Getting Sober at 17

My name is Matthew and I am a graduate of New Life House. My intention for writing this blogpost is to depict my experience of what it is like to get sober young.

I’m originally from Columbus Ohio, and I found myself at New Life as a result of the way my addiction continued to progress. When I first started getting high and drinking I was 15 years old and it felt innocent. However, when I felt the effect of that first drink it was like a breath of fresh air that I had never quite experienced. Prior to this experience I always had this feeling like I was a card short of 52 in every aspect of my life. I was athletic but not athletic enough so I didn’t fit in there, I was smart but not quite smart enough.

That being said, I just felt out of place and uncomfortable in my own skin. After that first time getting drunk my addiction continued to slowly progress until the last six months of my use where I was getting high every day whether I wanted to or not at times, driving my car on hallucinogens, and choosing to spend my money on drugs or alcohol as opposed to food. Not to mention the fact I was miserable inside, I felt lonely a lot of the time, I was extremely depressed and the only escape for me was getting drunk or high.

I hit a bottom after throwing a party at my dad’s house resulting in being driven in an ambulance to the hospital. In a drunken state of mind I threatened to kill myself. As a result I landed myself in the same mental institution I had once been in a year prior. This was the turning point for me. This then started my journey into sobriety and after a wilderness program I transitioned to New Life House.

When I first came into New Life I was a scared little kid. I was always going into states of self-pity thinking my life is so horrible, I miss my friends, I miss the hustle and drive of getting high. I looked at my circumstances of my life as I still just wanted to have a good time and party. But what the guys in the house, managers, graduates, members of alcoholics anonymous, my sponsor, God, and the 12-steps did for me is allow me to have a perception change.

Understanding the facts of my life brought to my attention by the guys in the house and the managers, I was able to slowly start putting in the necessary footwork to change these behaviors. While at New Life I was able to graduate high school, and begin to live an adult lifestyle. I learned simple life skills that I was incapable of handling before getting sober. As a result of New Life House my life has been grown into something I could have never even imagined. I am beyond grateful.

I often get asked the question of “isn’t it difficult to stay sober at such a young age? How do you do that?” My answer isn’t simple but a major part is the community of friends I have that are younger guys and are sober along with the fact that I am still able have fun in my life today. Just because I am sober doesn’t mean I have to hide under a rock from life. I insist on enjoying the beauty life has to offer. That being said, I have a sense of balance today.

I have been able to go to Israel for ten days being the only sober individual in my group. This is due to my connection with God which allows me to stay sober and the fact that due to this internal work I am comfortable with who I am. I thought I used to drink to feel a part of but what I discovered is drinking was the only way I could be content for a period of time whilst keeping everyone else at arms distance.

Presently, with this connection in place for me my life has opened up into cool new experiences such as quality experiences with friends, exploring various parts of Los Angeles, going to see family in sobriety, and so much more. Today my life is completely different than it was before. Once just a kid, I now am a responsible members of society. I pay all of my bills, just landed a new apartment, and have a stable job as a Senior Salesman at Hugo Boss with medical benefits and a 401k. None of these things in my life nor the change in perceptive that I have gained would be possible if it weren’t for the experience that I had in New Life House.

– Matt H.

Last Updated on February 21, 2024


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