One of our alumni sent Clearbrook this testimonial about their life, their approach to recovery, and the gifts this journey has brought them. We were asked to share it with those who might still be suffering…we pray you find hope in this story for your own life or the life of someone you care about.
Growing up in the upper middle class in Long Island gave me hope when I was young that I was going to have a prosperous life filled with happiness, joy, and what we deem normalcy. Well, that didn’t happen. Before my 30th birthday I had become a full blown alcoholic and heroin addict. Before I knew it, I was ready to die.
I was raised by my parents and my three older brothers. Addiction was a focal point of my life from my earliest memories. Country clubs and cocktail hour just seemed like the thing to do when you were an adult. Alcohol seemed like a socially accepted every day thing. One thing I do remember saying to myself at an early age is that I will never be a drunk like some of these people I see in my life.
My addiction started like a lot of people’s. I was in high school and I would drink on the weekends. With three older brothers the accessibility was never a problem. All three of my brothers suffered from the disease of addiction. They never had a problem buying me and my friends alcohol. That slowly progressed into drinking during the week and smoking marijuana. Without realizing it my life was becoming unmanageable at the age of 16. I wasn’t going to class, my grades were subpar, and I was an angry kid at home. Then on 9/11/01 the whole world changed and so did mine. I was graduating the next year and I made the commitment that I was going to defend my country and go into the Marine Corps. I did just that. I was in Paris Island South Carolina running away from myself. I got through boot camp and was stationed in numerous bases in the country. One thing that I did notice is that people in the military love to drink. I loved to drink. I made friends fast, and all of us drank too much. This is the first time in my life that I actually looked at what I was doing and had a feeling that I was drinking and using more drugs than my friends. As I look back on this period in my life, and now knowing that surrender is necessary for sobriety, I didn’t stand a chance. I was a US Marine in war time and we don’t surrender. My addiction grew worse and worse. I was demoted in rank twice. I found cocaine and that sure did change things. I was being controlled by so many different substances. I was hooked and I really didn’t know it.
My last year in the service I got hurt. I had a surgery done and the doctors put me on a variety of opiate pain killers. From the moment I got out of surgery and was given some of those medications through my IV, I loved the feeling. Drinking and the use of other substances ruled my life but I didn’t want anything else but opiates. I was written scripts for six months and then the doctors cut me off. I completed my service in the Marines with an honorable discharge. Problem was, I couldn’t get any more Vicodin or oxycodone. I found some people in Long Island that were selling it. From this point on all I did was live to acquire the pills I needed just to get out of bed. This addiction was costing me over $150 a day and after a short period of time I couldn’t afford it. Introduce heroin to my life. My “friend” told me that it is a fraction of the price than the pills I was on and the high was even better. I did it but not without setting some boundaries for using heroin. I saw people shooting heroin in their arms. I wasn’t that bad because I was only snorting it. Then came that fateful day when sniffing this stuff wasn’t getting me where I wanted. I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was going to shoot up so I looked up how to do it on the Internet. I watched a video, bought some needles, and I reached another level of addiction. The level I promised myself I wouldn’t get to. Quickly I became a junkie on the lowest end of the spectrum. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t get out of bed without getting high. I stole from my family and employers when I had a job. Thankfully I got caught by my family. Those older brothers I told you about had gotten sober. They saw right through my stories. They told me that I either get help or I needed to get away from my family. After some debate in my head I decided to call Clearbrook, where my brothers got introduced to recovery. That was August of 2014. When I got to Clearbrook I was sick and had no belief in this working for me. This is the time in my life when the staff mentioned the word surrender. Marines don’t surrender. I had no belief in God. I am sitting in a Pennsylvania drug rehab, my family is torn apart, and I hate myself. Sitting in an AA meeting that was brought from the outside, I heard a former Marine tell his story to us. Thank God for having a piece of an open mind because this man had the same story as I did. That is what started my relationship with a God of my understanding. That is when I believed that this could work for me. I began to see that the people that work at Clearbrook from their CEO to their housekeeping staff, all they wanted to do was help me.
Today I write this with over one year of sobriety. I have two of my brothers who are walking this path with me. I could probably write for hours about all the great things that have happened to my life in just a short time. The simple fact that tears well up in my eyes while I write this says it all. Thank you to Clearbrook and their staff for fulfilling their promise to me. If I am willing, open minded, and honest, I will have a life that was unimaginable in the past.