Tag Archives: methamphetamine

Thank You

In real time, Happy Thanksgiving, if you are American.  Happy Thursday, if you are not.  I have some news items to share at the end of this post.

Day four in Australia.  Day four?!  It felt like I’d been here forever, in a good way.

We alighted from our bus for sunset viewing of Ularu.  I walked around snapping photos of other tourist vehicles. I have spent many hours in these heavy-duty Toyotas in Kenya and Ethiopia.

There was this crazy sardine-mobile, some kind of motel on wheels.  I’m all for budget accommodations, but this beat even the bunkhouse for the claustrophobia factor.

There was this dusty, Mad Max BMW motorcycle.

A group of barefoot Aboriginal women sat on the pavement selling paintings.  I felt a sharp, uncomfortable contrast as Meg poured sparkling wine.

But then I was distracted by food.  “This is kangaroo jerky,” she indicated, “this one’s emu pâté  and this here’s croc dip.”

“The kangaroo is delicious!” I commented.  “It’s like venison.”

Heidi didn’t touch it.  “I can’t eat it. The kangaroo and the emu—they’re our national animals.”

“They’re animals that can only go forward,” explained Heidi.  “Like our country, I reckon is the idea?”

“I guess I wouldn’t want to eat a bald eagle,” I replied.  Well, all the more emu and kangaroo for me!

The members of our group began introducing ourselves.  Trevor and Gwen had immigrated to Australia from Nottingham, England, 20 years ago.  They were here with their 14-year-old daughter, Tiffany.  Kris and Melanie, a young Swiss couple, never spoke unless spoken to, so I didn’t get to know them at all.  Brenden and Stefanie were another young couple, from Canada.  Johannes and Sandra were a middle-aged German couple who took elaborate tripod-assisted selfies of themselves jumping for joy in front of every landmark.  Mia and Nora were also German; both were around 22 and they were student teachers in a German school in Melbourne.  There was a Chinese couple—father and daughter?  Lovers?  They stood apart and avoided all eye contact.  Another couple, Darren and Kylie, were also a May-December pair.  They said their names and that they were from Melbourne, then also kept to themselves.

I spoke with James, a 30-something Korean guy who spoke confident but almost-impossible-to-understand English. He was an out-of-work cook from Adelaide, blowing all his savings on a last hurrah in Australia before going home to an uncertain future.  He reminded me of Vince.  Because he was a cook, but mostly because there was a soulfulness about him.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it doesn’t involve decorating the house inside and out, buying presents, or any Christmas/Hanuka dilemmas.  You just eat a lot with your family or friends, then fall asleep in front of the TV watching The Hobbit for the millionth time.

Thanksgiving is about—as the name implies—giving thanks, and I have a lot to be grateful for this year.  As I sit here at my writing desk and look out the window at the grey sky and freezing drizzle, I am grateful for a warm home.  I am healthy.  I have friends and family.  I got to spend a month in Australia!  I wish I was there now.

And, some big news: I quit my job last week.  More on that later, but I already feel 10 years younger.

And another big development: Vince and I started this blog together four years ago.  We just published the first year of the blog as an e-book.  It chronicles his time in prison, his recovery, and my ride along with him.

Besides providing insight into why people turn out the way they are, we’ve been told by many readers that it’s just a good read, a page turner.  So if you’re looking for something to binge read over the weekend, or holidays, consider buying a copy.  Only $3.99!

Breaking Free: A Mother And Son Journey From Addiction, To Prison, To Redemption https://www.amazon.com/…/B…/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_AbI9Bb9K1SXQM

Please feel free to share this on social media, and thanks for reading—we know it can be difficult stuff but addiction and all its consequences, including imprisonment, are a reality for hundreds of thousands of people every day.

Time to Make a Move

Greetings from Oxford, Mississippi! This is a post written by Vince about his move. It will be bittersweet to come home to an empty house.

Time to Make a Move

Just shy of seven months as a free man, I am happy to report that, as a 37-year-old, I am moving out of my mother’s home. Again. Maybe for the fourth time in my life, and hopefully for the last.

I alluded to this in my last post but not before because I didn’t want to get overexcited about it until it was actually approved by my agents. Now it is official, and I can proudly relate this information to you: I AM MOVING!  Just two short days from now.

I have written about this move before, but as a failed attempt at leaving the nest possibly too early.  I’m moving into a house with two sober guys from the program, one of which I was in prison with, and I’ve worked with for some time. He no longer works with me, but we remain friends. I don’t know the other guy, but he’s sober, and that counts for a lot.

