I Didn’t Know What Being Sober Felt Like Until This Happened

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Our generation is dominated by the need to drink. Go to a club, bar, restaurant or anywhere that serves liquor and count how many young people you see enjoying an alcoholic beverage. Some people prefer one or two drinks and can manage to stick to that number, while others prefer being shitfaced hammered drunk. And the harsh reality is, many of these people couldn’t even fathom a life without drinking. As for me? I have managed to never have a legal drink because I was a bit early to the partying scene.

I knocked back my first drink when I was 13 and started experimenting with drugs shortly after that. As a kid I was always down for an adventure and my favorite adventure was exploring my own brain on drugs. Smoking weed became part of my daily life almost instantly after my first bong hit.

You ever have one of those monumental moments in your life that you will cherish forever? Well, one of mine was getting high for the first time. I was 15 years old at my favorite place in the world, summer camp. It was sleep away camp, so the rules in my book were a little different there.

I was with my two best friends at camp, sitting in the woods. Next thing I know, my friend pulls out a water bottle bong that he created. I instantly knew what it was, and also knew the consequences of getting caught. I didn’t care. I ripped the hell out of that disgusting water bottle bong, I was high as a kite.

The high was incredible. Everything anyone said was hilarious, every bite of food incredible (even though camp food was basically jail food).  My mind and body were at ease. I remember telling myself, I am going to be high all the time from this moment on. Most certainly, not a great goal to have as a teenager.

I finally felt like I had a purpose, getting as high as possible. In high school, getting high was easy. The hardest part was hiding it from my parents. But eventually, the weed wasn’t enough. I was an avid binge drinker on the weekends. And by senior year, I was high on whatever I could get my hands on. I thought I was having the time of my life. Little did I know,  I was heading down a highway to hell.

Though I had brief moments of “sobriety” in high school, I would get caught by my parents, plopped into some outpatient rehab center, drug tested and forced into not getting high. I instinctively knew I was different, that I didn’t drink like others, that I had a problem with drinking and using. But I couldn’t let them be right. And boy, did I hate those NA/AA meetings.

After graduating high school, I decided to attend a college with the nickname “Wastern.” The nickname had me sold. I loved getting wasted in any way possible.  By going to this school, the more wasted you got, so the more fun you had, It was there that I found myself at full throttle on highway to drug addiction.

College was a dream come true at first. There were parties every single night and my drug dealer was right down the hallway. I had unlimited freedom, I decided class wasn’t a priority and I had no real responsibilities. I even had a food plan, so I didn’t have to worry about feeding myself. I did whatever I wanted. Eventually however, it all came crashing down and Wastern got the best of me. I was only there for two short months. I ended up overdosing on amphetamines (Adderall) and was thrown into the hospital because I  put myself in a drug induced psychosis. In simpler terms, I was insane.

It wasn’t until that life or death moment that I knew that my addiction was going to kill me if I didn’t do something. Physically, I couldn’t stop using, and I did it in order to function. If I wasn’t high, I was sick from withdrawal. After a painful detox, it was time for recovery.

Fast forward through 10 months of rehab, as much drug addiction help I could get and it was finally time to come home. It was at this time where I was left to my own devices to stay sober. The first couple of weeks and even months were shaky. I had used a lot in my hometown and it was hard avoiding temptation. Instead of reuniting with old friends I decided to drown myself in the local Alcoholics Anonymous scene. It was the best action I ever took, because AA saved my life.

April 21st 2010, was last day I got high. () I was 19 years old when I put down the drugs and alcohol for good and it was the best decision I ever made. In AA, I surrounded myself with a young group of guys who were all sober and serious about sobriety. And quickly, I started experiencing what I thought was impossible, fun without drugs and alcohol. Even though my first year of sobriety was filled with nearly two meetings a day, constant calls griping about my life with my sponsor, and intense 12-step work, it was an incredible time. Slowly, the obsession to use faded away. I finally felt at ease and stopped taking life so damn seriously.

Walking into the doors of AA, I had a preconceived notion that it was a group of old men complaining about their life. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized this was not the case. There was actually a ton of people my age recovering from this disease, and lucky for me, they were all pretty cool people. It was really easy to have fun in early sobriety, because my newly acquired friends were as big of goofballs as I was. Every week we would go to movies and concerts, go on snowboard vacations or basketball tournaments and comedy shows,  and just about any event we heard about.

With all fun aside, the most important gift I  received from AA is the ability to have relationships with people.  When an addict uses, they are a tornado ruining the lives of everyone close to them. So when I got sober, I had a lot of work to do. Anybody who knew me knew not to trust me. So rebuilding trust was a very strenuous task. It came with time, but now (nearly 7 years later) I have the best relationships with everyone close to me. I speak with my parents nearly every day, my siblings and I are close again, and the close friends I pushed away are back in my life.

One of the worst attributes of drugs is the fact that they strip away goals, motivations and aspirations. So on the contrary, sobriety refills your soul with all three of those things.

I originally got sober because I didn’t want to die. I simply wanted to stop abusing chemicals. I didn’t realize sobriety and AA meant a lifetime of miracles and genuine happiness, so long as I continued to work the 12-steps.

Sobriety has blessed me with the best seven years of my life. Of course, life is still life and as we all know it isn’t always peaches and cream. I have lost family members, had bad break ups with girlfriends, lost jobs and had bad days like the rest of us. The difference is, I have tools to get through it. The recovery process is almost surreal, there somehow is a solution to any problem I have ever encounter. The twenties are supposedly your golden years. If this is true, I am in for a wild ride. Every day that I wake up sober without the obsession to drink or use drugs is a miracle. My life was spared for whatever reason, and now I will do whatever it takes to spread the message of hope to anyone who is struggling. Drug addiction help is widely available. Just remember, your life doesn’t end when you stop using, it is just the beginning.

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Benny is a passionate writer and recovering drug addict who has been sober for some time now. He loves to share it life experience to better the lives of others.

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