I am a person in recovery. I have not had a drink or drug in five months. I was lost in my addiction for 20 years; this is the longest amount of time I have ever been able to stay clean.
I had been through four treatment centers, but it was only through finding what does work for me that I have been able to clearly identify what does not work for me. To me, treatment seemed to be too simple of a solution for the addiction that plagued my life; it was something you went through to fix a problem that would eventually go away by itself.
This belief allowed me to think I could submit to a predetermined amount of time in a lockdown facility where clinicians would observe, diagnose and medicate me. I would be rushed through their program. If and when the Twelve Steps were incorporated into my treatment, I neither took them seriously nor worked through them with rigorous honesty.
Often I was told that if I wanted to change badly enough, I would. Rarely was a Higher Power mentioned. When it was, the concept presented was usually based on the beliefs of others. This was unappealing to me. As a result, I was unwilling to seek the spiritual connection necessary to make sustainable recovery a reality.
Treatment can and does work for some people, but I’m not one of them. For me, addiction was a passionate romance novel. Drugs were the most intimate relationship in my life. This toxic partner would settle for nothing short of the sacrifice of everything to maintain our connection. I put my blood, sweat and tears into it.
I willingly walked away from all my loved ones, a wife and my daughter – the dearest one to my heart. I threw all my morals, values and ethics out the window and slowly became a useless, hopeless, black stain on the planet – willing to do anything for my addiction. I’ve heard it said that some are sicker than others; and looking back, I realize I was sick, sick, sick.
At the age of 35, I finally hit my bottom. I knew something had to give. Either I was going to lose my life, or I had to find a new way to live. I always wanted to maintain sobriety, but nothing I tried worked. I took a long look at the word “recovery,” and arrived at this thought, I had to relearn everything I had been taught up to this point and make some drastic changes.
I had no idea where or how to begin this process, especially because my previous experiences with treatment had ended in failure.
By the grace of God, my mother found the place I now call home, SerenityStar in Smithville, Texas.
I can’t explain why I agreed to go, except to say that everything about this place felt different in a good way. In the back of my mind, I had already convinced myself that in the worst-case scenario, I would complete 90 days, then pick right back up where I left off (maybe feeling a little bit healthier). However, after only two weeks, I asked to stay for at least a year. It was here that I found tools and a brand-new model of recovery that works for me.
This recovery community usually consists of about 45 men, women and children, creating a sense of family. The love I received here resulted in significant healing. In this close-knit setting, I embraced the unknown.
A life in addiction is the complete opposite of a life of recovery, and I had zero experience with real recovery. My journey began with a sincere commitment and desire to change. Right behind that came the embracing of the three indispensable principles required in recovery: honesty, open-mindedness and willingness.
In order to honestly work my Twelve Steps and to gain the most out of this life-changing process, the staff continuously stressed the need to be patient with myself. Pacing my progress helped me integrate what I was learning into my heart. I healed old wounds through inner child work, participated in yoga and practiced prayer and meditation.
I dug deep as they helped me find the core issues that drove me to use in the first place. I was paired with a peer in the treatment program who became a close friend. He patiently walked me through the mental and emotional baggage I had carried for so long. He encouraged me to be my “authentic self” – whatever that might look like. The Twelve Step founders and program staff have all walked this walk before me. They understood addiction and had discovered what it took to maintain their sobriety.
I am learning that service work, doing something for someone else, is the best way for me to get out of myself. Most importantly, I had to go within and determine my own personal Higher Power. I felt free to experiment until I found the right fit.
Today my Higher Power is my best friend. I hit my knees every morning and night in surrender. I talk with him throughout the day. The key to a sustainable recovery for me is making that connection to a Higher Power and working to create the most intimate relationship possible is.
I believe that finding my way out of addiction is my purpose and path in life. I don’t have this disease by chance. A life of recovery was offered to me so that one day I could share my experience, strength and hope with others. It is my sincerest wish that this article will touch someone and perhaps help them find a way to recovery.