‘I tried to get sober the first time when I was 27 years old. I actually turned 28 in the rehab I work at today.’
“I’m a substance abuse counselor. I’ve been doing this for 12 years. I’ve been clean from drugs and alcohol for over 13 years. The first time I remember using alcohol was just past my eighth birthday. My brother was having a Super Bowl party. He’s 14 years older. I would refill their drinks and start taking sips. It just progressed as I hit middle school. I never felt comfortable with myself, so I looked for something to make me feel better.
“Sixth-grade, I remember smoking pot. High school, I started getting mixed up with drugs. I tried to get sober the first time when I was 27 years old. I actually turned 28 in the rehab I work at today. I just didn’t fully grasp the whole lifestyle change that recovery involves. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t just removing the drugs and alcohol. The real problem is inside yourself. So, I relapsed again. I finally did long-term treatment, but I did it my way and failed miserably. I was desperate to find help. And then someone sat down, and they said in an aggressive way, ‘If your way worked, you wouldn’t be sitting where you are today. So shut up and listen to what we say, follow what we tell you to do, and you’ll stay clean.’ And that’s what I did.
Once I started giving back, that void I was trying to fill with drugs and alcohol, I started to fill by helping other people.
“Recovery’s about surrendering, following suggestions and listening. And as I started doing that, I realized that I had a lot more to offer people than I thought. I was always the person that brought the negativity to the party. I was always the person that did the bad things. Once I started giving back, that void I was trying to fill with drugs and alcohol, I started to fill by helping other people. I started to contribute to the good things in life. I find the same gratification when I help out kids with sports. I coach football and baseball. I like helping the kids and teaching them and seeing their faces when they’re first successful. And I get that same thing with my clients. I have people that call me years later and tell me that they’re still clean. They’re still sober and they have their kids and families back in their lives. And that’s probably the most rewarding part of it all — helping people the same way people helped me.”