MT. CLEMENS (WWJ) – “I could barely stand. I was half my weight. I looked like death.”
That’s how 25-year-old Kyle Bond of Mt. Clemens described his condition when he walked into a police station two years ago and asked for help. Now he’s a proponent of Macomb County’s “Hope Not Handcuffs” program.
Bond estimates that his last rehab stint was number 15. But this time was different. He wasn’t doing it for a girlfriend or someone else — he was doing it for himself.
After eight years of using the drug, his heroin habit was costing him up to $200 a day. Bond chose drugs over food, even rent. He was sent to a facility in South Carolina. There, addicts were encouraged to work on more than their sobriety.
“They weren’t just doing abstinence from drugs and alcohol. They were changing everything about them,” Bond said.
Bond’s addiction began when he was just 15. His father was an addict who had spent half of his life in jail. His mother, he described, was overwhelmed with work and distant. His childhood held no real feelings or comfort or love.
“When I tried heroin,” Bond said, “I felt comfort in something. I felt warmth, love. But it was fixing a problem with a problem.”
Bond said that removing drugs and alcohol from the body is just the first step in recovery. The hardest part is to change the patterns of behavior. “Personally, I don’t believe that the opposite of addiction is sobriety,” said Bond. “I believe the opposite of addiction is connection.”
Bond said he had felt completely disconnected from others, in fear of getting too close. Changing that has been the real work of his recovery. “I have to challenge myself every day, to break down those walls that I created as a pattern of protection, a defense, from being hurt by anyone.”
He relishes the challenge and said that self-improvement has become his new addiction.
“What I try and do is see the happiness, the smiles, the good qualities that every human has,” Bond said. “Some people just need it to be brought out of them.”
He’s training to become a barber. Bond said that every day he reminds himself of the sickness and craving that would arrive each morning at the height of his addiction. He is committed to that feeling never coming back.
To those who know someone struggling with addiction, “It’s tricky,” Bond said. “All I’d advise is that you let them know that they’re loved and that they matter. That their lives matter. That they’re worth it and that they can recover.”
Hope Not Handcuffs is a program run by Families Against Narcotics that allows addicts to walk into participating police stations and ask for help. Designated volunteer “angels” help to find placement in a rehab program. More at this link.