Tag Archives: reintegration

Could Be Me

But for the Grace of God There Go I

Provide Treatment for Addiction Problems to Reduce Recidivism

In December 2002, a study author stated that eighty-five percent of prisoners had addiction problems, and of those, half had an underlying mental condition (42.5%). To me, that study shows a critical need for providing resources to help treat addiction problems, if we plan to reduce recidivism.

Thirty Percent of Men and Women with Addiction Problems Have Underlying Mental Health Conditions.

Combine Treatment for Both Issues to Change Lives.

I am one who falls within the study findings and attest to the accuracy of the study finding; however, I don’t live that way anymore. The August 2008 publication from Readers Write in The Sun magazine, helps explain why that remains true: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/392/up-all-night

(For more on the study and its findings, read “No Sympathy” on this site https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/05/02/no-sympathy/)

Note: I am now free and living my life as a productive member of society and reside in metro Atlanta, Georgia.

The Sun magazine Readers Write topic: Up All Night

I have spent many nights wide awake on methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and Ecstasy. In the late seventies, I used to go on PCP benders and lose days of my life to blackouts. As a result, I cannot honestly say what I have or have not done.

I am currently serving a thirty-five-year federal sentence for armed bank robbery and associated charges. For the first seven years of my sentence, I did cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or some combination of the above as often as I could. When the guards came around to count us after lights out, I’d fake being asleep to avoid getting a urinalysis the next day. In the morning I’d begin the search for another fix.

Then I began seeing a prison psychologist. I wanted to stop shooting drugs, but I had failed at it so many times that I didn’t have much hope. The psychologist arranged sessions with a drug-treatment specialist. After about a month, she decided that the core of my addiction was shame, and she gave me a homework assignment: to write about the most shameful event in my life.

I decided to give her more than she had bargained for. I wrote from 5:30 P.M. until 5:30 A.M., committing to paper all the sick secrets that I had vowed to take with me to my grave. I filled sixteen yellow, legal-size pages.

The following day the drug counselor read what I’d written and predicted that I would never use again. For thirteen years her prediction has held true. But I keep in mind that my reprieve from my addiction is contingent on my spiritual condition from day to day. To stay healthy I have to attend twelve-step meetings and continue to write about what’s going on in my life. Staying up all night writing, instead of doing drugs, has helped me to reach beyond the walls and razor wire and into the lives of others.

Wayne T. Dowdy
Edgefield, South Carolina

Swimming

Lake Blue Ridge

One thing I gave up when I went to prison was swimming because prisons don’t have swimming pools. At least, none I know of in the United States.  Some kiddy camps may have them, but because a knucklehead would drown someone, I understand why prison authorities don’t want swimming pools for prisoners.

Oh, I forgot, prisons are for punishing the inhabitants (in the two Youth Development Centers I was in as a juvenile, we did have swimming pools, but I don’t think they have swimming pools anymore in the Georgia Juvenile Justice system because a child drown years ago).

While in prison, I often wished for a large body of water on hot days, whether a lake, swimming pool, or ocean. Even a bathtub would have been a pleasure. Taking a bath was a rare occasion (I only had a couple while in a local hospital at Leavenworth, Kansas), so when I got home and used the bathtub to take a bath, it was the first bath I’d had in decades.  😊

I loved to swim! I swam like a fish three decades ago, Olympic-type swimming, rhythmic breathing and all of that, where the swimmer uses proven techniques to increase speed and to reduce fatigue. For instance, controlling the motion of the head when coming up for air during set intervals (I believe it’s every third stroke); holding the hands in a certain position, bringing them close to the body, and keeping legs straight while kicking to propel themselves through the water.

At a Youth Development Center, a staff member taught us how to swim like an Olympian, like a fish. Today I went swimming for the first time in three decades and did well, but struggled to get back into  the rhythmic breathing and ran out of air too fast when trying to swim like a fish under water, but … it was great to jump in a big body of water!  Life is wonderful!

Today

Moving slowly back into society, one day at a time. Nine months ago today, I walked out of federal prison after having served thirty-years and ten-days.

Today was a hot one that I was happy to enjoy as a free man, physically able to walk around, alone, without assistance, and without chains dangling from my wrists and ankles.

Before leaving a Twelve Step meeting today, I shared with a man I sponsor that, when I find myself disgruntled about my circumstances, I try to meditate on my favorite saying: “I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” Then I become grateful for what I have and stop complaining about what I don’t have but want. I have all I need to survive, so Life Is Great!