A Light in the Dark; The Story of My Overdose

First Kiss

For a long time, I debated as to whether or not I should write about my path to personal growth. After much reflection, I decided that if there’s at least one person that can be inspired or learn something from my story, it’s worth sharing. This is a story about how one day changed my life; the day of my overdose.

A Curious Boy

Since I was a young boy, I’ve always had a desire to figure out how things worked, taking them apart and putting them back together. Although the putting it back together part didn’t always work so well. My curiosity for how things work led to me explore how my inner world operated. I questioned the religion I was born with; I questioned the government; I questioned life; I questioned society, education, love, humanity, purpose, and beliefs. You name it, I questioned it.

My interest led me to Eastern philosophy and I began to question my beliefs about reality and how they affected my life. The first book that led me to taking an active role in responsibility for my life was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I first picked up his book in November 2006. I finished it a few days later.

Reading the Four Agreements changed my perspective on life completely. The Four Agreements essentially says that your life is determined by the beliefs or agreements that you have. You agree that things are a certain way and because you put your faith in them, it becomes true for you. I made a promise to keep these agreements with myself. I wasn’t always successful, but I kept the promise to do my best.

On The Edge

Despite my best intentions to improve my life, I had a highly addictive personality. I would often drink 5-6 times a week and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. I smoked pot almost daily, as well. For me, having fun and using were synonymous. If there was no alcohol, pot or some other drug, our sole mission was to find some. While this definitely wasn’t harmless, it was beginning of something much worse.

On Halloween night of 2006, a friend at the bar in the bathroom offered me a line of coke. I felt elusive; I could think faster, it boosted my creativity. It felt like nothing I had ever felt before. It felt like heaven. Coke liked me and I definitely liked coke.

Despite how it made me feel that night, I knew the dangers of the drug. Pot, beer, and cigarettes were fine, I thought. But coke? That’s not something I ever want to get involved with. I stood true to myself and didn’t touch it, that was until I moved into a new neighborhood.

4 Liquor Stores in a 2 Block Radius

It wasn’t exactly skid row, but it was definitely wasn’t the nicest neighborhood I’ve lived in. Anytime there are 4 liquor stores within a 2 block radius, chances are it’s not exactly gentrified. One of my roommates was an English major and the other a Vietnamese exchange student who would often warn me about seeing “suspicious behavior” around the neighborhood. I don’t think he knew the full extent of things.

The state of the neighborhood never really bothered me. I saw it as temporary until I could move in with my girlfriend (who is now my wife) in a better neighborhood.

My best friend at the time and I ended up going to my neighbor’s apartment to hang out often (my apartment was not the most ideal place; my roommate stayed in the living room). Apparently, my best friend and my neighbor went way back. I immediately thought his roommate was shady, but my friend assured me he was alright.

Just This Once

The first time I went over to his apartment, his roommate offered me a line. I thought, What the hell, one line couldn’t hurt. A few days later, I bought two grams from him. Being the business man that I am, I figured if I’m going to buy it, I don’t want to waste my money, right? I’ll do half a gram and have him sell the other one and a half. I would make my money back and that would be the end of it. Naively, I trusted him. That was my first mistake.

The next day, I went over to see if he had sold the coke and had my money. He told me that they had stayed up all night doing the coke and would pay me back soon. This guy was a professional hustler and I got beat. It was taking him forever to pay me back and I was getting restless, but since I was his neighbor, he couldn’t avoid me. I knew that he was always broke, but he somehow always had drugs. I told him instead of paying me back in cash, he could hook me up with a line here or half a gram there. If he’s not going to pay me, I thought, I might as well get something. That was my second mistake.

Basically, him paying me back in coke over a period of a week or two made me end up wanting more when he couldn’t come through. I cut out the middle man and started going directly to his dealer. Coke was fun at first, but after a few weeks, the come down was unpleasant. Not to mention, sitting in paranoia half the night, wondering if my roommates could hear me snorting coke. The enjoyment had worn off. It was now an addiction.

Attempting to Start Over

In the midst of all this, my girlfriend and I were moving into a new apartment in a better neighborhood. She had no idea I had even done coke and I made a promise to myself that now that we were moving in together, my affair with cocaine was over. The day my girlfriend moved in, I told her that I wasn’t feeling well, in an attempt to explain my strange behavior (I was really high). She was naive – she had very little experience with drugs – and assumed “my sickness” would pass in a day or two. After she went to bed, I spent most of the night in the bathroom snorting coke into my now obliterated nose or outside smoking. I spent every minute sniffing, not wanting to waste any of the intoxicating drug. My paranoia was getting worse; I became increasingly on edge.

