First off, I was raised in Humboldt County by tweakers in a town called Rio Dell. Not only were my parents tweakers but so were my aunts and uncles. So growing up I had a basic understanding of what meth was. My father was an abusive man. He would come down off meth and beat my mom. And he would beat on me and my siblings. My mom and us kids were in constant fear. My dad was arrested for his abuse multiple times, sent to rehabs several times, and us kids went through foster care for a while. Then my parents got clean when I was about nine and got us back from the foster homes in Eureka. (By the way, the foster homes we encountered were also abusive.).
But after my dad got clean he still continued to abuse his family. Once I became 12 I started to run away from home. I realized I didn't have to let my dad hit me and that I could just hitchhike to Redway and Garberville where I met some friends. I started smoking weed and running away all the time. The cops would catch me, take me back to my parents, write me a ticket for running away, and my dad would hit me again. So I would just go back to Redway until I was caught again. This went on until I was about 15 or so.
One night at the age of 15 or 16 (I had just started drinking alcohol) I was drinking with a friend of mine in Rio Dell at the river bar. A Rio Dell police officer named Gram Hill spotted the two of us and noticed I was too drunk to walk. He said, "Hey Mike, come on up here," as he shined his flashlight on me from atop a small hill. I tried to climb up the small dirt mound to talk to the officer but I was so drunk that I just rolled back down. The cop threw me in the back of his squad unit. He wrote my buddy a ticket for having an eighth of an ounce of weed and then drove me to Eureka where he placed me in Juvenile Hall. I spent a month and a half in there before being released on a home monitoring system. My dad became violent again so I ran again and they sent me back to Juvy. This time they slammed me for the past 52 or 53 misdemeanor charges of imcorrigible, running away, etc. So I spent over a year straight incarcerated in Juvenile Hall. While I was in Juvenile Hall I met a girl named Cassie. She expressed to me that she liked me and wanted to be my girlfriend. We started passing each other love notes and formed a relationship. I had fallen in love for the first time in my life. I had a girlfriend before her, but I never fell in love. Cassie stole my heart and there was nothing I could do about it. The Juvenile Hall had allowed me to have passes to work and to see my family. Cassie had gotten out before me and we kept in contact via the phone and letters. One day after work I missed my taxi ride back to Juvy. I called them and the staff member (Mr. Solomon) told me to walk. So I walked by my girlfriend's house first to make love to her and then went back to Juvy. This turned into a routine; every day I would just walk back to Juvy after work, always stopping to spend time with the love of my life.
Until one day I decided I didn't want to leave her. I didn't want to spend one second away from her. So I never went back to Juvy. We spent every minute together. The next thing that happened changed my life exponentially. Cassie and I were lying in bed one night when she reached for her purse and grabbed out a meth pipe. I had never seen a meth pipe before. I had no clue what she was doing! I asked her what it was and she said, "Dope." I said what do you mean, "Dope?" She said, "Speed." I was surprised to find out that speed could be smoked.
My family did lines, but I never heard of anybody smoking meth. So I (knowing that speed was bad) begged my new love to stop. Every day for maybe two or three weeks I begged. But she would not stop. After that I eventually grabbed the pipe from her and began smoking it myself because I want to be as bonded to her as I could, I guess. That was probably the biggest mistake in my life besides making that girl my girlfriend in the first place.
After that night I spent the next five to seven years struggling with a meth addiction. Cassie eventually broke my heart by cheating on me with my best friend at the time. They got together and had a kid. After impregnating her, my friend ended up going to prison and something happened and they lost the kid. So Cassie was gone and I was strung out on meth on the streets of Eureka.
I eventually turned 18 and did my time in jail and got back out to be homeless and tweaked out on the streets of Eureka. My heart was still hurting from Cassie so I began slamming heroin, smoking crack and drinking and using meth. I guess I was trying to off myself, you might say. I got over the heartache at least enough to quit the heroin needle thing within three months. But I was still a meth smoker.