I’ve been to see the house once.  It’s small as you can see in the picture, but I’ll have my own room, so it isn’t like a sober house environment. There isn’t a house manager that watches over us, or anybody to give us random shakedowns and breathalyzers. I have my agents for that. This is a step forward.

V's House

It couldn’t come at a better time, in my opinion, as I will be moving on to the next phase of Intensive Supervised Release program soon after. That will open up a lot more time that I can spend doing things I want to do like go to more meetings, and spending more time with my family. I am also finishing the last three hours of my community service this week.

It’s all lining up.  Everything is going well in so many ways.  So I need to be really careful. For somebody like me, good news can be all I need to trick myself into thinking I deserve a reward.  Maybe I can go out and celebrate with just one drink, or just a little crack (“A little” crack doesn’t actually exist. It’s an all or nothing drug. For more information, go here). I mean, at this point I’ve built myself a pretty good network of people that I can reach out to if the urge hits me, but it’s always good to layer on the protection.

This disease of mine can also be described as an allergy. When I drink or do drugs, things just go haywire. My body responds differently to them than normal people.  Also, my allergy in particular is a little more severe than say, a gluten allergy. Oh, also I don’t believe that’s a real allergy, but I’m not a Doctor.  Anyhow, let’s say that somebody with a gluten allergy accidentally ingests some flour. Well, maybe an hour or so later, they fart a little and that causes some slight discomfort or embarrassment. Well, when I ingest a little alcohol, or maybe some meth, my world flips upside down.  I can no longer take care of myself financially, mentally, or physically. And this allergy affects others, too.  For example, if I smoke crack, you may no longer have a television, and some of your smaller valuables may go missing as well.

Simply put, chemicals make me not give a fuck about you or me.  And I’d really like to avoid all of that so that’s why I’ve immersed myself in this program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not worried about relapsing because of my new place and my new freedoms, I’m excited to see what I can do with them.  And I’m really happy to be able to share this with you people. For you that are new to this blog, I encourage you to see where it all started almost two years ago with just five pieces of writing paper and a 3” flexible safety pen behind the unforgiving bars at St. Cloud Men’s Reformatory/State Prison.

UN-Doing the War on Drugs

I ended my last post by saying I would write about a road trip I am contemplating, from St. Paul to New Orleans.  I don’t know enough to write about it yet, so for now I will revert to one of this blog’s main topics, addiction—and all the consequences of addiction and trying to stop it.

I’m very excited that the United Nations will hold a review of the whole drug control system in April in New York.  It’s called the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem, or the horrible acronym UNGASS. I’d like to thank the Open Societies Foundation (OSF) for its reporting on this.  OSF promotes research documenting the heavy costs of the war on drugs and shares success stories from countries that have implemented smart policies.  I’ve plagiarized their recent blog posts quite heavily here.

The last time the UN had a special session on drugs, in 1998, the focus was “the total elimination of drugs from the world.”  Ha!  I wonder if there were any actual addicts or former drug dealers involved in coming up with that totally unrealistic goal.

Because it didn’t go well.  The war on drugs has led to public health crises, mass incarceration, corruption, and black market–fueled violence.  Governments—especially those in Latin America that have to deal with the fallout of bad drug policies—have pushed for this UNGASS.

Citizens are fed up too.  A few years ago, a coalition of organizations and individuals in Uruguay pushed until the country voted to become the first country in the world to establish a legal, government-controlled marijuana market.  The main objective of the law was to eliminate narcotrafficking.  But they also have a positive goal, to make the new marijuana production chain beneficial for poor segments of society and a sustainable business for small producers with limited resources.

For the first time, there is significant dissent at the local, national, and international levels.

UNGASS is an opportunity to put an end to the horrors of the drug war and instead prioritize health, human rights, and safety.

I didn’t even know that there was an International Narcotics Control Board, did you?  That sounds creepy.  And it acts like a bully, apparently.

For instance, in the 90s, Switzerland had a major drug problem.  There were open-air drug scenes and one of the highest rates of HIV in Western Europe.  The government pioneered services such as heroin prescriptions, supervised consumption rooms, and community-based treatment.  The Swiss people approved this policy through a series of referenda.

What happened?  The number of new heroin users declined from 850 in 1990 to 150 in 2002; drug-related deaths declined by more than 50 percent; new HIV infections dropped 87 percent, and there was a 90 percent reduction of property crime committed by people who use drugs.

But the UN’s Control Board accused the Swiss of “aiding and abetting the commission of crimes involving illegal drug possession and use.”

