Former Successful OPHP Participant – Anonymous

There were people in this world who were destined for greatness. One man was destined to
invent the polio vaccine. Another was destined to be the first person to walk on the moon. And
one man was destined to be the first black president. I wonder sometimes what I am destined to
do. I can tell you what the statistics say about my future. The statistics say that a man with my
background, who grew up the way I did, is destined to end up in one place……PRISON. At least
that is what my counselor told me when I was in rehab. I was surprised when he told me that
because I thought my life was fairly normal up until that moment. I was 38 years old before I
first realized that the way that I grew up was anything but normal. I spent the first part of my life
living with my mother in a neighborhood that was notoriously bad. My mother was prone to
frequent fits of rage where she would yell and scream. When she was in this state, she would
often stomp throughout the house searching for me to unload on. She used me as sort of a
venting dummy. She shrieked and lashed out at me, sometimes violently, in an attempt to convey
the rage she felt regarding how her life turned out. She sort of reminded me of one of those
banshees from Scooby Doo. I always thought I did things to make her that angry. I never once
thought that she might have emotional issues. My father was just the opposite. His personality
was really friendly and gentle. He was the kind of person that everyone knew and loved. They
divorced when I was in the ninth grade. It was sort of a relief not to have all that arguing. The
problem was that now my mother no longer had my father to inflict her wrath upon. That became
my job when he left. To be fair to my mother, Dad had problems of his own. He had a major
problems with fidelity and alcohol. He seemed to always be having a good time. He was an
eternal optimist and I idolized him. I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to go everywhere with
him and he always let me; he was awesome like that. He even took me into bars with him. When
I was really little, people didn’t really say anything, but when I got older he would have to bribe
the bartender to keep things quiet. I remember once when I was sixteen he gave a waitress fifty
dollars to serve me on New Year’s Eve. Under the influence of Bartles & James “Passion Punch”
wine coolers I danced with girls and rang in the New Year like a champ. Back then, I remember
thinking that was the greatest night of my life. At that time in my life, my father could do no
wrong in my eyes. I tried to go through junior high and high school as quietly as possible. I was a
little blue eyed, blonde haired white boy in a school system filled with some of the most
dangerous criminals on the planet. All I wanted was to hide in the shadows and not be noticed by
anyone. I was physically much smaller than the other boys my age, so I tried to develop my
mental abilities. I was sort of like a young Lex Luther. I had a good buddy from elementary
school who developed a reputation for being somewhat of a bad ass. No one ever bothered me
when he was around. I learned quickly that it mattered who I stood next to. Once I figured that
out, I gradually accumulated a small army of hoodlum friends to protect me. With my mind and
their might we were a terrible force to be reckoned with. We ran the streets almost every single
night of the week. We were getting into night clubs even though we were barely old enough to
drive. Drinking was a large part of the life that we lived. We drank together as brothers and
vowed to die in the protection of one another. The liquor seemed to soften even the hardest of
hearts. We were down for each other and I loved being apart of that. Never before had I felt so
accepted. We began every night the same, with a trip to the convenience store. We were always
on the lookout for a place that did not ask for any identification. We would send in the oldest
looking one of our crew to buy the cheapest beer that money could buy. Because I looked
unusually young for my age, I was sent in only as a last resort. I used my older brother’s driver’s
license as identification whenever things were desperate. Any idiot could see that I was no where
near old enough. It was amazing how many times it worked though. I used that I.D. until the

night before my 21st birthday. I tried to use it to get into a local club and the bouncer happened
to know my brother. He laughed when he put it in the front pocket of his shirt. That was the first
and last time that it did not work for me. I came back the next night with my actual identification
card. I wanted to show it to the bouncer from the night before but he wasn’t there. The bouncer
that night let me right in. It was just like any other night for me. I had been drinking in bars since
I was sixteen years old. For five years I had fooled them all. For some reason, now that I was of
legal age, it wasn’t quite as fun. The night had lost some of its appeal. When high school ended I
got accepted into a small college in my home town. I was allowed to enter on academic
probation because of my horrible ACT score. Of course the night before the big test we drank
until dawn. I was barely able get my name correct. I began my college career cautiously. I only
took the easiest courses, saving the harder ones for last. I took full advantage of the fact that I got
to choose what time I had to be in class. I made sure that I had no classes before noon on any
given day of the week. I even managed to get Fridays off during my first semester. I put down
biology as a major because I always liked animals. I later found out the zoology was not really
about naming all the animals at the zoo. I did fairly well in the entry level biology course that I
took that first semester. In fact, my instructor, who happened to also be my academic advisor
called me into his office for a meeting. He was looking at the next semester’s schedule that I had
chosen for myself. Of course, it was all classes such as music appreciation and shooting sports.
