In today’s world, we often hear more about what’s going wrong than what’s going right…especially in the realm of substance use disorder. Success occurs outside the spotlight. At the Process Recovery Center, we want to shine a spotlight on success. We believe in the profound healing power of sharing. When we raise our voices, we not only validate each other in celebration, but we also show that recovery from substance use is possible.
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I stay connected, I don’t get high, and I put my recovery first. If I feel like anything is going to jeopardize my recovery, I don’t do it. Chris told me: “If you’re the smartest and most motivated person in your group of friends, go find a new group of friends. You need something to strive to be better at”. So I try to surround myself with people who are doing bigger and better things. I’ve finally seen that I can have a normal life. I can strive for greatness instead of sitting there, putting myself down, and saying, “You’re useless. All you’re going to be is a drug addict and ex-con”. I’m living proof that it works.
The Process and Balance were my two biggest supporters. At Balance, I had this counselor named Denise. She was what I was looking for in a counselor: a straight-shooter. She made me go to this family meeting with my mother. I came into recovery for my mother. My mother has supported me my whole life – financially and emotionally. I didn’t love myself enough to get into recovery for myself. The family meeting changed my whole perspective. There was this one couple who had kids before they got married. The children were all pretty well connected – just like my family. My parents got married in 2008. I call my brother and sister “brother and sister” – not step brother and step sister. We are a super close family. One of the kids in the family at the meeting died. He was a brother/son just like myself, and I saw his sister and father crying. It broke me down. I couldn’t handle doing that to my sister or brother.
Wherever you go – this is the beautiful thing about recovery – if you reach out, people will be there and they will help you. That’s the purpose of this process and this community. The main reason we exist is to help others. That’s the last thing you can picture when you’re using and you feel like there is no way out. But if someone could have said, “hey, when you call this person, there is going to be an endless amount of love waiting for you on the other end of the phone,” that might of worked a little better for me. So I guess what I would say to the person still struggling is pick up the phone. There is an endless amount of love waiting on the other end. No matter where you are.
Walking in the door, it’s like, “wow, I’ve got a lot to live for!” That’s something I’ve never had in my life. I’ve had my barber’s license for ten years, I’ve worked in shops here and there, mostly cutting hair out of my house. I never thought in my whole lifetime I’d have my own shop – let alone hire people who are in recovery, too.
When it came down to rock bottom, I had to ask for help. I was going to die. Thank God I haven’t died yet. I know it’s tough, but reach out. People I don’t know come in to the shop who are going through it. They know what we’re about. I’ve had people come in numerous times who just needed to talk. Come sit down, come hang out, come talk. You don’t even need to get a haircut.
I imagine the young 20-somethings were a little thrown when this middle-aged alcoholic moved in with them at the sober house. Maybe it would be hard for me to identify with women struggling with heroin and other drug addictions when I’d never even smoked weed (Yes, really. I have zero street cred.) Age and the drug of choice ultimately made no difference. I immediately felt welcomed and accepted by everyone, and I can only hope they felt the same from me. We were all the same in the ways that mattered and the root struggles that led us to where we were. Certainly everyone had their own story and circumstances, but we understood each other and carried each other when we needed it most.
I’m chasing my dream. That’s why I’m doing the music: to give a message of hope to addicts who are recovering. I don’t glorify getting high, using women, or getting money. And I won’t. I don’t care if a label told me to sign for five million right now. I would tell them I’m all set. That’s not what I’m doing it for. I don’t want people’s parents to bury their children. My parents will never be the same again. So I have a message of hope.
If it wasn’t for the Process and the chance to come back, none of this would have happened. I wasn’t willing to go anywhere else. When I came here, I felt the love. I saw that the staff actually care about people, and I have never seen that before in any other treatment. I’ve been to detoxes over sixty times. I’ve been to rehab – counting detoxes, holdings, and halfway houses – over a hundred times in my life. No exaggeration. In two weeks, I will have seventeen months clean. I’ve been at the Process the whole time.
Two months ago, I took a plea agreement for a prison bid. I have to go for three years. I haven’t gotten high since I did it. I have to go in two weeks, but the program is working in my life and people are loving me up. They’re keeping me clean. If it wasn’t for the program, I wouldn’t be clean right now. I just try to do things that make me happy and not base my life on others’ opinions – not be the toughest person in the room or ego driven. I just try to fill my soul with happiness. I just want to be better. I want to be free.
I actually sat in the courtroom with the victim’s family. They all got to tell me exactly how they feel about me and how I affected and changed their lives forever. They told me they hope I get punished, but also that my son never loses his father and I stay clean and share this experience with others to give them hope.
I stayed one more week, which turned out to be good because I was actually able to help someone. That’s when I found out not only do I have a higher power, but I also have a higher purpose. It’s one of the greatest feelings you could ever have – when you really know you helped someone. It was one of those “WOW!” moments. Staying that extra week, God being in control, my sponsor holding me accountable… all those things led me to find something else I treasure a lot.
My sponsor keeps saying: “Be proud”. I don’t want to be proud. I’m the same as the next addict. I’m still struggling with it. I can’t stop the vultures from flying over my head. I still want to get high at times. Not as much now – which is pretty cool. But I’ve found that through the tools I’ve learned – reading, putting pen to paper, speaking up – I can chase them away. They can’t build a nest.
