Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter

“My first real spiritual experience happened before I got in the program and got sober. When I was like 19 years old I was the range safety officer at a shooting range, which was the coolest job ever. I never didn’t want to go to work because I got paid to shoot guns, smoke weed and pop pills all day. It was great at the time. And so, one morning I just kind of woke up and didn’t feel like going to work that day. There wasn’t really any reason for it I just didn’t want to go. So, I called in and I stayed home. I was still living with my parents because I had just graduated high school. And so, I was home with my dad that day and he was doing some yard work. The lawnmower broke and he went to take it to the Honda dealership and when he went to lift it up and put it in the back of the truck and his aorta just burst. It ruptured. 50 percent of people that happens to die pretty much immediately. 45 percent die in transit to the hospital or on the operating table. And 5 percent live. He came in the house and said he was having a heart attack and told me to call 911. And so, we go to the hospital and we’re in there and this nurse who was passing by just happened to overhear them talking about treatment for a heart attack, which they thought it was. And she walked by and said that someone last week got treated for a heart attack and it was actually an aortic dissection and they ended up dying. Again, she just like happened to be passing by. So, they sent him for the MRI and sure enough, that was what was happening. So, if she hadn’t walked by at that exact right moment he would have died right there in the ER. They called Hartford Hospital and it just so happens that the number one heart valve transplant surgeon in the entire world was at Hartford Hospital and had just finished another surgery. The stars just aligned. He got flown there in a helicopter and he is ended up surviving. It’s interesting too because I found out later that my parents had had some serious problems in their marriage but had planned to stick through it until I was out of the house. With my mom taking care of my dad in the hospital that they fell in love again and now their marriage is stronger than it has ever been. The whole thing was just one of those experiences that told me that maybe there was some power out there at work in our lives. But at that time, I didn’t know that seeking that power was going to be the solution that changed my life later on.”

“Because at that time, I didn’t know I had a problem. I had no idea then what I know now about addiction and alcoholism, but in hindsight, I was definitely an alcoholic who needed a drink long before I ever took one. I never really felt a part of growing up. I’m from an upper middle class like suburban American family you know? I had a great childhood and I was an Eagle Scout. My family went on trips every year and I heard a perfect cookie cutter life. But I never knew why I didn’t fit in with everyone. I always felt like in school that I had to be the class clown and do something to be noticed. Because I cared about what people thought about and that was like what drove me. Like the fear of judgment, the fear of what people thought about me or how I was going to look to opposite sex. And the first time I ever smoked weed I didn’t feel like that anymore. I found a solution to a problem that I didn’t even know that I didn’t even know I had. Looking back, I can see that that is why I liked it so much.”

“When I was 19 and got a job as a heavy equipment operator and I was making around $50,000 a year. And that’s way too much money for a drug addict kid who as living with his parents and with no responsibilities. So, I worked hard enough to keep myself out of trouble somewhat, because it was such a demanding job, but when I wasn’t at work I was doing cocaine. And even before that in high school I had been drinking a half gallon of rum a day. I eventually put that down for a while because I got scared of a chemical dependency. I’d seen it ruin people’s lives and I knew it was an issue. But cocaine was the one that really got me. It was a problem. I would do it all day every day. I’d get out of work and use cocaine until I went back to work. I’d stay up all night, sleep for maybe an hour before work and then do it all again. I was late for work all the time. I blew my nose one time and when I did pieces of flesh started coming out so I tried to put the coke down and go back to smoking and drinking. Then the pills came into the picture a little bit which led me to heroin. I did it the first time and decided I was going to be a junkie. I completely stopped caring. It was that good. I knew what I was getting myself into but there was no stopping it.”

