What I’m about to share with you is how drugs and alcohol impacted me and my family’s life. I begin using drugs or alcohol in my adult years but never consumed drugs in the presence of my children, but I drunk openly at home. The addiction journey began in 1973 when I started working at GM and smoking cigarettes and drinking (beer, wine, liquor) but tobacco became my most prolonged addiction of 30 years. I began drinking on weekends (FRI – SUN) not realizing I was developing an addiction, even after going from weekends to daily drinking.
In 1982 was introduced to marijuana, then in 1986 I added cocaine and used until 1996. When I found out that Blue Cross/ Blue Shield pays for a treatment rehab, I used sick leave to receive my paycheck while also going to treatment but did not stop using. Finally, after attending many treatment centers, I began to see that I had an addiction and needed HELP. At this point, I lost my wife and family, but was able to keep my job “Thank God.” However, getting my family back was my priority. I begin to think what I learned in treatment, and first, they teach it is YOU must want this for yourself, not to get family, job, or anything else. Even though I went to AA, NA, CA, and 12-step programs I still found myself back and forth without my family and wife and that I still needed HELP.
God was always a part of my life, and when I truly wanted this for myself, I prayed that He would recognize my desire to stop and in 1994 he freed me from drugs and my wife and I were remarried, though I continued to struggle with cigarettes and alcohol by 2003 I was freed from it all and our family restored. Now after more than a decade I stand drug and alcohol-free. I am an elder in our church. I am the president and CEO of a non-profit, that who need travel to their medical appointments and/or pharmacy. What I learned from 12-steps programs, AA, NA, and CA has helped dramatically, but real recovery and sobriety starts:
- Admitting that YOU have a problem
- Doing for YOURSELF, not for family or anyone else
- Truly honestly desire to STOP
- Seek help from those who had the same issue, apply what works for you and leave what doesn’t
- Find that power that is greater than YOURSELF, in my case; it was God, then hold on to the power, the word, the belief, and the faith.
“For here stands a man who once was blind but now he sees.”
My college years were unremarkable but did have what I would consider a typical party without any significant incident or consistency. In my early 20s, my drinking escalated markedly with some consequences such as missing appointments and not being present. A few years later I had surgery and was prescribed pain killers, creating a new addiction for over five years, that destroyed my marriage and nearly took my life on more than one occasion. Alcohol and prescription drugs had complete control over my life – I was powerless.
By the grace of God, I finally fell to my knees and surrendered. Completely and thoroughly turned my will and my life over to the care of God and asked for help. After, spending some time in a treatment center and gaining a foundation of perspective and humility. I was able to take the first step to rebuild my life through helping others by giving someone a ride or sharing pieces of my story to others but taking daily steps to maintain and grow my spiritual condition to help others with their problems with alcohol.
My success journey contains all the elements of anyone who has the condition and a willingness to go to any length to achieve and maintain sobriety. One person told me an essential message to maintaining my program and prevent relapse: “Relapses happen only when people in recovery start to work the steps backward.”
There is no cure, only a daily reprieve based on our spiritual condition. When my life gets too complicated for me, and I feel myself getting unmanageable I communicate that with people close to me and my recovery and take steps to change it, or, the way I think about it. My biggest challenge in recovery is the negative self-talk in my mind that can lead me down a path that potentially could be a relapse. The ultimate foundation for relapse for me is fear. For me, right before relapse, I see myself almost paralyzed by fear and being dishonest with myself.
Today I maintain a simple program with two words every day first thing in the morning: Thank you. Then I write a gratitude list – EVERY DAY. I try to help someone with something every day if not more and never miss an opportunity to help if it presents itself. This is a self-diagnosed disease – the only way to recover is a wiliness to and desire to stop. If I share my story to someone who is struggling with the disorder, they may hear reference to themselves, identify that they can recover, and they ask for help. This process also helps me stay clean and sober and live the path of happy destiny, one day at a time.