Josh Chandler | February 13, 2019

How I Got Sober, One Client’s Road to Recovery

We are honored and proud to share one of our clients story’s, detailing his path from addiction and into recovery.

From my earliest childhood memories I remember having a peculiar attraction to alcohol; an attraction rooted in love, glamour, hate, and fear; but as early as 8 years old I knew I would someday submit to its baffling and powerful grip. Little did I know then, but alcohol would eventually become both my saving grace, which was my escape from myself and life, and also my biggest nemeses, the rival I could never defeat.

I was born in San Pedro, Ca in 1989. My mother and father, who both suffered from the disease of alcoholism, conceived me out of wedlock, in the midst of abuse, chaos, and with divided families. The confusion, and division, of my life was solidified the night of my birth when I was given my Mother’s last name and my birth certificate stated “father unknown”, I would soon find out later, that he was confined to a jail cell in Los Angeles county, a location he would be at frequently throughout the course of my early time on this planet.

From the very beginning of my life, I remember an immense feeling of anxiety, fear, and instability. I was afraid of my mother, I was confused about my father, and I never felt like I belonged, not only to my family but in the world in general.

 As a young toddler I moved constantly. I lived with my mother for a couple years, would visit my Grandmother frequently, then finally settled in to an Aunt and Uncle’s house during the years of preschool to first grade, a move I believed to be my chance at being a part of a real family. I had already seen physical violence that shook me to my core, I became aware of the ever changing moods of those in the grips of a spiritual sickness, the yelling and screaming, hatred towards myself, and the  intense urge to escape were all profound components in my life… by the age of 4.

It was during an early morning, I believe, in an apartment in San Pedro with my mother that changed the course of my life forever. This experience may not have been the conception, but it became the catalyst, of an expedited progression of my spiritual disease. Fear, anger, and anxiety would rule my life from then on. My mother’s boyfriend at the time burst through the door, I saw a look in his blood shot eyes that made me believe I met the devil for the first time. I witnessed him smash my mother’s head through the drywall, before quickly leaving. I looked at her, frightened, and confused. She smacked me, yelled in profanity, and I ran outside. I could not live in this world, but I had nowhere to hide.

Throughout the next three year period, although so long ago, I can remember quite vividly. I was an awkward child haunted with insecurities; I do remember moments of joy and curiosity, unfortunately these moments quickly dissipated. While living with my Aunt and Uncle,   I began to the feel what I assumed was stability and normalcy; unfortunately, the feeling of impending doom had already took ahold of my spirit and psyche. I knew it would not last.

During the summer after my first grade year in school I remember driving with my cousin and Aunt. We were talking about a family pool party, good food, and expected memories to come. I believe the subject of the next school term came up in the conversation, and that is the precise moment it happened. Stability ended. Normalcy ended. Being a part of, ended. I was moving once again. My aunt explained to me that I would be moving back with my mother, I realized at the age of 7 I already despised her, was ashamed of her, and dreamed of a day I would never have to see her again. It was that day I knew I was destined for pain; God enjoyed giving me a slight glimpse of safety, before ripping it away throwing me back down the rabbit hole of destruction. Each time going deeper and further through the path of abuse and humiliation.


The next two and half years of my life brought on more memories I would later disassociate from.  I moved to the City of Long Beach, and began attending a public elementary school, in a lower socioeconomic part of the city.  To put it mildly, most of my other classmates didn’t look like me. Prior to this time, I had already began using food as my escape from reality. I became extremely overweight as a young child. An important precursor to my addictive behavior, and solidifying the groundwork for my inner hatred towards the human I was. The more I was bullied by other kids, the more I envied them and the more I envied every other person around me, their families, their personalities, their clothes, and the way it seemed  they were able to connect. My ability to isolate began to flourish early in elementary school. I longed to be invisible. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror (a foreshadowing to the years ahead of me), and I didn’t want others to be able to see me either.

