You've been clean for ages, but nothing makes you happier than your morning pint of Guinness. Now what?
Q: "I've gone way beyond the suggested regimen of staying clean. But after twenty years of being off smack, I laugh: seven beers in at any hour and I still wouldn't pick up a rig to shoot up. Sure, I avoid the opiates, but an ice cold beer in the morning? Sorry."—Will B., Tampa, FL
A: "Some can and some can't," Jimmy R., of Portland, OR, told us. "In my 32 years of being heroin-free, I've seen guys come in and quickly get drowned out by booze before picking up smack again. I've also seen guys who stayed clean one beer at a time. The high from booze and the high from heroin are very different on many levels. The use itself is different. What isn't different is the addiction. And from what I've seen in over three decades is that once the addiction is awakened, it awakens all of your other addictions, making men and women who are resolute in their heroin-free life at risk of going back out. Sure I could have a beer or two, but because I'm an addict, I run the risk of fucking up my clean time when the 'fuck it,' sloppy, over spending, immoral, and overall dirtbag life seeps back in."
Terrance L., from Paramus, NJ, said, "I've been clean for years, and I don't think I could have done it without a few cold beers when I needed them."
Key Tip: Some can, some can't. Proceed with great caution.—C.D.
It was a gamble. "I decided to use. But I did so with some new rules. I used less, and made sure I was at home instead of at a club or someone else's house. I had a small stash of 25 gauge needles and everything to keep my arms clean and healthy. Feeling it go into my veins was familiar. The rush and high were new: far more mellow, but far easier to manage. It was the best high I'd had in years—just easy and mellow. The gamble was a high: my wife could have walked in, the kids could have seen me. Someone could have called or rang the bell. The police, who've arrested me a few times, could have popped over unexpectedly. But none of those things happened and I was able to enjoy my high without incident. What I hadn't anticipated was the guilt and remorse and obsession that followed after using just that once. A guilt and remorse and obsession that sent me right back to the rooms to start recovery again."—David R., Miami, FL
Consequences. "My life was the same daredevil act that yours was," said Meredith of Atlanta, GA. "The same 'threading of the needle' each day. It was lame. But I had some serious consequences to face when my choice to use caused a violent car crash in which my eldest child was horribly disfigured and I was busted on the spot for the H I was on—and carrying. Yeah, I qualify for my seat in NA. I only wish my 13 years heroin-free could remove the scars from my child's body and life."—C.D.