He asked me why I was afraid to take any more challenging courses. I asked him if he thought I
could handle them. He smiled and started typing in a new schedule on his computer. I saw that
the first one on my list was a 7:30 am chemistry 1 course Monday through Thursday with a 7:00
am lab on Friday morning. That was the end of my leisurely mornings at college. The advisor
came back at me with a schedule filled with all sorts of scary classes like physics and college
algebra. I was totally screwed. He reassured me that I was completely capable of handling this
load. Next he asked me why I wanted to major in biology. He told me there were no jobs
opportunities in that field. I couldn’t believe he was telling me this. He was the head of the
biology department. He said that I should major in chemistry because there were many more
opportunities and I could do anything with a degree in chemistry. I had not planned to take
chemistry until the very last semester at college, however, he did not seem to be asking me. It
seemed like I did not have a choice in the matter. So I reluctantly agreed and with one last key
stroke he produced my new and improved schedule. While still in my first semester I worked as
a roofer to get beer money. My mom didn’t like pitching in when she knew where it would
ultimately end up. Roofing was hard work. I was the only one in my crew that had a valid
driver’s license so I was in charge of getting people to and from the job site. Every single other
roofer had multiple D.U.I.s. I was amazed at the terrible condition these other men were in. They
looked old, sun scorched and broken down. Every single day after working in the hot sun they
made me stop at the store so that each of them could buy a case of beer. They would have at least
three or four of the beers drank before I could even get them home. And the next morning when I
picked them up, they would come to the door looking hammered. It was a terrible sight to see.
This was their routine every day and I wondered how they could manage to endure such a life. I
think it was the spark that inspired me to start trying harder in school. I saw what life had to offer
these poor men and I heard how their bones creaked as they moved up and down the ladder. How
long could a man do this physically demanding job? How long could their minds and bodies
endure that hot sun? Their futures were anything but bright. I had two choices in front of me: I
could work my butt off roofing or I could work my butt off studying. It was an easy choice. I
began that next semester with fire in my heart. I was ready to do whatever it took to stay off of

those hot roofs. I decided to make school my new job. I spent every day after class either in the
library or in study hall getting extra help. I worked for the College of Chemistry cleaning
glassware to get my beer money. And speaking of beer, my buddies would pick me up at the
library around nine o’clock every night and we would go out drinking. We drank every single
night. It didn’t matter what day it was or if I had a test the next day. Once I got my studying
done, I was ready to drink! The funny thing was that it did not seem to affect my G.P.A. For the
first time in my life I was at the top of the class. I made a perfect four point that semester and
that was with all of those hard classes. My success gave me the confidence to take it up a notch. I
entered my next semester as a chemistry major with biology minor. I continued on using my
same technique of studying and drinking. Somehow every semester I continued to make a perfect
4.0 GPA. My philosophy was simple: Always work hard to make the best grades possible, but
still leave enough time to get nice and drunk every night. In the end, the same guy that made a 12
on his ACT and was admitted to college on academic probation graduated at the top of his class
magna cum laude with a degree in chemistry and a 3.89 GPA. I had done it. The problem came
when it was time to choose a profession. My father kept 
nudging me toward pharmacy. He said that ” it paid like hell and was indoors under the air
conditioner.” That sounded pretty good to me so I applied the semester before I graduated.
Fortunately my good GPA overshadowed my abysmal ACT score and they let me in. I could
hardly believe it. Pharmacy school was a whole different ball game. No longer was I in class
with average students. This was the crème de la crème. The best and brightest from all around. It
was very difficult to make it into pharmacy school in those days. You really had to have done
well in your undergraduate studies. Some people said that it was easier to get into medical school
at the time. I suffered total culture shock when I left my home town to venture to the big city.
People were much more upper class, so to speak. I just did not seem to fit in. I looked to drinking
to dull the pain of my loneliness. I doubled my efforts in my studying to make sure that I made it
through my first semester. Most people that dropped out did so in that first semester. I was
intimidated by all the incredibly smart people. I never thought that I would be able to keep up, so
I even managed to keep my drinking down to a minimum. I saved drinking for the weekends
where I rewarded my efforts with a twelve pack or two. I never before had so much to contend
with. There were so many classes and all of them were tough. I studied late at the library every
night. I drank Dr. Pepper by the gallon in an effort to stay awake. Sleep was a luxury that I did
not have often. I usually preferred drinking to sleeping any day of the week. I tried my best to
make friends with my classmates but they just were not the same crowd that I was used to
running with. These were, for the most part, wealthy white people. There was not a single black
person in my class. I was completely alone. It wasn’t long before I was forced to lower my
standards and start to associate with my own race. At first, I felt out of place but later learned to
like not having to pretend to be something that I wasn’t. I even became good friends with a
redneck guy from a small town outside of Tulsa. It was funny, but by the end of our first
semester we became roommates and best friends. He liked drinking almost as much as I did. In
fact many times, he would try to pry me away from the books in order to go out drinking. He
really helped to keep me sane that first year. As always, I took things far too seriously. But to my
astonishment, and with his help, I pulled off another 4.0 GPA that first semester. Once again I
was at the top of my class. Everyone who knew about my partying habits were totally shocked.
