Brian, 45, Kirkland Lake

I began drinking and using drugs at age thirteen, so that means, in one way or the other, I have been struggling for over three decades. A lot of my youth was spent alone, or with strange babysitters I didn’t know. I really did not know love. My parents split up when I was one and I lived with my mother until I was ten. She did her best, but remarried, and I did not get along with my new stepfather. My father started a custody battle, and after a few months my mother sat me down to ask where I wanted to live. At ten years old I was made to choose a parent.

I ended up going to my father’s, as he bought me everything I wanted vs. being aggressively screamed at all the time by my step father. He worked all the time, and would leave obscene amounts of money, to “take care of myself”. So, essentially, I had to raise myself, and had a big fear of abandonment.

When I found drugs and alcohol, I no longer felt alone. And by selling the drugs, I could control those around, and wouldn’t ever be abandoned again. That lasted very briefly but was mostly a facade. The bad drastically outweighed the good. Sure, I was “fake popular”, and, at first, had money to buy things. But soon those fake friends started disappearing, my family basically disowned me, and I was asked to leave school. Any jobs I tried to get, I could not hold because of my addiction.

Eventually addiction brought me into the criminal justice system. I started getting arrested, and, over the years, this became common. I was in and out of jail, and around this point, strong opiates started killing many of my friends. This combined with the knowledge that I had gotten many people in the US sick by shipping shoddy drugs to them, finally made me decide to quit.

I had tried before, and spent a year in a recovery home that was a 90 day program. I did it back-to-back four times. I learned a lot, and quit my opiate use, but I refused to embrace the spiritual side of things. Shortly after leaving I was right back where I was before; feeling lonely, trapped, and hopeless.

I started trying to get in treatment again. This time I was serious. Unfortunately, I was arrested for selling drugs again while I was waiting for a bed. But eventually I got the call for treatment. I went and ended up leaving after two days. Upon getting home, I immediately went back to using, became homeless, and sold most of my loved stuff to continue using. Finally, after another couple months, treatment was called back and I decided to actually do it this time.

At first I wanted to leave. This stuff seemed like mumbo jumbo magic to me. But after a few days I decided to get honest with myself, become open to new things I may not understand, and became willing to try anything to get sober. And that started working. That’s HOW I got sober.

Two months in one recovery home, and three in another one that allowed me to work through grief and trauma pulled the good person inside me out. Once I embraced sobriety, I started loving getting up everyday. Good things began to happen to me. People started trusting me again, and actually asking for my help. These are all new things to me, but these are the things that help keep me sober. These days I can accept what comes without fear. My faith will bring me through anything it brings me to. I also love myself, another new thing. And I am grateful for every day, and every good person I meet in the journey of sobriety.

It hasn’t always been easy. I still have cravings, and it would be incredibly easy to relapse. Fortunately, I can look back at where I was, and realize I do not want to go back there. So far, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, this has been working. There are so many people I need to thank for my sobriety, so I will just say, in general, to the universe and all in it, thank you.

March 7, 2023