My dad was a heroin addict for many years. After that, he was a methadone addict. He was also a successful business owner, an amazing father, and a great husband.
My dad started doing heroin while serving in Vietnam. He was in a combat position, serving as the leader of a long range patrol group that would go deep into the enemy jungle, alone, and try to find things that they could destroy, or that they could call in air support to destroy.
It was the kind of role you might see in a movie about soldiers in Vietnam — with all of the atrocities that went with it.
Most members of his squad died shortly after joining. The turnover rate was extremely high. He told the story of one soldier who tried to injure himself to get sent home, but the attempt went horribly wrong, and ended with a bullet coming out of his chest, killing him instantly.
Given these conditions, it almost makes sense that someone would turn to something like heroin as an escape, and many others in his position did the same thing.
The majority of soldiers who did drugs like heroin in Vietnam left their drug use in Asia, no longer needing the coping mechanism upon returning to normal life.
My dad did not. His life back home wasn’t that great either, and his addiction to heroin continued on for years.
He eventually sought treatment, which meant methadone in the 70s and 80s. Methadone is another opiate narcotic very similar to heroin. It is essentially like giving someone addicted to wine beer instead. It’s not a whole lot better, but it’s legal, and regulated, so the thinking at the time was that it was an improvement.
He was on methadone for nearly another decade.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because of the third sentence of this blog. He was a great entrepreneur, a great dad, and a great husband. Those aren’t traits you normally associate with junkies.
He spent the first 3.5 decades of his life doing terrible things to himself, causing himself great harm, and not experiencing a whole lot of success.
But everyone I know who knows him thinks of him as nothing but successful. They know him as somebody who always did the correct thing, who was honest to a fault, who gave great guidance, who was meticulous and organized, and who was successful in every definition of the word, with his business and with his family.
How is this possible?
Because you can totally blow it, do nothing productive, and live an all around terrible life until you’re 40, and still turn things around and be successful, be someone that other people aspire to become.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to hit certain milestones by certain arbitrary times, and the reality is that it’s all BS. Students think they can’t take a year off between high school and college because they will then be behind and at a disadvantage, when the truth is, they could take 15 years off and still probably be fine.
What you’ve done before does not have to dictate who you’re going to be in the future.
My dad at 20 was a junkie.
My dad at 30 was a junkie. His parents wouldn’t talk to him.
My dad at 50 was running a national company that he started in his garage with over $1 million in revenue. I would take over this business a few years later when he retired at 53.
My dad at 65 owned a Porsche and a 32 foot Catalina sailboat and was zip lining in Mexico wearing a Rolex. He was a father to adult sons who were all doing great and admired him. He was adored by everyone who knew him.
If other people have done it, you can too. If you’re not happy with where you’re at, there is no reason you can’t change. You just have to start.
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