as told to Bethanie Gengler

“I lived in Wisconsin so everyone drank. You’d get some drinks when you were younger and I started out drinking and just got kind of caught in the hippie movement. I played in a couple of bands so that kind of set me up there. The heroin I think I was about 19.  There were other addicts that showed me how to do it. I had hurt my back and I’d used pain pills first. I was at the bar where I hang out and that’s where it was offered to me. It was an overwhelming warm feeling, like being hit by a warm wave. Just feeling complete. Just feeling good and safe and secure and no fears or anything. Somewhere you’d want to be all the time. I didn’t start out to get addicted. It was something that I tried and once I was addicted to it, it was too late I was in the addiction. Complete takeover. It’s hard to get out. You go to bed at night wondering where you’re going to get more or how you’re going to get the money, how you’re going to get through the day. You spend all your time thinking about it, worrying how you’re going to get it, and using it. Addiction is complete control of your mind and your body. I just didn’t care at that time. I lost most of my emotions so I didn’t have the type of emotions that would make me want to get out. It’s a short-term solution for a long-term problem. It’s a sad lonely place, addiction is. Everybody’s your friend if you got some, but if you don’t, you’re Mr. Nobody. My clean date is Dec. 7, 1998. I don’t have a desire to use right now because I know what the effects would be healthwise and lifewise. What keeps me going is, I know I don’t want to go back there. I know I don’t want to try and recover my life from a disastrous place. I can go to sleep and not have to worry about this stuff or if someone’s going to kick my door in or if cops are after me. I can just go to bed, wake up in the morning, and I have a choice of what I want to do. I don’t have to right away run to the dealer. Life is good.” 

John, 67, lives in Kaukauna and was addicted to narcotics for 25 years. He has been clean from heroin since Dec. 7 1998. John likes to play guitar and listen to the blues.  He works at a cheese factory in Kaukauna and is a volunteer for Narcotics Anonymous.