I was born here in Portland Oregon. I'm 49 years old. I don't remember either one of my parents. I don't remember any of my childhood. I was adopted around 1975 or '76. The earliest childhood memory I have is sitting in front of that judge being scared, because he was the only one in the room with me. I had to answer a couple of questions.
Both my parents were drunks. I'm a second hand drunk. My mom was a good person. She says she drank six beers. I never saw it. She was on her third marriage. My dad was on his third marriage too. He's a full blown alcoholic. He wasn't a drunk when we first met. It was weekend warrior stuff, then full time alcoholic. There wasn't any abuse, only abandonment. My mother abandoned me.
My first drug was me rolling a big ol' fatty, and I was hooked ever since. I was in fifth or sixth grade. I remember rolling a joint then cleaning the house. That was the only time I got paranoid on weed. I smoked whenever my dad had weed. I wouldn't miss getting any.
Then I became an alcoholic. I started mixing drinks when I was 13, Black Velvet and water. I couldn't handle just water, and I couldn't handle pure alcohol. Next thing I know I'm getting as drunk as he is. To this day I cannot stand Black Velvet and water, the only time I don't like to drink. Alcohol was everywhere, and it was legal.
Then I went out to Northeast Portland, because people there didn't care how old you are. As long as you want to get drunk with them they don't care. I was using Meth for a while, but just so I could drink more. I was up to a couple gallons every night. We drank whatever we could get to drink. Start with a fifth here, and work our way up. That's what's burning my stomach.
It was over 20 years ago. I gave up. Me and my ex wife, we were on our third miscarriage. It was the one I had to say "I think my wife is going to die so you better abort it". She looked at me in hate. I crawled into a bottle. She crawled into a bag of dope. And then we battled. Drug addicts and alcoholics do not get along. We'll find some reason to get pissed off at each other, then next thing you know, you can't make it to work. I went camping until I ran out of money. I enjoyed it. Then the next thing I know, I was homeless. I didn't see it coming.
I stopped seeing my mom and my sister around that same time too. They were moving across to Ohio. I don't like phones. Still don't like phones. I didn't keep in contact for many years. A year before my mom died, is when I got a hold of her. My niece's got a hold of me, and then my sister got a hold of me. We separated on good terms. It gave me closure. I have no desire to go see my sister or her family. They have their own family. They know who I am, and I know who they are. That's good enough for me.
Life On The Streets
It was a constant battle between the drug addicts and the alcoholics. The tweekers, against the heroin addicts, against the alcoholics. Everybody was blaming everybody. Nobody wanted to take the blame for anything. I still think it's the alcoholics. They're the worst ones of all of us.
When I was younger I'd go out looking for the fights. Go buy and sell guns and whatever. That's just part of the business back then. Drug addicts love to sell guns real cheap. You just go sell it to someone crazier than you, for a profit.
Later I'd go to Fred Meyers and worked the recycle machines. I'd shove my hand in the recycle machine and get it pinched. I would stick one can in there, running it over and over and over. I'd sit there for hours. I'd sit out there and get drunk all day. Run it until I got $7.50 and get a ticket.
One day I walked out of there with $150. I had three shopping carts full of cans. All the other machines were broke down. I was the only one there, and I kept feeding the machine. People would drop their cans off. It was way too many cans. It stunk and I was tired of them, so I gave three shopping carts away.
I'd steal shopping carts full of beer from Fred Meyers. I had a route. I would go see when the security guards were on break. I would go in the store. I'd grab at least 10 cases of beer, a couple singles of whatever, and one bag of potato chips. That was it. Out the door I'd go. I wouldn't even make it to the end of the parking lot before I had a beer in me. I'd sit there, next door at the Kendall center. I'd put them right in the bushes, and wait a half hour and start drinking. Between me, and a couple other guys, we kept everybody drunk. We did it daily, for a half rack, or a case of beer, but usually it was a full shopping cart. I would say at least every other day I was doing this. I'd wake up every morning with no beer, or cigarettes, and do it all over again.
