-When In Doubt: Risk-

Adam Abramowitz


I used to be a heroin addict. Five years ago I detoxed myself from all substances.


I don’t feel proud about it either. The fact that I haven’t gotten high or drunk in a while doesn't feel important. In fact, my entire experience of addiction is a bit of a blur.


I remember what it felt like to absolutely need something to feel “ok”. I remember sitting in my car for hours, sick to my stomach waiting for the phone to ring. I remember sneaking around my parents’ house looking for things to pawn…but, I don’t remember a good reason why I did those things.


Sometimes, it feels like I’ve disconnected from the experience of being a drug addict. I no longer recognize the uncontrollable desire for instant pleasure.


Five years ago, I stepped out of a self-induced state of dependency. For the first time in my life, I experienced the full spectrum of human emotions.


Prior to getting sober, I had never contemplated the intricacies involved in a human experience. I wasn’t aware of my own thoughts. I couldn’t separate the voice in my head, from the part of me that observes that voice. 


I was a prisoner to my own life experience, a participant unaware of the story unfolding in front of my eyes. I operated on one frequency: do it.


Reflection was reserved for moments of pain.


I only thought about my choices when I was alone; over stimulated by amphetamines or under-doped by a lack of heroin.


When I got sober, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know what my life meant, or what was ahead of me. I had no goals or aspirations, just a desire to wake up in the morning and not feel sick.


In recovery, I discovered a theme that I continue to implement today: risk.


A risky expression of “self” has the power to shake the foundation of who we are, and if we’re lucky, it can inspire others to do the same. To make a difference in the lives of those we meet, by letting people see how we truly think or feel.


After getting sober, I began to risk myself in life. I tried things I never had the guts to do, like kissing a girl without being high or drunk, singing karaoke, or speaking in front of people.


I risked myself every time I shared something.


The process allowed me to discover myself, as I risked other people seeing me.


It produced an increase of productivity, creativity, and drive. It taught me to focus on what I value; cultivating a mindset of patience and perseverance.


It has challenged me to stay true to who I am as I move closer to the man I’m meant to be.


Five years ago I was a heroin addict. Today, I’m just a dude. And, the theme in my life remains the same: honesty and risk.


Writing the first draft of this essay was me being honest. Looking back at what I had written and deciding to share was the risk.


Will it change the world?  Probably not. But, it has saved me and it will continue to move me forward - by risking myself in honesty.