“I was also in a relationship and she and I did dope together. We would manage pretty well and we were pretty much a team. If I didn’t have dope, she did and vice versa. So, we always kept each other well and it worked out for a while. And then it stopped working and I started getting pretty miserable. I got fired from my job, was collecting unemployment and with not having anything to do during the day it was just all heroin all day. I remember I was sitting in my room one day in my apartment and was having a phone conversation with my father. I remember talking to him and it was just a normal conversation. Hell, we were talking about the Walking Dead because we’re both huge fans. And the whole time I’m cutting up some heroin and he has no idea. And I hung up the phone and this wave came over me. I realized what a disappointment I probably was to him and to everyone. Everything I had done hit me all at once and I could see it. It clicked for me that there was something wrong with my life. I knew it deep down in that moment. I wanted to stop but I still didn’t really know how. I got on the phone with my girlfriend and told her we needed to go get help. She said we could do it on our own but we’d been trying to stop on our own for a while and that really hadn’t worked. I knew I needed to go to rehab. But as quick as that came it faded and I went back to it for a few more miserable weeks. I ended up having to leave my apartment after an ordeal with a biker gang and went to my dad’s for a few days. While I was there I finally came clean about it all to him. I broke down in tears and told him everything. He’d known for a long time but because I was finally communicating and getting honest, he said that he could finally help me get some help. 10 days after that I was on a plane to Dallas. And that’s how this part of my life began.”

“I came into rehab and told my counselor that for me, drugs were not an escape but experience. I wasn’t running from anything, I just really liked drugs. I was so delusional. I felt like I needed to stay away from heroin from now on but the other stuff was going to still be okay. That’s how I came into treatment, I just wasn’t done yet. And I didn’t end up doing the work with my first sponsor because I wasn’t truly ready. I’m not sure how I stayed sober during those days other than God allowed me to. It was really dry sobriety though. Part of it was that I found a fellowship of young people in the rooms that accepted me for who I was and I think that was enough for me for a while, even without having had a spiritual awakening. It kept me coming back. Remember I was saying that I got high to feel a part of and to feel accepted? Well I finally found that in another way. So, in some ways, things were way better by just not getting high and having a community to be a part of. But that could only last for so long. Eventually, the girl I was dating stopped talking to me, started dating someone else and something in me snapped. If there had been drugs around I would have used because I had no other solution for that kind of pain. Shortly after that my sponsor dropped me because I wasn’t doing the work and I realized that even if I didn’t get high, I was getting miserable enough to kill myself. In sobriety! That was when I realized how hopeless I really was. Drugs had always been my solution and now that I didn’t have them, things were almost worse. I realized that something had to change.”

“So finally after all this time of going to meetings and being sober, I finally decided to work the steps and do it right. I got a sponsor and 16 days later, he gave me the go ahead to start taking on sponsees and taking guys through the work. I had started the work a few times but this time I did it with desperation. The fire was lit underneath me and I was on my way to the fourth dimension. All the things I had always heard in meetings that I had thought I understood, they really started to make sense to me. I felt something change inside of me. I started doing the deal and taking meetings into treatment centers. Like, I had finally found God and I wanted to share that with people who needed it so they wouldn’t have to live that way anymore. It was so powerful and my life continues to be full of that power. I got asked to come out here and work at this place. I look back at all of these situations in my life, all these ups and downs and nothing is by coincidence anymore. I still doubt at times but things continue to be revealed to me that reaffirm and deepen my faith. Something is guiding me and always has been.”

“Working out here, I try to remember that when I was in treatment, I really wasn’t sure if I was done. And if someone hadn’t been willing to help me, even though I was on the fence, I wouldn’t be here now. People met me where I was at. So, I try and do that same thing with new guys here, especially those who come in unsure about this whole deal. I can relate to that. I remember when I first started going to meetings someone walked up and asked if I had a suit. They said if I stuck around for a while I was gonna be going to a lot of funerals and that if I didn’t do this work I was going to be wearing that suit at my own funeral. Maybe I needed to hear that, I don’t know. But for me, I don’t know what’s going to happen with new guys based on how they are when they first get here. So, I try to focus on forming a connection with them so I can help them through their specific situation. I want to be in the position where I’m telling them the truth but at the same time, I’m being open to God’s plan for them and trying to meet them were they are.”