Thought Process from an Addict | The Why?

's Story Part One | Noah Bergland | construction2style

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Well, I’m not 100% sure what I will write about, but my sister mentioned she received good feedback from our previous correspondences. So, I will try to submit something to her every couple of weeks. If anyone wants me to talk about something specific, please let Morgan know.

I plan to start with what I have learned looking back on the choices I made. I can talk about my thought process and why I did what I did. Hopefully, someone can learn from my story.

I am sure people are also curious about the prison life, the scary moments, the funny moments, the hustles and rackets people do to make an extra buck.

For those who already know me, Hello again! And for those who don’t, I am Morgan’s younger brother, Noah. I just turned 33 years old this month. On September 3rd, 2013 I started a 120-month federal prison sentence in Milan, Michigan. In the end, I will serve 87 months, of which I have served 63 so far. It was very intimidating at first with all the barbwire and guard towers, but I since have found it isn’t so bad. There was everything a real prison had to offer, and they treat you right, but not if you don’t carry yourself right.

Thought Process from an Addict | Noah Bergland | construction2style

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I will circle back to Milan in detail in a later post, but after 18 months I transferred to a prison camp to serve an additional 69 months. The craziest part was how I got transferred to Yankton (where I’m serving now). They just let me out the front door, brought me to the Greyhound station, and gave me 36 hours to get to Yankton, SD.

Thought Process from an Addict | Noah Bergland | construction2style

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I’ll come back to my bus trip as well in another post. But now that I am at this prison camp, with a smaller fence that has openings all around, smack dab in the middle of a town of 7-10K people. This obviously presents a lot of opportunity for plenty of mischief, but it also raises a bigger question, what in the hell am I doing here?

I have learned a lot over the years of my incarceration, about different cultures, different personalities, a ton about myself, but most importantly why I am here.

My Thought Process is Why…

I initially thought I got locked up because I sold drugs, which is my charge and of which I am completely guilty. But there is a deeper issue at hand…

Why did I sell drugs?
Why did I do drugs for the first time?
Why did I steal in high school?

I now realize that I would have eventually come to prison for something else later down the road, even if I didn’t make that first run up to Grand Forks with a couple hundred pills of ecstasy. I would have probably gotten in on some other scheme and ended up in the same place.

This is one thing I have learned in treatment, along with my thought process behind my irrational thoughts, that led to poor choices.

I am not proud of many of the things I have done in my life, even though I may have been a little grandiose at the time, but looking back now I am ashamed and embarrassed. One thing about the past is you can’t change it. I can only do everything in my power and my choices to not re-live it.

For the past seven months, I have been in a pretty intense inpatient drug program, 3 1/2 hours a day, Monday thru Friday, and I complete that program on February 22nd. I have shared very personal experiences with the community, as we call each other here. I have broken down crying sharing impact letters from my family, discussing the impact of my drug use. I came clean on decade-old issues with my mom, so I could forgive myself and be able to move on. This program has been taxing on my emotions of myself and my family, but I believe we will all be stronger in the end for it.

I want everyone involved with my case to know how sorry I am. I have forgiven them, and I hope they will eventually do the same for me. I am sure most of them are home by now, and I hope they are doing well and not falling back to our old ways.

Thought Process from an Addict | Noah Bergland | construction2style

The million dollar question is, why did I do what I did?

I was raised by two loving parents, who provided me with everything I needed, taught me good family values, and paid for my college education. I was always happy and willing to help others, but with everything positive in my life, I still have a track record of making bad choices.

I smoked my first cigarette at 10, took my first drink at 12, and weed at 13. Along with shoplifting, trespassing, tearing up farmers fields, poaching deer…all adding to my poor choices. Now that I have a daughter who’s seven, it puts things into perspective.

Why did I think this behavior was acceptable?

I got caught shoplifting right after I turned 18 and got charged; it was a turning point in my life because I had also been stealing from my parents for months while working the register at our family restaurant. The recent charge aroused suspicion from my dad, who then confronted me. I broke down crying and lied to his face, and will never forget the pain especially now that he is no longer here for me to ask his forgiveness from.

Although after this charge and lying to my dad, the stealing stopped that day, other criminal activities did not. I went off to college where the drug use increased. By the time I turned 21 I had between 6-8 underage consumption charges. With partying, I found something I was good at. I was voted the life of the party in high school, and I embraced it.

