My New Life

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My name is Randy Anderson and I’m an addict. My sobriety date is January 10, 2005. It’s hard to know where to begin my story . . .   I started using cocaine when I was 21 years old. I knew the first time I tried it I loved it. It made me feel like Superman - I could do anything; say anything; I was indestructible.

Fast- forward ten years. I’m 31 years old and in a failing marriage to another addict. We all know two wrongs don’t make a right – and when my marriage finally ended, my addiction got worse. I hooked up with an old friend - of course, another addict, even though she would call herself a “social user”. That relationship got very intense very fast and ended horribly, and that’s when my addition kicked into overdrive. I was now using three to five grams of cocaine a day and within six months, that amount doubled. I could no longer support my habit on my current income from my job, so the next step was obvious. The only way to pay for that amount of cocaine was to start selling it. Within a few months of my “career change” my habit was around 10 to 14 grams daily. I was selling a lot of cocaine by this point, which meant I could use as much as I wanted too. I now had what I thought was an endless supply.

On July 23, 2004, I was raided by the DEA north metro task force. I was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute a lot of cocaine. The amount doesn’t really matter.   What matters is that it was enough for the federal government to charge me with two felonies. I was held for one week exactly, which is a big blur to me as it took that long to come down. I think I slept for 90% of that visit to Hennepin County jail.  After they let me out, what do you suppose I did first? I made a few phone calls and scored a crap-load of cocaine - not to sell but to use. At this point, I figured it didn’t matter what I did – my life was over.

About two weeks later, the very same men who raided my home the first time paid me another visit and found more cocaine in my house. Once again, I found myself cuffed, stuffed, and on my way to the Hennepin County jail. My second stay was shorter – I spent the weekend in jail because someone somewhere screwed up and let me bail out. After bailing out, of course, I got some more drugs and headed home.

The US Marshalls came calling about a week later because I violated the conditions of my release and my bond was revoked. This time, I took a trip to the Anoka county jail because that was federal holding facility. After spending several weeks there, my sister helped me get a “rule 25”, which was what they called it then to get free treatment. I saw this as a way to get out of jail so I said, “Sure, why not go?”

I was very nervous the day the corrections officer said, “Pack it up, Anderson – you’re going to treatment.” I found out a few days earlier that I was going to this place called Eden House that had a reputation for being the toughest treatment center in the state. The US Marshalls shackled me up and off we went. They delivered me to Eden House in a green jump suit with brown jail slippers and of course, hand-cuffs, leg irons and a belly chain.

After the Marshalls uncuffed me, I was instructed to proceed to the 3rd floor to join the group in progress, which was like getting “dumped in” feet first. That’s when I first met Pam, along with a whole room full of men who stared at me in my green jumpsuit, wondering about this guy who was unceremoniously delivered by the US Marshalls. Scared, in a green jumpsuit, I began my treatment with Eden House.

I was in the 60 day outpatient program, which in my book wasn’t truly outpatient because I had to stay at a house a couple of miles away. I couldn’t go home. After a few days and a change of clothes, I thought I had this place all figured out. I’ll say the right things, do the right things, and no problem – this will all be over in no time. I figured I could fake it until I make it. After about a month of treatment, I was allowed to have weekend passes and I was thrilled to get out of this place for awhile. On my second pass weekend, my truck was stolen and I had no way to get home. Pissed off, I called a cab, went home and sat in my place stewing, and eventually called someone to get some drugs. I got high – which was stupid – but nothing like what I did next. I brought drugs back to treatment with me and got high all night in the basement of the Beatie House. Of course I got caught, and then tried to fake my UA and got caught doing that too.

So Monday, straight to the bench for me and at this point, I wasn’t sure what would happen next. That same Tuesday I had a court date to sign my plea agreement. When I arrived at the Federal Court House, the first thing they made me do was a UA – because Eden House informed the court of my weekend antics. When the judge called my case, he informed me that my UA came back positive for cocaine use and under no circumstances would he permit a person under the influence of cocaine sign any plea agreement. The judge instructed the US Marshalls to take me into custody. You can imagine the shock I was in at this point, and back to jail I go. This time, I was taken to Sherburne County, which I thought would be my last stop before prison.

Five weeks later, the corrections officer once again calls out, “Anderson, pack it up – you’re out of here.” I thought, “Well – this is it – off to prison I go.” To my surprise, after I left the pod, instead of delivering me to prison, they instructed me to put my own clothes on because I was returning to Eden House. I was shocked and asked how that was possible. I was told that “some lady named Pam Lindgren” had gone to bat for me and I was going to the inpatient program.

When I returned to Eden House, I met Mark Lindgren, my new counselor. At that point, I was very nervous because Mark had a reputation I had seen in action with the other men in the program. Up until this point, I had very little interaction with him. Mark brought me to the UA room and I will never forget what he said to me . . . you must be the dumbest mother F@#@er on earth”. He proceeded to share a few other choice words with me and after I got over my initial shock and anger with him for daring to speak to me like that, I decided to give this treatment thing a chance.  And so, I began to listen to what they said, I did what they told me and somewhere along the line it really started to stick.

Then came a day I will never forget - my new sentencing day, July 6, 2005. I went to the Federal Court house that day not knowing what to expect but secretly hoping that because I’d been doing all the right things, that it would all be okay. When the judge said, “I sentence you to 87 months,” my heart fell out of my chest.   I was devastated by an outcome that was so much worse than I ever could have imagined. I left the courthouse with the intent to get enough cocaine to numb the pain, maybe forever.  I went through treatment, I got clean – how could the judge sentence me for 87 months?

For some reason – and to this day, I have no idea why - I called my counselor Mark, told him what happened, and what I was on my way to do. Of course, Mark told me not to do it and somehow convinced me to come to Eden House to have a cup of coffee. He asked me to give him five minutes and then, I could go do whatever I wanted. I don’t remember that visit at all – I only remember that I didn’t go to get high.

The judge gave me until August 17, 2005 to get my affairs in order and then report to Waseca Correctional Facility to self surrender. That day came quickly, and let me tell you, it was the worst day of my life. I had no idea what prison life would be like except for what I’d seen on TV or in the movies and I was beyond scared – I was terrified.

I served 54 months and now, when I look back, they seem like a blur, thank God. Since being released in 2009, my life has been better than I could have ever hoped for. Married to a wonderful woman, I have a job that I love and I also own my own home . . . WOW!! This is a life beyond what I could have imagined.

I live by the motto, “Do the next right thing and the next best thing will happen.” Since my release from prison, I have reconnected with Eden House and I am committed to doing whatever I can to repay the tremendous gift they have given me . . . my life.

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    June 13, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    Wow, what an amazing story, Randy — thank you for sharing it. Congratulations on your recovery!

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    Ted Grego

    June 13, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    RECOVERY is possible. Great outcome, great story. next….great life.

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