It was somewhere around 3am when my paranoia reached its peak. I couldn’t handle wondering if my girlfriend or the neighbors could hear me anymore. I had bought two grams earlier that day and had about one and a half left. I decided I was going to swallow it. That was my final mistake.

I swallowed everything I had left; I was pretty much out of my mind at this point. I felt a strange mix of paranoia and euphoria. It was as if there was a master control switch to the universe, and it had just been turned from three to two hundred and ten. Sounds I never would have noticed seemed like they were having a live concert inside my head. Endorphins rushed like lightning through my bloodstream. My heart was racing, my body was shaking and I was having heart palpitations. The intensity had become too much. I decided I was going to go upstairs to our loft to lay down and try to relax. The last thing I remember was telling my girlfriend that I loved her.

Disoriented

I didn’t know whether I had been sleeping or had gone unconscious. When I woke up, my girlfriend was on the phone with the paramedics. I was trying to make sense of everything, but every logical faculty within me had been shut down. An ambulance was pulling up to our house and she was directing me to go downstairs. I had a seizure due to overdose. My girlfriend had no idea what happened.

I was rushed to the hospital, hooked up to IVs and given two shots of Ativan, a sedative that is common in the treatment of anxiety and acute seizures. My heart rate was well over 200 and my blood pressure was in the 180’s before I received the medication. My blood pressure finally stabilized after the medication, but my heart rate would not go down. The doctor told my girlfriend it was probably due to anxiety and the emotional stress of what happened and advised her to leave until I calmed down. It was very obvious that I felt like I had completely betrayed my girlfriend; I couldn’t stop thinking about her or what I had done. I was kept in the hospital for 12 hours before my girlfriend picked me up to take me home.

When I got home, the Ativan was still heavily in my system. According to my now-wife, I slept for a few hours, woke up and used the bathroom, where I peed out some of the coke, which was excruciatingly painful. Later that afternoon, my sister arrived from Santa Barbara to give my wife some much needed moral support. My wife was 19 at the time and had just moved out for the first time in her life. Needless to say, she was traumatized. I don’t know how she handled the situation as well as she did.

New Beginning

The next morning I sat down with my girlfriend and sister to discuss what I was going to do to get help. Without them, I don’t know what I would have done. They had a list for me of all the things I needed to do, otherwise my girlfriend couldn’t be with me anymore.

  • Break ties with all of my old friends.
  • Change my phone number.
  • No alcohol, no smoking, nothing.
  • Talk to my family and admit my mistakes (as well as with my wife’s dad).
  • Go to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings.

Within days, I did all of these things diligently. Eventually I stopped going to NA meetings, because I didn’t feel they were helping me. While some people really need the help of meetings, I felt they perpetuated my problem. Calling myself an addict just seemed to reinforce my identity with being an addict. I wanted to move past that and identify with something else. I wanted to identify with sobriety. The hardest part of this was when someone asked me “What are you doing to get help?” and my answer wasn’t very concrete. I couldn’t show them a slip my sponsor signed off every week or that I was in a rehab program. “I’m working on it within myself,” was my response.

A few things helped me overcome – my therapist prefers the word “integrate” – my overdose and addiction. I began taking my personal development seriously. I quit drinking and smoking pot immediately after my overdose. I broke all ties with my old friends, including my best friend. This was one of the hardest things for me, but I knew that if I wanted to change, I had to change the people I affiliated with. I also didn’t touch alcohol for a year. I quit smoking cigarettes a few weeks later, after being a smoker for 5 years. I began walking to work everyday, four and a half miles each way. I started journaling and meditating. I began reading Steve Pavlina’s personal development blog. A few weeks later, I had read every article on his site (over 700 articles). I was committed.

Anniversary

May 27th was the anniversary of my overdose and the day that changed my life. I still struggle with how to integrate this experience with my life now, it’s hard to think about how careless I was. Somehow I feel sharing this experience with others will help me though, and hopefully help someone else. I felt a lot of guilt within me and dealt with feelings of betrayal from my wife. I still don’t know how she had the courage to love me through everything, through my deception and dishonesty. She is an amazing woman.

I’ve learned that when something knocks you down in life, you have two choices. You can either lay there and wonder why bad things happen to you, or you can get back up on your feet and make the choice to learn from your mistakes. In my case, I didn’t have the option of letting my pride get in the way. I knew that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. If I didn’t change then, I’m not sure if I would have ever had the opportunity again. I couldn’t take that risk.