On the other hand, when Bulgaria introduced a law that made possession of tiny amounts of drugs punishable with mandatory incarceration for as long as 15 years, the Control Board praised their “political commitment and the will to deal with drug abuse.”  I’ve never been to Bulgaria, but life in a Bulgarian prison sounds horrifying.

OSF is publishing a series of reports in advance of UNGASS, including research into drug courts and their unintended consequences, and an examination of how the drug war affects girls and women uniquely.  You can sign up for their updates here.  Want to get more involved or have a say?  Check out this cool website, Stop the Harm.

So there!  After my recent buzzkill series of posts, I’m happy to share with you some good news and some easy ways to contribute to fixing this world’s drug problem—for real this time.

Two Hundred and Thirty-Seven

VINCE

This marks the two hundredth post that my mother and I have written. It’s been quite a journey. Almost daily I look back through the blog and see such a wide variety of emotion, struggles, triumphs, and memories. Today also marks another important number, 37. For the second time in a year, it’s my 37th birthday, only this time it is actually real. You may have read recently about my miscalculation with my date of birth. Well, it was nice feeling young again when I realized 11 and a half months in that I was only 36. So, my two weeks is over and I’m old again. Boo-hoo.

 

A year ago today, I was sitting alone in a cold cell in St. Cloud prison where nobody cared about me or my birthday. I remember trying to make a big deal out of it with the other swampers (house cleaning crew) but nobody was interested. One person gave me a cup of Folgers instant coffee, and that was the highlight of the day. I sat. I read. I wrote. And I pondered where I would be a year from that day. I had no clue what was in store for me with boot camp. I actually received my acceptance letter a few days later which was dated Oct. 24th. I was so excited. I showed it to the swampers, the offenders, the guards. Again, nobody cared. I knew there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be in prison for my next birthday if I put everything I had into this boot camp thing. And did I ever.

 

It was shortly after that I was moved to Moose Lake into segregation, the single worst experience of my incarceration. Well, enough reflection, I’ve already lived it, written it, and read it. What’s new?

 

In my last post I talked about my new tooth falling out. I didn’t really mention why. My student dentist had actually forgotten to put on the bonding agent which would have secured the plastic onto the broken tooth itself. Oops. She did try to contact me, but we didn’t actually talk until a few days later at which point she explained the mistake she made and we set up a time to get it fixed. She said she felt like an idiot and she was so sorry, and couldn’t believe she could have forgotten…. I interrupted her and explained that it was okay. I learned a lot at C.I.P. And I explained that everybody makes mistakes no matter what. And when you do, you fix it, and move on. I have made some terrible decisions and made some huge mistakes in my life, and people still love me. So, I bet after she fixes my tooth, she will never forget to put the stuff on again. And that’s how we learn. Right?

I cooked vegan fajitas with my cousin tonight. Her mother was in from California, and I hadn’t seen her in roughly a decade, just like everybody else. We had a good talk, a good dinner, and we played with kittens. My cousin is a vegan and I love to cook, but I had never really given anything that wasn’t meat-based a shot. I didn’t turn into a zombie, and the desserts she brought were actually pretty good, too. I’m not saying that I will be a vegetarian tomorrow (or ever), but I did realize how much I actually enjoy veggies. Tomorrow I will realize how much I enjoy meaty, cheesy pizza for my birthday celebration. Win-win?

 

I’m really excited to see my dog Willie on Sunday. My friend Seth is talking to me on the phone right now confirming that he is actually coming. So, I’m done for now. I will write about the reunion in a couple days. Goodbye for now.

 

 

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Crack

VINCE

Saturday night after leaving my A.A. meeting, I was driving down University Avenue when my brand new tooth popped out of its new home in my mouth.  Only two days in, and my new smile was gone.  I had waited so long to be confident with my appearance, and just like that, it was over.

I pulled up to a stop light and spat the jagged plastic remnant out of my mouth and looked it over and had the thought that just maybe, super glue might do the trick.  At that moment I saw a car pull up to the light next to me.  I looked over and noticed it was a St. Paul police officer and I immediately looked back in my hand and mentally said to myself, “Oh, fuck! This looks like crack!”, and quickly lowered my hand out of sight.  The officer paid me no attention, and we both went on about our respective ways.  It’s been a long time since I have had or done any drugs, but the paranoia still exists in me.  Incidentally, all of your teeth look like crack.  So, now you know that.

