Just Read an Article on Addiction

I just read your article and felt I had to respond. I hope that you don’t mind. And I do not expect a response. I just want to impart a bit of knowledge or maybe it might be called wisdom. I don’t know, you decide.

I was a junkie for thirty years—exactly thirty years. The only time I did not get high within that time-frame was the one time I shot some bad shit and lay in a coma for three days (I lived alone). I woke up and found that I had vomited upon myself and soiled myself (if you know what I mean). Then I went out and copped some more shit, but from a different source—hoping I wouldn’t kill myself. That is how much of a junkie I was. I got high every day for 10,950 days.

I do not know if you are ever going to write about the subject again, but if you do, I thought I’d give you a little insight into addiction that was woefully lacking in your article. Not your fault. Here are a few things from the street level that I think you should know.

Here goes:

  • Betty Ford: Who has $10,000 up front? Betty Ford was and is for the rich. The people in West Virginia ain’t ever gonna come up with that kind of dough. So, how relevant is a place like that? And most junkies I knew had no insurance. What about them? You may want to address that in your next article.
  • Med-Assisted Treatment: I can only speak about methadone. I was on it for most of those thirty years. I was on it because I wanted to get high. Every single person I met at those “clinics” were there for the same reason. We wanted to get high. The people who ran those clinics were in it for one reason and one reason only. Money. It was a win-win. We got high, they got rich. Med-assisted treatment should be limited to thirty days. That’s it. For the sincere person who wants to get clean, it will help them over the hump. But the medication must be started at a small dose, just to keep the physical pain away. Then it must be decreased every day for thirty days. Then the poor sons-of-bitches have to be cut loose or else end up like I did. Addiction is 99% mental, which brings me to my next point.
  • Rehab Does Not Work. All the rehab and intervention in the world will not work unless the individual is ready to get clean. Plain and simple, that’s it.
  • Now on to My Favorite Subject, Me: After thirty years, I thought I’d die a junkie. Why not? It was my life. But then one bright morning, I woke up and decided I did not want to get high anymore. However, I knew that my body would quit functioning if I stopped cold-turkey. So, I devised a plan.

I had been on the methadone clinic for so long that I was allowed to come in only once a month, which meant I took home a month’s supply. I was on 110 mg at the time. My genius plan was to detox myself over a seven-month period and then walk away clean. No muss, no fuss.

I made a chart and planned out my campaign. I would decrease my dosage once a week until I was down to 5 mg. A piece of cake.

I stayed true to my schedule and the dosage went down every week. But still I got high. Man, did I love opiates! Then came the last week. I took my last pill and waited. Nothing happened. That was easy, I thought. Then, on the third day after stopping, I fell into the fetal position and stayed that way for about a month. I didn’t know that opiates stayed in your system for seventy-two hours.

That first month was hell. I can’t and won’t describe what I went through. Although one thing of interest is that I could actually feel my brain coming back online. The synapses in my brain started up once again. I felt the neurons passing signals to other neurons. It was a crackling sensation, like an electrical discharge.

I could not stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I had constant diarrhea. My body shook. I screamed out in pain. My torment ruled my life. But here is the most insidious thing about coming off opiates: You cannot sleep. There is no respite from your pain. It’s twenty-four hours a day of waiting for your body to get right. For the first month, if I got ten or fifteen minutes of sleep, that was a good night.

My mind was cool. I had decided to get clean and I was—in my head. My body just had to catch up. It took six months before I was somewhat human again. It’s been seven years and I’m still not right. I’ll never be right. I’ve destroyed my body in so many ways.

  • Last point: With me, it is not one day at a time. I decided to get clean and I did. I have no desire to ever get high again. I do not yearn for it. I do not salivate if I see someone shooting up in a movie.

This is my take-away from all that shit I went through: When it’s your time to get clean, you’ll get clean. All the interventions in the world won’t do it. All the rehabs in the world won’t do it. Only you can do it.

