My name is Danny and I am a crystal meth addict.
It was July 25th. I was just sentenced to 364 days in the Dade County Jail followed by ten years of probation – no early termination. I was two years sober when this sentence was negotiated between my counsel and the prosecutors – much more desirable than the seven-year minimum mandatory. I was arrested two years earlier for trafficking crystal meth. Well, that was the charge but really I was just an addict that attempted to sell meth, unsuccessfully of course. When the sentence was read and I was remanded into custody, a wave of emotions hit me.
The hardest thing I have had to do in recovery is turn to my family and friends in open court and say goodbye for the next several months. I was flooded with sadness that I would be leaving my family and friends and terrified of what awaited me in the coming months. I had been in jail before. The first time it was just for a night. The second time was for about ten weeks. That time I was coming down off of crystal. Nevertheless, I was terrified.
I was taken to the second floor transient holding cell. Inmates came and went, either bonded out or moved to a permanent cell, but I was still there days later. I remember an officer asking who had been sentenced and was willing to work. I raised my hand immediately and was taken to a new holding cell for inmates waiting for a job assignment.
Eventually, I ended up in the E.K.U. – East Kitchen Unit – as a trustee to work in the kitchen. I held multiple positions while I was incarcerated. My first job was the feed line. I think we got up at 4 am to start serving breakfast. We came in for a few hours and then back out to serve dinner. Lunch was bologna sandwiches that were prepared with breakfast.
Working certainly made the time pass faster and helped keep me sane, but what truly kept me connected was my friends and family. My loving sponsor, Rodrigo C., visited me weekly with friends, and my family came on the other visitation day. These visits were the highlight of my week; it gave me something to look forward to. I will forever be grateful for this selfless act.
My time in there was challenging. I was in a cell with sixty something other people, which meant sixty something other personalities. We ate when we were told and slept when we could. Sleeping was hard. I never thought, once I got off of crystal, that I would ever say that. If it wasn’t an officer coming in to pick up the crew for the next shift, it was the nurse coming in with meds, or the next officer coming on duty counting everyone, or just rowdy inmates. It was always something. Fortunately, I had a Big Book that was sent to me by one of my fellows. They sent it from AA publishing because that was the only way the facility accepted it.
The Big Book was the closest thing I had to a real meeting. We didn’t have AA or NA at the main jail, only church, which I occasionally attended – just about anything to get out of the cell for a bit. I’ll admit, I didn’t read the Big Book often, but whenever I felt like I just couldn’t get through another day I would open it and read for a bit. The story “Acceptance is the Answer” – that one was a regular. Nothing changed for me as far as prayers were concerned. It was the usual “God help keep me sober” and Third Step prayer in the morning, and “God thanks for keeping sober” at bedtime. Oh yes! “Help keep me sober” and “thanks for keeping me sober” was certainly needed in jail.
Some might think that being in a cell with an officer 24/7 meant there were no drugs but I certainly found otherwise. There was heroin and pot. I remember taking a shower and a group of guys jumping in to smoke some pot because I guess the steam from the shower and whatever they were spraying would mask the odor. You would think that, as a gay male, I would have enjoyed a group of guys coming in the shower with me but I have never ran so fast before in my life. I literally ran out of the shower in fear of getting caught – they don’t ask questions in jail. If you are with them you are guilty and I wasn’t willing to give up the time off. I was earning five days off my sentence for every month I worked. I removed myself. I guess this is where “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which use to baffle us” comes into play.
That wasn’t the only incident.
I was folding laundry in the cell – by this time I had been promoted to House Man, i.e. laundry boy. It paid more, a whopping $10 a week I think, or maybe $15. Like I said, I was folding laundry and when I looked up I noticed a guy masturbating in the shower staring at a female officer. As soon as he noticed me, he tried calling me into the shower. I think he was a seasoned prisoner because he was obviously straight and obviously didn’t care that I was a man. Had I obliged, this would have been another incident where my time off could have been revoked had I gotten caught. Don’t get me wrong – the thought and fantasy of jailhouse sex in the shower was really tempting, but I wasn’t willing to lose my gain time.
It certainly was rough in there. I had to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and my birthday in jail. I remember getting a present for my birthday from one of the other inmates, his name was Todd. We knew each other from the street. It was a box of Honey Buns wrapped in newspaper. What can I say? We made the best out of it.
As my time in there got shorter and shorter, I began to get anxious but I knew it was going to be all right. You see, I was fortunate. My Higher Power put certain people in my life that would help me get through it all. My boss, Maria knew my whole story and when she saw me go to jail she said she would hold my job for me until I got out. I also had my family and friends waiting for me. I knew I just had to push through and get to the other side.
That is exactly what I did. A little over seven months after being sentenced, I was released with credit for the time I had originally served plus a reduction of about 35 days for the time I had worked. I know now as I knew back then that I don’t think I ever would have made it through those months had I not had previously worked the steps and laid down a solid foundation. I don’t think I ever would have made it without my Sponsor and all the friends he brought to visit. Nor would I have made it through without the prayers of my fellows and letters I received. For that I am eternally grateful. The Big Book and my Higher Power were also huge players in helping me get through. It is true what they say, sometimes the only thing between you and that next drink or drug or whatever, is your Higher Power.