Then one day a miracle happened. My cousin John from Redding came down and took me back to Redding with him. He taught me that working hard was good and smoking meth was lame. I got clean for a while. Then we had a falling out and I left and ended up in Willits.
From there I started up my meth addiction again. I was tweaked out every day. Then I don't know exactly what happened in my mind but just like that I was over it. I didn't want to be a worthless tweaker any longer. But I still struggled with the addiction. I would go two weeks clean, then I would smoke more meth. Then I would stop for another two weeks and once again relapse. It was hard. I didn't have the court trying to send me to rehab. I didn't have friends trying to help me. I didn't go to a Narcotics Anonymous. I just struggled two weeks on, two weeks off. One day I ran into a guy who I had met through one of my tweaker buddies. They were friends from school. But the one guy wasn't a tweaker. He just knew my tweaker friend. This guy's name was Jeremy. Jeremy asked me what I was doing that day. I told him I had gone two weeks without smoking meth because I didn't want to be a tweaker any more but that I was struggling with it. I said I had 40 bucks in my pocket and I had nowhere to go. I could buy $40 of worth of meth and stay up at a tweaker pad all night or I could sleep outside somewhere and spend my money on food in the morning and keep trying to stay clean.
Jeremy seemed a bit taken aback by what I had said. That night I decided I wanted "really bad" to stop meth and I was at my regular time of relapse. I told myself, No, that's it! So I slept in the cardboard dumpster behind Ray's Food Place in Willits. It rained at night so I had to place pieces of cardboard under the lid in order not to get wet. The next day I saw Jeremy and he asked me if I still had my $40. I showed him a receipt from McDonald's and the rest of the change. I told him I slept in a dumpster in the rain rather than in a house smoking meth. Jeremy was almost in disbelief. He then told me, "You know what, Mike? I hardly know you, but what you just told me was incredible." He continued, "If you want to really stay clean and have a friend who doesn't use meth, you can move to my house. As long as you want to remain clean you now have a house and a job and a friend.
I wanted so bad for my life to change, I took the offer. Jeremy and I became best friends. Then one day I made him promise me on our friendship that if I used meth again he would literally beat me up. No holding back. He said that's a bit harsh, but I can make you that promise. I meant it, too. The week before I got my first year clean from meth I was drinking with a guy in Willits named Matt. Matt wanted to smoke meth and he wanted me to smoke with him. He kept bugging me until I finally gave in (because I was all drunk). The next week Jeremy threw a party for me for being clean for a year at his house. I felt so stupid knowing that I blew my year. I felt like such a letdown to the one person who would care enough to help me. I took him to a separate room and broke it down to him. Jeremy was disappointed. He told me I was his best friend and that he didn't want to do this. But I made him promise. I needed to learn a harsh lesson. So Jeremy blasted me in the face multiple times holding back very little, so he wouldn't break my teeth. When it was over both sides of my face were swollen and I had two black eyes. One of the guys who did the meth with me was at the party. His name was Chip. Jeremy punked Chip out, telling him, "Look what you made me do to my brother! You gave my brother demon's blood!" Chip looked towards the floor. Jeremy told Chip he was a worthless tweaker and if he ever gave his brother meth again he would look ten times worse than I did.
After that my meth addiction was gone. I have nobody to thank other than Jeremy and myself for not wanting it in the first place. But if it wasn't for Jeremy I would still be a worthless tweaker. So for what it's worth: Thank you, Jeremy, you saved my life. And with the extra help of my other best friend to get me going strong with all her help and anti-meth support, Elaine Massey, you too; I could not have done this without you.
Anybody out there struggling with a meth addiction, my advice to you is this: First, you need to want to stop for yourself and nobody but yourself. Second, you need to find friends who don't use drugs and who actually care about you as a person. And third, don't give up when times get hard. Know that when times get tough, the times are only temporary. Love yourself and know that there is a better life for yourself and there are better friends out there than all these tweaked out "giver-uppers"!
Life is what you make it. But you need real friends. This is the key! And they are out there. You just have to look! I hope this helps some of you out there say strong. If you want change, you can have it!