My brother, Jesse, once told me that people excel at things where people reinforce it with positive praise. For him, it was golf and education. And for me, it was being wild and crazy. Another part is I lack self-confidence, and in my younger year, drugs eliminated those thoughts.

How do I break this cycle of criminal behavior or irrational thoughts? 

Well, I think the answer is to change the way I think. I need to correct the thought before it becomes an action.

The program that I’m currently in has given me names to the thoughts I have known so well over the years. As soon as they rise in my mind, I address them by name and correct my thought immediately.

I also know I need to lean on my support group for help and accountability. My sister, Morgan, said she would literally kill me if I do drugs again, so I guess I won’t have to worry about coming back here to prison. Ha! 🙂  Another part of my recovery maintenance will be structure between work and home life. For motivation, I don’t have to look far, because I have my daughter Melrose.

Thought Process from an Addict | The Why? | Noah Bergland | construction2style

I look forward to getting out and working with Morgan and Jamie and getting to know you guys more. Spending time with my nieces and nephews who don’t know me well yet, golfing, boating, camping, snowboarding, skateboarding, music shows…these are just a few things I miss the most.

As I approach the two year mark of my release date, I feel I can finally start to think of my new life. I am excited about it, and I know my family is too. I also know some of them have thoughts and concerns on what I will do and who I will be upon my release, and I deserve those concerns. All I can hope is the people my drug use has affected will come around over time and give me another chance.

Thought Process from an Addict | The Why? | Noah Bergland | construction2style

As I mentioned, recently I have been doing victim impact letters, where I have reached out to those I wronged. I know I haven’t reached out to everyone but if anyone wants to write one I will respond and be thankful. The letters have opened my eyes to damage I didn’t even know I caused because I was too busy thinking about myself.

I didn’t even know or think about the effect my incarceration had on my sister who was trying to enjoy her honeymoon as I’m sitting in the shu (the hole) at Milan (because they didn’t have bed space). My brother laid out clear expectations for me when I get home, concerns of the people I will bring around their family that could hurt them (I broke down in group sharing this part). He also said he is prepared to cut me out if I don’t meet those expectations. I thank him for the tough love and love him even more for being so honest. My mom and grandparents focused on the lies and deception that hurt them the most, and I could feel the emotion in the letters as I asked them to revisit the pain I had caused, so many times, over so many years.

I want to thank everyone who has sent me love over the years. So many have supported me over the years, all in different ways, some expected and so many very unexpected. For those who have chosen to stay silent and are waiting to see who comes out, I understand.

Till next time!


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24 thoughts on “Thought Process from an Addict | The Why?

  1. Glad to see you are doing good Noah. I only met you a few times when you were at my house. I never forgot about you though and I am happy to see you are doing good and getting ready to be released soon.

  2. How did I miss this?! Thank you, Katie!! Appreciate the support. And hope you are doing well and staying strong. I just listened to this podcast this morning with Dax Shepard (who’s so funny!) and wow did it hit home for what we’re all going through. It was so encouraging for me and I know it would be for you too. You should tune in:

  3. Hey Cole! Just sent your comment over to Noah and I’ll reply with his words too once he gets back to me. We’ve heard a lot of good things about teen challenge. Stay strong and just take one moment in every day at a time. It’s gonna be a long road, but you got this!! Hugs to ya!

  4. Noah bro we had some crazy times I’m glad your good I’m going to teen challenge for 13 months to get back all the shit I lost I relate a lot to u n wish u best luck bro keep ya head up

  5. Tammy!! It’s so good to see your name. Noah got a big smile on his face too. Thank you for reading and supporting. Love checking in on that Dustin via FB too. He is always on both of our minds. Sending all of our love and hugs your way too.

  6. Wow, thank you Jocelyn! Noah and I had a good conversation about this and he’s going to write about it. I had never heard of the new terminology but make sense. And holy shmokers, looked up Christoper and I CANNOT stop reading. Wow, what a story! Thank you for sharing. And thank you for supporting and reading our journey. 10 years must feel so good! CONGRATS! Sending you all our good vibes your way. XOXOXO

  7. We’re cheering you on over here, Kate! One minute, one thought, one choice at a time. XO

  8. Thank you Morgan and Noah for sharing your journey! The journey of life isn’t always easy. It’s so wonderful to see you have chosen to help and support each other through it.
    Noah continue to heal and grow. Our hearts and prayers will continue to support you. Take care!
    With Love! Tammy, Greg and Dustin