My mother also had my two other siblings during this period of time. I have a half-brother, (whose father is the man I believed was the devil himself), and a sister I would later find out shared the same father with me. We all lived in a two bedroom apartment, which was nothing like the good old memories of my Aunt and Uncle’s house, and the pool parties I was once a part of. It was during these times I realized that my mother was receiving government aid. Terms like “food stamps” and “welfare” were very much a part of my life now. There were periods of time where things seems to be settling down. I had a sense that my mom was trying to be a functioning part of society. I vaguely remember her getting a job, at what I believe was Target; however, my fear for her only grew larger. The mood swings were so unexpected, and her anger was viscous when it came. I would see her beat my younger half-brother at the dinner table quite often. He had a hard time pronouncing words when he was a couple of years old, which my mother would get extremely angry about. I knew I had to be smart, I was so scared of feeling any kind of physical pain at the time, I quickly realized I had to overachieve academically. That, I believed, would be my way out.

I could be loved and accepted based of my performance at school. My performance would make me special, but I had to be perfect both in the classroom and in athletics. Ironically, although there were times where I excelled in both, the grips of laziness that I developed which was sparked by the experiences I lived through, made me believe that world owed me something. Thus, Self-pity, manipulation, and dishonestly became my favorites tools to navigate through the rocky waters of my life to come.

By winter break of my 3rd grade school year things had gone from bad to worse. My mother was seeing another boyfriend, the second in two years, and our home life was in rapid deterioration.  This was the year I first witnessed my Mom steal food at the grocery store, the first year I had to start cooking instant mac n cheese for myself and siblings, and the year I became confused of why she never had money for us. I didn’t realize how much my fear of money would impact the rest of my life during winter break of that year, I remember having to move out of the second apartment we were living in, for reasons I did not understand at the time. We had to stay in a hotel room. A single room for my mother, her boyfriend, myself, my younger sister, and I think my half-brother had already been taken by his foster family.

I had an opportunity to visit my paternal Grandmother, someone I did not get to see very often, but whom I felt safe with. It was during that weekend, after being allowed to spend the night that I cried out for help.  I was scared to go back, I couldn’t imagine going back to the hotel room, and in that moment, I never wanted to leave my grandmother’s house. I remember anxiously waiting to be told if I could stay or not, a prisoner waiting for the judge to hand down the verdict of my crimes.  I was then told I could stay. I was saved! I was free! Life could only get better, and I found a little faith in god once more. I had a second chance.

Throughout the next few years I slowly began to settle in to my new environment. I had periodic outbursts of anger in school, however, I was considered advanced academically, and was asked to go to the higher grade classroom to read and learn with the older children.  I also began to pick up sports, which I slowly started to find an above average skill set in… I loved playing basketball, football, and I had a passion for skateboarding. These activities would teach me how to be a part of a group and make friends; however, my obsession for perfectionism, a competitive nature, and my absolute need for external validation quickly progressed. My alcoholism was in full affect by 6th grade. I learned how to people please, I knew exactly what to say at exactly the right times, and the need to excel in athletics, the classroom, and with girls ruled my life.


Throughout my junior high years I experienced tremendous, and rapid, change in school environments and living arrangements. My grandmother had allowed my father to move into her house, where I was living, hiding him every time a social worker would come to check on my wellbeing.  She knew the court wouldn’t allow him to live with me, but her guilt of the relationship between them led her to submit to all of his wishes. He was a large man, very loud, very smart, with Tattoos all over his body. His moods were very inconsistent, his anger scared me more than my mothers’, I wanted to make him happy, but I never felt comfortable around him. I was always in a heightened state of anxiety, like I was walking on thin ice and at any moment I can fall right into ice cold darkness. My Father began waking me up around 4 a.m. every morning to perform chores outside, and inside the house, he would call me a pathological liar, I had to get weekly class reviews signed by my teachers, and he commented on my physical appearance. He would regularly go to the Methadone clinic to get his “medicine”, as he was not only a real alcoholic, but also developed a variety of drug addictions.  It was during my 7th grade year that things got rapidly worse. Him and my grandmother began fighting a lot, yelling and screaming, and he slowly was able to push her out of the house altogether. I was alone now, completely. Seedy characters, who I believed were gangsters, began to come around more and more. I was frightened every day I had to walk home, because I never knew what I was going to walk into. I vividly remember one morning I woke up and walked to the living room. My father was sitting on a chair, with another man in the room, and I could tell they had not slept all night. I saw blood on a shirt, and both of their behaviors were very suspicious. When I looked in his eyes I saw emptiness, at that exact moment I knew my life was in danger.

