The First One

What that “first drink or first drug”” can do to your life. A true story that you should absolutely show your children, no matter how old they are and no matter how innocent you think they may be!!!! One out of 4 kids who try alcohol or drugs before the age of 18 “WILL” become an alcoholic and/or addict. Is it really worth turning a blind eye to? Is it really worth not talking to them about it? I know many parents who sadly have lost their beautiful child because they were naïve to this very fact that addiction and alcoholism does not discriminate and will bring anyone down….here is a true story, my story of suffering as an alcoholic and addict for 28 years because I made that fateful choice when I was 10….I hope it helps just one family…

I was a child. I was a kid who just wanted to have fun riding a bike and play hide and go seek.. I played with the rest of those kids that wanted to have fun but sadly, I was about to embark on a journey that was the absolutely not the journey any child wants to go down!!!

I was a naïve and innocent kid who started experimenting with alcohol at the age of 10 and thought drinking was “the cool” thing to do at that age. I felt empowered, courageous, daring, and confident and did not even know the “true” meaning of those words. I was living, unbeknownst to me, on a bridge that was eventually going to collapse and the only thing I saw for miles and miles, was quicksand.

From that first drink and that euphoric feeling that ensued shortly after, I was hooked. I loved not only the feeling of euphoria, but the sense of false bravado it also provided me. You see, alcohol for me was like a baby blanket for a baby, it made me feel comfortable in my own skin and secure when I consumed it. It buried the pain and hurts that a young boy of my age should not have been experiencing, nevermind enduring. Time went on, the years started to pass, that bridge started to creak louder and louder, that quicksand was getting closer and closer and my life was seemingly falling apart right around me. I did not even see that it was the alcohol that was the common denominator in all of my troubles. By the time I was 14, I was in trouble with the police, expelled from my junior high school and never able to return for the last 3 weeks of school, and even spent time in a jail cell. Everyone that was not supposed to know me, knew me. Many cops knew my name, court officials knew my name, probation officers knew me, and even Judge Kramer in Quincy court said to me in the hallway, “you back again, Mr. Barnes” I was an arrogant, troubled youth and a defiant one at that. Sadly, I already had a record as a juvenile and all of these troubles were 100% due to alcohol!!!

Fast forward a bit and I am now 17 years old and a full blown alcoholic. I had been drinking for 7 years and I could not even see that the bridge that I existed on had collapsed and I, and my life, were stuck in that pool of quicksand I spoke about earlier. I have been arrested several times by now, (all drunk) my grades had fallen to the bare minimum that is required to graduate, I got kicked off of my high school hockey team as a senior (devastated) and I was about to embark on a road that would be crooked as a dog’s hind leg. I was about to try cocaine at the young age of 17 and in doing so, I never thought it would take 21 years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and almost my life to put it down…I wish, in hindsight, that I NEVER TRIED THAT FIRST ONE!!!!!!

For the next several years, cocaine became a very big part of my life. I would do it at any chance I could and would hide it from anyone that disapproved of my using. It started to take control of me like the alcohol did and not too soon after that “experimental” stage was over, I became an addict. I would never admit I had a problem because I did not think I had one. I was working every day and functioning like the rest of the world and the thought of any problem never entered my one way brain. I always told myself that getting drunk was the in thing, snorting lines was cool, and the hangovers and the sleep deprivation I was experiencing were just collateral damage and if I wanted to continue this way of life, (which I loved) then hangovers and all of the other bad side effects will have to become part of my life…Sadly and in hindsight, I had no idea that at this time, I was living a life that was not only governed by drugs and alcohol, they both ruled over me and became my kings.

Now, I want you to know that for the next 2 decades, because of my inability to say no, due to my inability to ask for help, due to my inability to be honest with the world, and due to me trying that “first one”, I lost so many things in life including, but certainly not limited to, relationships, education, scholarships, friendships, job opportunities, and almost my life. Also, unbeknownst to me and due to my addictions, I became a thief, a liar, selfish, self-centered, arrogant, thoughtless, hateful, bitter, resentful, and I loathed everything about me and especially my life!!!!

