Getting clean after a decade of suboxone use.
Today’s episode is a live interview with Alekzandr Mac. He is a good friend and a prominent member of the SHAIR private accountability group. Today he shares his long, difficult journey with prescription drug abuse.
Both his father and step-father were addicted to opiates and Alekzandr joined them in the hunt for pills. Eventually he went on suboxone to mitigate his problems, but he ended up abusing it for the next ten years.
This is the story of how he finally broke his dependence on pharmaceuticals and found recovery after a pivotal phone call he made on the night of September 10th, 2016.
CLEAN DATE: September 1st 2016
Listen to Alekzandr’s story now!
Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!
Now that Alekzandr has over 15 months clean, his routine is to try to go through all the wreckage he caused. After 60 days of withdrawal from suboxone, he began to feel again and realized all the damage he had done. Just getting clean wasn’t going to make everything go back to perfect. Plus, recovery was taking as much time away from his family as the drugs did.
When I was out using, I was gone. When I got into recovery, I was gone.
This has been hard for his wife to understand because she never went through a program. He tries to do the next right thing and it’s not easy when he hasn’t done the right thing for years. As a father and husband, he didn’t know how to be sober and sit with his kids or deal with his wife. Today he has work the steps because even though he is no longer using, he still has much work to do.
The fiend in me… I can be clean and live really dirty.
Alekzandr hasn’t worked and has one more year to dedicate to the steps–not just reading them, but living them. Outside of recovery, he wakes up, makes the kids lunch, goes to the gym, and his meetings. His aim is to keep things as simple as possible.
My recovery is gradually getting better.
The First Time
Alekzandr’s drinking started at the age of 13. He first got drunk at a neighbor’s party with a bottle of Boone’s Farm. He never became a beer guy. He liked the sweet stuff like Bartles and James or Seagrams wine coolers. At 15 or 16 he started smoking weed and beer-bonging Boone’s Farm and Thunderbird.
Alekzandr never thought he was a real addict because he didn’t do coke or heroin. He thought he was okay drinking and smoking marijuana. Then he turned 17 and ended up with his first DUI. His mom put him in a treatment center. His father, in active addiction, pulled him out the next day. Alekzandr never really had to deal with the consequences.
In the late 90s, he discovered Lortabs and that you could take ten pills and get high without having to drink all the booze. Once he got into pharmaceuticals, he never stopped. It just kept going, and his tolerance kept growing.
Alekzandr went to great lengths to get pills, from going to doctors to picking up loads in Mexico with his father and step-father. Then his wife got pregnant with first kid and he decided he wanted to get into a suboxone program.
When he arrived at the treatment center, he lied and said that he had not used. Little did he know that taking his first suboxone pill would send him into immediate withdrawal. They gave him the prescription suboxone along with Xanax and Zoloft. At first, he felt great. He thought he was cured, but then, like a normal addict, he wanted more. He learned how to inject or mix the pills. He was a bigger mess with medically assisted-treatment than without it. He downed 5-Hour Energy Drinks to create a speedball effect.
Alekzandr was on and off, toggling between opiates and suboxone. He brought his step-dad on a trip to Italy, took all his pills, and left him there. After that, Alekzandr thought maybe he should go on suboxone again.
He spent ten years on Suboxone. He didn’t have the urge to stop at all. According to him, he was clean.
He still didn’t get when his mom was dying. He was the only one there alone with her when she passed away. The first thought he had was where’s all the dope. Only afterward did he call to tell the family that she was gone.
That’s how sick the disease is.
Three weeks later his stepfather died. It was a double funeral with his mother. He should have been devastated, but he didn’t feel anything. Not until he read the will his mom left. It said in big letters “Anthony gets nothing.” These words made a huge impact. But his brothers ignored the will and divided all the money up evenly, so he kept using.
Alekzandr left his first wife and moved in with his 22-year-old girlfriend and started a new life. Still, no one could stop him from using. Even when he ended up living in Costa Rica for the summer (where they had no suboxone) he would have people fly it in. Eventually, he ran out.
Alekzandr flew back to the US, sick in withdrawal. When he got home, he voided his prescriptions. He was going to kick. The detox was brutal. He was sick to the point where he was getting crazy. He took a shower every hour on the hour and scrubbed hard with a pumice to make his skin hurt so badly that it would distract him from the pain of withdrawal. He lasted 9 days on his own. That’s when he called O who told him he needed to go to a meeting. He downloaded a meeting app and finds one that night in the rough part of town. It turned out to be the perfect meeting, where they were sharing prison stories of stabbings and violence.
I needed that real sh*t.
He started listening.
What kept Alekzandr from getting clean?
Alekzandr had the ability to keep using financially. He didn’t understand how the disease worked and that it would eventually kill him. He thought he could just use forever.
You’re never going to use successfully.
Alekzandr’s spiritual awakening was on Sept 10 2016 when O told him to get his ass up and get to a meeting. A big part of his recovery was he felt he could do it because he had O.
Take it day by day. Don’t be hard on yourself. No matter what bad things are happening. Don’t worry about a that, it will all fall into place.
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Alekzandr sees a lot of sad people, but he knows a friend in solitary confinement who has just gotten clean. If he can do it in those circumstances, anyone can do it.
See you then!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.