‘Before I got out of the car she took a picture of me. ‘In case I never get to see you again,’ she said. She started crying. I was so sick of making my mom cry.’

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“The majority of my days were spent on a bathroom floor covered in dried blood searching for veins. By the time my life had gotten to this place I was 27, strung out on heroin, methamphetamine and crack cocaine. I had come to the conclusion I was born to die a drug addict and my life was supposed to be an example of how not to live yours. Little did I know I was about to be rocketed into a way of living I never thought possible.

See, I started doing drugs at a very young age. I had always felt disconnected from people. I was always in fear of the unknown and constantly felt I was a burden. Nothing in my life led me to feel this way I just did. My childhood was normal and we never went without. But my brain just never shut off and I was pulled towards the darker sides of life. I remember thinking ‘I am definitely going to try drugs!’ My parents has the conversations with me and so did the school programs but I was dead set on doing them simply because I was told not to I guess. The first time I smoked marijuana I fell in love. I remember saying to myself ‘Yup this is it! This is what my life will consist of from here on out. And if marijuana does this to me then I can only image what the others drugs will do.’ I made the decision right then that drugs and alcohol would be my career and I quickly found my identity in them. My brain shut off and they took over. Everyone I hung out with, everywhere I went, everything I did was with or to get more drugs and alcohol. It was fun for a long long time and I thrived in it. But it all culminated on that cold and hard bathroom floor. At this point I was beaten… drugs and alcohol were my master and i couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. Little did I know I was about to be rocketed into a way of living I never thought possible.

Courtesy of Taylor Reichelt

I left my drug dealers house, where I was living at the time. Man was I happy to be out of there. I had watched him physically abuse his girlfriend for weeks up until this point. I never said anything or tried to protect her in fear of him cutting me off from the drugs. So I just watched… Hating myself more and more each time it would happen because I was too much of a coward and too enslaved by the drugs to try and stop it. It got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore so I decided to leave. I had no destination in mind but I knew I had to get out of there.

Now call this divine intervention, subconscious thinking or just plan old luck but I had ended up at a nearby Jack in the Box where my mom was waiting for me. Apparently I had made plans with her to meet some days before because my insurance kicked in and a rehab was waiting for me. I had no intention of meeting my mom there and no sense of what time or day of the week it was. Meth does that to a person. But she was there and I was relieved. I don’t remember what was said during that car ride but I remember feeling a shift in me although I paid it no mind. I was not planning to get sober by any means and I think my mom felt that. Before I got out of the car she took a picture of me as she always did and said ‘In case I never get to see you again.’ She started crying. I was so sick of making my mom cry. I entered drug and alcohol detox on October 1st 2015.

Courtesy of Taylor Reichelt

I stayed there, kicked heroin, came down off the meth and craved crack the entire time. That is just how it went for me at those places. It was a pit stop. A place to get a hot meal, a shower and rest for a bit in an actual bed. I left there and entered the residential program for 4 days then left. I had gotten to opportunity to get high and of course I took it. But this time it was different. I did not enjoy the feeling as I had for years and years prior. I couldn’t stop thinking about the 4 days I had just spent with a roof over my head, food in my stomach, the laughter I shared with people there, the gym we went to, the beach we had visited and the safety I felt. Something was definitely different. I thought to myself ‘Ok just get more drugs and things will go back to normal.’ So I did, but they didn’t. I made the decision to go back to the facility to explore what I was feeling a bit more. I have never looked back since.

The next, next morning after sleeping off all the meth I had done I walked outside. It was a sunny day without a cloud in the sky. I could feel the cool breeze on my skin and I said out loud ‘Wow, what a beautiful day.’ Then it hit me! I hadn’t cared what the weather was like in almost 15 years. I instantly got an overwhelming sensation. The hair on my arms stood up. I felt a warmth crawl up my spine. And tears started flowing down cheeks. I felt hope. For the first time since I started doing drugs I had hope maybe, just maybe I was destined for something more.  Maybe I was not meant to die a lonely death in a fast food bathroom like so many of my friends or peers. Maybe I could beat this thing.

Courtesy of Taylor Reichelt

Today my life is built on the sole purpose of helping others who still struggle. To continue to be that proof that recovery is possible and that anyone can make it out alive. When the staff at the rehab I went to told me that my story can help others I was not only skeptical it but it seemed unfair. I had been a tornado of devastation to anyone and everyone who I claimed to love or care about. I had been a taker my entire life. I took people’s money, trust, time and anything else I could get my hands on or manipulate from them. But, when given the opportunity to give back with nothing more than simply being an example of hope I ran with it. I quickly realized that this was my way of making right all the wrongs I had done in my life. Through sharing my struggles and truly being vulnerable to those around me I could make something positive out of all the pain I caused so many.

Courtesy of Taylor Reichelt

Life is such a remarkable gift these days. To sit across from an individual who is in the deepest part of their addiction, staring into the eyes of someone so hopeless and utterly defeated by the drugs or alcohol. To sit there and say ‘I get it. I understand how you feel. I have been there. But you know what? You have the capability to have a beautiful life and you deserve to make it out alive like I have.’ To say that and truly believe it with all my heart and then watch a little glimmer of hope come to their eyes is something so powerful words cannot explain. I now live for those moments. I am now almost 4 years sober. I own a home. I work with parents and adolescents on drug education. And I am a nationally qualified athlete. But more importantly I have grown into a son, a brother, an uncle and a husband. My life looks nothing like my old one when I was getting high and for that I am truly grateful.”

Courtesy of Taylor Reichelt

This story was written by Taylor Reichelt of California. You can follow him on Instagram hereSubmit your own story here, and subscribe to our free newsletter for our best stories.

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Read more inspiring stories about overcoming drug use here:

‘I didn’t know who the father was. I continued to use drugs, until I received life-changing news. I was not expecting one baby, or two, but I was pregnant with TRIPLETS.’

‘From the very beginning I knew something wasn’t right with me. I never got married and never had children. I kept using drugs to forget the pain I felt in my soul.’

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