For a period of time I would tear up, and sometimes completely cry, before going to sleep. I would have dreams of living with relatives, dreams of being safe, and I would always pray to god that I would be saved. I felt trapped, I despised my life, and a feeling of impending doom ruled my existence every morning I woke up. I somehow gained the courage to reach out to some family members, a friend’s mom, and a couple teachers.  I was able to visit my Nana (maternal) Grandmother during the holiday season in December. It was an amazing time, in which I felt at peace. However, after a day, I realized I had to go back to the house with my Father. I couldn’t hide the fear, anxiety, and sadness any longer. I became deathly quiet, I began to sweat with anxiety, and they knew something was wrong. I told them my other Grandmother had deserted me, left me alone with him, and how I didn’t want to leave.  I promised some help that night; however, I still had to go back to that house.

I was sitting in my homeroom classroom one morning before Christmas break, attending my second junior high school, in two years. I heard my name over the PA, asking me to go to the principal’s office immediately.  I was welcomed by the Principle, the school counselor, a social worker, and my Aunt and Uncle. They asked me to tell them everything about my living situation, the dynamics, how I was feeling, and told me to not leave anything out. So I began to explain everything, I didn’t hold back, I knew this was my last chance. That day was taking away from my Father. My Great Aunt and Uncle (not the same from my earlier childhood), took me into their household and promptly began the process of legal guardianship. A few months later, I had to testify in a courtroom, in front of my Grandmother and Father. I was asked questions that I had to answer, in front of them. I was more anxious and scared that day, than ever before. At the end of the proceedings I was going home with my Aunt and Uncle. My prayers were answered, little did I realize that an entirely new set of obstacles would very soon arise, and my relationship with alcohol would soon be the only thing that mattered to me in my life.


I was enrolled in my 3rd junior high, half way through my 7th grade school year. This school was in a much higher socioeconomic environment. The kids dressed nice, they were predominately white, their parents looked wealthy, and they had all the materialistic things I dreamed to have. I envied them, I loved who they were, but I grew a deep hatred towards them immediately. Why did they have seemingly perfect lives, why did they have comfort, happiness, and how come they never experienced everything I had to experience?  The first day at my new school I got into a fight with an 8th grader, I had to quickly make my presence known, quickly show everyone that I was strong, tough, and invincible. I welcomed the persona of the “new kid” from San Pedro, I felt glory and glamour in having a reckless, strong, and having delusional popularity; Ironically, I was so insecure, I had to quickly figure out a way to fit in, I had to rely on my performance in athletics, with girls, how I looked, and how smart I was to gain me access to this new social class. But above all, I had to be the best. I had a chip on my shoulder that would carry with me the rest of my life. I had to prove to them, to the world, and to God, that I could succeed, that I was powerful, that alone I would be launched me into popularity, glamour, and wealth. My very existence on this planet was on the line.

By the age of 15, although I would never admit it, I was a real alcoholic. I found my savior that would never leave me. I knew I could always rely on the numbing and powerful effects of vodka. I knew instantly that I drank much differently than my peers. I could never stop, I always tried to black out, and I progressively made how, and when, I would drink next the most important priority in my life. I was a real Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hide type of drunk. In any moment I lashed out in anger, having no filter in the things I would say to even those I considered friends, this I believed proved my masculinity. By my senior year of High school I was drinking every day, I could not stop. I had gained nearly 85lbs, being overweight and angry, girls were now few and far between. I noticed that the majority of my old friends and teammates no longer associated themselves with me, and I longer got the invitations to the parties I wanted to be at. I had burned bridges with teachers, my Aunt and Uncle, and with most of my closest friends.


The final straw with the “popular group” came during a Halloween party towards the end of the first semester of my senior year in high school. A was with a group of kids that were extremely wealthy. We began the pre-party at a girl’s house, drinking hard alcohol immediately. I had to get as drunk as possible, as quickly as possible, to numb my insecurities. I was blacked out before we even arrived in Beverly Hills. I was a complete disaster. I wasn’t allowed entrance to the party, and somehow I found a way into a neighbor’s house, trying to use the restroom. The cops were immediately called, and instead of arresting me, they allowed my Aunt and Uncle to come and pick me up. Everyone I had ever wanted to be accepted by saw this, their parents saw this, and my ride with the popular crowd was finished.

