"I’m telling my story to show others there is hope and not to be ashamed of yourself."

I am twenty-five, I am a recovering alcoholic and addict with 3 years clean. I have been called many things over the years but that does not matter; I am proud of who I am, and I know who I am. I am an addict, I will never not be an addict. I am not ashamed or embarrassed. I am open about who I am because by sharing my story, I have been able to help many people find recovery. I’m telling my story to show others there is hope and not to be ashamed of yourself.

In school I stuttered and didn’t fit in; at fifteen I decided drinking would help me fit in with others. My dream career was to be a soldier in the Army; at eighteen I tried to join but was denied due to my stutter. After being denied I gave up on any future for myself. By nineteen I was drinking daily; during my senior year I helped my friends sell pills. By the end of high school I was at bars drinking and smoking weed regularly. I don’t remember my graduation or senior prom due to blackouts.

After high school, I moved to Alabama with my grandparents to change my life. Shortly after the move, I found people who drank and did drugs; so I started hanging out with them. I got into relationships with women who enabled my habits. I was twenty when I moved back with my parents, hoping to find a better way to live. I was working a full time job when a friend convinced me to start bull riding; I didn’t expect how much partying we would do.

For the next six months we would party all weekend long; I would drink until I passed out every night. I was introduced to coke during this time but I was never a fan. When I turned twenty-one I would get drunk before work. Eventually I moved out on my own with a friend. I quit drinking beer and switched to cheap whiskey. That was when my addiction truly started; I would drink straight from the bottle and drive drunk. I was truly a functioning alcoholic.

I received my first DUI after a holiday party, with almost three times the legal limit. I avoided jail time by going to a treatment program. That was when I realized most people didn’t drink as heavily as I did. Through a court order I was required to go to a twelve step program. At first I thought the program was a joke, but going saved my life. For the first time I found people who accepted me.

When I was five months sober a friend I knew for a long time overdosed. I have been to so many funerals over the years, that I trained myself not to show emotion. After seeing my beautiful friend in the casket so young brought me to my knees; all of the emotions I pent up over the years came out at once. After this I slowly learned it was okay to have and show your emotions.

About a year later I went to a neighboring town to talk at a town meeting about addiction; after giving my advice a few officials in the town asked me for help. I was shocked; I was just a year sober, what could I do to help this town? That was the start of my journey, to help others; I went to special events and sometimes spoke to show support.

A few months later my mother told me she and my father were getting a divorce. Instead of going to a bar to get drunk I went to my best friend’s and sponsor’s house to get support. My father and brother were drinking excessively to cope; I spent my first year sober in a bar helping my dad. Slowly my family life became better, my mother and father both found partners that made them happy. Shortly after this I lost another friend who overdosed; I was talking to her the night she died to try and help. The pain I felt when I heard the news was unbearable; I learned on that day I couldn’t save everyone. I got back into a good church and I reconnected with God. Through going to church and my twelve step meetings, I found a new inspiration for recovery and helping others. I became a certified Peer Support Specialist, and I was able to go to conferences to learn about helping others.

This is why I am sharing my story. Today I live each day to the fullest and I have found my true calling in life. Who would have thought it would take me becoming an addict to find my happiness? I have been truly amazed with the situations I have found myself in and being able to help people recover.

Whenever someone needs words of encouragement I will be there to share my story of recovery to help. If you are reading this and dealing with addiction or know someone who is, just know help is out there. Recovery is possible and I will keep fighting, not just for myself but for everyone who is fighting their own battle. Thank you for reading and never quit fighting.

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