Back then life on the streets were good. All the drunks hung together. If we had a tent we all used the same tent. Alcoholics don't sleep very well. It was friendlier. We never got raided. We kept our area clean. We didn't pack garbage. Remembering where we put our tent was the hard part. You know, ten people trying to remember where one tent is, don't really work. But I enjoyed it until I stopped drinking. Then it was miserable. Even in the winters it was ok. Just get drunk. Pass out.
I'd get my wine about two o'clock in the morning at Winco. They were the last ones to sell wine. However long it takes to drink a bottle of wine between that and seven. So I had a good 5 hours of being sober, maybe. I could maybe make that bottle of wine last about two hours. So that's 5 hours I didn't drink. That's the only time I slept too. I still don't like sleep. Sleep sucks.
Nobody wanted to get ripped off. You hung out as a group. Nobody ever got in trouble from stealing from people. It was more family oriented. But all those people are dead. All my alcoholic friends are dead. We burned the candle up real quick. You say "I got to be sober to go into this nice establishment". Drug addicts get to do it. They can fake it. But the alcoholics, you say, “I can't drink a beer in the middle of the night”? I have to drink a beer in the middle of the night. You have to remember that especially for the alcoholics. They don't get along with everybody ‘cause they don't like themselves.
Nobody ripped me off on the street. I'm proud of that. I got drunk and lost my stuff. They got a bible every time they got my back pack, and I lost a lot of back packs. I'd throw them on top of brier bushes. It had my bible, and maybe a pair of clothes. I’d come back in 20 minutes, and it's gone. Thieves were getting on top of these brier bushes to get whatever was in there. I figured nobody was going to look up on a bush. There was foliage everywhere there. You had to know it was there. So they got a bible, but I didn't care. It was all free to me anyway.
I quit drinking because of health issues. There was a lot of black outs. I would wake up all bloody and bloody hands. You don't know what you do in the middle of a black out. I don't remember a lot of that stuff. I burned up my esophagus from drinking, from getting sick every morning. I couldn't keep down food. I was eating maybe two meals a week. I couldn't eat. The only thing I could do was drink. I could only have so much food in my stomach at one time. I would only eat three or four bites of food a day. That was all that I could handle, or the blood would come the next morning.
I tried quitting for three months. I tried to wean myself off. I couldn't do it. Then good ol' “Hooper”. I had two nights of blackout drinking, waking up to Hooper. I asked for a ride the third day because my stomach couldn't handle it.
HOOPER DETOXIFICATION STABILIZATION CENTER
1535 North Williams Ave.
Portland, OR 97227
Hooper Detox Stabilization Center is a treatment center in Portland, Oregon that primarily focuses on substance abuse services. They also offer peer support, supportive housing, health & recovery, and employment.
I took a psychological evaluation for social security. I was having too much fun they said. Psyche evals take quite a while, especially if you’re honest with them. It's a five hour test for a mental health evaluation. I was there seven hours. It was one of the hardest test's I've ever taken in my life. They sorted me out. Mental health is greatly improved over the last 10 or 15 years. I'm still involved in it. I'll never, not be able to be involved in it. I have a counselor in Oregon City. He's the only one I tell my dark secrets to. He doesn’t care about it.
I also go through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). It's for mental health. You have to have a diagnosis in paranoid schizophrenia or PTSD to be involved in it. But it's just a bunch of other crazy people getting together. I'll color for a couple hours and B.S. They got all sorts of different groups. Support groups, like Family and Peer groups, to help other people understand people with mental illness. It's a good organization. I'm almost ten years sober, so I got into it about eight and a half years ago. I went onto probation about 7 years ago.
NAMI Multnomah (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
524 NE 52nd Ave
Portland, OR 97213
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I like Alice. Alice is my friend. She's my payee. I never met her. She gives me my weekly allowance. She keeps care of my money. She said, “I won't take care of you no more”. And I said, "Ok, yes ma'am." I knew I really didn't want to lose housing, but I really didn't want to lose Alice. She don't let me lie to her. I can't buy her nothing. I think she's a nice little old lady with a big ol' gun. Don't mess with Alice. I recommend people with mental illness not keep their money themselves. Get a payee.