I made the choice to learn from my experience and take control of my life. If my life was going to turn around, it was going to be up to me. I don’t know where I got the courage to face my mistakes and move forward the way I did. I think there was an angel watching over me that day. I know there was a chance I could have not made it out of that seizure, but I did. It’s funny, I’ve always told my wife she’s my angel since we first started dating. I think she was my angel that day.

A Light in the Dark

I always wonder if I could go back and change it, would I want it to happen again? I’m really not so sure. Sometimes it takes the most difficult experiences to smooth out the rough edges in your life. In my case, it wasn’t just the edges, but the very core of my being.

I wanted to share my story with you, to let you know no matter what situation you’re in right now, you have a choice. You can always choose a new path. Your path might be littered with obstacles, but it’s those challenges that define your character. Those challenges are opportunities in disguise. They are there to test your strength and your faith. It’s in those moments that we see our light truly shine. We only need to remember, that it’s through the darkness, we can see the light.

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91 Comments on "A Light in the Dark; The Story of My Overdose"

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apricot.
Guest

darling, you are my hero. I am so proud of you.

Scott
Guest

I’m truly moved by this post. Words can’t convey my reaction- it’s so honest that it will surely inspire all those that read it.

I admire you greatly for travelling through the negative times and it’s a tribute to your inner courage and strength that you have been able to get on the road to recovery.

I’m sure it can’t have been easy but you seem to have learned so much from it.

Thank you for feeling able to share your experience. I hope many others get the chance to read this.

4mind4life.com
Guest
Hey Johnathan, great post! Though I’ve never done drugs or have been a heavy drinker… I too have hit (miles below) rock bottom w/ my ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Definitely a very tough experience to come out of… While I had the experience, I thought to myself “nobody has EVER gone through as much pain is me.” (Now I believe that is untrue…) I have experienced many different states of consciousness because of “my rock-bottom experience” and it appears to me that you have too. The rapid thoughts, beta brainwave state, adrenaline-filled, dopamine packed, highly painful at the same time… Read more »
4mind4life.com
Guest

Oh yeah, I just stumbled this post too!

Michael Martine
Guest

Very powerful personal story. Thanks for being brave enough to share it. That was also a moment of personal development. :)

Karen Lynch-Live the Power
Guest

Whew, Jonathan,
I’m grateful that you shared your story, I do think it takes courage to share our darkest experiences.
I’m glad that you overcame the addictions. Life is truly awesome when you focus on the great things in your life and it seems that you left the bad things and reached for the good! Be joyful. Be happy!

Suburban Oblivion
Guest

Wow..what a powerful story! Congrats on your recovery, and your continued journey of self-discovery.

Evelyn Lim
Guest

I’m so glad that you decided to share your story. It takes a lot of courage to tell the whole world that you have made a mistake.

You’ve made a wonderful decision to overcome your addictions and to choose the best way forward. I’m impressed to learn that your commitment was so strong that you read all 700 articles that Steve wrote. I can’t even profess to that!

May you achieve success in your future endeavors. You have my support!

Evelyn

Monica
Guest
Hi! I want to thank you for sharing your story! Your story was absolutely the most perfect timing for me and I know it was not an accident. You don`t come across posts like this everyday after all! I`ve been having a rough week and have been conflicted about how much I want to share about my personal story that lead me to back to a healthy mind and life.Your courage to share your experience has encouraged me to share mine with my readers and so I`ll try to get it out on notepad. Thanks again, your site looks great… Read more »
Dorian aka coffeesister |_|)
Guest
Sharing & honesty are two of the healthiest choices we can make. They’re also key to continued good choices. You’ve done a dynamic service for yourself as well as readers of this post; thank you. Your improved choices are indicative of the new heights you’re now capable of for our depths increase the opposite potential. You summed it up perfectly in that you not only chose to learn but take control. Having an addictive personality too, I didn’t stay in meetings either – for the same reason – but consistently do a check of whether I’m abdicating my control. Ironically,… Read more »
Jonathan
Guest

Great article! Very powerful and touching, thanks for sharing all your insights. Kindest Regards.
J

Peter | Pick The Brain
Guest

Jonathan,

Firstly, your site looks great. As someone who has been through the same process (new domain and blog name) I know you have probably been very busy as of late making sure everything goes smoothly with the transition.

