This week's Sober Story comes from Jake, a 29-year-old living in the mountains of North Carolina.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober.
Jake: I came to Asheville to get sober which now seems like a lifetime ago. I have been in recovery for almost six years. Getting clean was by far the best decision I have ever made. Deciding to reach out for help was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I truly had to hit rock bottom before doing so.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Jake: The months leading up to me going to treatment consisted of some of the most depressing times of my life including a series of bad decisions being made. I started to get involved in crime and hard drug use.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Jake: I eventually got arrested which was the straw that broke the camel's back. At that moment, I knew that I could not keep going on like I was. I would end up in jail for a long time, or even worse dead. I made the decision to go to detox, cleanse my body, and then head straight to a treatment center.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days?
Jake: Early on, it was difficult. I had never been to detox before, or a treatment center for that matter. It was all new to me. Having to learn about myself, address the underlying issues, and leaving my old life behind were difficult tasks.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Jake: My family was extremely happy that I decided to get help and were there for support every step of the way. I had put them through so much over the years and for them not to give up on me is something I will be grateful for forever.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Jake: After getting clean for about 3 months, I experienced my one and only relapse. At the time I thought it was the end of the world but in hindsight, I am actually glad it happened. I feel like when most people get sober, having a relapse tends to happen at some point. I was glad that I got mine out of the way and just put it all behind me.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Jake: Another problem I had to solve was how to still have fun, but do it sober. For so long I used drinking as a way to interact with other people and to have a good time. The best way I learned to interact with people without having a drink was just putting myself out there and trying new things. This could include playing sports, finding a hobby, or meeting people at AA meetings and just getting to know them. Having to socialize sober can feel a little funny at first, but once you get in the swing of things and realize that millions of people do it every day, it's not too bad.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Jake: So one of the things I heard people talk about when I was early on in recovery was that good things will start to happen in your life once you get clean. I can say that this is 100% true. When I got clean, I made a new set of friends. People that genuinely cared about me and were there for me.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Jake: After about a year of working a mediocre job just to pay the bills, I ended up going back to school and getting offered a job as an SEO specialist here at Oasis Recovery, the same treatment center I came to all that time ago to get clean. My life is so fulfilling now because I get to help people every day and share my story. Getting sober allowed me to find myself and get to know the real me. I was lost for such a long time and felt I was just living in someone else's body, which I'm sure a lot of people can relate to. I realized that there is so much more to life than being depressed and slowly killing myself with alcohol.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Jake: Looking back, the only thing I would change about this whole journey would have to be I wish I would have gone to treatment sooner. Other than that, I would not change anything about my life right now. I am truly blessed and I know that if I can do it, anybody reading this can.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Jake: When you decide you want to get clean, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There is such a strong recovery community all around the world no matter where you are located. Being open to the process and trying new things is very important. If you are reading this, I know that getting clean is one of the hardest things you will ever do in your lifetime. Don't ever give up though, being sober is such a rewarding feeling and once you do it, share your story and you can possibly help the next person.