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Most of the staff here at Detox Local are recovering addicts and alcoholics. Every now and then we ask one of our employees to share their story with you all. For this story, we actually had the chance to speak with one of our employee’s friends who was kind enough to share their experience, strength, and hope with us. This is told by them and we simply did a transcript of their story, word for word. Please beware that this article may feature some offensive language and disturbing imagery.  We hope that you will hear their message and gain some hope knowing that a better life is possible.

“I’m Chip and I’m an addict. You know, I never know really where to start when I share my story. No one wants to hear the horrors of my addiction, we all share similar problems and issues while we’re out there using, but I feel like I need to qualify myself so you know what I’m saying carries weight. I, I don’t know, I guess I’ll start from the beginning, that’s a good place to start. Right? As a kid, ya know, my childhood, my childhood wasn’t ideal. It was me, my two older sisters, and my younger brother. We all went through this stuff together, without them I probably would’ve run away, but we kept each other strong. That sibling love is a weird thing man, it’s so strong and so pure. I would’ve died for them.  Dad was never around, and when he was I wish he wasn’t. He was abusive. Abusive physically. Abusive mentally. Not just to me, but to all of us. But hey, that’s how he was brought up and that’s how he brought us up. It was a different time, you see, back then everyone beat their kids, it’s just what it was. At least that’s what I told myself.

My mom was there and I think she loved me, but her presence was never welcomed. She never stood up for us and when she did she’d get hit too. Same as the rest of us. My dad was an alcoholic, the worst type too. All his days were spent drinking. He couldn’t hold a job more than a few months before they let him go. So it was up to my mom to support us. She worked two or three jobs throughout my childhood. From early morning’s til we were asleep at night, she was gone.

We’d talk about the beatings we’d get and show off the bruises to our friends. Some reason we would try to one-up each other, not so much my sisters, but me and my buddies would. I got this for not doing the dishes. I got this one for talking back. I got this for leaving the stove on. Every week it was something. Every week there was a new mark. I played it up to my friends and to my younger brother. Had to be tough, ya know, had to be tough. I’m a man, gotta be tough. This was the face I put on outside, in the real world, ya know. Inside I was torn up.

Don’t get me wrong, we were no Brady Bunch group of kids. We were always getting into trouble. Getting in trouble alone. Getting in trouble with friends. Getting in trouble with each other. Problems at school? Yeah, we had those too. We weren’t bad kids, but we weren’t great kids. We wouldn’t steal or anything like that, but we were definitely a handful for anyone who had to watch over us. Looking back it was the attention it gave us, the attention we never got at home. That need to be loved and to fit in would come to hit me hard as I got older.

Fast forward to my teenage years. Things at home started to get better, my Dad was gone, I got a job to help support the house, I was active, had friends, life was better. Wasn’t perfect, but was sure better. My Mom was happier, my brother and sisters were happier, life was simple.

I played some sports and was pretty good at some. Football was my main thing and that helped carry me through highschool. It gave me a social group and helped me feel accepted, but there was always something missing. Still working on putting my finger on exactly what that was. It always used to be this gaping hole that I filled with girls, sports, and eventually drugs, but that hole has gotten a lot smaller since I got clean.

I smoked some pot and drank a bit through highschool, but everyone did. I wasn’t unique for that, but I was a bit different for how much I drank. Other people have a few beers, get themselves nice and tipsy and call it a night. Nope, not me. I wanted to drink until I couldn’t remember. I used to say, Oh yeah I’m definitely going to black out tonight. And that was my goal when I would go to parties and start drinking. I didn’t want to get tipsy, I wanted to get fucked up, ya know? Some nights I went harder than others, but every night I drank, I went hard. I didn’t see it as a problem because I didn’t drink every day. I wasn’t like my dad. I was a friendly drunk. You give me some alcohol and I’m making everyone’s night better.

This kept on through college. I got a scholarship and everything for football, and I rode that wave until I graduated. The drinking got a bit out of control, but I was still going to class, maintaining good enough grades, and had a great group of friends. After graduating I moved away from the town I called home for my entire life to pursue my career. I left my friends and family behind to go to Florida and to become a cop. Honestly, I just wanted to party in Miami, but I figured I would need to get a job too. I’m a big dude, so being a cop just made sense. I enrolled in the academy and broke my leg before I could even do one class. I wasn’t even drunk when it happened which is the crazy thing. Just running late for the bus, took a step weird, and snap; broken leg.

