“I started smoking weed and drinking around 11 years old and the main thing I can tell you is that from 11 old until I was 21 when I got sober, I was high or drunk every single day, unless I was locked up. Up until I started using though, I had played sports and was a pretty happy, normal kid. After that though, none of that really mattered anymore. Like I said, I did it every day and every chance I got. So I started doing bad in school, getting in trouble, getting sent to alternative school and what not. I sold weed and I was just infatuated with the lifestyle. I thought I was going to somehow turn into a millionaire from selling weed. And truthfully, for a long time, I enjoyed getting high and drinking and partying. And then my junior year came along and I tried Xanax for the first time.
“I immediately started taking it every day and didn’t stop taking it for 5 years. I’d have seizures from withdrawals when I didn’t have it. During those times, I remember being remorseful and making those firm resolutions to quit that the book talks about. I’d been in trouble before and told my family I wasn’t going to keep doing what I was doing but when the withdrawals and the throwing up every morning started happening, I remember internally really thinking about what I was doing to myself. I also remember seeing all of my friends going to college and working at good jobs and I wanted something like that. Instead of changing though I just started adding opiates to it and so then I would go through withdrawals for both of them. And that cycle became constant. New firm resolutions to stop, every month. Like I’m gonna go to church, just hang out with family, get a real job, stop selling weed, go back to school… all that stuff. I kept saying I was going to get my life together and it just never happened. I thought if I tried hard enough and did the right things that would do it for me. But I didn’t have a real solution. Plus, when I was sober for over 24 hours it was just miserable. Totally miserable.
“I moved away and moved back and for a while got a good job. The pain pills stopped working though and that’s when I found heroin. I smoked it at first and then started shooting it and truthfully, I never really liked it, even thought I did it every day. I mean, it wasn’t a very luxurious lifestyle. I couldn’t even afford to get high. Just enough to not be sick and that was on good days. And I’ll just skip forward because it’s just years of drug use steadily getting worse. So one night I’m sitting on the edge of my bed getting high and I just started to tear up. Because I knew as soon as I found a vein that I wasn’t really going to even be high and I knew that if I kept doing this I was going to die. And I knew that I was going to keep doing it unless something happened. And man, I wanted so badly to be a good person. I wanted to be a good human being and just to live a good life. And that’s when Step One hit me. It didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing who I was with. I always ended up loaded and strung out.
“I broke down and went over to one of my friends’ house. I showed him my arms and the track marks. This guy wasn’t in the program or anything but he told me that God was the only thing that was going to be able to relieve me from this. He prayed with me and I remember praying and just asking if there was a God, if he could help me not shoot heroin. I’d do whatever he asked of me if he would just help me with that. So I ended up going back home that night and the very next day I fell asleep at the wheel and wrecked into someone while I was driving on I35. I got arrested and this time, my family didn’t bail me out. They were done. They said if I was going to continue to live this way, they didn’t want to see me again. It was finally all real and I felt serious about doing something different. I ended being released to go to treatment. But again, this all happened the next day after I went over to my friend’s house and talked about God and prayed and asked him for help. So I guess he did help me. And that’s where the life I’m living now began.”
“So I got to Brazos and the first group I sat in on they were going over the cycle of addiction. I finally realized that this was what had been going on with me the past 9 years. I had no clue what had been wrong with me. I had just thought that there was something wrong with me as a person. Why else would someone do to themselves and their family what I had done, you know? It started clicking. Also, at first it was crazy for me to see recovered drug addicts and alcoholics that had been just like me but were now in a recovered state. I mean they were happy. They were examples of what God could do. That hit me hard. But it wasn’t all easy for me. Like, I did my 3rd Step prayer on day and had an amazing experience, right? But then the next day I got into a fight. Thankfully I didn’t get kicked out and got to keep going through the work. But I wasn’t immediately recovered. Self kept coming back into the picture. And there’s always gonna be a fight between spirituality and self.
“But I got through the work pretty quickly. It was about a month. When you’re going through the steps there you have mentors and then once you’ve been through it you start to have mentees, new guys, that you take through the work. And I think that was when it all really started to change. I was happy. And the mental obsession had been removed. I was helping somebody for once! And for the first time ever I started to notice myself being dishonest, selfish, breaking rules and things like that. I started finding these things objectionable. Prior to that, my whole entire life I didn’t care when I would do wrong. I didn’t even notice and was just gonna do whatever I had to do regardless of right or wrong. And yet within a matter of thirty days I had made this transformation where I could feel deep down inside that I had changed. I had a conscience and I had integrity. And God was a part of my life and guiding me.
“When I got out of treatment I stayed involved. I’ve managed some recovery houses and continued to help others get sober. But even then, when my family first started being willing to see me, try Dad came to visit me and said, ‘What’s different this time? What’s gonna keep you from going back to it again?’ I had been having all of these amazing experiences but all they knew was how I’d been before. I don’t remember what I said back to him but he said that what I was doing was good but that I was still only 90 days sober. And I needed to remember where I was just 90 days before. But things with my family are great now. I’ve got a great relationship with them and they trust me. For the longest my mom wouldn’t let me have a key to the house and yet now that’s not an issue. I think it was just them seeing me continue to keep my word and take action and do good things over time.
“Similar to what I said before about working with mentees at Brazos, sponsorship has been the most amazing part of this journey. That’s where the real freedom has come from. Just working with guys and seeing some of them have the same experience I’ve had. They’re broken and they surrender and then things turn. I was at a treatment center last week doing a 3rd Step with a guy and he broke down the same way I broke down. He just surrendered, you know? I know that feeling and what it’s like to just feel so hopeless and finally be willing to let God take the reins. So it’s amazing to watch guys go from hopeless and helpless to starting to experience God in their lives. You can just feel that happiness and that sense of relief come into them. And then, if you’re lucky, you get to watch them go help other people have that same experience.”