From Addiction To Success
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”-Christopher Reeve
This quote is one of my favorite things to read when I'm feeling close to a relapse. Oftentimes, we don't really know how strong we are until we get thoroughly tested by life. We all have the ability to be heroes, we just need to find the strength within to overcome our hardships and accomplish our goals. Furthermore, I believe it is the obstacles in life that bring out the best in us. In this post I’m going to take you through my personal journey to sobriety.
I Started Young
When I was 3 years old, my parents decided to move our family from Caracas, Venezuela all the way to West Palm Beach, Florida. My childhood couldn't have been any better, me and my siblings always got what we wanted and we lived a very happy life. Luckily, my parents were together for the majority of my teenage years, so I had a pretty good taste of traditional family life.
As a Latino, I have noticed that our culture seems to glorify drinking alcohol a bit. From a young age I watched my family drink large amounts of alcohol whenever we had a family reunion. Even though I was born in Venezuela, both of my parents are Colombian and their favorite alcoholic drink is Ron Medellin. Now, i'm not saying that every latino you meet is a drunk, i'm just saying we enjoy a good drink once in awhile.
The first time I got drunk was completely unexpected. I was 11 years old and it happened at a family reunion we had at my house. At the time, I had 3 cousins who were about the same age as me. All of us had always been curious about alcohol, so we decided that night that we would all try it one way or another. We waited till about 3 am before we made our move. We knew that all of the adults would be drunk by then. There was a bottle of rum which was about halfway full in the fridge, so my cousin Dani decided to sneak it out of the kitchen. Once he got it out we all took a sip and we thought it was one of the most disgusting things we had ever tasted. I remember it burning my throat. Regardless, we wanted to be adults, thus, we kept drinking.
The effect it had on my mind and body was amazing, that is the only way I can describe it. All insecurities, doubts and fears I had seemed to disappear the more I drank. Me and my cousins ended up having a blast by dancing the rest of the night. This is the moment when my addiction started, I pretty much drank whenever I had the chance after this.
Roughly three years later I decided to start experimenting with marijuana. As a freshman in highschool I wanted to fit in with the cool kids who were smoking pot that’s the main reason I went ahead and tried it. I ended up liking it...a lot. At 18 I met a beautiful girl at a party who liked using harder drugs. She introduced me to meth and this is when my life started to take a turn for the worse. Fast forward three years and at the age of 21 I was already incarcerated in Colorado on drug related charges for three years.
So how did I get there? Why am I skipping the best part of my story? Well, my goal isn't to relive those horrible moments I had in my youth, I know it can bring back terrible memories for a lot of people. My goal is to share my recovery not recount war stories.
AA and NA
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have been a great help in my recovery process. The meetings I had with the group in jail were a great opportunity to get out of my cell. Honestly, that was the main reason I started going to the meetings in the first place. In the beginning, I was one of those addicts who never shared in the group let alone assume any responsibilities. After a few months of attending AA in jail I had one particular meeting that completely changed the way I viewed myself as a person. I realized that I had some mental issues that were causing me to vent through my addiction. In the end, I wasn't taking responsibility for my actions. I was wasting all of the time I had alone in my cell convincing myself that I didn't have a problem. I was completely ignoring the fact that I had become a self centered person who had a drug, drinking and mental disorder.
My New Addiction
Life after prison was very challenging for me in the beginning. I was lost and I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I got a job working at a fast food restaurant but I was struggling to make ends meet every month. After only a few months of being out of jail I relapsed. This is when I decided to check into a rehab center in Colorado.
After I finished their program I was released and I felt great about myself again. I knew the hardest thing about staying sober was going to be to find a way to make a living through something I actually enjoyed doing. I decided the best thing for me to do would be to move back to South Florida where I had some family members who could help me find a job. Since I was bilingual I managed to get a job as a document translator for a small firm. Business was great and I was actually enjoying what I did for a living. There is something about translating that I love and I find challenging day in and day out.
A year after I started working as a document translator I decided to quit my job and start my own business. This might have been the best professional decision I ever made. I enrolled in a community college near my home and I earned a certification as a Spanish-English translator. This meant that I could charge more for my work and begin to hire people to help me. Fast forward 8 years and I couldn't be any happier with my life. My business has grown, I can provide for my family and staying sober has become easier. I read a great book which has helped me whenever times get tough called “Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos". There is one quote in particular from this book that puts things in perspective for me:
“Your best days are ahead of you. The movie starts when the guy gets sober and puts his life back together; it doesn't end there.” - Bucky Sinister
This quote couldn't be any more true when it comes to my life. Although I had to learn the hard way I am sober now and my movie has not ended. I feel like I have so much more to do in life and I am not going to let my addiction get in the way of the goals I have. On the contrary I will use it as a teacher and a motivator to come out on top.
The Bottom Line
Getting clean starts with you, yes, YOU must be ready to start the process of sobriety in order to move on the better chapter in your own movie. Don't just get clean for the people you love, do it for yourself. For me it wasn’t about wanting to be clean and sober it was about not feeling like shit and waking up in a cell or rehab center again. No matter your own motivation to get sober you have to take that first step, which is the realization that you do have a problem and that you need help.
Initially I thought that writing my story would be easy, but I was wrong, It took me two months to put this all together. Therefore, I truly thank you for reading my story and I wish you luck on your own sobriety journey.