Jeffrey lost his battle with Heroin on July 6th, 2013. He overdosed in the early morning hours. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Below is his story and how he fought to overcome his addiction.
Hello my name is Jeffrey Kern. This story is about a series of decisions and events in my life that led to my addiction of drugs. My life as an adult began like everybody else’s life, it was a good life. I had a beautiful girlfriend which I was in love with and still am. I had a good job that paid me well, and it was a job I liked a lot. We spent most our time hanging out with friends having barbeques, going to movies, and going out to dinner. Our life was simple, but full of happiness. We had a baby on the way and very happy and very much in love. We loved every minute we spent together, whether we were fighting or getting along. Our happiest day is when our beautiful daughter arrived. I had already picked a name for her before she was even born and Jennie let me name her. Words can’t even describe the happiness when she arrived and I got to tell the nurse her name would be Trinity Noelle Kern. The adjustment to having a new baby in the house was hard. The first couple months were the hardest. Trinity stayed up all night and slept all day, but like any other baby that soon changed. Jennie and I were both great at being parents and loved it. The difficulties brought us closer together.
Eventually Jennie got a good job and I was working too so things were going great, but we didn’t have time to do much else other than come home and work. We were young, I was twenty-four turning twenty-five and Jennie was twenty turning twenty-one our birthdays are exactly four years and two days apart. The boredom and repetition of just work and home were starting to wear us thin. Our life wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a great one, but still we search for something not knowing what it was we needed and that is when the drugs had entered our life.
At first we began using Lora tabs and muscle relaxers on occasion which were being given to us for free. We didn’t use very often, mostly when we were bored and had time off.We would also smoke weed during the week. That continued on for probably nine months. I got laid off from my construction job in December of 2005, but Jennie had a good job so we weren’t overly concerned with the loss of income, she also enjoyed having me home so much.That’s when one of my friends introduced us to oxycontin and that’s when things began the slow change from recreational use of drugs to routine use of drugs. The oxycontins I was getting were extremely cheap and had a very strong effect on both us. We were paying fifteen dollars for 80mg oxycontin. That early in our addiction an 80mg oxy would last both of us for days, and at first we would only crush them up and snort them at night after Trinity went to bed because we could barely function we were so high from a lack of tolerance to the drug. That went on for nearly a year.
Our use slowly began to change our priorities. I didn’t look for a new job when the company I was working for didn’t call me back to work because they didn’t have any. Jennie didn’t start to slip at the work part of her life for some time. She was getting upset with me because I wasn’t trying to find work. Things just barely started to fall apart. I had been caught for possession of drugs and put on probation. Which they never drug tested me even though I was on felony probation for drugs. By the end of 2006 we were both pretty well hooked on the oxycontin and were spending all our spare money on drugs. Jennie got her taxes in the beginning of 2007 and we moved into bigger better place with the promise of me getting a job. I had every intention of getting a job, but I never did. Jennie became the manager of her job at the time and began to bring home more money and things seemed liked they would work out, but we fought more as our priorities changed.
I was farther along in my addiction and very much in denial. I began to lie to Jennie and make promises I had no intention of keeping. Jennie began to slip at work and not do what was required of her because her addiction was also progressing. We were both in strong denial of just how bad our addiction actually was. Eventually Jennie lost her job and everybody knew we were doing drugs, but they just had no idea how bad we had actually gotten. We let some friends move in to help us with bills because we were failing at our responsibilities. None of our bills were being paid on time. The friends we let move in also had an opiate addiction and their addiction was far more progressed than ours. We had no idea how much farther their addiction had progressed than ours. They were injecting oxys and heroin when they could get it. Eventually Aaron the boyfriend of the couple we let move in talked me into injecting heroin which I did without Jennie’s knowledge, and I spiraled deeper into addiction. I didn’t inject drugs all the time at that point because I was afraid of what would happen when Jennie found out. Eventually we kicked the couple out of our house for not paying rent. Jennie’s friend was a stripper and bragged to Jennie about how much she was making and Jennie decided she wanted to try or didn’t see any other choice to support our habit or maybe it was a little of both.Our thinking and morals were getting so far off from who really were and we didn’t even realize it. I was mistreating the girl I loved so very much and her and my daughter was no longer my top priority. You have to remember we had our daughter through this whole ordeal.We didn’t do drugs in front of her, but we might as well have done them in front of her. We were still trying to be good parents and drug addicts. Which is impossible I don’t care what anybody says. After we kicked that couple out of our house they told Jennie about me injecting drugs and we fought about it and I denied it of course as any addict would. Eventually we lost our apartment and moved in with my parents. Eventually Jennie caught me injecting heroin and shedid the opposite of what I expected. She demanded that I let her do it since I was. That’s when our addiction really spiraled out of control. We both began using heroin regularly and injecting it every time. This was around august of 2007.