The chaotic episodes of my drunken episodes became too much for anyone to handle. I was violent, sloppy, and extremely selfish. I would frantically try to find others who seemed to want to drink as badly as I did,  not caring who they were, quickly latching on to them like a parasite. I needed whomever it was to drink like I drank. I needed to use them for their company so I could pretend I was normal. That I wasn’t alone, and that “everyone was doing it, so I don’t have a problem”. I medicated myself every morning, on the drive to school, with marijuana.  This seemed like the only cure, besides more alcohol, for my extreme hangovers and stomach pains. The emptiness of my soul had arrived.

By some miracle was accepted into a small Maritime Academy, for college, in Northern California.  My uncle had to literally force me to complete the application, which I was able to fax to the school on its very last day of accepting applicants. I despised the idea of going to an academy that provided structure that required uniforms, and most importantly where I believed I wouldn’t be able to openly party (as the campus was dry). Although immensely depressed, and feeling inferior, my pride led me to feel that I didn’t have to follow any rules, I shouldn’t have to conform, and that I should be able to live life exactly how I wanted to.

During the last end of my last semester of my freshman year in college, after another belligerent night of drinking and using drugs, I woke up feeling extremely different. Something was wrong, my vision felt off, I felt disheveled, I remember feeling like something really bad was going to happen. That night I experienced my first full blown panic attack. My heart was palpitating, I couldn’t breathe, in a fury I knew I was dying. I called my Aunt and Uncle in extreme fear, I told them I was going to the ER, and that I believe I was having a heart attack, and I loved them. I wasn’t ready to die, I realized in that moment, but I truly believed my time had come.  The doctors explained to me that my heart was okay, that I was not dying, but I was experiencing a very bad anxiety attack. They gave me a few Ativan, which for a very short time calmed my nerves, and sent me on my way. It was after that event, that my life changed forever. I never felt completely comfortable drinking again, for a long time I would experience sudden and extreme panic attacks that crippled me. I was in fear every day I woke up, I knew that any given moment my heart would start racing, I wouldn’t be able to move, I would be paralyzed, death was always following me.


After a few months of seeing the college psychiatrist, and other psychologist back at home, I was at a friend’s sister’s birthday party. I was on anxiety medicine, which somewhat helped the unexpected episodes, and my obsession to be able to drink was in full effect. That night I picked up a drink, sipping on a cold beer, and oblivion soon followed. I drank the rest of summer, binge drinking, while trying to manage an internship was somehow able to land. I began creating a double life, one being an aspiring intern, and the other being a cocky and fearless partier. I began to spend the money I was earning carelessly and impulsively. I had to buy new clothes every week, I had to look like my life was perfect, and that I was a distinguished college student who was definitely on the rise. Deep down I knew I was a phony, and I soon had to call out “sick” from my internship multiple times towards the end of that summer. My black outs were frequent, my anxiety attacks were in full affect, and deep down I knew I had a problem.

The first month I came back for my sophomore year of college my need for vodka, marijuana, and the obsession to party ruled my life once more.  I would bring my alcohol to my dorm room, knowing that the campus had a strict “no alcohol” policy, and at any moment I could be caught and face disciplinary action.  One night during a blackout, I was completely out of control. I was loud, running in and out of student’s rooms late into the night. Campus security was called, and I was detained. The next day, I was called into the Commandant’s office, my Aunt and Uncle called. They told them I needed help, and that they were going to have me leave based on Medical reasons. The only way I would be allowed back was if I went to counseling and maintained sobriety.  My Aunt and Uncle were officially done with my recklessness, they didn’t want to help any further, they were disgusted in my actions, and told me I was not allowed back in their home.


I called a cousin of mine, and after speaking with him, I was allowed to move in with him and his roommates. He had an extra couch, in the lower level of his house that his roommates agreed to allow me to sleep on. My cousin even gave me a job, I immediately began to show up late, which I was reprimanded for immediately. However, I was able to muster a couple months of very little drinking, I began to get back to better physical health, and I started to feel much better about myself. I was attending counseling sessions, and I believed I was on a solid path to get back to school. Throughout this entire time, I wanted so badly to be able to drink like normal people. I saw my friends having what seemed to be amazing college experiences, and I felt like an outsider.