But no one was more shocked than me. That first year went by fast and the summer after even
faster. The second year at pharmacy school was known to be a tough one. At least I had friends
to go through it with me. That made all the difference in the world. We had grown close as a

class. After all, we had all been put through the fire together the first year. There was a special
bond that existed between us now. We were kind of like one big special family now. Our
common enemy was all the pressure that we put on ourselves to succeed. The first day back I
saw a cute little brown haired girl entering into the common room. I had never seen her before so
I figured she was a new first year student. She did seem to have that frightened look in her eyes.
And speaking of eyes, hers were lovely brown. They were pale like the moon and the color of
sand. She also had the curvy mother earth figure that I was so attracted to. My friend Clarence
used to call girls like her “blessed!” I purposely tried to pass by her as much as possible. I even
made a spectacle of myself in an attempt to show her that I was a big man about campus. It didn’t
really work though. She pretty much kept to herself. Finally one day I was passing by her in the
busy hallway and got a smile. I repeated this same path every single day hoping to get more
smiles and I did. I could tell that she was looking for me now as well. This immature game
quickly became the favorite part of my day. I eventually was able to find her school mailbox. I
periodically would fill it with candy and small love notes written on ruled note cards. One time I
was feeling particularly frisky and left a 4 word question: how shall we proceed? The next day
my mailbox had her answer: very carefully! That was all it took for me. I was hooked. She could
be best described as soft. Everything about her was yielding and gentle. I think I loved her from
the very start. I was undone. She was good for me in that my late night drinking was quickly
pushed aside to spend time with her. She made fun of my rigid study schedule. However, I got
the feeling that she was more impressed than amused. I could tell that she didn’t require as much
time as I did to get things done. It was amazing how quickly she picked things up. I had to really
hammer things into my brain to make them stick. She just seemed to glance at her notes and was
fully ready for the test. Most nights we would study in my room, me at my desk and her laying
on my bed. We ended each night with me walking her to her car. Once we got there I would get a
long and warm hug ending with a quick kiss goodbye. She never allowed herself to sleep over. I
got the feeling that she was saving that for marriage. I respected her for that. I could definitely
use all of the virtue I could find. We grew closer with each passing day and eventually I told her
how I felt. I was absolutely nuts for this girl. I knew that this was the woman that I was supposed
to be with forever. It was as though God had created this perfect person just for me. She
complimented me in every way. Her gentle way was what my life had always been missing.
Time seemed to pass quickly for the two of us. After we both graduated we eventually married.
We were two young pharmacists living the dream life together. We were making more money
than either of us had ever seen and we were living like rock stars. We were constantly going on
extravagant vacations. One of my wife’s favorite places to go was Las Vegas. Once I taught her
to play craps, she was hooked. I always overdid things in Las Vegas. I tended to stay up late and
put down more beer than my poor body could handle. I always felt like complete hell in the
mornings in Vegas. I especially hated the mornings when we traveled home. I came up with a
handy trick that I saved just for Vegas and similar places. I had some Vicodin left over from a
previous dental procedure and I always took these with me when I went out of town. I would pop
in a few in the morning after a rough night and I was completely cured of any sort of hangover.