  9. Hi Morgan and Noah,
    I have been so interested in Noah’s story as it resonates with me. I am in recovery 10+ years from a severe alcohol addiction (but never turned down a drug either). Thankfully I only had to be accountable to myself and my family, not any criminal justice system which could have gotten involved at several points along the way.
    Noah, it sounds like you have done a tremendous amount of work and are taking full advantages of the services offered to you. I wonder if the program has addressed the terminology of “Addict”. There are several bodies of thought (medical and criminal justice) that are no longer using “addict” but rather speaking of someone who has a “substance use disorder”. It takes the stigma and shame out of it and addresses the disease in a more compassionate way. I know I had so much shame at the beginning (a professional said I wore it like a very heavy coat) and terminology plays into that so much—for me at least. Maybe the term doesn’t bother you at all, but just something to think about.
    Morgan, one person I found through the internet that has been super inspiring to me is a guy named Christopher Poulos who was incarcerated for selling drugs and is now a lawyer. It is incredible what he and his friends/colleagues are doing to try to help reentry for former incarcerated people. He seems to give a lot of hope to people who have gone down similar paths. If you have some time (ha!) I would recommend looking him up.
    Sorry for the long-winded response; I have been thinking about this for a couple of days.

  10. I found this blog post via Instagram! Also a MN girl, truly enjoyed reading this post. Can’t wait to hear more about Noah’s story!

  11. I’m so proud of Noah, I am in recovery as well and really needed to read this today! So thank you guys! Sending hugs and love!

  12. Hey Michele,
    Noah’s response…

    That is a tough one, I used to steel from my parents back in high school, and when i quit all it took was a simple confrontation from my dad and i broke down crying saying i didn’t do it, and I never did again. Drugs weren’t playing a big factor in my life at the time, I think I was just a stupid kid looking for extra money. When drugs are in the picture it’s even easier for an addict to convince themselves their actions are just. The best tell all is if he continues to be sober once he is out. I would put up boundaries, no home visits immediately, for example. It will be easy to see if he is making good choices once he is out.

    If the money is important setup a payment plan for him to pay you back, and you will know quickly if paying you back is at the top of his priority. You can still love and support your son from a distance. I know one thing if I stole $5,000 from a family member and they didn’t want me coming over to their house, I would understand. The only way to test his sobriety is with time.

  13. Oh, I love that! Thank you for sharing! Absoloutely. Printing all the comments, support and love and mailing his way today. You’re support means the world to our family. We will keep you in ours as well. It’s never an easy road. XO

  14. Morgan ~ I am a friend of your brother, Jesse. Noah did some painting at our house. I have been in recovery for 2 years and 10 months. I am so grateful for the AA program. I can tell in Noah’s letter that he is genuine in his recovery. Thank you for sharing his letter. Tell him that I am proud of the hard work he is doing in prison. He could be feeling sorry for himself but instead he is growing and learning to be a better person.
    I will keep him in my prayers.
    Carol McTigue

  15. Thanks Holly! Mailing in all the comments tomorrow. I already know that’s been so hard for him as well and will continue to be. You’re support means the world to us. Hope you had an awesome Christmas! Love your smiling face!

  16. Ugh, my heat breaks for you, Michele! Time… it takes so much time. So much more time than 6 months in our experience. As hard as it is, just try to be kind. Love will always win. I just sent this to Noah too, I’ll respond when he answers. Sending so many hugs your way!

  17. Im.going through This with my brother right now. I presses charges on him. He stole $5000 from us while we let us stay with us while he was supposed to be finding a treatment facility. He has sunk us financially. He went back to jail and is in a jail treatment court program. I am really struggling yo take his progress seriously as he wants credit for going to T treatment even though his option was treatment or prison. Will you ask your brother what to look for to know someone is truly taking their sobriety seriously? When should I expect him to stop lying about what he did, if ever? I’m surprised 6 months sober he still is lying. Thanks for this inside look.

  18. Love your honesty Noah, I have been in your shoes with all the crazy thoughts and relearning how to process them. It’s not easy but one day at a time. Getting people’s trust back was the most difficult for me. It’s very brave of you to share! Can’t wait to hear more. I would love to chat when you are out.
    Best Wishes,
    Holly Heiser

  19. Wow that’s so touching. None of us are perfect and I am grateful for Noah’s learnings and desires to be the person we know he is, the father melrose deserves and the loving uncle he will be.

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