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FW man says overcoming addiction gives new lease on life

"Chris Seiler refers to his drug-using years as a big mirage.Memories of his junior high and high school years sometimes nip at the corners of his brain like a word perched on the tip of a tongue. But for the most part, those memories escape him. He's left with the broad strokes but none of the details.He knows this: He was an average student, an outstanding quarterback and a rebellious kid. A haze induced by years of using marijuana obscures memories about specific classes, games and parties - Things come and go.It took Seiler about 10 years before he realized he was using marijuana to function and to understood that the drug might not cause him to stagger, but could alter him nonetheless and in more serious ways. Initially, the seemingly harmless high hooked him. You can't describe it, he says of the high. I was relaxed, ready to go. Whatever happens, happens.The 36-year-old Federal Way resident still believes whatever happens, happens. But Seiler, who's been off pot since he was 22, attributes his mellow attitude now to God, not pot. Through his job as a salesman for Husky International Trucks Inc. in Seattle, which manufactures bus parts, he will drive about 3,000 miles a month in the company van beginning Sept. 6. But he no longer loads a bong after a hard day at work.You just get this calmness. There's no problem greater than God's power, says Seiler, who belongs to the Tacoma church Life Center. If he created us, if he created the universe, because I had a bad day at work I'm going to think that would be a problem for him? Whatever is going to happen, I'm going to leave it in the Lord's hands.As a child, Seiler attended church with his older brother, Alan, and parents, but didn't embrace religion or the anti-drug message of his parents. He started smoking pot when he was in the fifth grade after a friend offered him a marijuana joint provided by the friend's older brother. Seiler was relieved to find the joint didn't make him hack like a cigarette he'd tried and liked the buzz. His parents regularly asked their sons at dinner, You guys would never try drugs would you? Seiler always said, No, though half the time Seiler was stoned while at the dinner table.At first, he bought a gram at a time. Ultimately, he bought 3 1/2 grams on Friday night, another 3 1/2 on Saturday and another 3 1/2 on Sunday. He smoked at greenbelts near his family's SeaTac home. The athletic Seiler smoked before most football and track practices, though he'd abstain before games or meets.Many times, he left a party in his car and lost awareness until he was miles away. I tell you what I've had guardian angels watching over me all my life, he says. There have been three cars coming at me, it's not the one on the right or the left, it's the middle one I got to worry about.Thirteen days before he was to graduate from high school, Seiler was caught selling a gram of marijuana to an acquaintance for $10. He refused to provide the principal with the names of two other people who sold drugs and so didn't get to graduate.But worse than not graduating was arriving home to find his mother bawling on the living room couch like someone in the family had just died. He calls it one of the worse days of my life. But he continued using.Seiler finally quit marijuana when he was 22 after acknowledging it could negatively affect his life. He'd recently been promoted at a parts company - from driver to counterman - and didn't want to jeopardize the promotion. But after a night of partying, he made frequent errors. My boss was mad at me, customers were yelling at me, he says. I thought, I got to decide what I'm going to do. Am I going to screw this up because I want to get stoned? It's my choice the way I want to do it.When he stopped using pot, Seiler realized for the first time the addictive nature of the seemingly harmless drug. Without pot, he turned mean. Friends would ask him a simple question and he'd lash out with four-letter words. Anyone who says pot's not addictive, that's B.S., he says. When I got off it I went through major mood changes. My body literally wanted to get stoned.He stopped hanging out with his pot-smoking friends, recognizing he wasn't strong enough to resist the temptation if he were around the drug. He replaced one vice for another, increasing his alcohol use until he was getting hammered most every night. He would drink as much as a fifth of whiskey in one sitting and suffer two-day-long hangovers.He estimates he spent $15,000 on drugs and booze before giving up the former and dramatically cutting back his consumption of the latter.Finally, one day he found himself laying on his bed praying for God's intervention. He felt worthless, like he had failed everybody, especially himself.I started reflecting on my life - kicked out of high school, failed marriage, done this, done that, he says. It's time to turn everything over.Seiler still drinks. In fact, recently he and wife, Chris, whom he married six years ago, partied with friends until 5 or 6 in the morning. But he says drinking is relegated to weekends, he spaces out the drinks, and never drinks and drives. He doesn't use pot anymore, and immediately shakes his head when asked if he ever worries about developing a drug problem again.He says he hasn't completely forgiven himself for his addictions. But he's happy with his life now. Chris offers moral support, while his faith provides that ever-present calm he no longer needs from a drink or a smoke.That part of my life is behind me. It's a part of my life I'm not really happy about, he says. There's another way out there, a better way. "

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