When Kevin Alter was 17 and in high school, he got mixed up with the wrong crowd and tossed into a life of self-destruction. He couldn’t stop himself after the first time he sniffed cocaine, and it became a habit that led him into the black hole he was to be in for many years to come.
It all started with one whiff of cocaine.
Now 31 and three years sober, Kevin runs a successful platform, The Addict’s Diary where his stories and blog posts are helping millions of people around the world deal with their drug problems. It also gives them a place to open up about their addictions without feeling ashamed or judged.
According to the blog, “The Addict’s Diary is a platform through which those affected by substance abuse can share their story, find a sense of catharsis and community while informing the unaware about this epidemic’s realities .”
Kevin believes every addict out there has the power to stop the pain and lead a clean, happy life.
A long walk in the dark
Speaking to Fox News, Kevin explains that he was taken to a treatment center shortly after his parents found about his addiction. He was able to get sober enough to graduate high school, but it was short-lived. The 12-step program and Narcotics Anonymous support groups for teens weren’t any help either.
“All my friends were doing drugs, and I got back into it and began the game of hiding it from my family the best I could,” he said to Fox’s Alexandria Hein . “You get better with that as you grow in your addiction. I wasn’t willing to let go of people that I needed to, that’s a difficult thing to do when you’re a kid.”
His situation got worse in college when the heroin syringe appeared.
Kevin was lucky to get a scholarship to college. He returned home in his first year for a vacation and was dragged into heroin abuse when a friend offered him some. For the next 11 years, Kevin suffered rejection, depression, hunger, and homelessness, which put his self and family through so much pain. Kevin even had to witness his friends die from drug overdoses.
“I’m not your typical heroin addict that got a prescription and started abusing pills,” he said. “I started pretty much straight with heroin, and so from there — heroin would take over my life for the next 11 years. Every bridge had been burned, but someone presented me with an opportunity to go to treatment and they offered to come [and] get me. I didn’t even want to get clean — you have to put yourself in the frame of mind of going in and out of treatment for 12 years, coming from this good family of law enforcement and firefighters, and you’re just this lost person out there, I really didn’t think I could get clean. I just assumed I was going to be a heroin addict forever.”
Kevin spoke of a time when he lived in a train station at Queens. When he was sober enough, he would be able to hold down any job he could get and feed himself. He began to rethink his life when he moved into the stairwell of a building to live with someone he’d met at detox. He’d had of this horrible life out in the dangerous streets.
29 was his lucky number
Kevin desperately tried to get clean, but every time he got close, something would push him back into the hole. He tried and failed so many times that he thought he’d never get over it – until he did.
“I tried to get clean in rehab 29 times. I did 29 intakes, 29 biopsychosocial, and 29 safe calls to my mom. I had 29 therapists, 29 different snoring roommates, 29 different beds I slept in, 29 case managers, and 29 registered nurses to take my vitals. I went through 29 coin-outs, 29 discharge plans, and 29 times where I thought I had the disease of addiction licked. People look at me like I have eight heads when I tell them that,” Kevin wrote on Facebook.
He was inspired to pick himself up after he met an old friend who took him from the Bronx to Long Island for lunch.
“There I sat, emaciated, broken, and hopeless as I ate my first meal in weeks. Although I recognized my old friend by appearance, the person in front of me was foreign. The guy I remembered was a dope addict. The guy I knew was a junkie. But here was this new person who had somehow managed to transform his life. While we ate I faced the internal struggle anyone just coming off of drug battles. My body and brain were fiending for heroin, but my heart and soul were craving a new life,” he wrote.
That was his day, the day his life was set back on course and he began therapy for real. He went to therapy with a purpose, a powerful motivation to get better.
Kevin was led to realize the actual cause of his relapses when, one day, his therapist shoved the truth he’d carefully buried back in his face. After he read 46 pages of his story to his support group members, the therapist called him aside and said to him, “You get high because you hate yourself,”
And she couldn’t have been more correct. She’d called him out for not including the reason why he began using drugs in the first place in his story. He remembers battling with low self-esteem and so many insecurities about himself as a teenager. Using drugs made him feel better, and subsequently threw his life away.
After that encounter, Kevin was truly ready to learn self-love and remain sober for a long time.
A beacon of support for thousands of others
No matter how much you fail and bring tears to their eyes, the ones who love you would never truly abandon you. After trying to get him to stay clean, Kevin’s parents kicked him out when he was 18 and were convinced he would get himself killed. Each time they let him back in, he only disappointed them further.
When he was finally able to get his life on track, his parents welcomed him home.
“Once they saw that I was different, it took about a year, but they didn’t bring up the past anymore,” he said. “They were just so happy that I was OK.”
Kevin started The Addict’s Diary when he wrote a poem about a friend who’d died from a drug overdose. Three years of sobriety and counting, his stories have helped many others pick up their lives and work hard to get better. He shares their addiction tales and recovery journeys, and with over 590,000 followers on Facebook and 23,000 on Instagram, millions of people get to read his posts as they are always viral.
Kevin now speaks at hundreds of schools and events across the country, using his story to steer others away from the path of destruction. He receives calls regularly from people seeking help for themselves or someone else in trouble with drugs.
“The most common call I get is a mom [who] wants their kid to get help and has the means and can afford to get help but can’t get the kid to accept help, and they’re just getting run over by their kids,” Kevin said to Fox News.
With his personal life, Kevin is now focused on making it up to his family for all the hurt he caused them and the precious time lost. He’s spending every holiday and celebration with them and loving every minute of it.
“It’s been a beautiful process,” he said.
With his cousin, Diana.
You too can live a better life
To everyone dealing with a drug addiction out there, you alone have the power to turn your life around. No one was born an addict, and no one has to spend the rest of lives addicted to drugs. Learning to love yourself and breaking free from any mental chains is the first step to getting over your addiction. Don’t be afraid to get help. Speak to someone and seek medical assistance. You don’t have to do it alone.
For more information on how you or a loved one can overcome drug addiction, visit DrugAbuse.gov. There is hope for everyone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.