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Heroin's Siren Song - Part 2 of 2: Son Achieves Stability After Years of Addiction
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, July 25, 2011

Heroin's Siren Song - Part 2 of 2: Son Achieves Stability After Years of Addiction

One in an occasional series
Sunday, July 24, 2011
By Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Copyright ©1997 - 2011 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Daniel Garrighan, 23, of Delmont, began injecting heroin when he was 15. His brother, John, 27, likewise a heroin addict, suffered a fatal overdose in January.

After numerous stays in inpatient treatment facilities and subsequent relapses, Daniel has been off heroin for two years. Married and the father of a 1-year-old son, he works as an intake coordinator at Jade Wellness Center in Monroeville, where his mother, Lucy, is founder and president and his sister, Abbie, is director of operations. He also is attending the University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg, studying psychology in hopes of becoming a drug counselor.

Here is his story as told to Post-Gazette reporter Michael A. Fuoco:

To read the complete Pittsburgh Post Gazette article click on the title above or on the "Read More" below.

I was vice president of my junior high school. I was really against smoking cigarettes and drinking. But after eighth grade I started drinking and smoking weed. I decided it was normal for me to drink and smoke weed because that's what kids did.

Cocaine happened pretty quickly after that. Everything progressed very quickly. I went from being in eighth grade and never touching marijuana ... and by the time I was getting out of freshman year I was doing heroin, and by the time I was a sophomore I was shooting dope.

My brother and I used heroin together a good bit at the beginning. We didn't find it in the same route; we both ended up drug addicts by our own means, but we used together.

I snorted it a couple of times. I went intravenous pretty quickly. We're all good at hiding it for an extended period of time, but you only can hide it for so long.

On the day of my older sister Abbie's high school graduation, I was looking to get high. I was starting to get sick, going down, and couldn't find anyone with heroin. My brother gave me a phone number to call. I went down to the city, got drugs, brought them home.

I said I'd meet them at graduation, I'd go with my brother. That was the plan. I shot up, and basically within 30 seconds I fell out. For some reason, John came upstairs. John gave me CPR until paramedics came, I kept falling out, he kept me breathing. When he came up, I was blue, he said.

The next thing I remember is I threw up on a bunch of cops in my room and was being wheeled out. In the ambulance I can remember this paramedic's face, and he said to me it was the seventh time that week they had responded to an overdose and I was the first one he could talk to, the first one who was alive.

What he said wasn't a big deal to me until years later. I think I used [heroin] a day or two later.

It gets to the point pretty quickly that it's not fun anymore. I was using crack every day. I was in a methadone program. I took methadone, heroin, crack, benzos [benzodiazepines like Xanax] and drank.

I'd get up, sometimes I would go to the methadone clinic, sometimes I wouldn't. I wasn't going to work ... you don't have any interpersonal relationships. They don't exist unless they're going to benefit me.

I didn't grow up aspiring to be a thief of any sort, but I definitely would steal to use. I needed leverage, and, for an addict, the family was the best place to get it. They love you, and you use that to your advantage. I knew my family loved me. I have friends who really care about me, and I took advantage of that.

Drugs were a big part of my life; it went on for so long. I got used to it at the time. You probably wouldn't have recognized me. I looked ridiculous.

I went to rehab on May 14, 2009. It was a struggle at the beginning, and I definitely fell down a couple times. While in rehab the last time I ended up using heroin on two separate occasions. After that, I just bought crack and threw it out of the window. I was enmeshed in recovery. It's not fun when you get knowledge in your head and are trying to work a program. That's the worst thing for an addict -- when you have a head full of recovery and you pick up drugs and start thinking straight again and think 'What the hell is going on?' You're starting to realize what the hell you're doing again.

I was on medication for a long time when I got clean. I was on Suboxone [a narcotic prescription medication used to treat opiate addiction]. I got off of that in January.

A lot of different things contributed to getting sober. I definitely had a family who really cared about me. They gave me all the opportunities in [the] world, and they still do. I had a support group in place a lot of people don't have.

Finally, I wanted [sobriety] the last time I went to treatment. I definitely didn't go to treatment [previously] wanting it at all. I was going to treatment to get a couple days under my belt so my tolerance would go down so I could continue getting high. My family made it possible for me to be in a residential facility in York, Pa., for 70 some days and to stick around York [as an outpatient] for six months.

Some days the only thing I do right is to not have a drug and to not have a drink. I get stressed out; sometimes I don't treat people the way I should. Some days are better than others, of course, but generally speaking, recovery is not just getting through every day not using and not drinking because there are other behaviors I'm still doing that I'm not proud of.

Obviously, this job at the clinic seems ideal. It keeps me accountable. I don't find myself unique in any way. I don't think I'm any different from anyone else. I see myself in everyone dealing with this.

When people come in, I see that I could be there in an instant. It definitely makes me realize I could be back there so quickly. If I don't do what I need to, you can come in here next time and I'd be a completely different person. That helps me dramatically.

I love when I see people grasp the program. You're going to see successes, failures.

I can wake up now and eat a bowl of cereal in the morning and take a shower, and I don't have to do anything else. On Sundays, I make coffee and sometimes sit for four hours. There was never a point before where I was even eligible to do that; I always had a priority [of getting drugs].

My life now, my son and my wife, definitely keep me going. They keep me watching myself. Putting a child in place ... if I can't stay sober for myself, I think about him. He's my lifeline. There's nothing I do on a daily basis that I don't think of him first before I do it. I don't even drive over the speed limit.

I don't go to parties, I don't have alcohol at my house. There's a lot I need to do because my behavior in the past wasn't behavior I can continue doing.

I'm really happy. I have everything in place that I need. There's nothing I can think of right now that I need. I have more than I need. There's nothing I even want.

Copyright ©1997 - 2011 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Go to Part 1 of 2 - Heroin's Siren Song - Addiction Batters a Thriving Family

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