Overcoming Heroin Addiction a Life Story

Overcoming Heroin Addiction
I Still Can’t Fly
“I Still Can’t Fly” is a book about life in the big city, from first grade to eventually overcoming heroin addiction. The story will illustrate how a stressful environment can sometimes drag a vulnerable person; young or old, down the dark lonely rabbit hole to addiction. Hell is far deeper than you might suspect. I know because I existed in the shadows as a heroin addict for twenty-seven years.

What was originally titled; Kevin the Troublemaker was a mere writing assignment suggested by a senior female counselor at the Daytop drug rehab facility in Rhinebeck, New York during the winter of 1996. Thirty days in, the still vivid memories of my lifelong addiction made my blood boil. “Write it down, Kevin. Put your feelings on paper. You may be able to gain some perspective.” So, I did.

The moment I put pencil to paper; Kevin the Troublemaker came to mind. It’s who I was. My mom says I can’t play with you anymore. You’re a troublemaker. Stay away from that Kevin Carroll. He’s nothing but trouble. The only times I ever listened to my mother was when she was close enough to apply a good swift hop in the ass. Within fifty yards. My friends were my friends for a reason; we thought alike. I had more friends than the ice-cream man.

Growing up in the Bronx

New York in the 1950’s was usually exhilarating and mostly peaceful until the moment I was forced into the same room with a large intimidating Franciscan nun. Sister Mary Monster floated up and down the corridors and through my classroom faster than Superman. The brown tornado was charged with teaching me how to be a good Christian. Sister applied her will and my lesson with a yardstick a pointer or a large bony fist, that suddenly flexed to the size of a frying-pan. WHACK! But the angry nun was as ready for me as I was for nuclear fallout.

Trying to condense one hundred sixty-five thousand words into a few paragraphs to describe my early childhood adventures, constant teenage chaos, but mostly self-inflicted adult stupidity to sell a book might be easy for a writer. However, I’m a retired sanitation supervisor with an eighth-grade education. I’ve never written more than a birthday card. It took me twenty-two years. I should’ve gone to high school.

The book will guide you through the turbulent 60’s on a wild ride into the brain of a wilder teenager. What happens to a battered brain when it refuses to conform to the norms of society?

Burglarizing the local gas station in broad day light with my friends from sixth grade so we could pay our way into the 1964 World’s Fair might’ve been the high light of excitement for most young teenagers. But I was just getting started. Troublemaking is what I did. I was good at it. Some say, legendary.

Behavior modification

It took me ten very long years to complete eight grades of catholic school behavior modification. It didn’t work. Two years after graduation from grammar school I married my girlfriend. Too soon after that, my beautiful teen bride Ellen presented me with my very own baby boy. He looked just like me. So, I kept him, but things were getting crazy. This should’ve been a great time to finally expand my brain. I thought heroin would do the trick. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

My book is not a guide. It’s not a how to. Or a don’t do, but it graphically describes the countless verbal and physical assaults by a dark hooded gang of school tormentors, numerous childhood adventures and many of my teenage escapades. All of my thirteen arrests. So many dangerous, drug related situations as to make me sound, not normal, but I am. Or at least close. I’m calculating. I’ve faced certain death on more than one occasion and I’ve always calculated a quick way out to keep my ass on the right side of the grass.

The gravitational pull of the drug culture on certain personalities is something to fear. Kids have little to no fear. Teach them as you would history, English and arithmetic. Knowledge is the key to heaven on Earth. I lived both. Heaven is better.

How did I become a heroin addict?

Is there a nexus between young troublemaker and addiction? If I knew the answer to these questions, I could probably sell a few more books, but I can’t. Mental health professionals have been searching for the key to unlock the root causes of addiction for decades. The experts are no closer now to ending the assault by opioid drugs than they were fifty years ago. Overcoming heroin addiction is one of humanities eternal struggles that begs innovative ideas with viable solutions now. Not tomorrow.

Click to Read Chapter 1

Addiction is an all-consuming failure of foresight. Children do not understand death. I see these two declarations as irrefutable but the everyday stresses in today’s crazy society put upon young brains can’t be easily assessed. Constant abuse perceived by children will only be exposed to the world when the abused reacts to a mundane situation in an abnormal fashion. By the time society sees this child as troubled, the brain has already been adversely impacted. Intervention by loving adults should be immediate to mitigate future feelings of anger and frustration. Parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and anyone who cares enough could be and should be a guardrail. Absent or neglectful guardrails is like permission to those inclined to enter crazy town.

The pressures society puts upon young children to fit a square brain into a round world is the type of psychological conundrum that doctors have been misdiagnosing since Freud. But I do know this. Take away the verbal and physical abuse from my early childhood and I am a different person. Round brain. Round world.

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Why did I shoot heroin? Damn if I know…

I have a non-accredited PhD in heroin addiction. Twenty-seven years’ worth of intensive study. How to start, maintain and finally extricate one’s self from darkest, deepest most horrifying existence imaginable. Many people learn the difficult lessons of life the hard way. Be smarter. For the miniscule amount of time we get to breathe on this planet, don’t waste a moment of yours turning your brain into a science experiment.