I tried to control my drinking, with all the self will I could muster. I drank less frequently, one day a weekend at first, as a reward for all of my hard work. Giving me just enough time, to feel somewhat normal a few days after the night of my belligerent escapades. However, very rapidly I was out of control once again. I started to drink much more frequently, I would drive drunk, and disappear for days at a time.  I didn’t realize it at first, but I was my making my cousin furious, and his roommates despised me being around. I was selfish, making a mess everywhere I went, not caring about their household or myself, and having no gratitude for the opportunity he was trying to provide. I tried to manipulate his faith and love for me, but I would quickly exterminate his patience in a few month period of time. During a very intense binder, I tried I came back to his house, extremely drunk, barely able to speak. In that moment, I was completely shut off. I was not allowed back in. I was officially homeless.


During the month of December in 2008, I stayed at different friends couches, bouncing from home to home. I was able to stay with an old friend for the last couple weeks of that month before going back to school. I manipulated his family for survival, making them believe that I was merely a victim who needed help, and had a family that didn’t love me. The next few years I became a very hard binge drinker. I would go weeks without drinking, only to reward myself with weeklong binge drinking episodes that took me days to recover from.

During the first semester of my senior year of college I was able to land a nice studio apartment a few miles from campus. I was free from the rules of a dry campus, I was independent, and I believed I was managing my life. I wasn’t drinking for a couple weeks that the powerful phenomenon of alcohol came, growing as each day passed.  I reconnected with a girl I very shortly dated in high school. I lusted for her, and believed that if she visited me, and saw how good I was doing, I would be able to have once again. She agreed to come visit me for a weekend, I remember being so happy. We had a very nice first day when she arrived, although deep down I was extremely insecure. It took a lot of effort to try and maintain a certain image, I couldn’t’ stand it.  Once I realized that I would get no physical satisfaction from her, my effort in fostering our friendship quickly disappeared. That Saturday, a younger cousin told me that she was having a party at her parents’ house that night because they were out of town, and left her alone. Her parents were my Aunt and Uncle, the house was where I lived from 12 to 18. I had to be there, and nothing was going to stop me. I explained to my friend that I was only going to be gone for the night that I was going to be back early the next day, and would pick her up from her friend’s dorm in San Francisco. I then proceeded to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of hard alcohol and drove 6 hours back to Los Angeles to get as drunk as possible at my cousin party.

I woke up three days later in the ICU unit, at a hospital close by. I was told that I nearly was killed, that I suffered from severe head trauma, and that I was lucky that my brain wasn’t damaged for good. I then found out that I caused so much chaos at distaste with other guys at my cousin’s party, that I was physically jumped by a few guys, falling off a ledge, and smashing my head on the ground. My face was turning purple, and I would regain consciousness, and an ambulance had to be called immediately. I never made it back up to San Francisco for my friend, I was out of school for 3 weeks recovering.  

When I arrived back to school in November, I stopped drinking during that month. I knew I knew I had a problem when I drank, but only when I drank is what I believed. A few weeks later, around Thanksgiving, I received a random phone call from a distant relative, telling me my father had passed away. I hadn’t seen him, or spoken to him, in almost a decade.  A moment I for so long wanted, made me feel nothing but confusion and sadness. So many unanswered questions. Was I turning out to be just like him? I would I suffer the same fate? What happened in his early life to make him live the way he did during his adulthood. I was more confused than ever.


For years after I was a severe binge drinker. I knew the only way I could be productive is when I wasn’t drinking, and for every small success I would reward myself with my precious Vodka and Whiskey. I loved letting go, I welcomed the evil, I longed for the moments of losing touch with reality.  I felt untouchable while drunk, I would say what I wanted to say, I could do anything out of impulse with no fear of consequences, I could spend the money I shouldn’t spend, and I could be as promiscuous and unsafe sexually as possible. I even landed a job out of college, in Denver Colorado. I quickly expected, knowing that I could create an entirely new life. It was my chance to build the character I always wanted to create. It was my time to shine, and I had finally arrived in the world.  I maintained 7 months of dry time, and then came to visit my relatives during Christmas and New years of 2011-2012. I was miserable in Denver, isolated from my coworkers, had made no friends at all, but wanted to prove to my family that I was perfectly okay. During this period of time I had developed a very severe eating disorder as well. I would binge and purge often, which catapulted me into a severe depression that I tried to mask with my physical appearance on Social media. Trying to establish myself as a hardworking, inspirational, person to the outside world.