I don’t look at relapse as a failure, but as a step closer to perfection. Each time I relapsed I learned a valuable lesson that my higher power saw fit for me to learn. With new knowledge, another experience and renewed enthusiasm, I would pick myself back up and just start by putting one foot in front of the other. Let’s face it: the thought of staying clean for the rest of your life is daunting. For this addict, it sounded like an impossible endeavor, but when I break it down second-to-second, day-by-day, one step at a time, it seems doable.
Don’t rush the process, you are exactly where you need to be. As you read this right now, in this very moment, you are ok. If you are struggling, I get it. If you don’t think you can do this, I have been there and I have faith in you. If you are miserable and feel all alone, I love you. I promise it gets better. Just hold on, enjoy the ride and remember every setback is a setup for an even greater comeback.
I have a second chance to be with my kids and to see my youngest walk to that podium in June. That’s going to mean a lot. He still tells me that he’s proud of me – I’m so proud of him! I just wish Mitch could see our family finish growing.
You have to really want recovery: do the program, do the meetings. I didn’t like the first meeting, but it comforts me knowing that I’m not alone. I thought people were going to judge me. It’s not going to happen in a snap – you’ve got to work on it. Get a sponsor. Just do it – let it in. Don’t fight it. It’s hard for everybody, but you need it. You can’t do it on your own. I tried, it doesn’t work. It will work for you if you work at it. Let love in and let people help you.
The disease of addiction began to manifest itself in my life long before I ever picked up a drink or a drug. In hindsight, it is clear to me that many of my childhood behaviors and ways of thinking were paving the way to a self-destructive lifestyle that would eventually become unmanageable. My drug of choice has always been “more”. If it was something that made me feel good, I was never able to enjoy it in “moderation”. I was the kid that ate all of his Halloween candy within a couple of days, while my brother and sister made it last for months. I would spend my allowance almost immediately on frivolous things, while my friends and siblings saved theirs and put it toward something meaningful. These behaviors were somewhat harmless, but they inclined themselves to a certain mindset and behavioral pattern that would later take everything away from me.
My name is Eric. I am a grateful recovering addict. I would like to thank God for allowing me the chance to share my experience, strength, and hope. Without God, I wouldn’t be where and who I am today. Without Him, I have nothing.
The disease of addiction has played a major role in my life and has been taking from me since the day I was born. My father was an addict and his active addiction prevented him from being a part of my life. I didn’t have the father-figure guidance I needed until my teen years.
As young children, we are frequently asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Instantly, our minds dart from a doctor or a lawyer, to a famous athlete, or even a rockstar. I remember feeling a jolt of excitement over the endless possibilities. Never once did I consider being a drug addict; no child ever does. Unfortunately, it was out of my control and addiction chose me. After years of torture and pain – I chose recovery.
At the Process, I learned how to become more responsible for myself and my sobriety. That didn’t happen anywhere else. The Process didn’t give me the close coddling that I got at other programs. The Process gave me opportunities. It’s up to you to take advantage. Part of recovery is taking care of the business you have in day to day life. Let’s face it, when you’re an addict, you’re not thinking about buying food. You’re thinking about the next drink. I’ll be honest, when I was drinking – even though I had medical coverage – I didn’t make doctor’s appointments. That was on the back burner. I wasn’t even thinking about that. My head was in a whole different space. The Process got me back on “life track”. Today, I am able to manage my sobriety. No one else is going to do it for me.
This experience has been amazing. I cannot say enough about the staff. The staff here truly care. When I first got here, I felt like I didn’t belong. After the first day, [I realized] that we all share the same disease of addiction. I could go on and on about everything I’ve learned. I’m inspired to do so many positive things. I want to go back and help my tribe. I would love to build a sober house and really involve myself with service work.
I started smoking pot the summer before middle school. It was a good time. I didn’t fall in love with it but it was fun. The DARE program had instilled in me that drugs are bad but I thought: “Yeah, they’re not so bad”. I met a girl who liked to “robo-trip”, which means you drink a bunch of cough syrup, and I started stealing a couple of my mom’s Oxycontin. That was the first time I did pills. Once again, I didn’t fall in love with them but they were a good time. Some people say: “I fell in love instantly”. I never really fell in love with any one particular drug the first time I did it.
Until I was thirteen, my life was like a fairytale. I had a stable family and my parents were seemingly in love. I was a happy kid and I didn’t have any conception of what stress meant. At thirteen, my life completely changed. Out of left field, my parents told us they were getting divorced. I started to take on all this emotional baggage. I wanted to solve my mom’s problems and I wanted to fix the stress in her life. My father would always lead me to believe that I wasn’t good enough; I needed to work harder and I was always sub par. That created a complex inside of me that manifested in a way that was out of control. I became an insane perfectionist. I obsessed over perfection and needed to be the best at everything. It complicated my life from that time forward.
I am twenty-two years old. I started using when I was thirteen. I didn’t get drunk my first time, but I woke up the next day and I wanted more. I have never, ever been able to drink in moderation, but for years I convinced myself I could.
I never felt like I fit in at school. I wasn’t a loser but I wasn’t popular by any means. I just felt like I was on the outside looking in. When I found alcohol, I was everyone’s best friend. I got a boyfriend who didn’t go to school and did drugs. I loved the lifestyle. I was attracted to the chaos. That’s when I started dabbling. I tried my first Percocet with my boyfriend and I thought: “It’s so small. What is it going to do?” He said: “Big things come in small packages”. I didn’t know those things would end up ruling my life. I got into smoking crack cocaine and I found more friends who sold drugs.