Getting involved with hard drugs came easy to young Kevin.  Overcoming heroin addiction, not so easy.

Illicit drugs come with any number of serious consequences. Fentanyl, only one. Don’t find out what it is while you’re crying your eyes out over a loved one splayed on top of an autopsy table.

If you don’t yet understand the consequence of playing with fire, I suggest you don’t run through a burning building to feel how hot it is. It’s freaking hot. So is drug addiction. Death only truly sucks for those who will attend the funeral.

We tell our very young children, “Don’t go near the stove. It’s hot.” But hot, is just a word to a small child. OUCH! Hot, is now painful. Lesson learned, the hard way. Your teenagers are still at the bottom of the learning curve. They will touch the stove. But they won’t realize how hot it is until their life is in flames and your house is burning down around them. There is no magic bullet for avoiding illicit drugs. But know this; the first time your beautiful child lies about something inconsequential and attempts to turn you into the bad guy, don’t take it and don’t stand there with your mouth hanging open. Try to look smarter than a teenager. Lying is the first sign of addiction. All the other signs are worse.

Overcoming Heroin Addiction is Work.

Start talking. Listen. Learn all about the new person living under your roof, before they burn your house down.

Life and addiction do not coexist. There is life and slow death. Smiling doesn’t always show the inside. Just teeth. My own crooked smile kept me safe, hidden away in a head full of pain. My book is not How to beat addiction for dummies. But it will illustrate in vivid detail the signs that lead me to a life worse than death. Addiction is not pretty. You will know it when you see it. It lies, it hides, it sneaks in and sneaks out. It will smile in your face and steal your last dollar off the kitchen counter. Addiction is cunning. It knows you. Learn the signs of the addicted mind before it bites you on the ass. Addiction leaves marks.

I understand that this picture may be disturbing to many.

The mere idea of it, even sixty-six years later is still disturbing to me. My publisher immediately refused this art for my book cover. The drawing illustrates the fear this monster nun instilled in a very happy, inquisitive and bold to the point of courageous young school-boy.

It said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For me this picture is only worth about five hundred. You couldn’t possibly imagine the other five hundred words that still occupy my brain. But note; there is no blood.

Overcoming Heroin Addiction
Original cover for I Still Can’t Fly

My dad was the baby of nine children. His identical twin sisters, thirteen months senior, became identical twin Ursuline Nuns. Try to imagine this. Identical twin nuns. My godmother is Sister Regina Terase, my Aunt Jeanie. My problem wasn’t nuns in general. Only particular nuns. In particular the abusive, insulting, judgmental one’s who from day one of first grade destroyed any prayer of my getting a useful, worthwhile education.

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Michael W Brennan

Enlightening Entertaining Horror

I don’t normally write reviews, but I have to say this story is very well written. I find it hard to believe it was authored by a recovering heroin addict. Skeptsism aside, l couldn’t put this book down. I read it in one day and read it again a few days later. One of the better books I’ve read in on long time. Totally engrossing. While reading it, l kept thinking the author should try his hand at a screen play. It would make a great movie.

A Well Written Memoir

I found this to be a well written gritty memoir of a young guy coming of age during the turbulent 60s. It is written with humor, and honesty while depicting growing up in a middle income housing project in The Bronx. The role of the Catholic Church and school, played a critical part in shaping the author’s life. The nuns were clearly the leading characters in the author’s least favorite childhood memories.

But age we must, and trouble followed him with far greater consequences. He writes graphically of his descent into addiction and describes behaviors necessary to feed his demon daily. Consequences mounted until he was out of options. I found this part of the author’s story difficult to read at times.

Reading this book brought me back to simpler, yet challenging times. Throughout the book Kevin Carroll shows a creative side to his never ending insane approach to life. I enjoyed this reading very much.

Charles Judson

Thumbs Up

If the truth will set you free then Kevin Carroll is a free man. This is an honest, sad, uplifting journey that will make you laugh, cringe, wonder and hope. With a great imagination, fearless perservance, a little luck and maybe some Divine Intervention Kevin makes it through and we are all the better for it. Great read!

Robert E. Murphy

Great mix of laughs and horror…in a rattling style!

Wow! It’s hard to pin down a simple way to describe this book. It will make you laugh, make you cry, and definitely make you wonder. I enjoyed all of those!


I Still Can’t Fly

This is the graphic story of a boy who grew up in the Bronx in the ’50s and ’60s, his brutal experiences in Catholic School, and what led him to a twenty-seven year heroin addiction. It was gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, heartwarming and funny. With the unwavering devotion of the love of his life, his wife Ellen, who he married at sixteen, Kevin Carroll overcame his addiction and lived to write about it. Hard to put down, this is an inspiring story of the power of love and never giving up hope.


Excellent page turner!

Excellent page turner! A true wordsmith. There is always hope; he is living proof.

Thomas Smith

Inspiring Story Ultimately Overcoming Heroin Addiction

Highly recommended for those who believe in hope and redemption… truly inspiring story of how bad things can happen to good people and how the human spirit can prevail. Overcoming heroin addiction is one of the great struggles of our time. A true accomplishment for the motivated few.