During New Year’s Eve I succumbed to my obsession once more. I drank and drank, and feeling nothing but remorse the next day. I didn’t want to go back to Denver, I couldn’t go back to work and face my coworkers, I was a phony, and I was a failure. During this time, my eating disorder was also in full effects, and I was a prisoner in my own body.  My family insisted that I go back, and power through my emotions. They believed that going back to work was of utmost importance, and that I was strong enough to persevere through this period of my life. They told me that it was just my ego and pride, and that I was very lucky to have the opportunities that I had. When I went back to Denver that January, during my first real winter, I didn’t leave my place for 5 weeks. I stayed inside, eating and eating, while purging, and eating again. Then I began drinking daily, and taking over the counter sleep medications to make me sleep. I was up all night long wanting to die, and slept all day wishing I wouldn’t wake up. One night during February I couldn’t stand it any longer, I called a taxi to drive to a mental clinic I found online, I thought I would kill myself I didn’t, but I knew I was too scared to actually go through with suicide.

By this time I was already on short-term disability with my employer. I would get the disability check and spend it on food and alcohol. However, during mid-february of that year, I started going to an IOP for eating disorders, while I worked through this issue, I was able to attend groups, see counselors, and visit a psychiatrist.  I never once mentioned my struggles with alcohol, as deep down I prayed that that my eating insecurities were the root of all my problems. If I could succeed in taming this, I could be normal and drink like normal people. I began to feel much better physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was active again, had to stress of working, and lost a lot of weight. I actually looked healthy, and that soon became the most important thing to me. To merely LOOK healthy. At the beginning of that summer I believed I was fixed. I found an old friend, with open room I could move into. I sold my car, and was back in California. After only 3 months, my drinking and eating issues were out of control. I was also smoking marijuana every night, and using other drugs as well. I wasn’t paying rent on time, isolated, and in a very short period of time, burned another bridge with my friend and his mother. I had to move once more.

I was soon fired from a job I was able to land after moving back to California. I was finally finished with alcohol, I needed to get my life in order. I was abstinent from alcohol and drugs for 15 months, got in good health, and was able to finally land a good job again. I was cured, I was able to beat my past, and I finally had broken free from my master alcohol. Then it happened…. Again. I decided to reward myself for all of my hard work. I deserved one night of fun. After all, my life was finally in order. This decision that laid the groundwork for my eventual arrival to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.  


My entire existence relied upon my external appearance to the outside world. Deep down I was in constant anxiety of my next episode, I was in a codependent relationship, and I was trying so hard to not let anyone at my new job see the demons that haunted me. I had to be perfect at work, do anything anyone asked of me, and work harder than anyone else. I had to succeed professionally. This, I thought, would prove that I did not have a problem. This would prove, so I thought, that I was better than my parents.

In 2016 my relationship was over. I had begun frequently sleeping with other woman, and I hated myself for this. I couldn’t look at my girlfriend at the time in her eyes, I felt ashamed. How could I act like such a ruthless and disgusting individual? My intentions were always so good, I was a good guy, not a bad one. I was baffled, and I didn’t know what to do. Then I thought, I had to be strong. I had to get myself in the best physical shape possible, I had to look invincible and feel invincible. I shouldn’t care about anything but my survival in this world, and I had to take all I could out of this world, and anyone who came in my path. I began injecting steroids that year. This was my escape. I felt like superman.

