Featured NOM Event
What It's Like
You see our posts, you recognize the name, but do you wonder: “Who are these people behind Not One More?
What do they talk about when they go speak? What is their message?”
My biological name is Aliza. My author name is Tommy Zee. When I was 3 years sober I wrote my second book, Junkie. Junkie is an autobiography of my life in addiction, and a very short part of my life sober. It tell the story of an addict, but instead of ending in tragedy, it ends with hope. Less than 1% of heroin addicts get sober and never go back. I am that statistic. I got sober 3/29/12 and have kept my original sobriety date.
So what do I do with Not One More? I’m their face of addiction, but I’m also their face of recovery. I am proof that if you put the work in, you can make your new life anything and everything you want it to be. I am proof that hard work and determination pay everyday. I am proof that talking and working with others makes a difference. I am proof that even having endured awful things to addiction, you can live a happy and wonderful life. I sometimes speak individually in classes. Today I went to CSUN and spoke in Mr. Stehr’s Alcohol, Drugs and Crime class. Let me take you into what it’s like to speak with Not One More, for me.
On the way over I thought about what to say. I carefully counted the bookmarks and bracelets. I double and triple checked that I had my laptop with photos to share with the class. I was met by my dear friend, Rebecca, who is a student in Mr. Stehr’s class and recommended me to speak. The class was already seated when we entered the room. I became short of breath. These are adults— adults wanting to be in law enforcement or in the judicial system. The teacher is former LAPD. This isn’t a group of high school kids who are looking for guidance. This is much more challenging and intimidating. Their attention was so focused on me, I felt that they could see my nervousness.
I did the usual and started with “Hey guys, how’s it going?” To which I got a couple smiles but no response. So I started into my story. Now with adults, you’re not limited. Anything goes. So I told them the truth. I told them of my drug use and drug dealers. I told them of the difference in the world of addiction and that law doesn’t exist. That you’re not looked at as a ‘human being but a disposable, waste of life. I told them of the three rapes. Of my failed pregnancy. I told them of the theft and my disgusting inconsideration for my family. I told them a small glimpse of the sorry excuse for a person I was.
What none of these people know is: I relive it. In every memory, every story, while I look and seem composed; I can feel it. I can feel the fear when I talk about watching dead bodies get picked up. I feel the sadness rip my heart into shreds when I talk about losing my baby to a failed overdose attempt. I hold back tears when I talk about hurting my family because I love them more than anything in this world and no amount of apology could ever justify what they had to endure from my addiction.
Today I was asked about my current situation with my son and his absent father, due to addiction. Today I had to pause. The amount of pain I feel knowing that even sober, half of my sons family doesn’t exist because of drugs is beyond devastating. Knowing I have reached thousands of people— and counting and I couldn’t help the one closest to me is unspeakable. Where’s the positivity? How do I manage to get up there every time, reliving these horrible feelings? Why do this to myself? Any addict will tell you: because it’s not about me. The day I got sober it stopped being about me. I was selfish enough in my addiction that I don’t ever need to put my pity party first. The positivity is my son has a sober and capable parent. He has plenty of people who love him more than anything and that’s all he’ll ever need. I have countless rape victims message me after hearing me talk. They tell me I give them hope, that one day they too will be able to strongly say “I’ve been raped and I’m ok.” Without breaking down. To be able to connect with others and build each other up. I have addicts who are sober and inspired by my book. Some who stay sober, and some to achieve dreams of their own. I can actually laugh when talking about my past, because these are things that happened to me, but they are not who I am.
I am the member of Not One More who shows hope. Hope that statistics will change. That the death rates will go down. More than that I genuinely believe those things. My Not One More family, hands down has been my biggest supporters from day one. My counselor who got me sober, John Poleno, now sits next to me at the board meetings. We can be whoever we dream of being, if we put enough work into it. Even with a one year old, I respond to every message. I direct people to the right people who can help if I cannot. My growth will continue every minute of everyday. My goals will grow with my accomplishments. Self worth, accountability and respect are what got me to where I am today and will push me through tomorrow. I am a proud member of Not One More because I am the definition of Not One More. I’m the one who decided to change my life and NOT be one more overdose. I wanted my mother NOT to have a grieving heart. I wanted to be alive, and NOT six feet under. Today I fight so that every struggling addict I have the privilege of interacting with chooses to be Not One More. So that every adolescent chooses prevention and NOT peer pressure. Even if we only reach one person, that’s one more person with a message of success and a life saved.