So not long after I went into housing, I then went onto probation. I went to jail because I was in Fred Meyers and had drugs on me. So I have the one drug possession. 18 months later I was right back to where I was. No jail. I went through their probation thing. All it is was, you pay them off, they don't care about you. I didn't have to quit drugs. I didn't have to do nothing. I had to get a maid. When I received my SSI, they made that a requirement. That's what I had to do for my probation. Just get a maid, in both of my places.
I had a relapse when Charlie died. I had a psychotic breakdown from the drugs not being good enough. I was doing too much drugs to stay high. It was better for me just to get off my medication for two days.
I was higher than anybody else. The hardest one to get off was not the drugs, not the alcohol. It’s the prescriptions that do not get you high. That was miserable. Three months of not knowing what was going on. The meds I was taking were giving me seizures. I think it was those stupid gel tabs telling my brain, "Hey, every time you take one of these, have a seizure."
It took a while for me to figure out left from right. Once you're on those meds you don't really know. You're drugged up all the time. It took about four months for Hooper to get me stable.
I had to go back to do some good therapy with my doctor. I think I went and did a couple others sleep clinics. They wouldn't let me just get off the drugs. It was a hard ride. My relapse went about a year. Christina, my case worker told me to get off the drugs, or get kicked off the program.
I'd sure like to have some, “mental health”. I'm bipolar and schizophrenic. I have PTSD. I don't have Agoraphobia, fear of leaving the house. But, the rest of the list I have. They came with bad decisions.
I had a lot of head traumas which brought on a lot of the depression. The last time I got hit by a car, that one really rang my bell. I don't remember it as much as I'd like to. Head butting things was an easy offense. You don't see it coming. Nobody's gonna smack you with their own head. Telephone poles were my favorite thing. You can't go to jail for beating up yourself.
My biggest hindrance that kept me from changing was forgiveness on myself. I understand why people do the NA (Narcotics Anonymous), or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) program. They hug too much for me. That's why I can't do them. But I can see why these organizations work. ‘Cause it does work. But, I went for the mental health instead, to deal with my addiction. You have to deal with one or the other. Mental health was a little more fun because I get to go color. Work on water paintings or whatever. I get to go hang out with people and BS all day. That's much more relaxing than hugging somebody. I don't want my hair touching my skin. Why would I want you touching me?
I had a bible. My mom made sure of that. Everybody would stay away from religion talk. My dad was a drunk, and he would like to argue. Mom wouldn't want to get into the argument between me, my dad, and God. I read the bible a half dozen times before I believed in it.
I've done Shriner's ever since birth. That's because I had a lot of leg problems. I had a couple operations. I got to get a couple more here in about five years. I came in this world wearing braces, and I'm going out wearing braces. I've had a lot of leg issues. I would lie in bed, and let them heal. You can only read one book one time. But you can read the bible a half dozen times and understand none of it. I wasn't a Christian. It was the only book lying around. I found my faith at Renewed Live Fellowship, with Pastor Steve. It wasn't the church. It was the bible studies, the one on one. There were some good teachers. Larry he got me hooked. He was very slow talking, but he had so much to say. I got hooked going to bible studies. Church is fun. You get to sing and hang out with everybody. Hang out with the guys, especially if they're not going to your church. The soup and sandwiches got me going.
I don't think there's anybody steadfast. You got to keep your guard up. When it comes to addiction you got to ride, the ride. There aren't no words of wisdom. You figure what's going wrong for you, or you figure what's right for you. It’s trial and error. What works for you, works for you. Once the streets got you, it's hard to get away from the streets. I couldn't do it anymore. Not these days. I'd go to jail before I hung out with these people under the bridges. No one's got nobodies back.
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Portland Women's Crisis Line (503) 235-5333 or (888) 235-5333
Clackamas Women's Services Crisis Line (503) 654-2288 or (888) 654-2288