Tag: addiction

When a Recovering Addict and Ex-Con Needs Medical Help

I have been sick lately. It turns out I have Chronic Neurological Lyme disease that is raising all kinds of hell with me. I have been really pretty damn sick with this, and I have been in pain and stressed out. I have made the rounds to quite a few doctors and I have made a grim discovery. When you are a person that looks a certain way, when you are a person who has a certain history, when you are a person who is open and forthright with doctors about things you have experienced in life – you are pretty much screwed when it comes to compassionate health care.

In the past two months or so I have been turned away from numerous doctors because of prior drug issues I had. I feel I cannot get a doctor to look past my tattoos and see me as a person. I am actually pretty fortunate that I got myself signed up for some health insurance this year, so at least I have been able to get in to see doctors in the first place. I am angry though that they think any mention of pain or anxiety is me “drug-seeking”… it’s not. It’s me having pain or anxiety. Where does the line get drawn between them being cautious and them being cruel and uncaring?

This really makes me think about the folks who have even less of a support system than I do. The mentally ill and addicted who have become homeless. How in the HELL do they get any level of health care if they encounter illness or injury? How about those that are still actively living addicted lifestyles, but somehow they just get sick. Like an illness that is unrelated to their addiction issues. Are they actually considered unworthy of care and compassion because they are addicted, or mentally ill, or both? I already knew the homeless had it rough. But my experience over the past couple months with doctors has really been eye opening for me. If an addict has gotten clean and then gets sick and needs help, and can’t get it anywhere, doesn’t it seem pretty likely they could relapse simply out of lack of options? Hell yah, it does. And it sucks.

I will personally be OK one way or the other. Because I need to be there for my family, and because I won’t let this shit get me down. But it has been very discouraging to see how I’ve been treated, and to realize I am pigeonholed into this role due to mistakes I made going on ten years ago. I thought one of the rules of doctoring was “do no harm”?

4th of July, 2015 – Can you find freedom while in prison?

For those of you with family and loved ones in prison on this 4th of July holiday weekend, especially those imprisoned for crimes of drug use, I will tell you this – freedom is a state of mind. A person can be more free while incarcerated than they ever were on the outside.

When I was going through real bad times with drug use I was not free. Sure, maybe I could jump in my truck and drive to a party on the 4th, drink some beer and eat some barbecue and that is so-called freedom, compared to being locked in a prison environment. But the reality is – that freedom isn’t real at all. My days and all my actions were consumed with getting drugs and maintaining my habit. I lied, I stole and I got pretty low during that time. I resorted to some things I didn’t think I would ever do. I didn’t care for the person I had become and I didn’t care that I didn’t care. It was best not to care actually.

In contrast to that, when I got sent to prison it was a time for me to get straight with myself. I am not just talking about kicking the dope. I did a lot of soul searching during that time. I read a lot of books that were deep and got me thinking in a few new ways. One of my favorites was “We Are All Doing Time” by the late Bo Lazoff. There were two major ideas in that book that helped me cope with imprisonment. One was that “everything is going to be OK”, regardless of the situation. I know that sounds too pie in the sky and kind of stupid. Sometimes things aren’t OK. Terrible situations exist, in prison and out. I won’t get into the whole idea behind it but basically it’s a way of looking at life and the situation you find yourself in, no matter how shitty, and accepting it for what it is, and finding a way to be OK with it.

The other concept I pondered a lot and still hang onto today is, you are only as free as your own mind is. When you are incarcerated and being treated like crap all the way around and living in conditions that are uncomfortable and lonely and sad – you can still choose to be free in your mind. You can have good thoughts in bad situations. You can be kind to others and to yourself even in an environment like prison, and you can grow and rise above a lot, if you choose to.

For anyone, incarcerated or not, who isn’t feeling free, I recommend this book. It’s a classic in the prison world but a good read for anyone. It is spiritual in nature but down to earth and easy to read. You can find it at The Human Kindness Foundation, a group that does prison outreach that was started by Bo and his wife Sita years ago. If you want to read a quick summary of the ideas behind Bo’s book, this write up about Bo Lozoff by Douglas Goetsch does a pretty good job. I like where it says “listen to your better angel, see the cell as a world, see the prison block as a garden, see the divine in the faces of the guards, the bullies, prosecuting attorneys, parole boards; write your daughter, apologize to your ex-, renounce your pals—they’re not your friends— forgive your father, forgive yourself.”

Peace out everyone. Hope your 4th is a time of freedom for you and your loved ones. ~ Magnum

Getting clean the hard way

Maybe a few of you reading this blog stumbled on here when you were looking for information about heroin or addiction. Maybe you or one of your family members is struggling with some of the very same things that got me here in prison and you are looking for help.

In one of my first posts on here, I said I was genuinely glad I got arrested because it probably saved my life. Getting locked up is what it took for me to get the needle out of my arm. That is the good news.

Now the bad news. Here is the truth, if any of you reading this are thinking of quitting an addiction or maybe thinking if you don’t quit you might end up in prison, I suggest that you find a way to quit on your own. Ask for help, go to rehab or the hospital, have someone lock you in a room if you have to. Before you start, do it right and stock up on advil, immodium (if you are addicted to opiates) to ease the discomfort, and anthing else that you think can help too. Read up on your addiction and what to expect in withdrawal, don’t use your addict friends as your source of information either. Have some gatorade and sprite in the house, get some soup and crackers and then just tough it out. And once you get through that week or couple of weeks of hell, don’t go out and use again and be right back where you started.

