Updated: Jul 13, 2020
|This is the 26th story of Our Life Logs|
When I hear someone say that there’s no hope for an addict, I can’t help but shake my head. If someone like me can come back from all that I went through, anyone can. Most people wouldn’t think someone who was caught growing 500 lbs of psychedelic mushrooms in his basement would be free to tell the tale, but here I am, alive and thriving. It took a long time to get here. It’s been an uphill battle just for me to say I’ve been sober of opiates for the last two and a half years. There is no shame in reaching out for help when you’re in need. If I hadn’t, I’d have probably overdosed years ago.
My home life was like many others in my position. I had a normal upbringing until my mom left my father when I was 10. I was born and lived in Michigan until I was 10 and my mother moved me and my siblings with her to San Francisco. My father wasn’t in the picture for very much of my life. He preferred riding motorcycles instead of raising his children. He was selfish and irresponsible; he still is. Even now, my father refuses to have an active relationship with his kids or grandchildren unless they reach out to him first.
We moved to Dayton, Ohio when I was about 12. My mother got married to a man with a drinking problem and a desire to discipline her children. Though his idea of discipline was really to beat my younger siblings senselessly. The two times that I caught him doing it, I fought back. I hit him over the head with a baseball bat the first time and then broke his leg with a hockey stick the second time. My mother didn’t know about the abuse until the time I broke his leg. Soon after, she left him. The next time my mother got married, it was to a decent guy that I see as my father more than my own father.
My drug use started small when I was 16. I would just smoke weed with my friends a lot. I think the reason that I turned to drugs was because I had a severe lack of coping skills. I didn’t know how to deal with things in a healthy way. Drugs gave me a way to numb myself from the pain I felt. My weed smoking slowly snowballed into something bigger.
The turning point of how I became an addict came from a car accident I was in when I was 19. I broke my back, and the doctor prescribed me a lot of pain pills. I was on them for a year before the doctor stopped the prescription without any warning. I started going through withdrawals. I was still in a lot of pain, so I went to the streets to get the pills.
From age 19 to 29, I was addicted to opiates. At first, I was just buying for myself. Then I started buying in bulk to sell. I justified my own use of the pills by selling them too. I had my house and car searched many times, but they couldn’t catch me with anything until the mushroom incident. I carefully crafted my drug business so that there wasn’t a chance for me to get caught. I was arrogant and crafty. The local police hated me. From age 20 to 25, I was selling drugs as a profession.
Things changed when I learned that my girlfriend at the time was pregnant with my son. My girlfriend was also using. We both made a pact to stop using drugs during the pregnancy. This was the first time I was sober since high school. I needed another job, so I worked for my dad’s traveling construction agency. I wasn’t home much, but I would send my girlfriend money. I started noticing something was up when she would ask me for more money a few days after I had just sent her $2,000. I learned that she was using for most of the pregnancy. Thankfully, my son Landen was born healthy. Soon after he was born, we split, and she left, leaving me to care for our six-month-old son alone.
When my son was two, she overdosed and died. After her death, I started using again. I coped with the tragedy in the only way I knew how. I was in the process of getting custody of my son when she overdosed. Then her parents started fighting for my son. I had spent so much time trying to gain custody. She had admitted in front of the court that she was on heroin and they still wouldn’t give me custody.
I started dating someone new. I met Kayla in my hometown in Michigan when I was visiting friends. Within a week, she and her three-year-old daughter were moving to Ohio with me. In just a few months, Kayla got pregnant with Kamden.
The legal fees were getting too expensive for custody. I decided I’d do one last big growing of mushrooms to help pay the fees and get custody. I made way too much but justified it by saying I did it for my son. I wasn’t. I grew 500 lbs worth of mushrooms, and this was when I finally got caught in 2013. I was arrested three weeks before I would have gotten full custody of my son. I couldn’t believe that I had gotten caught. The fear of spending the rest of my life in jail had me reaching for the needle again.
My step-dad and mother were wealthy and bailed me out of jail after only 4 days. They helped Kayla and the kids get out of the state so that Child Protective Services wouldn’t get them. My mother got me a great attorney that helped me get off a lot of the charges against me.
The courts saw me as a threat to society because of how well equipped my lab was. They called me the Breaking Bad of Mushrooms. I went off the deep end. I should have been committed during this time. The thought of not getting a chance to watch my kids grow up broke my heart. I knew I had messed up bad. I thought there was no coming back from this, but I was given a second chance. The trials for my charges went on for a year and a half before I was given five years of intensive probation.
On December 16, 2015, I made the choice to get clean. I decided I didn’t want to ever use again. I told my mom that I was ready for rehab. I ended up breaking probation to go to one of the best rehab facilities in the country in Colorado. I spent three months there. When I returned home, I had to spend three months in jail in Ohio for breaking probation. Then right out of jail, I was sent to spend three months in a halfway house. I was the only person of 48 people that never failed a drug test while there.
Since I’ve gotten out of rehab, I’ve become a changed man. I feel at peace now. I’ve learned to cope with my emotions in a better way. I met my current girlfriend Kristen in March of 2017. We immediately clicked, and I feel that I’ve found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. My family and kids love her. My ex, Kayla, is going to allow me to have custody of Kamden and her daughter Kylie. Kylie has some developmental issues that she feels I handle better than she does. I’m also working to get custody of Landen again. I’ve started buying and selling properties with my mom and working in construction. I’m rebuilding my life little by little.
One would think that I would have regrets about everything that has happened to me, but I regret nothing. If none of this had happened, it wouldn’t have led to the person I am today. I’d probably still be a manipulative drug addict if I never got caught with the mushrooms. I never would have met my current girlfriend or become a better person. I’m finally a person that can inspire hope and strength. Something I’ve learned from this whole experience is that there are so many people that have gone through the same thing. Humans all seem so different, but there’s always something that connects us together. There are other people that were like me out there now that need help. There is hope for every addict. If the people in my life had given up on me, I’d probably be dead. If someone like me can bounce back, then anyone can.
This is the story of Aaron Gasper
Aaron, now 31, lives in Mason, Ohio with his three children and girlfriend. His story dives into his opiate addiction and how much it almost cost him. Aaron was buying, selling, and making drugs successfully until he was caught growing 500 lbs of psychedelic mushrooms in his basement. This moment motivated him to turn his life around for himself and the sake of his children. Aaron loves going to the gym and hanging out with his children in his free time. He has been clean for over two and a half years.
This story first touched our hearts on January 3, 2018.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editor: MJ |