Facing Addiction: Dylan
Thursday, April 20, 2017 11:40 AM
Date of Sobriety: August 20, 2015 — Dylan, 26, from Rockport, says in coming forward with his story, “If I can help one person, it will be worth it.”
Patrisha McLean is teaching The Art of Photographing Children at the Maine Media Workshops June 3 and 4. Her photographs of Havana will be exhibited at the Camden Public Library in June, with a talk and reception June 15, 7 p.m. www.patrishamclean.com.
I was never comfortable in my own skin. I always felt “less than.” When I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol, I was looking to fill some kind of void in my life and it worked for a little while. It was fun for a little while. Then I became a prisoner. I didn’t have a choice to get high or not. I had to.
I first smoked weed when I was in the sixth grade, casually drank, moved up the ranks and experimented with coke. Being really involved with basketball in high school — I was the team captain and we played the state championships my junior year — is what bought me some time. I stopped hanging out with my basketball teammates and started hanging out with the party crowd. I went to college and did alright but I didn’t have any direction.
With opiates, once I turned 20, 21, it was kind of like, “Aha! This is what I love.” I wasn’t off to the races until I started lobstering. Started with Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin. But they became so expensive I kind of graduated to heroin. Heroin is looked down upon but it’s basically the same thing as OxyContin. In the morning [on the lobster boat] it would be performance enhancing, then in the afternoon you would crash, unless you kept doing drugs during the day.
Lying, cheating, stealing. Super manipulative and selfish. Not caring or thinking about how what I did impacted other people. And I wasn’t raised like that. I was raised in a good family with good morals. I was living paycheck to paycheck on $2,000 to $3,000 a week. I went through withdrawals that are like having the flu times a hundred — your skin is crawling, cold sweats, depression, you don’t sleep for three days. It’s brutal. You always say, ‘Oh man, that was so bad I’ll never do that again.’ I didn’t want to get high a lot of times but I had to in order to live a day-to-day life.
I tried the “geographic cure” in North Carolina and, sure enough, I found where to find my drug of choice down there. If you can find it here, I can find it anywhere in the world. I went to rehab in Pennsylvania for four months, but came home and didn’t do the things they told me to do. I started hanging out with old friends again. You keep going to a barbershop you’re eventually going to get a haircut. That’s when I hit my low bottom. I came to my mom’s and pretty much broke down.
I checked myself into the PARC Unit at Pen Bay and detoxed there. Then I joined a 12-step program and took all the suggestions from my mentors in sobriety. I got really involved like my life depended on it, because it does. I should be dead, hands down, for all the stupid s__t that I’ve done. Two really close friends of mine died of overdoses in the same month. This is the longest I’ve been sober, ever, and God forbid, if I ever go out again I probably will die.
I never thought I would be a lobsterman but it’s something I really love to do. I get to wake up and see the sun rise every morning, and a lot of wildlife — whales, puffins, crazy stuff that comes up from the bottom. Drugs are a big issue in commercial fishing, but there are a few guys in recovery who are fellow lobstermen, and I stay close to them and I try to spread the word that it can be done.
A lot of good things have come back very quickly. But it’s an inside job. I’ve had plenty of money and been completely miserable. Getting sober has been the best thing I’ve done in my entire life. I’m still my harshest critic but I can look myself in the mirror today and I’m happy with what I see. I’m grateful to be a drug addict and grateful that it got so bad because it made me what I am today, a lot better person, and if it didn’t get so bad maybe it wouldn’t be so good now.
The 12-step program includes Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Knox County Recovery Coach Program: 691-3697.
Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition (for community members wanting to help): firstname.lastname@example.org, 701-1181.