Because looking back, I can say with all honesty detoxing in county jail is a very bad experience. In fact, it’s probably one of the worse ways to go about it. You will pray for death more than once during that experience but chances are, you won’t die, you will just wish you could.

For starters, it’s freezing cold in county jail. They keep the cells very cold, maybe 65 or so, at all times, the AC blasting, because it helps sober up the drunks and it keeps belligerent fools from fighting and acting aggressive. When I got arrested I had on shorts, a tank top, and sandals. No socks, no underwear. And they don’t issue those to you in county jail.

You get a jumpsuit and shower shoes. You have a thin, hard mattress, and a thinner blanket. If you want to purchase your own t-shirts and underwear and socks, you can, if somebody deposits money on your commissary account. But this takes time as you only get to go to the store on one day a week, and weekends is closed. So let’s say like me, you are arrested on Tuesday, and on Wednesday you call family, and they mail a money order the next day and it gets there on Saturday. My day for store was Friday, so that means I had to wait another week, so in total I was there 11 days with no underwear, sock, t-shirts, no toothpaste or toothbrush, no deodorant.

That was 11 days of going through withdrawing in the worse possible conditions, cold, uncomfortable, stinking, dirty, sweating and chills non-stop, with the craps and sick to my stomach and nobody there really could have cared less. The beverages in county jail was milk at meals and water from the tap. That’s it. Not cold water, not koolaid. Not even bad coffee was available.  You get woken up for breakfast at 4:00 AM, even though you probably just finally really fell asleep 2 hours before. It’s loud and noisy all the time, too, not to mention having to deal with a bunch of f’d up folks in there on a day to day basis who want to fight over any little thing, and freaking out because in the midst of the misery is the realization that the next stop is prison and that fact keeps smacking you right in the face.

So, if any of you are thinking of quitting (like I was pretty much every day of my addiction) do yourself a favor and accomplish it now, on the outside. Don’t wait for the Jail Rehab plan that I chose.

In closing, here’s a little bit of addict trivia for you – they supposedly call it “going cold-turkey” because of the goosebumps a heroin addict gets when in withdrawal. For those of you who haven’t experienced it, it’s really shitty, first you are sweating and then your flesh is all goosepimpled up, like a cold turkey carcass on ice, so turkeybumps really.

Peace ~ Texas Magnum

Letting go

I’m mad. I’m anxious. I’m just all around worried. I sit here and sit here and sit here. And I go over and over how I could have lived my life different. I know I could have done better. I am scared for my future.

All these thoughts bring nothing but negative emotions and urges. I feel like starting a fight with anyone who crosses me, I have the urge to use drugs, drink, shoot up. And I find myself judging others, in an attempt to defend my actions and outbursts and bad attitude.

I know at moments like this, I am my own worse enemy. I am letting my old ways and my old thinking get the best of me.

When this happens I remember a saying from A.A.-  “Let go, and let god.” I remind myself of this with a serenity prayer, and I try to reassure myself by letting my higher power know that I acknowledge that he’s the one who is in control, and I’m just gonna let him handle the things in front of me that seem impossible. Meanwhile, I will try my best to do the next right thing.

A fellow inmate reaches out

Today is the 17th of November, and it is a great day! The reason it is such a great day is that last night a fellow prisoner here at the county jail reached out. For the sake of this post, I am going to call him “Ali”. Ali and I were  just sitting around, and laughing with the guys.

Anyway, I went back over to my bunk, deciding to call it a night. I was just getting ready to go to sleep, when Ali surprises me by saying “Man, it suck’s that you’re leaving already.” At first I was a little confused by his comment, so I asked him why. He responded by telling me he hadn’t ever heard anyone be so open and candid about their addiction, and that he had wanted to talk about his own addiction with me. So, I invited him to sit and talk for awhile.

He told me about his addiction to meth as well as many other substances. He told me how embarrassed he was about being an addict, and he asked me, “Magnum, why aren’t you ashamed or embarrassed of your addiction? You seem so open about it.”

I told him that I am not ashamed of my addiction, but that I am ashamed of many of my actions that came about due to my addiction. I also told him that I am not embarrassed by the fact that I was shooting up, as I don’t think I would be the me I am today if I didn’t have those experiences. And, that I couldn’t be where I am spiritually and mentally at this point, if it wasn’t for that part of my life. I told him for me, my addiction doesn’t have to be a dark secret, but instead a learning tool or a spiritual tool that has helped me.

All in all, the conversation gave me such a good feeling. It is hard to explain, but I felt a true joy to listen to someone else, and to have them express that it felt good to talk about it with someone honestly, and to have them thank me for that. It was a conversation that also helped me express some thoughts that I had floating around in my head, and once I put them together and said them out loud, it reassured me that I am going in the right direction.

I just thank God so much for these types of small gifts he gives us. And, I am grateful that I am at a point where I can recognize this sort of random conversation as the gift that it is. I hope that all of you can have the experience of sharing with another what is inside your heart today or sometime soon, and that you find it as gratifying as I did.

Peace ~ Magnum