Having to face the decision to get sober and commit to a life of early recovery at the age of 17 is NOT the dream of every young teenager. At a time when experimentation and being adventurous is the norm, that was exactly the decision I had to make in order to change my life.
I don’t believe that every young person who experiments with substances has a drug or alcohol problem, but if you find your goals, ambitions and priorities fall to the wayside for the sake of the next high – it may be time to take a hard look at some truth. I found myself on the doorstep of New Life House right before my 18th birthday, under the influence and not the least bit happy that I had been driven up to Los Angeles by my Mother and Aunt. Not only was I facing the fact that once again I was being sent to a structured program for my behaviors, but I also had high school to finish and no job experience under my belt. Looking back, it is safe to say that the odds were stacked against me in becoming a functioning member of society and actually contributing to the world.
Little did I know at the time that my life and abilities would change and I would come out on the other side a better man with a solid foundation in recovery and values. Deciding to get and remain sober at such a young age has afforded me limitless opportunity, and I have sought out to take advantage of that opportunity in every way I can. Being taught the values of hard work, perseverance and asking for help has allowed me to take on my early adulthood with enthusiasm and purpose. I’ve been able to find the career field I want to be in and move up the ranks with various companies to a position commonly filled by people in their 30’s. Pursuing my higher education and having the ability to chase my dream of becoming a Psychologist and contributing to the field of substance abuse recovery in the hopes of helping others who are suffering has been inspiring. I don’t say these things to brag, but what I have been able to accomplish in my 5 years of sobriety is solely because I got sober at such a young age.
Asked with what difficulties I have faced in getting sober at a young age, my response is small. Usually the first question thrown up from a young newcomer having to clean up their lives is, “How am I going to have fun being sober?” At an age where my peers were going off to college and starting jobs or careers, I was living in a structured sober living. I watched my peers having fun in their lives and enjoying their youth while I sacrificed my well being for the next high or substance induced experience. Ironically, the “fun” had ended long before going into New Life House, but my delusional thinking screamed FOUL that I would have to live the rest of my life without the occasional beer or Ecstacy fueled night. My use had far progress past the occasional beer and “night out on the town” but I couldn’t accept that being new. Through conversations and spiritual growth did I come to accept and truly believe I am an alcoholic and addict, and that any substance use was out of the question. Interestingly and happily enough, I also found my true self along this journey and picked up the tools to be comfortable with that self I had found. The result has been amazing experiences with some of the closest friends and relationships I have made. I have had more fun than I ever imagined being in recovery because of how genuine and pure it is. I, and no other young alcoholic, need drugs or alcohol to experience the blessings and experiences our lives have to offer. Difficulties… I really can’t think of any. Recovery has done nothing but better my life and the lives of those around me.