Grateful I’m Not Dead
By Evan Booth, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist at Master Center
“Heroin?! I’ll never do heroin!” 2008. I would have passed a lie detector test with flying colors in that moment. Heroin? The drug that led to the demise of one of my favorite guitarists, Jerry Garcia. No thanks. The avid drug user I was at that time, I’d never have done that. Unbeknownst to me, OxyContin was virtually the same thing. But, now, back to Jerry Garcia. Music. It was what I lived for. Travelling the country in search of the song I hadn’t heard yet. Maine to Florida. Pennsylvania to California. Interstate 80 to. Interstate 70 from. A trip that I will never forget. A trip that I also don’t remember. My addiction had manifested itself in different ways in the winter of 2011, but I was off heroin then. It would come back. It always did. But I never missed the show. The party was part of it, no question, but I always heard the music. That was until August 2013. Three nights of my favorite band outside Charlottesville. I missed the second night. Too much, too fast. Night 3 was awash, as well, driving home to score instead. The drugs had finally won. How did this happen? What about the music? The answer in the moment was to use and forget it. I’d figure it out, like I always told myself. I never did. February 2014, the gig was up and I was going to treatment. July 2014, I was leaving rehab for the third time. That was seven years ago and I have not used up to the moment I am typing this sentence.
Life looks different today. Wife. Daughter. House. Job. Restored relationships. Self-confidence. Self-esteem. I am far from perfect, but I show up today. The one thing that remains the same from those dark days of addiction is…the music. Named after a song in which an old wino prays to get sober, The Wharfs Rats came to the rescue. In a scene where drugs are almost promoted, it seems impossible to ever go to another show clean. The Wharf Rats are a group of sober Dead Heads who tour with the band and hold recovery meetings for support in a slippery environment – a trend that has caught on with other jam-bands. Between sets, one can look for the yellow balloons and know there is a safe space. Community is key. That is why most recovering addicts participate in some recovery program. 12 Step. SMART. Refuge. Group. IOP. Something. Recovery is shared experience. We need each other. We understand each other. Don’t use no matter what. Take it one show at a time. And remember – if you get confused, listen to the music play.