Secondly, thank you for such an honest and open article. Drugs have played a part in my past as well, and I share your sentiment that it’s through the darkness we can see the light.

Peter

A.
Guest

Very moving. All of the decisions you made after that day were mature. Its hard to say anything to you other than congratulations, you’re a lucky man.

Tom
Guest
This is an inspiring story–your introspection and ability to step outside of yourself, and see the false promise that is drugs makes me proud to be a fellow addict in remission for 2 years now. Although my drug of choice was an opiate, I am very familiar with the hellish paranoia that accompanies a coke crash. I believe everything happens for a reason, though, including me stumbling upon your blog. I would not give up my bottom and redemption for anything in the world because it has helped make me a man of virtue and wisdom. Finally, I also do… Read more »
Morgan
Guest

This is such an amazing story. I truly am happy that you were able to get back on your feet, perhaps not smoothly, but successfully nonetheless.
Really, this is proof to me that, no matter what the issue, it is always possible to change and to grow.
Thank you, and best wishes.

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[…] One man’s tale may teach someone a lesson […]

Robert Barbato
Guest

I have the utmost respect for you. You sir, are a true man.

Clay Collins | The Growing Life
Guest

Your site is awesome and this article is great. Awesome job.

JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, You
Guest
Jonathan.. This moved me to tears. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing something so personal and so life changing with us. You had me cheering for Ev with such pride :) (Ok and for you too) I am amazed by your turnaround and can’t help but think how lucky we are that this is how you went down with it. To read the backstory of your passion with personal development.. just wow… Thank you so much for being living proof that things will be ok with the right mindset. I *really* needed to… Read more »
Robert A. Henru
Guest

Jonathan, congratz for your new blog. And thanks for your courage to share your story. It must not be easy, but hopefully through your story, it will inspire many others, to change and take the responsibility on the mess they’re in.
Happy that you have changed now, you’ve got a much better future ahead.
All the best!
Robert

Tim Brownson
Guest
I was out last night and I decided to check my e-mails just before bed when I came in. I have no idea why I clicked through here because I intended catching up this morning, but I did, and I started reading and I couldn’t stop. Very powerful post. It especially resonated with me because in the 90’s I had a dance record shop for 8 years. In that time I was heavily involved in the clubbing and djing scene and the all that that entails. I was lucky because I was an occasional indulger and never took it past… Read more »
Dorie
Guest

I saw this over at BC this morning but I wanted to come to here to thank you for sharing. I was really touched by the way you wrote. Best of luck to both you and your wife on your path together.

Tom Volkar / Delightful Work
Guest

Thanks for sharing this experience in such heartfelt fashion. You did indeed make a powerful turnaround all at once. Kudos to you man. You have found your light and it shines brightly for others.

Alaia
Guest

Hey Jonathan,

Thanks for sharing your story! And I love the new blog name. Can’t wait to read more articles.

Jarani
Guest

This was an amazing read. The night my mom and I recieved the call about your overdose I was worried to death about you both. I feel that you’ve both overocome so many obstacles and I know your marriage will flourish. I’m so proud of you and my sister. You are both so intelligent and I hope that luck allows me to be the same.

RamTsam
Guest

Your article is very good and will be useful for many. Determination to change your entire attitude has pawed a new way for you. All the best to have a wonderful and abundant life in all walks of your life.

RamTsam

Seth Kursel
Guest
I also question and manipulate everything I can get my hands and mind on. I’m just sitting here right now wondering, and trying to get inspiration from you about, how to use this. Because strong inquisitiveness like that shouldn’t always lead, as it often does, to hedonism, substance abuse. What’s the right direction, then? Seems you figured things out, and FOUND the answers, huh? In the Four Agreements, which I’ll check out ASAP. And then your life went on; that seems sad to me, that it’s not life’s culmination to find all the answers worth finding.
vimoh
Guest

You were right in making your story public. I don’t know what to say though. :) I do dislike speechlessness.

So cheers to you and your family for making it through the terrible times. And thank you for writing this!

Laurie
Guest

It takes great strength to make the decision to change like you did and stick to it. You say an angel was watching over you, let me suggest the very hand of God.

Simon Hill
Guest

I have enjoyed your writing for some time now and so having the privilege to understand a very important, personal perspective that you bring to it makes me very grateful.

