Our 44th spotlight in the FACES OF HOPE: WE DO RECOVER series will focus on Clayton Vanhoose’s story, Life After Death
I grew up in a small town with nothing for kids to do, and nowhere for kids to go. I’m not saying I didn’t have friends, it’s just as you get older you make other friends, the ones you think are there for life, but you’re wrong. I moved around from place to place, back and forth from my mom’s house to my dad’s house. Neither one really knew how to be a real parent, and they wanted to be more of my friend than my parent. That was not a good situation for someone like me that needed structure.
After quitting school my sophomore year, I moved to Louisa, which was a very bad decision. I moved in with my mother, and even with all the bad, my mother was a friend, a mother, and a father all in one. She was my rock! If something happened, good or bad, she had my back.
When I was 15 or 16 years old, I was drug 150 feet by my mom’s car. Her boyfriend at the time was driving with my right hand caught in the door. I was trying to keep him from stealing it because I knew if something happened we couldn’t afford another one. I ended up getting my hand loose, but I passed out shortly after and woke up in the hospital on a pain pump. I was still in pain, but I felt like I was on Cloud 9, with pain medication every three hours and even more if I asked. After a few days they sent me home with 90 pain pills, once those were gone, I quickly found myself searching for more on the street. Once I got bored with the smaller pain pills, I found my new love, cocaine. Cocaine was a little harder to find though. Once I discovered 30’s it was all over. My addiction began to spiral out of control. I heard of people getting addicted, but I wasn’t going to let it happen to me, or so I thought.
Soon it was to the point that everything hurt if I didn’t have that little blue pill. One day I took a hot shower to try to make the sickness go away. When I stepped out of the shower and wiped the mirror clean of fog, I looked at myself and knew it had me hooked. Everything in my life started to get very dark. If I didn’t have 30’s, I was snorting cocaine or smoking crack. It came to the point that I didn’t even want to stop. I felt like I had it made until I ran out of money. Then I started stealing and lying to the people closest to me. However, that only got me so far, so I started selling, but that too can only go so far. At some point you will be brought down.
I looked like death, the cops knew me by name, actually everyone knew me, but it wasn’t a good thing for years. I turned people’s lives upside down. I didn’t care about your kids, mothers, fathers, brothers, or sisters. I just needed to get myself right, so I did what I needed to do to take my sickness away and survive. It didn’t matter where the money or drugs were coming from because I was getting it. Before I went to jail, I was sleeping at the post office on a bench, but I was still happy because I had the two things that made me happy at the time. One day I made the decision to go down the road with some people, and I ended up in jail for almost a year. If I hadn’t been for that, I may not even be here to write my story.
Describe your AHA moment
After being in jail for almost a year, I got out and met a woman, who is now my wife. At the time, she too was an addict. As most of you know, you can’t take a recovering addict and put them with someone in active addiction, so I relapsed. After a few months, I was back to my old ways. I was too scared to answer the door, paranoid whenever I passed a cop, and lost a vehicle for being with the wrong person at the wrong time. I knew it was time, and I couldn’t do it alone. If we wanted to be together we had to get clean together. We wanted a life outside of this mess.
What is the driving force that keeps you going when times get tough?
When times get tough, a good hard day of work, my loving wife, and our 10-month-old son keep me going. Having my wife there for me makes things easier because she too is in recovery, so she has the same thoughts and feelings that I do. Walking in the door from a long day at work and seeing that bouncing blue eyed baby boy smile at me and want me to hold him in my arms, lets me know I am doing something right.
What is something you want people who have never struggled with addiction to know?
If you have never personally been addicted, please don’t look down on someone that is. It could very well be the last time you see them alive. Don’t take everything the addict does personally. It’s a disease! You may not see it, but they do want help. There is good in every one of us.
What advice do you have for the family members of a person in active addiction?
Don’t give up on the loved ones that are in active addiction. They are sick and lost so help them find their way back to love, laughter, and themselves! They are lost and need someone’s hand to hold. Let them know you are thinking of them. Invite them to church, even if they decline your offer, it could be their AHA moment!
I want to let everyone know there is a life after active addiction, and it can be as good as you want it to be. Just because you have lost your way for a bit doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever. I recently ran into some old buddies at a gas station while on a break at work. I let them know that I am clean and sober. One of them spoke up and said, “Oh yeah… you’re doing the family thing now. Well it’s fun for a minute, but we all go back to our old ways.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. Being sober will last as long as YOU want it to. As for me, I plan to make that forever.
I have a loving wife I want to grow old with, a baby boy that amazes me more and more every day, and I look forward to watching him grow and learn. I hope another child is in our future. I look back at the man I was and now at the man I have become. I am proud to hold my head high, and I am proud of the man I am today.
If you are struggling with addiction do not be afraid to ask for help in recovery. I promise it will be your greatest decisions.
Hold your head up because there is life after death.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.
There is hope. There is help.