I got clean at sixty years of age, and while I was in that fetal position and in indescribable torment, I started writing my first book. I have just published my fifth. I’m no Stephen King, but I’m making money from my writing and my books are well received. So please tell people there is always hope. But it’s up to them.

Thank you for listening to my rant,

Andrew Joyce


78 thoughts on “Just Read an Article on Addiction

  1. Thank you for sharing what you went through. I am an addiction counselor and i agree the person has to want to get clean. As a counselor, we try to elicit change talk and build motivation but it is ultimately up to the person. Due to the opioid crisis soon where i work they will begin dispensing buprenorphine. It is anticipated that there will be a lot to learn and deal
    with. However, i look forward to supporting and helping those who struggle hopefully get clean!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The whole time I was addicted, I kept away from old friends. They would reach out to me, but I ignored their entreaties. Right after I got clean, I sent out an email to two of my closest friends from my youth who I had ignored for many years. (I had to do a lot of research to find their email addresses. Thank God for Facebook.) Both emails said the same thing: “Just crawled outta my grave … thought I’d say hello.”
      Happy Thanksgiving to you, Madelyn.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. To Emily Gmitter,
    Thank you for your response. I had intended to post my reply to Mr. Joyce on my WordPress ‘MichaelPhelps1 Blog’ – but since I know nothing about Blogs or Blogging, it somehow ended up on my David Janssen website – that’s okay too. Thank you for your kind words! I PRAY ALL (each and every one of the millions) of ANDREW JOYCE FANS will read HIS next post in FOUR DAYS!

    I hope all will have a nice Thanksgiving Day . . . and for those outside the U. S. of A., we all have something to be Thankful for, each and every day of the year. Just to mention one, ANDREW JOYCE’s prolific, humorous, inspiring, informative WRITING.

    Best to all,
    Mike Phelps

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Andrew,
    I was a K-9 Handler (German Shepherd) in the USAF (Viet Nam). Since then, I have never been without a German Shepherd. On 14 August 2015, my Rico der Hunter III passed away. On 14 February 2016, I rescued Baron der Hunter !V.. On 6 February 2017, I lost him (cancer) as well. It has been 33 weeks and the pain is as fresh as if it were yesterday. I am getting close to rescuing another. However, last June my Godson rescued two 5 week old kittens . . . still . . . I NEED a German Shepherd. I am 74, so I know your logic of outliving your dog . . . but recent studies have shown having a dog (especially for old farts like us) gives us a longer life! I hope to read MORE of your posts . . . in FOUR DAYS!


    Mike Phelps

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike, I don’t usually “get into” others’ comments but I have to say something on this one….first, my sympathies on the back to back losses of your dogs…had to be so painful. “Replacing” pets (only so to speak) is not for everyone, and so I wish you well with your next rescue. Then I just wanted to say you made me laugh out loud with that ending…nicely played!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    Kudos, Andrew – I’m full of admiration for you! 🙂 Addiction becomes a part of your make-up, whatever you’re addicted to. And I know you’re right, because when you’re focused on your personal poison, in the end, you are always the only remedy, and the poison is still your nemesis.
    Congratulations and very best wishes for keeping yourself clean and functional. 😀


  5. This is powerful, Andrew. Our healthcare system is broken in so many ways, and treatment for opiate addiction is one of our worst failures. Your story of self-detox is remarkable. Becoming a writer at age 60 is no big deal because of course we people over 60 can do anything, right? But to make money doing it is another story…..LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. On the fifth day after stopping I couldn’t stand to watch or listen to the television. The insipid inanity (I know that’s redundant) hurt my head. Hence, I threw the damn thing out the window. Now remember, I was up 24 hours a day. The daylight hours weren’t so bad. I sat outside under a beautiful big oak tree and looked up into its green branches with patches of blue sky behind them, saying my mantra, I am clean, I am clean, I am goddamn clean!
      However, the nights were a little tougher. I was supposed to be sleeping but couldn’t. So, to keep from going insane, I sat down at the computer and started telling (writing) stories. Doing that was just a way to pass the time until I could go out sit under my tree again in the morning. That’s how I became a writer.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I already did, but it was in the form of short stories that I interspersed throughout my book “Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups.” Stories of fiction and nonfiction. The nonfiction are my stories. Getting clean was nothing compared to some of the adventures of my youth.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Just Wowwwwwwwwww! The most honest and powerful message not only for addicts, but for those people who run these programs to realize the way to help. Kudos Andrew, I hope your message spreads wide and far. I know I’m sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Very honest warts and all…..I have seen addiction first hand and it ain’t pretty…Me..never even take an asprin…but I am so single-minded and cussed I couldn’t be addicted to anything…maybe fudge…Seriously very well done Andrew and the biggest well done for telling how it is….If only one person gets clean after reading this it is a result….