Our lives were out of control, but we were still nowhere near the height of our addiction yet; and yes, it gets worse. Even though we weren’t paying any bills and lived at my parents we would have at least a day or two a week in which we struggled to get money so we weren’t sick from the withdraws of heroin. People describe withdraws as flu like symptoms, but they’re not.Looking from the outside in that’s how they appear, but they are so much worse. The puking,the fevers, the chills, and the depression and not being able to stand being in your own skin, and hating yourself for what you have become. The only thing that makes it stop is more drugs. It was a vicious cycle that would make me wish I was dead. The feeling and drive to get more drugs push your morals and thinking right out the window. The only thing that matters is the next score nothing else, no one else.
We eventually moved into her parents because mine no longer wanted us around and Jennie’s parents were just becoming aware of our addiction. They wanted us to move in with the hope that we would get clean. Instead we eventually stole a couple thousand dollars from them and they kicked me out and Jennie stayed there for awhile. Eventually she came back to stay with me at my parents which we also stole from. Much smaller amounts, but just the same we stole from them our parents the people who loved us. Pretty messed up stuff wouldn’t you agree.Still we hadn’t reached our bottom. Our parents were taking care of our daughter for us because we couldn’t and at that point we knew it, but it still didn’t stop us.
The spring of 2008 is when it got real bad. We started stealing from other places;whatever we could get our hands on of value we could sell. Eventually I got caught and it violated my probation which took a little time to catch up with me. Jennie also had been caught for felony possession of drugs, but because of her lack of a criminal record she got thirty days in jail. I kept doing drugs but I was devastated she was in jail I missed her so much. And was so depressed that she was going through withdraws in jail alone. She got out July 08 of 2008 I went to jail for my probation violation July 15 2008. I went through withdraws in jail but it wasn’t as bad as knowing Jennie had to go through them alone in the beginning of June. I loved her so much but her thinking was so far gone still even though she was clean. She was married to another guy by the end of august 2008. I found that out right before my release to rehab in December. It destroyed me. She had been lying and coming seeing me still. So I went into rehab extremely depressed and not with a right mind.It’s now 2009 and Jennie got back involved with drugs and had kicked her new husband out. I got into contact with her to talk to my daughter and we began to talk again. My rehabilitation began to fall apart because I was more concerned with Jennie than getting better.At the nine month mark I left rehab to be with Jennie and my daughter. That violated the new probation which I was on and I went right back to a new rehab which I hated and got kicked out of. Next I absconded from probation for a few months in which I relapsed with Jennie who had met a guy which didn’t do drugs but was paying for her drug habit in order to win her over. She was conning him while seeing me. I ended up overdosing and going to the hospital. It wasn’t a bad overdose but it was still a close call. I eventually turned myself into jail in July because I could no longer stand being an addict and didn’t want to die. I spent another 30 days in jail andthen went to another rehab in which I made progress because I applied myself. I did 90 days and got out November 6th in which Jennie signed my daughter over to me because she was still gone on drugs.
My thinking was much clearer and I knew what I wanted out of life and it wasn’t drugs.Eventually I got bored and began hanging out with a friend I had met in rehab who was also in recovery. Now it’s January 2010. This friend I had been hanging out with had relapsed and I had no idea. One day I took my daughter over to this friend’s house and after I got there and had been hanging out awhile he leaned over and whispered in my ear and asked me if I wanted to do drugs. He completely caught me off guard and I wasn’t prepared to deal with something like that at the time so I said yes. I went in the other room and did the drugs he gave me and I overdosed and it nearly cost me my life. I was caught with drugs in my pants pocket that I have no idea how I got. I was charged with a new felony and my life which I had just really started to get on track fell apart.
