22 May Heroin Addict Uses Needles Another Way
Ex-heroin addict, Luc Suter, shares his story and transformation from a homeless heroin addict at 18 years old to becoming a nationally recognized tattoo artist in recovery.
I was born and raised here in Los Angeles. My family is great, two loving parents and a younger sister. Ever since I can remember, my mom told me that I had an “addictive personality”. As a kid I didn’t understand what that meant, but I knew that alcoholism ran in my family. As a kid, anything that brought me pleasure or helped me to escape from any sort of reality became an obsession. I started skateboarding when I was young and took it to the point of where I was sponsored and doing it everyday, until drinking and using became my priority. I would draw and paint for hours and hours each day, too. I loved nothing more than to get caught up in a drawing and escape into the fantasy of whatever I was creating.
When I was young I was beat and molested by an acquaintance. I will be the first to say that this did not make me an alcoholic or an addict. But it may have helped speed up the progression of using quite a bit. I started drinking and smoking weed when I was about 10. Most of my friends were always older, so I got into most of my trouble at a young age. Throughout middle school I got my hands on everything I could and consumed any drug with no hesitation or questions asked. I remember thinking, “If I could just feel this way for the rest of my life, I think everything will be alright.” By freshman year of high school I was a heroin addict. I was using meth and heroin everyday, and drinking nearly every night. By this time I was already beginning to start to have run-ins with the law and a list of arrests and offenses began. I prided myself on being the “crazy” guy, showing off all the time how much I could drink and how many drugs I could consume, up to the verge of an overdose.
Fast-forwarding a little bit, I was expelled from high school my senior year for using heroin on campus. I was selling drugs to support my habit, and my only “friends” were people who enabled me to use as much as I wanted to. I had no goals and I didn’t care where I ended up, as long as wherever I ended up I had my fix, I was happy.
When I eventually hit the age of 18 and I was no longer a minor. I was on methadone maintenance, I was going on my 4th year of probation, still using drugs and drinking daily, and getting arrested on a regular basis. I eventually was ordered to go rehab by the courts, or face a stiff sentence in jail. I went through 9 different rehabs, using and selling drugs in all of them, and failing and getting kicked out of all of them. My parents had joined Al Anon and to say the least, I was on my own. I was homeless on and off for months. I lived in parks, allies, and anywhere that I could sleep that night. Robbing and stealing nearly everyday to support my habit. I had no one left in my life and nothing to my name, and to be honest, I didn’t really care.
I have never been able to get sober because of my family, friends, or the courts. My bottom was when was living in a park, I had just been kicked out of another rehab, and I couldn’t sit still with myself. My head was always running and all I wanted was peace of mind. I didn’t care about life long sobriety or the house, the car, the girl, all I wanted was a sense of serenity. I crawled back to my parents and asked if they would help me at one more shot at getting sober, I was ready this time. The next day I went to New Life House Los Angeles. It was like no place I had ever been to. Over the next year I did what they suggested, including taking an honest look at my life and my actions and how I affected the people around me. I learned to have a sense of integrity, to take care of myself and the place I lived, and to help others. After going through the 12 steps and beginning to make a change, I began to feel a sense of serenity that I had craved for so long.
I spent a couple years working in restaurants, still drawing often and beginning to look at a career in art. I had tattoos, and each time I got a tattoo I would draw my own tattoo out so the tattoo artist would have a good sense of what I wanted. I was at a tattoo shop getting work done and had a book of my drawings and they asked to look at it. They were surprised when they saw some of my drawing and offered me an apprenticeship. For nearly the next 2 years, I would work in a restaurant then drive to Venice and work at the tattoo shop. Needless to say, it was hectic. With a balance of AA and the teachings of New Life House, I was able to put in the foot work to excel quickly learning my craft, while still maintaining a healthy balance to live a sober lifestyle.
Today I couldn’t be any happier. I’d doing things now that I never would have thought in my wildest dreams I would be doing. Over the next few years I will be traveling around the world to Sweden, Japan, parts of Europe, as well as over the US just to tattoo. My income allows me to plan for the future for retirement funds and to live in a way where I am not constantly worrying about needing to save money for food for the next day. I have a life where I absolutely love what I do, and have so much to look forward to in the future. I have my family in my life, I have friends who I know I can count on, I have a level of integrity and an actual conscious, and I am able to take accountability for my actions and humbly admit when I do something wrong. I didn’t get sober to have the car, the house, or the girl; but now I have all of those things because I was able to focus on my priorities and be right with myself before moving forward. I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason and through pain comes strength. Anything is possible and the only limitations we have are the ones we put on ourselves. If we push hard enough and keep our goals in sight, we can make it anywhere.
Luc currently works at Black Diamond Tattoo in Los Angeles. His artwork has been recognized by Ink Junkies Magazine and at the Miami Tatoolapalooza. Clients travel from all over the world to receive tattoos from him. His sobriety date is 5/25/2009.