On another note… While I was in prison, my only goal every day was to get through the day as quickly as possible: one day closer to the door.  For the first five weeks of freedom, I have carried that attitude with me until I had the realization the other day that I really want to enjoy life.  I think we as Americans tend to live by this same philosophy: work, work, work, then it’s the weekend.  Work, work, work, then you retire.  I have wasted so much of my life doing useless things and it seems like everything I talk about now isn’t just 10 years ago anymore, it’s twenty.  How do you stop the time from passing so quickly?  How am I going to enjoy my life while working the American way, 40 hours a week?  Well, I’m going to have as much fun as I can while I’m doing everything that I do.  I have found that in sobriety, laughter has depth.  Conversations have meaning.  And friendships blossom quickly.  I am going to enjoy every minute of every day because it’s all going to go by quickly, and I’m never going to get out alive.  Twenty years from now, I’m going to be talking about things that happened twenty years ago, again.

I say all of that to remind myself that there’s no more time for me to waste.  I think of all of the people I have left behind in prison, some of them never getting out.  If I go back to my old ways of selling/using meth and I get caught with, for example, the same amount I had last time, I would likely get 96 months without the possibility of an early release through boot camp.  I would have to sit for over five years before being eligible for parole.  Then what?  Move back in with Mom, again at 43?  I think not.

I am restricted to three A.A. meetings per week while I am on I.S.R.  If I had my way, I would have done 90 in 90 as soon as I got out.  I am not planning a relapse, but these meetings give me so much more than just maintaining sobriety.  It’s a place I go to get things off my chest and I don’t feel embarrassed about saying anything.  Sort of what I do with this blog, but I get to hear other people and their stories that I can relate to.

So, I apologize for not writing for a few days.  I needed a break.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.  And with that, I pass.

The Job

Vince

Three weeks and a day after my release from incarceration I got a job. I’ve filled out applications and applied online to a number of establishments and businesses, but today I was hired by the first place at which I inquired of employment.  Actually, I had stopped in there a couple times and called a few more, and was about to give up completely when I received a message from my friend that works there saying somebody had just quit.  Then he called me and said I could start tomorrow, which I couldn’t do, but I will on Thursday.  Yay!  Thank you Mr. D.  You know who you are.

Last night my agents paid me a visit around 11pm in which they were finally giving me a little bit of a hard time about not yet finding employment.  They said they weren’t really worried yet, but if I didn’t have some form of employment within two weeks, we would be having a conversation.  Then they asked if I had tried a temp agency, to which I said I thought we weren’t allowed to do that, which is what I remember from orientation, or something, I don’t know.  I have on more than one occasion called into the voicemail system with a relevant question and received no response.  Again, I say, this is the common frustration among us newly released.  It’s all very confusing and sometimes I feel as if things I hear are contradictory.  That’s the way it was in boot camp but I think it was more to see if they could get a reaction out of us there. Out here it wouldn’t really make sense to tell us anything that wouldn’t put us on the right track, so I think maybe I’m imagining a few things because they don’t make sense.  Does that make sense?  I could also be losing my mind.  I do think I should write things down more often.

I had a really bad dream again last night in which I hooked back up with my old drug dealer (who, in real life, is in a Federal prison in California for 15 years) and was holed up in a hotel room with a  huge bag of meth.  I don’t know what kind of hotel it was but it was odd.  I remember a knock at the door, and when I opened it up there were a bunch of high school kids who looked at me as if they were very disappointed in me and then left.  When I turned around I saw the huge bag of meth just sitting on the nightstand under a brightly lit lamp, but I didn’t seem to care.  I noticed that in general, I don’t ever have conversations in dreams.  Or, at the very least I don’t think I ever say anything.  Well, that was the end of the dream, and in real life it was morning time, and I got up.  I can’t wait for my meeting tonight.

Tomorrow I will be spending the day doing some manual labor and general maintenance for my dear aunt Connie.  That I have scheduled from 9AM until 7PM and with a morning run and an evening meeting I wont hardly be home at all, which is something I’m looking forward to.  Connie is a survivor of cancer and a hero to me since childhood.  I have a lot of making up to do in our relationship since I took a vacation for so many years.  She was one of those people that tried to help me out when she found out I had relapsed oh so many years ago.  So, she didn’t make the friends list.  I will work hard tomorrow digging out a tree stump, trimming some trees, and what-not.  But what I really want is the opportunity to talk with her one-on-one, an opportunity I have not had as of yet.  An opportunity for me to apologize, make amends, and move on. And if you’re reading this, Connie, pretend you haven’t when I see you please. 🙂

Coming up on the blog: First day on the job!  Please share this blog with your friends.  The goal as always is to help the still suffering addict, and make me a famous writer in the process!