I lost my daughter temporarily to my aunt. Jennie was pretending to be appalled by what happened even though she was still doing drugs, and had done drugs many times with Trinity with her. She had just been lucky and not overdosed. Eventually I lost sight of things and did drugs in February and March of 2010 off and on because I just didn’t care at the time. I thought my life was over when this all caught up with me. Eventually I pulled my head out of my ass ye again and put myself into rehab to separate myself from the drugs. I didn’t complete it. I stayed 45 days and have been clean ever since. This was in May of 2010.
I can’t tell you exactly what changed or why or how but it did. Maybe it was all the pain I had been through. All the losses I had suffered. Everyone’s rock bottom is different. I thought something was wrong with me because I couldn’t go to rehab and be cured. I couldn’t figure why after I had lost so much I still wanted to get high. I think maybe it was facing that pain of all those losses and not dwelling on what I should have done, but what I’m doing now to deal with the problem. Even as I write this I’m learning about myself. Today I stay clean but reminding myself that “it’s not worth it”. I say that to myself all the time. Every time I think about drugs I say it’s not worth it. People who help addicts don’t realize they are enabling them when they help alleviate the pain caused by their addiction. Everyday there is some reminder in my life of that past pain. My number one pain is not having my daughter and being able to get her up for school in the morning and tuck her into bed at night. My other pains job, license, not owning anything. Anybody who helps an addict avoid these pains is only helping plan their future relapse. The only way to stay clean is experience this pain of loss and suffering. An addict has to have help to get clean, but once they are clean they need to face that pain head as it arises. You can never appreciate your sobriety if you don’t have to work for it.
I personally stay away from AA and NA because of all the court ordered addicts that aren’t serious about recovery. So many fake it to make it. You may not know who’s faking until it’s too late. I am in no way discrediting the 12 step programs just a lot of the people who attend them. I suggest going to church and talking to the pastor and find someone in the church who has years of recovery to help. Every church has at least one person in recovery. That’s where I get my advice and direction and take my problems. I have a pastor who loves me and wants me to succeed. I also have the youth pastor who has been a recovering addict for quite a few years now.If have something you need to get off your chest go to AA or NA and get it off your chest, but I recommend you avoid 98 percent of the people there especially the court ordered ones.Everyday I set goals for myself and a schedule for myself to avoid boredom. Even if you tell yourself I’m gonna sit on the couch all day and watch TV. Making plans and setting goals are a good way to stay clean. If you sit around and say “I wonder what there is to do to today”or what am I gonna do today” you may find yourself doing something you shouldn’t be. Stick with your plans no matter how dumb they seem, and before I know it my whole week is full of things to do and I don’t get restless trying not to be bored. Boredom is my worst enemy. When I can’t find anything to do I think about drugs. So for tomorrow for example I’m going to help my grandma who just had surgery, do laundry, arrange my new room which I just recently moved into, write my daughter a letter, watch tv and go back over this story I’m reading right now and refine it then off to bed. See how simple deciding a schedule can be. I believe its one of my more important tools. An addict has to remember it takes 10x longer to get back what he had and lost as an addict. Nothing worth having is ever easy.
My goals for life are reasonable and achievable. It is very important to make sure your goals are achievable because if your goals aren’t reasonable you may get discouraged. So I have set a list of goals for myself on the next page. As an addict in recovery, I have learned that it is like any other difficult thing in life; it takes practice, and there will be failures, but how you handle those failures is what decides how successful you are in recovery.
Addiction has been the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. My choices have led me down a dark and difficult road filled with pain and loss I will never forget.My addiction tore my family apart and destroyed relationships that may never be repaired. I wish words could describe the pain of addiction, and the pain I still feel so others could read my story and truly know what I’ve been through because only a truly insane person would follow knowingly the road that I’ve traveled the last 4 years. Addiction is like a prisoner you put in a cell in your mind. He’s in there doing pushups and working out waiting for the moment you slip up and release him, so he can make you his punk and take what isn’t his, your sanity.