Went to the hospital and they gave me some painkillers. The first pill I took I felt something I never felt before. That hole inside me and been filled. That void didn’t exist anymore. All them negative internal thoughts, just gone. OxyContin, how did I know you never existed until now? All that time, money and energy I wasted drinking could’ve been spent doing these little things.

The Downfall

I ran through my prescription in like four days. I think it was supposed to last me a week or two, I can’t remember, I just knew it was gone and that I needed more. I didn’t want more, I NEEDED more. Little did I know these things were everywhere in South Florida. This was back in 2006, the height of the pill mills down there. I asked around for maybe five minutes before I found out all I needed was a copy of my X-ray and two hundred bucks, cash of course, and I could walk into any crooked doctor’s office and walk out with over a hundred pills.

It didn’t take long for my new hobby to get absolutely out of control. I was doctor shopping with the best of them and filing scripts left and right. This went on for a few years. Any hopes of being a cop, or having any full on career seemed gone. I made money being a bouncer at clubs. They didn’t care if you were high on the job, as long as you did your job. To be honest, I stopped getting high after a year of the things. I just used to even out, to feel normal.

Miami nightlife is a wild thing. There’s drugs everywhere and they’re accepted and pretty much done by everyone around. The big one was coke, everyone down there does coke, it’s crazy. I hadn’t done it since college and figured, hey why not. So I started doing lines while popping pills.

Then the coke got just as out of control as the pills did, so I started selling coke so I could pay for the coke. But here’s the thing, I was snorting more than I was selling so I wasn’t making any money. Terrible businessman. Soon I started having to steal from people at work to pay for my habit. So I was working, stealing, and selling and I STILL couldn’t afford to get as high as I wanted to be.

Eventually, I got caught stealing and was let go, this happened a few times at a few different clubs before I was pretty much blacklisted from working anywhere in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. No one ever pressed charges which was cool, but I kinda wish that they did. That way I could get locked up and figure out this problem.

I just couldn’t stop. I needed opiates to feel normal and I needed that coke to get by. Drugs were always the first thing on my mind when I woke up and the last thing on my mind when I went to bed. Shit just kept getting worse until I eventually found myself homeless and alone.

Lived on the streets about a year until one day this guy came up to me and offered me some help. Said if I was looking for a better life he could help me out. I thought this man is full of shit, nobody helps out a man who looks like me and doesn’t want anything in return. I shrugged him off and said I was good. A week or so later, same guy came up to me and said the same thing. I told him I was good. You know, a man’s gotta be strong, gotta be tough, no matter how hurt he really is on the inside. Another week goes by and guess who it is, same dude, telling me the same thing. This time something in me felt different and I broke down.

Must of been a sight to see, homeless ass me crying in the middle of the street to some stranger. He just sat there and listened and said I get it I get it. I’ve been there, been right where you are. This man wasn’t anything like me, but his words felt true. He told me I had to get myself cleaned up a bit and once I did he’d help me get into a detox center near me. He handed me some clothes in a Goodwill bag and said he’d wait for me.

I went over to the beach, rinsed off in the shower, and went back to him. The next 20 minutes he just kept assuring me it was going to be ok and that it’s just going to get better as long as I do the work. We pulled up to the detox, he walked me in, and said that I better not fuck up this opportunity. He told me that the detox would get me off the pills, but afterward, I was on my own. He jotted his number down on a piece of paper and told me to call him when I got out.

It Gets Better

I was so happy to sleep in a real bed that night. I just felt this crazy peace inside like I had never felt before. Sure I was a little dope sick, but it was nothing that I hadn’t felt before. I was just grateful.

You better believe the first thing I did when I got out of that detox center was call that man. He picked me up a few hours after my discharge and told me we were going to a meeting. He told me to shut up and just listen to what people had to say, so that’s what I did. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t agree with what everyone had to say in that room, but there was some good stuff being talked about. At the end of the meeting, he told me to go up to some dudes that spoke and introduce myself. So that’s what I did.

One of them asked me about my situation and welcomed me to the group. I told him I was homeless, but just out of detox and grateful to be there. He told m he had a halfway house I could stay in and that he’d put me on his construction team. Looking back and hearing other people’s stories I realize how lucky I was. But at the time I was just thinking WHY DID I NOT COME HERE A YEAR AGO?!

This was almost ten years ago and that man who picked me up way back then is now, and has been my sponsor. Thanks to him, some crazy luck, some work, and the 12 steps I am clean. A big part of that hole in me has been filled by the people in the rooms of the meetings that I attend, parts of it have been filled with my higher power, and other parts are still empty. Guess what, that’s ok. I’m happy now and my life is far better than it’s ever been.