In fact, I usually felt ten times better than normal when I was on the stuff. The only problem was
that eventually I liked taking the Vicodin regardless of whether I was hung over or not. It gave
me a feeling like nothing else could. It made me feel as though all was right in the world and that
nothing bad could ever happen. I learned in treatment that it generally takes a few years of heavy
drinking to become physically dependent on alcohol however, with narcotics like Vicodin it only
takes a few weeks. That stuff took me fast. Before I knew it I was making up excuses to go see

my dentist. I kept having these mysterious pains in my mouth that required large doses of
narcotics. I quickly graduated to the highest strength. I told her that the lower dose did not help
me anymore. She was nice enough to keep writing the scripts and I just kept taking more and
more. My hunger for this drug was relentless. I started to wake up early in the morning with
withdrawal pains. I ended up having to get up every morning around four o’clock in the morning
just to keep from getting the sweats and shakes. In the end, I looked forward to my early morning
doses. There was something about quenching that need that made the high more satisfying. I
quickly started to need higher and higher doses each time to get the same effect. It is true what
they say about addicts “always chasing that first time high.” You are never able to duplicate that
incredible “first time” feeling no matter what you do. The maximum dose of Vicodin that any
fully grown man should ever take is eight tablets per day. In the end I was up to around forty
tablets a day. The physician at my treatment facility said that the gradual way addicted people
increase their dose over time is what gives them the ability to survive these incredibly high
doses. A normal person would surely die from taking this same dose. I guess I had that going for
me. I was able to keep my addiction a secret from my wife for several months. Finally one
evening I got a call from her and in her voice I could tell that something was wrong. I had been
terminated from one of my jobs for obvious reasons and to cover things up I simply told her that
I was laid off because the economy was bad. At the time she bought it, but now I was feeling like
she may have become wise to my deception. I asked her if something was wrong and she
wouldn’t say over the phone. I had the intense feeling that I was about to be caught so I downed
around eight tablets and drove home. When I got home she was waiting for me in the living
room in her bedtime clothes. I could no longer stand lying to her. That had been the one thing
that I was truly ashamed of. I have often said that I would die for her and I meant it; her
happiness was everything to me. I sat down on the couch next to her and told her everything. The
look of shock in her eyes was more than I could stand. I started crying for the first time in my life
since I was a child. The weight of that lie had been too much to handle for too long. I begged her
for mercy as she sat and considered the situation. I had now damaged the single most important
thing in my life, my marriage. At that moment I was so afraid that what I had done had ruined
what we had forever. Nothing else in this world mattered to me as much as my marriage. What
happened next truly made me believe that God had made this girl especially for me. She smiled,
hugged me and with tears in her eyes she promised to help me. It was as though the weight of the
world had been lifted off of me. Now that I knew that she was on my side, I knew that I could
accomplish anything. Treatment for me was an eye opening experience. One of my counselors
gave me an assignment to write down my life story and to read it out loud for our group session
the next week. I grudgingly wrote it all out and apologized to my group before presenting it. I
was afraid that it would be boring for other people to have to sit through something like this. It
was like watching someone else’s old home movies or something. To my surprise when I looked
up at the group at the end of my presentation, I noticed the shocked look on everyone’s face. A
few of the women counselors were even crying. All these years, I thought that my life was
normal with just a few small exceptions. After a few sessions with my therapist I learned that
what my mother had done to me was not my fault. He said that there was nothing that I could
have ever done to deserve that much abuse. It was so weird to me that after all my education and
experiences that I had no idea that I had been abused. It was good though because now I had an
explanation for some of my issues. This treatment center was top notch in that they did not only
treat my addiction, they also treated my emotional issues. I put everything I had into the time that
I spent there. I was on fire for recovery. I even voluntarily signed up to be monitored for five

years after I finished my treatment. They said that would greatly increase my chances of staying
sober. I did every single thing that they recommended with as much zeal as I could manage. In
the end the head of the department praised me for my hard work. He asked me how I managed to
maintain such incredible enthusiasm for the entire length of my time there. I told him the truth
even though I wasn’t sure if my answer would be well accepted. My wife grew up like I did with
an alcoholic father. She spent most of her life worrying and caring for someone who just could
never stay sober. The truth was that under no circumstances would I ever let her suffer that same
way from me. I was going to make certain that I beat the odds and did not put her through one
relapse after another. I knew that you were not supposed to get sober for someone else. But right
or wrong, that was where my zeal came from and so far it was working pretty well. Over three
years passed and I was still staying the course of sobriety. I had a good job, good friends, and a
good marriage. Overall my life was pretty good. Even my father found sobriety after a lifetime of
drinking. Of course that was court ordered, but I’ll take it anyway. Everything seemed to be
going perfectly until one day I started to notice a change in my wife’s behavior. She was
becoming more and more distant and angry toward me. Her overall attitude toward me became
very cold. This was totally opposite from the girl that I knew and loved for these past thirteen
years. I was so afraid that I was losing her and I was completely helpless. One night I found
several love letters that she had written to a male friend. There were several exchanges back and
forth where they professed their love for one another. I don’t think that I had ever felt that hurt
before in my entire life. I remember that my hands were shaking as I tried to tell myself that this
was just a bad dream. Unfortunately this was real. The next day I came home from work and she
was gone. She had taken all of her things, with the exception of her wedding dress. I sat on the
floor of her closet and stared at the emptiness and cried .I used to think that I would lie down and
die if I ever lost my wife. It was my greatest fear that I would someday lose her to cancer or a car
crash. I could not bear to imagine my life without her. It’s funny because I didn’t lie down and
die. What I had learned from AA and in treatment kicked in and saved me. It told me not to
isolate and to call someone for help. I called my father and wept as I explained to him what had
happened. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that he happened to be sober during this particular
time. I learned long ago not to count on him because of his drinking. But now he was right there
for me, strong and sober. He called me every single day after that to make sure that I was all
right. We have formed a new friendship together because of what happened. I can’t ever
remember a time when we were closer. As of today I am still without my wife. I think of her
every day and pray that she will come back to me. Regardless of what happens, I know that God
has a plan for me and in that plan I am sober.