It all started with a raid of my parents’ liquor cabinet at age 13. What else was there to do in a small town like Brimfield, Massachusetts? I would drink to get drunk, and my drink of choice was basically a jumble-juice concoction. By the time I was a junior in high school it was a regular occurrence, and by senior year, it was happening daily. That’s when I started getting into harder drugs – to be more specific, cocaine. Many, if not all drug users, have their reasons. And many, if not all, use substances to escape. In hindsight, I was escaping my homosexuality. I drank to escape how I felt – a homosexual man trying so desperately to live the life of a straight man. I did everything I could to avoid feeling – everything I could to numb myself.
I barely graduated high school, and my drug use continued beyond it. There were moments of sobriety, but there were also many moments of relapse. There were moments where I had support and help from people around me, but at some point, I was beyond the point of human aid; I needed spiritual intervention.
In February 2004, even after admitting myself to an inpatient treatment center in Connecticut, my story took a turn for the worse. Sobriety only lasted three months, and I found myself using again. This time, it wasn’t just cocaine, it was crack cocaine. And it stole my soul. I did anything to get high – stole, lied, cheated. I did anything to feed my addiction; anything to numb the pain. I was still struggling with my homosexuality, and it pushed my addiction to such a level that I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t until after five years, periods of constant relapse, that I finally gathered up the courage to not only admit it to myself but to confront my mom about my sexuality.
I didn’t get sober immediately after, but I did a few months later. That didn’t last too long either – just like my other stints with sobriety. Six months in, and I was back to using again. I wasn’t responsible, nor was I reliable. I was in a tumultuous marriage with another man struggling with addiction, and I was a mess. I came to a place where I considered suicide. I didn’t care about my job, marriage, or my life as a whole. It wasn’t until my mom’s passing (God rest her soul) and a conversation with a close friend, that I finally realized I needed help; not just to get sober, but to save my life. It was a voice that came to me one day while I was on the streets that woke me up; woke me up from the hell that I had been living in for many years.
That’s when the great people at Spectrum and The New England Recovery Center (NERC) came in and changed my life forever. I went through the pain of detox at Spectrum and then separated myself from the world of drugs and alcohol at NERC for two weeks. The people that I met and worked with at NERC helped me regain my well-bing, both spiritually and mentally. The clinicians and the care I received were great. They were always available; there to talk, and there to help. They invested their time and effort into my recovery, and I finally invested in myself and spent my time and resources getting well.
Four-and-a-half months after treatment, and I’m doing well. I’m grateful I’m alive. I’m healthy, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I’m eating well and attending a sports club that is recovery-focused. Despite some circumstances in my personal life, my life is unbelievable at the moment. I am now making healthy and wholesome decisions for myself. I am able to live with myself today. I am free. I have attained freedom because I have achieved sobriety. I now have the freedom of choice to be who I am and do what I want.
Many people who have similar stories, and have been in and out of recovery, need to understand that sobriety gives you life. You don’t just exist; you can live life and experience the beauty of it. You must give yourself a chance, and as hopeless as you may feel some days, don’t give up. Reach out to the resources that you have, and do the necessary things to take care of your own safety and well-being. Listen to Donna Pellegrino’s show, “Airing Addiction.” It’s amazing and has been helping a lot of people. If you stay active in your recovery and are constantly vigilant, long-term sobriety will give what you’ve been seeking — freedom.
This post originally appeared on the New England Recovery Center blog.