away a few years ago, there was nothing he could do wrong.

“She would do anything,” he said. “She would defend me to the utmost. My father was another one. Their love for me was unbelievable. I abused that love at one point. I took advantage of it.”

His parents had no clue, as did he, about where his addiction would lead him.

“I ended up in all kinds of situations that I never dreamed I would be,” said the former addict. “I went full bloom into being a cocaine addict at one point.”

On the other extreme, Alfred said he was set to become a police officer, a positive, productive road with a future he could have followed.

“I was on the list for the state police,” he said. “I was on the list for Monmouth County. I had everything in the world going for me, but I had one downfall. I had the disease of addiction.”

Alfred said he had actually been off drugs and alcohol for a couple of years, and then he went out one night and was hooked again for a period of eight to nine years.

“It was serious, heavy abuse,” Alfred said. “I was physically unable to stop. There was nothing that anybody could do. I had to be locked up to stop me. I’ve been to jail on several occasions, which I’m not proud of. It took that to get me off it.”

Alfred said for him it was the message of hope and faith. His message to anyone struggling with this problem is to seek help.

There’s a lot of help on the Internet, said Alfred, who noted that he’s very active in recovery programs. He firmly believes that is what keeps him clean and sober today.

He said when he was 17, he was forced to go to substance-abuse recovery meetings, but he never took them seriously until three years ago, when he found the programs do work.

Alfred said he frequently looks back to times when there were 10 to 15 friends in his circle. Only three or four actually got married and settled down to live what he calls a normal life. Five or six are dead, and about a half dozen are in jail.

“Some are still very active with the addiction,” he said. “They’re helpless and hopeless.”

The recovering addict said he is still in the program.

“Through a whole chain of [events] I [recently] met someone who was willing to help me,” Alfred said. “I owe a great deal to that man. He’s still my sponsor. If it weren’t for him, I would not be here today.”