  8. Great post. Hope it’s read by many. I know how it was for my nephew who went through the agony of coming off heroin. He’s now been clean for three years. It’s still tough.


  9. Mr. Andrew Joyce,

    I have read your posts and have always ended with a smile and a twinge of envy (I know, 1 of the 7 Deadly Sins.)

    Reading this post, I have gained more respect for you as a Man as well as a Gifted Writer!

    Have you given thought of sharing your life with another “Danny”?

    Mike Phelps

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Andrew,
    I can’t speak loudly enough on this post to acknowledge what it takes to open up and tell those innermost secrets of ourselves. Perhaps this is not the first time you have written openly about your addiction. WOW! This is a heart touching post and encouragement to anyone dealing with their personal demons.

    If you haven’t guessed, I am a big fan of yours. Every time I read your writing in whatever format, I’m impressed with the simplicity, yet the depth of life you capture. Not only are you a great storyteller, you can take those experiences and enthrall the reader (at least this one). Your friend Annette Aben introduced me to your writing and I’m grateful. I’m busy with what I hope will be my third book, but I can’t wait to have time to read some of your earlier books. Thank you for sharing this piece of you. BTW I’m reposting this on my site too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for being a fan … I ain’t got enough. None of us do. Good luck on your book. I never read a book while I’m writing a novel or else I wouldn’t get any writing done. So, I’ll forgive this time for not reading my shit. But as soon as your book is published, I expect a sharp spike in my sales rating on Amazon.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for sharing, Andrew. That is a very moving post.
    And you are right about the decision having to come from you. As an ex-smoker, I can just begin to understand that fact. In spite of pressure from my then boyfriend, now husband, I didn’t give up until one day, like you, I said ‘That’s it.’
    Of course, that’s nothing like coming off hard drugs, but it means some understanding of what you say about the decision must be your own.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think you’re right with when you want to get clean you will get clean. So many have near death experiences, and lose so much, yet still do not quit until they’ve gone through all those terrible experiences and their perspective starts to shift, which it will eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perspectives do not always shift. Well, they do … but maybe not until a future life. I’ve known too many people that died still yoked to addiction. Still chasing that next high.


  13. Thanks for sharing your journey. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. I quit smoking in 1999 and thought I would die. Of course there is no comparison but addiction steals your soul just the same. I’m glad you write, that is the perfect addiction. You write em, I’ll read them! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I lost some very dear people in my life to drugs. Left a big hole in my heart .. Thank you for sharing your story. I got tears in my eyes .. so glad you got out of that life. Happy Thanksgiving to you Andrew .. Take care ❤️ Ann Marie

    Liked by 1 person

  15. So glad you changed your life, Andrew! I worked many years in Alcohol/Opiate treatment centers as a nurse practitioner! I know your story well! In the end as you said, “There is always hope. It’s up to them.”’ Glad you put your raw, honest thoughts out there. I can see the ripple effect already! 🤗 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah … I gotta admit that I have a lot of wisdom. I’m so fucking smart that I tried, with a vengeance, to kill myself for thirty years. Actually, I’m still trying, but now with booze. Don’t worry, I’ll get there eventually.


    1. I am sure love and support help many. But I was destined to ride my trail alone. It worked for me. I am of the mind that whatever works is good. I am also of the mind that rehab and interventions will not work unless there is a commitment from within.

      Liked by 1 person

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