Clean Date: June 7, 2001/ 17 years
From: Littleton, CO
“Let’s see, alcohol pretty much became my master when I was 14 years old. I drank and partied pretty hard from 14 to 29 years old, and pretty much did everything I can think of between that timeframe. I have a lot of alcoholics on both sides of my family, so it definitely runs in our blood. Addiction was chaotic; it was really living this life of being a chameleon, where I could act differently around you or them, or a teacher or grandparent. I really just got lost completely in my identity through my drinking and drugging days. I did a lot of things I’m not happy about, but through all of that, it gives me the stories I have today to help move people from addiction to recovery.
The night before I got sober, I was hanging out in a bar in Fort Wayne, Indiana where I went out 8 nights a week. There was live music and people everywhere, and all of a sudden, the bar became completely dead silent and I audibly heard the words “You’re done.” And then the bar became really loud again. That obviously all happened in my head, but I thought it was finally God saying “I’ve heard your cries and your pleas.” And so, I drove home highly intoxicated, went back to my one bedroom apartment, walked past my dog Jake, who was a labrador, put about 350 lbs on the barbell, and laid down on the workout bench. I unhinged my elbows, and was about to drop 350 lbs right across my chest in an unplanned suicide. In the split seconds in between when I unhinged my elbows to drop it, my dog started nudging my leg, and looking at me like ‘Dad, what are you doing right now?’ Immediately, my first thought was ‘Who’s gonna feed you tomorrow?’ And I started thinking about my parents, and all the good stuff in my life. And, you know, a miracle of God, I mean He was holding that bar because I couldn’t even bench that much. I put it back on the rack and it was the first night I’d slept in peace in a couple decades. Woke up the next day, and went to call my aunt who’d been sober 24 years. Called my parents and we cried for an hour. Said I needed help and went to my first AA meeting. And I haven’t had one craving at all in the last 18 years, and didn’t even go through detox or withdrawals as much as I drank, so it was a total total miracle. Recovery has been easy and hard; easy in the beginning cause I was single. Along the way I got married and had kids, had a career that failed, and just the trials of life, right? Learning how to deal with those ins and outs has been the real challenge of recovery. But, I haven’t had a drink in 18 years, currently married with two amazing children and an energetic labradoodle named Max. I get to help a ton of people in recovery, do tons of advocacy work, podcasting, interventions and recovery coaching, and working for Recovery Unplugged.
I am the Colorado Outreach Manager for Recovery Unplugged. We have a coworking space here in Denver, so I have the ability to meet with families, alumni, and people curious about recovery. I get to put on open mic nights here in Denver, which we’re starting next month. I get to host lunch-and-learns for people to learn about recovery from local therapists and partner with people, and we host a second Wednesday of the month night for musicians in recovery. So a lot of options here to reach out to people and bring the public together to see that recovery can be fun.
If you’re struggling, pick up that phone and reach out for help. It’s the first step to just say ‘I need some help’ and figure out what your options are. Explore the options and that’s the way you get into recovery; you gotta figure out who to call and what to do, but there’s lots of local resources that people can call. People go to treatment, people go to AA, people get coaches; there’s lots of options. The other thing I will say is that if you are IN recovery right now, STAY in recovery. Stay close to things that are really good and stay around people that get it, and don’t stray away from it… because I learned the hard way, even in recovery, straying away from things that were working made recovery extremely hard for me and created a lot of bumps along the way. Recovery is possible and it can be fun, a lot of fun. And just believe that.”