WARNING - Graphic Content
This is a story about my best friend since the first grade. His name is Jason McCorkell. We grew up doing everything together, surfing, skating, riding dirt bikes, getting in trouble, going to parties, etc...
Life was great for the most part, but it wasn't too long till we found ourselves sitting in a dark lit garage watching these guys heating up some black stuff in a spoon and snorting it. Watching as the spoon made its way towards us, I was thinking about how much shit I would get if I turned down whatever it was they were doing. The spoon got to Jay first and I remember one guy asking if he wanted to hit the "Opes". Whats the Opes he asked. "Oh its opium".
Now, I had seen opium before, but it did not look like this. It looked different than I remembered, but I didn't know enough about it at the time to tell the difference. Sure enough Jay hit it and so did I.
The next however many hours is hard to explain. All I can say was it was fucking great. A part of me felt cool being able to hang with these older guys which I guess we thought were cool at the time. Laying down cards, smoking cigs, drinking beers, Laughing... whatever... it was a good time
As you can imagine, we came back the next weekend to hang out and that soon became the place to go. We starting bringing more of our own friends with us and wasn't too long till a good amount of our friends were hitting it all the time.
One thing that is really messed up was that up until this point, we had no idea what we were actually doing. I cant speak for Jay or some of our friends, but for me, being partly raised by my grandmother who struggled with heroine made it very clear to me at a young age to never touch that stuff. I knew it would be a hard road to come back from.
For me, his words echoed in my head and I was engulfed in feelings of anger. Without the slightest hesitation I made up my mind that I would never touch that shit again. Unfortunately, Jay and our friends didn't share the same feelings leaving me the only one in the room that night that didn't hit it. Faintly in the background I could hear everyone talking and making justifications - " Im not hooked, Ill just do it on the weekends for fun".
I knew it wasn't a good sign...
As time went on Jay and I started to head in different directions with the amount of time we hung out growing less and less.
Though we would circle back from time to time - usually when someone would OD or get in trouble. Sadly, one of them who passed away a few years later from a heroine overdose was the guy who probably saved my life. He was the first one who told us what we were actually doing.
With all the deaths. close calls from friends all around us overdosing, run-ins with the law it didn't seem to matter. Stealing pills, lying to friends, family, pan handling at gas stations / convenient stores was somewhat normal. It was almost crazy some of the stories friends would come up with for cash and to get a ride up to Santa Ana.
After 20 or so years of Jay battling his addiction which evolved into pills, speed, alcohol, and heroine, he was really trying to put that behind him. It was cool cause we started to hang out more, but even though Jay was doing his best to kick dope he was drinking. He was drinking more than I think anyone had realized. I had noticed, but my thoughts were I rather see my buddy drinking than putting a needle in his vein. I actually thought this was a step in a positive direction.
Till this day I had never seen Jay slurring his words or hammered more than a handful of times since high school. There was no way I could no that he was handling leaders of Vodka a day. All I knew at the time was It felt good to be hanging with my best friend again. Weather we were fishing, surfing, riding motos, we always had some drinks there to enjoy whatever it was we were doing. But I should have known better. Jay could never just cruise and always had to have the throttle wide open. I really realized this when I had just picked up food during my lunch break at work and as soon as I was about to start eating I see a call come in from Jason's sister. My mind started going thinking the worst, cause it hit me that I hadn't heard from Jay in a little while and I have never received a call from his sister EVER.
When I answered the call she gave me the news pretty bluntly. She said that Jay is in a coma on life support and has about a 10% chance of living. Then she asked me if I had known about his drinking. I was honest with her and told her that we had been hanging out more and that we were drinking when we did. She was pretty upset and did a good job at making me feel somewhat responsible for Jays condition. She questioned me as to why I wouldn't have told someone or looked for help. I felt like I was hit by a semi with a heavy weight of guilt and concern for my best friend. I was also puzzled how Jay could end up in the hospital so quickly just from drinking alcohol less than most of my friends who have been drinking daily way harder for years. After getting to the hospital and talking to the the family I learned that Jay had been going through handles of vodka and boxes of wine daily. He would drink himself to sleep and wake up drinking.
Walking in to his room in ICU, it was one of the most difficult things to see. Your best friend on life support, his stomach bigger than a 9 month pregnant woman and cut wide open to release the pressure of his swelling organs that were failing. The pictures below will never show how it felt to see one of your best friends lying there helpless in pretty fucked up shape.
God only knows how he survived, but he did and I cant think that it was anything other than a miracle.
It was a tough road for Jason after being in a coma for 6+ weeks. He had trechia in his throat, no strength or motor skills to talk or move his hands. Undergoing several surgeries to close up his stomach, daily therapy re-developing his muscles, motor-skill mechanics, getting sick, infections, etc... It was a long road to recovery
You would probably also think after going through all that Jay learned his lesson and I thought for sure that this was a big enough life changing experience for him that he would never go down that old path again, but shortly after Jay was released from the hospital he was struggling in different ways and gave in to the addiction that has had a hold on him for such a good part of his life.
Within a couple weeks out of the hospital jay called and told me. I could hear how hurt he was and feeling a heavy burden on his shoulders. He truly wanted help and felt a heavy weight with all the medical bills, stress, time coming to see him, prayers, and probably most of all, the feeling of disappointment in him from his friends and family.
Jay, was finally at a emotional breaking point and was ready to make a change. We started talking about several of our friends that we grew up with that were in a recovery program and how it really changed there lives around. I know jay had gone to a couple before over the years, but this one was different and I believe its because there was some sort of comfort there knowing these were his friends that had similar struggles and weren't going to be to judgmental against him. Since then its crazy how much Jays life has changed in such a short time being clean and sober.
I am happy to share that in less than 2 years of being clean Jay found the woman of his dreams, got married, had their first kid a few months ago, passed his electrical contractors license, and started his own business.
I love you brother and couldn't be more happy for you and your family. It was hard to hold back tears of happiness at your wedding. I look forward to watching your little dude grow up.
And Thank you for letting me share this story in hopes that it may help someone else out there who may be struggling in a similar way.
In hopes that it may show them no matter how strong their addiction is you can overcome it.
In hopes that no matter how bad things are DREAMS can still come true
Me and my buddy Jay