It’s 2006, and I’m headed west. I have my 2001 VW Jetta all packed up, and I am jazzed with high hopes of making it as a successful actor in Los Angeles. After all, I’m a unique snowflake who is better than everyone else… or at least, that was one of the lies that I got use to telling myself. I came to LA prepared to take it by storm, and then… nothing happened. I was just another wannabe actor lost in the shuffle.
My anxiety and fear ran wild. I was starving for validation. So I did what any drug addict in denial would do, party hard. Five nights a week of Cocaine, Adderall, Ecstasy, and women; all to tell me that I mattered. That I was important. I would have brief moments of sobriety – one or two weeks at a time. This cycle only convinced me that I wasn’t an addict; one of the other lies that I told myself. My loneliness and despair grew, and by my early 30’s, I was smoking meth. By 35, I was injecting it.
My name is Josh, by the way. You might recall me from the 2019 Beit T’Shuvah Gala video “We Are One.” I’m the guy with the scar. I’m also the kid who knew better than to play with fire. I got straight A’s in high school. I went to a great university. I heard every message about how drugs were bad. I was fully aware of the dangers of veering over into the dark side, and yet, I crossed the line anyway.
My addiction was very cunning and fluent in mendacity. My favorite white lie was the one that said that, “I wasn’t a real addict”. After all, I had a car, an apartment, a dog, and a college degree. Addicts were poorly educated, lived in alleys and were always scratching themselves or looking sick, so I couldn’t be an addict, right? In reality, my world was crumbling around me. I was broke and constantly needed my parents to bail me out. I was also alone; the byproduct of pushing my friends away for fear they would see through my lies.
It’s 2018, and I’m poisoning myself multiple times a day with meth. All my dreams are dead, and then bad turned worse. On January 28, 2018, I missed my vein and the resulting infection turned into a flesh-eating bacteria. My doctor warned that this would kill me, but by that point, I had no will to live. My fear was that if I went to the hospital, the jig was up. I remember looking at my dog, who had this look of great concern on her face. That gaze broke my trance and I decided that if I didn’t want to live for myself, I could at least live for her.
I went to the hospital and ended up having four life-saving surgeries; I stayed for an entire month. My T’Shuvah moment came in the form of an angel sporting a fedora. One day, I received a visit from Rabbi Mark and he told me about Beit T’Shuvah. I was wary at first. I thought that what he was selling sounded more like a cult than a rehab. Nevertheless, I liked the way he dressed and the fact a rabbi cursed. I decided to give it a shot.
It’s 2019, and I now have one full year of sobriety. I don’t think I could have ever gotten to this point if it weren’t for this amazing treatment center. I feel at home at Beit T’Shuvah. The staff, residents, and this community of misfit nutcases inspire me every day.
It’s funny. I remember lying in the hospital, thinking, “how will I ever hide the fact I’m an addict from the world with this scar on my arm?” Today, I’m proud to be an addict in recovery.