I drank hard, began using cocaine very frequently, drove dunk all the time, and was spending all my money very quickly. During a binder that year, I decided to drive to Palm Springs to see a girl I once knew in 7th grade. I lusted for her, I wanted to have nothing but fun, thinking I would stay for one night, and drive straight back to work on Monday. When I arrived we bought a bottle of Vodka, whiskey, some pills, and got a Hotel room. The next morning I woke up in Jail, with a DUI, and crashed car at the impound yard. I was released and somehow found my way back to her, and the hotel room. I was writing bogus checks to pay for all of my drugs and alcohol. The entire time I was in a trance, what I thought was only two days, turned out to be an entire week. I disappeared from work, from all my friends, and from a few family members that still cared. By some miracle my Uncle and Cousin found the hotel I was staying at in the desert. They dragged me out of the hotel, I could barely comprehend what was going on. An uncle of mine brought me to his apartment, and I was laying on his couch for days. During this period, I now realize I should have been in a hospital. I was withdrawing from alcohol, cocaine, and oxycodone.  The first night on his couch, my chest tightened up, I couldn’t breathe, and my limbs went in paralyzed. It was finally time for me to leave this world. I was so rattled after this experience I knew I was finished with any type of drug, and especially alcohol. I had to change. I now had legal problems, problems at work, and my life almost ended. I prayed to God to save me, but even this wasn’t enough for me to stop.

I soon reconnected with an old childhood friend that I once drank with regularly, but was now sober. We spoke for a long time, and I told him everything that happened, and that I didn’t know what to do. When I saw him, I was in shock. He looked happy, peaceful, and had a sparkle in his eye. How did he change to dramatically? How was he so confident and happy? I wanted to be like him more than anything else in the world. He told me about Alcoholics Anonymous, and how it saved his life. He brought me to meetings, and gave me a big book. I was in and out of the rooms frequently for a few years, always relying on half measures, accepting only the convenient aspects of attending a few meetings a month, and never taking a genuine 1st, 2nd, and 3rd step. Any time of sobriety I was able to achieve, I soon became restless, irritable, and extremely discontented. I couldn’t bare living sober, and facing the problems and obstacles life seemed to throw at me. I began the vicious cycle of 6-8 months sober, with a relapse soon after.  


The summer of 2018 was the final moment of defeat battling with my alcoholism I relapsed on the 4th of July, and in merely 7 weeks I had destroyed everything in my life. My employer was finally finished with me, my roommate at the time had moved all of her things out without telling me beforehand, I was drinking every night, using a large amount of cocaine, and smoking marijuana daily. I had no money, I drank alone, and I finally had reached the point of loneliness such few of us know.  I was called into a meeting the morning of September 4th, 2018. Little did I realize, I was walking into an intervention? I was told I either get help that day, or I would be fired. Deep down I wanted help so badly, but I still was in the grips of my alcoholic insanity. I didn’t know how to make a decision, I didn’t want alcohol any longer, but a part of me didn’t want to lose it. I contemplated throwing my entire life away, in that moment, to run home alone, and drink myself to death. By the grace of God, I was quickly driven by my boss to Muse Treatment, an inpatient rehab facility in Culver City, California. They acted quickly desperately trying to save my life.

I battled the next week, daily and nightly, trying to decide if I was going to stay or leave. I was angry, anxious, scared, and I had lost all control. But then something strange started to happen. I began to accept that this was my last chance at life. I slowly started to realize that I needed something powerful to show me how to live in this world, and that my way was not working. My way never worked. I realized that God was trying to save me. God was giving me a way out of bondage, and all I had to do was be willing enough to try.  I stayed in treatment for 2 months, living in its sober living house, and attending its IOP program. I reconnected with my sponsor, I began vigorously working steps outlined in the big book of alcoholics anonymous, and I was able to obtain service commitments at multiple meetings. I finally gave my life and my will over to the care of God, and I continue to do so every morning I wake up.

Since then I have been able to go back to work, move back to my place in Long Beach, Ca, and continue to attend regular meetings, service commitments, and although still making amends whenever able to do so, I am actively living all 12 steps outlined in our Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I feel a sense of freedom I have never known, a freedom derived in the idea that I need God, I need the fellowship, and I need to remain teachable at all times. I realize I have no control over life, and I am merely A child of God, NOT God. I am grateful for my past, but remind myself how painful and disastrous living in the disease of alcoholism is for me. I remind myself each morning I have lost the power of choice, and the only way I can survive is if I ask God to take my will and life in his hand every day I am alive.  The greatest freedom is also knowing that I do not have to be perfect, I am not the Master of the Universe, but I can utilize the tools of our spiritual program to progress each day, which leads me to the sunlight of the spirit. By the grace of god, the fellowship of AA, and the ability to be of service to the men and women still suffering, I am no longer whistling in the dark.


Author: Anthony A.

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