“By the grace of God, I am clean today.” That is what my friend told me when I asked him how he did it. From everything I know about addiction, it should have been impossible. Or, at least, it should have been nearly impossible.
I once spoke about opioid addiction with a nurse who worked in a methadone clinic.
She told me that many of her patients had burned out their opioid receptors to the point of no return. These patients would never be able to get off of methadone. It was the only way for them to live, “drug free”.
My friend was a tall, slender man who rode a bicycle everywhere.
He was always cheerful and friendly. He was also always grateful. I could imagine that a grown man on a bicycle in a city where everyone has a car might not always be grateful, but my friend seemed to be in a state of gratitude at all times.
He had been a heroin addict for many years.
And, he had overdosed multiple times. He should have been dead many times over. My friend was able to get off of heroin at the methadone clinic. Methadone saved his life. If it were not for methadone, he might be dead today.
The miracle happened when, one day, he quit methadone.
The torture of physical and psychological withdrawal must have been beyond belief. He must have felt like a prisoner of war. His captor was his own disease, using all of its power to try to beat him into submission.
So, how did my friend survive?
How was he able to celebrate a full year clean amongst friends? One full year of complete abstinence. When the celebration was over, I asked him, how did he do it? What was his secret? I expected to here some tips and tricks for getting through it all. How did he ignore the cravings, the thoughts, and plans of using that are the downfall of most struggling, recovering addicts? How did he survive the days and weeks of physical withdrawal? He told me his secret that night.
It was five simple words, “By the grace of God.“