That “first one” was the worst decision I have ever made and sadly, I became a prisoner of my own life, I was chained in the dungeons of my own mind, and could not find my way out of a paperbag. I was lost in life and nothing I did ever helped me fix me but instead, kicked me back down to a lower level than I was already existing in. Ya see, alcohol and drugs became my master, my boss, my mentor, my love, but in reality, I became a slave to them both. I always made plans around drugs and alcohol and if I was going somewhere where there was no alcohol, I would always have alcohol hidden in my car and cocaine by it’s side. Life was about getting high and drunk and everything else took second seat to them!!!!

Fast forward through the pain, fast forward through the hurts, fast forward through the dozen or so arrests, fast forward through the huge losses in my life due to alcohol and drugs, and fast forward through the hopelessness, desperation, sadness, isolation, despair, lonliness, paranoia, and self-loathing, I have now have been an active alcoholic for 28 years and a hopeless drug addict for 21 years. My life as I knew it, has deteriorated from a once happy go lucky kid, to a conniving, lying, egotistical, prideful, manipulating, shell of a man. I have become a prisoner of my own home and paranoia has consumed my every thought. I thought people were in my house and were going to kill me and decided to carry a 13 inch butcher knife around with me just in case. As you can see, I, because of the drug and alcohol abuse, have now become insane and needed out!! I was in pain, so much pain, that suicide became a viable option for me. I, at the time, had a 2.5 year old daughter who was sleeping silently in the next room and I went in her room and said goodbye to her as I cried to myself. I told her I loved her so much and that I will always be there spiritually for her. I was alone in my own mind and my thoughts were of a coward. Years of doing the wrong thing, years of mentally hurting people, years of not caring about anyone but myself, has now taken its toll on me and I just wanted to die. I kneeled down on the side of the bed after I whispered to my daughter that her daddy loves her, and put the knife on my wrist. The thought of my little Emma crying when she found out I was gone was hitting me in the head like a hammer, but I was gonna do it. I justified it by telling myself that she would be better off without me. I held that knife on my wrist and I was pushing it down so hard, I started to see blood on the knife. I then decided to ask God to watch over my little baby daughter and make sure she knows how sick her daddy was. I asked Him that and then I also asked him to help me, and help me He did.

I woke up the next morning, November 4th, 2006 and found the knife on the ground. I felt a million pounds lighter and from that day, I have not had a drink or drug since. I asked for help from everyone, I attended A.A meetings, and told everyone my dirty little secret. I could not believe the change I was experiencing and day after day, it has turned into over 11 wonderful years!~ Miracle?? I would say so!!

Now, I tell you this story for one reason, to help. I want you to share this with as many people as you can, especially to parents with children AND CHILDREN THEMSELVES!!!!!. I want the kids to know that not everyone becomes an alcoholic and not everyone becomes a drug addict, but is it really worth it to go down that road if there is a possibility to lose years of your life because you tried something? I never signed an application to be one, I just became one and I lost 28 years of my life that I can never get back!! If you are a kid, please adhere to my advice…GUARD YOUR LIFE AGAINST THE FIRST DRINK AND/OR DRUG AND IF YOU HAVE ALREADY TRIED ALCOHOL AND/OR DRUGS, GUARD YOUR LIFE AGAINST THE NEXT ONE!!!!!

Also, if you think you have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs or if people tell you that you do and do not believe them, then you probably do. Isn’t it worth a try to put the alcohol and/or drugs down? You never ever, from this point on, have to drink again or ingest another drug again. If you need help, just ask!! There are people all over the place that have experienced what I have and are ready and willing to help…The tough part about getting help, is getting that 5 seconds of courage to ask..

I promise you this, if you put it all down, then your life will take on a whole new meaning. I am in my 9th year of recovery and I would never have it any other way….We, you and I, can do more, be more, experience more, and have more without alcohol and/or drugs!!!!!

I never in a million years would have thought that a once chaotic, insane life, could finally be lived in peace.

Please have a great day and remember, you are totally worth being happy and content!!!!!!

Life on the other side of alcohol and/or drugs is the best life you will ever encounter!!!!

If you need anything at all, my number is 774-222-2311 and I will do my best to help you in any way I can!!!!

Rich Barnes

Comments are closed.