Best wishes

Simon

Katie West/Life Renovations
Guest

Jonathan,
Thank you for sharing and being so open with such intimate details. I believe firmly that the more we are open with each other in this society, the more we get over the imagined hurdle that “others have it all figured out” which in turns magnifies our own isolation. I appreciate your courage to open these doors which bring about togetherness in our common struggles. Thank you for your courage and your ability to transform what was darkness into such light.

CJ
Guest

I too have an addictive personality, and because of that I too got into personal development. What you say about finding the light from the darkness is really true. It can be that way if you make the choice to change and grow.

Cedric
Admin
I apologize for taking so long to respond to this initial post. I’m just kind of speechless right now at the reaction it has gotten. Thank you everyone for your support and kind words. I think what’s amazed me most is the feedback I’ve gotten from those that haven’t had any experience with drugs or alcohol and how they can still relate to my experience. To me, that’s just a testament to the universality of struggles and how we can all relate to the dark times in our lives. I truly believe it’s in those moments that we see the… Read more »
Carrie
Guest

Jonathan,

I just came across your post after I Googled a similar topic, and while there is no way of knowing just how many people it helped, I want you to know that it helped me. You understand, and you beat it. Thank you for sharing your story, which will in deed give others strength and hope. :)

Nathalie Lussier
Guest

Every one wants to be a better individual, but not many have the attitude to do it. You had it all.. great post

Laurie
Guest

I find myself returning to your sight. I am hypnotized by the beautiful photo of you and your wife kissing. It’s such an emotional picture. Full of romance, intimacy and love. Thanks for sharing. PS you two are a beautiful couple. Your wife is gorgeous!

SaiF
Guest

Hey Jonathan!

Thank you for writing this post.

It felt like I was vicariously living your life and when I finished, it felt a little bit like I was reborn.

Thank you for this =)

You’re a great person Jonathan and I love you for coming into my life to hear this.

Thank you.

To CANI,

SaiF
The World’s First Teen
Personal Development Video Blogger

Rc
Guest

I enjoyed your story, well the positive of it at least. In this life we have to get through the negatives to see the light thats the truth. Keep up the good work!

RJ
Guest

Wow. Thank you for posting this Jonathan, very inspiring.
Love the new site design too :)

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[…] and in most cases, unhealthy for the human body.  A significant portion of the global population abuses the crap out of them on a daily basis, legally and […]

James
Guest

I am sitting here, with tears in my eyes after reading this. There are many parallels to my own life in this story. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us, as I’m sure it gives many who read it renewed hope. You are a hero. I am overjoyed that I stumbledupon this story.

Angie Lay
Guest

What an inspiration you are! I’m truly touched by your honesty and courage in your post. Best of luck to you. I’m loving the posts I’m reading here and will definitely subscribe.

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[…] story of his overdose on cocaine & his recovery is here. addthis_pub = ‘[ACCOUNT-ID]’; addthis_logo = ‘http://www.apricot-tea.com/images/yourlogo.png’; […]

Sean C
Guest

Incredible story man. I’ve never touched cocaine. In fact, I don’t think i’ve even been around it. The way you told the story though I could sense the euphoria of using and feel the pain of the overdose. This is a story of survival. It’s also a story of overcoming the demons inside one’s self. You tackled yours head on with sheer will power. The heartbeat of your strength appears to be your wife.

You are a lucky man.

Never look back, unless it’s to warn others the dangers of that path. I hope writing this out helped yourself and others.

Jared Goralnick
Guest

Thank you for sharing this, Jonathan. It was no doubt not the easiest to write, but will likely help a LOT of people. Thank you : )

Kelly@SHE-POWER
Guest
Inspiring post Jonathan. It takes guts to go back to that place and write about times like these. I know this because I refer to my own struggles with drugs in a joking manner and I’m not sure I could write this personal a post. There are too many ugly stories and incidents and I guess I’d rather forget them. I wish you well with your recovery and agree that the whole NA thing is not for everyone. We all have to find our own truth and our own path back. Like you, mine involved my spouse, and I’m not… Read more »
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[…] though it happened over a year ago, I am still brutally affected by memories. When I try to overlook the […]

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[…] the best of each of these professions. After all, sometimes the best lessons come from the most unexpected sources. This advice can be applied to your career, or if you’re an entrepreneur, with […]

Desika Nadadur | I Am My Own Master
Guest

Wow, Jonathan! I had no idea, you went through all this. I am very happy that you recovered and found your light. Great job!

Desika

janelle
Guest

It takes a lot of courage to come forward and share a personal experience like that. It really is an inspiration to everyone, and I’m sure you can look back in retrospect and feel really great about how far you’ve come.

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