Recovery from addiction

Randall has worked with a Diakon Family Life Services counselor since he left rehab, as he continues his recovery from addiction. He is in his eighth year of sobriety.

I started drinking when I was 16. I stopped at age 51. During those years of alcohol addiction, I also used drugs for a period of time. Drinking and partying became an everyday ritual, something I believed was part of me. When it all got so bad—when I found myself in such a dark place that I was unable to help the people I cared about the most, my family—that’s when I realized I needed help.

Being in rehab was a way of taking a self-timeout. I was able to evaluate the damage I was doing to myself and saw how it was affecting the people I cared about. I also realized that addiction did not show any preference; it affected anyone, whether male or female, young or old and of every socio-economic status.

Looking back now, I thought that going into rehab would be the tough part. But the toughest part was leaving rehab. I knew that the journey had to start within me, that I had to remember the darkness and the pain and know that that was a place I did not want to go back to.

I needed to have a plan for myself, to decide which tools to utilize to be successful. It’s different for everybody. For me, it was physical fitness. I always took care of myself physically. I played sports and that involved discipline and training. I always believed that when you have God-given talent, you have to work hard to maximize that. Now, I work out five days a week. That physical piece is the nucleus for me. Meditation and listening to jazz also help. Humor is good, too.

My family was very supportive of what I was trying to accomplish. I believe that you start with yourself and everyone benefits. When I returned home, I had somewhat prepared myself for what I had to face: getting myself healthy; prayer; changing my circle of people, places and things; and having therapeutic support in place. All these helped me to stay focused on my life recovery.

I didn’t go to meetings right after rehab, but I used the advice I had received. And I had my own personal way of looking at what I was dealing with. I always keep some of the darkness of my past close to my heart and in my mind. It lets me know what I don’t want to go back to.

Now I go to group meetings, where I feel I am helping others. People are there, making the choice to change their lives. I probably have the most longevity in staying clean. Others see that I am successful with my plan and maybe that helps motivate them. We are all striving to be better human beings. You work on that every day. I think we all need to hear now and then, “You’re doing a good job.”

What you are doing is moving on from a way of life you lived for a long time. It’s always easy to do what you’ve been doing year in and year out, when you depended on the alcohol or drug for relaxation and escape. When you leave rehab, the way of life you used to be comfortable with … all that has changed. It can be scary. But when you have clarity, you see everything from a different view. It is a good feeling to know that I am working to become a better me.

Recovery from addiction is a personal journey. You have to do what works for you, what gets you to the place you want to be. You have to remember what you are trying to accomplish. You have to remember who you are, through the darkness, and who you were meant to be. And when things aren’t going the way you want, weather that storm with everything you’ve got.

The sun will come out again.

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