Not many nineteen-year-olds can say that they are entirely comfortable with who they are, have an amazing relationship with their parents, have a job, pay for most of their bills, have a car, rent a house, and have a year and a half sober. But I can, and what made it even more difficult was that I was getting sober as a teenager in my hometown. I was born in Minnesota, where the rest of my extended currently lives. One year later we moved to Florida and lived there for about four years. I had an amazing childhood with trips to the beach, Disney World, and boating on the canal behind my house. My dad’s job then moved us to Denver, Colorado. I had always been an adventurous kid, however, when we moved to Colorado I found a whole new world. I spent hours building treehouses in the woods behind my house. We lived there for nine years and moved to Palos Verdes, California. I was raised in a Catholic home, went to Catholic school, and attended mass every Sunday. Needless to say, I had an amazing upbringing with more opportunities than I could ever ask for.
My freshman year of high school was the first time I had attended public school. I was excited to not have to wear a uniform, and have a little bit more freedom. I started making friends quickly, joined the tennis team, and spent hours at the beach. Fast forward to junior year, when things started to take a turn for the worst. I was captain of the tennis team, popular in school, and went out with pretty girls. Everything looked amazing on the outside, but I was full of pain on the inside. I was drunk almost all of the time at school, would ditch class to get high, disrespected women, would drink and drive, lied to my parents about where I was, got detained eight times by the police, had relentless anxiety, and growing depression. I was completely miserable. When I turned seventeen I went to rehab for the first time. I went to an outpatient program every night, 10 minutes away from my house. I sat in the groups and judged everybody and everything in the room. I was not ready to be sober. I realized getting sober as a teenager was a lot of work, and after 20 days I had to stop going. A few months later, the progression of my alcoholism had gotten really bad. I was having a lot of run-ins with the police and got cuffed on my front doorstep in front of my mom and my little brother. That became the breaking point for me and I was finally ready to take the next step toward getting help. Shortly after I was sent to inpatient rehab in Long Beach, just 30 minutes away from my house. Sobriety was starting to catch on, but after two weeks my ego regenerated and I left, had a relapse, and came back to treatment.
All I could think about was was drugs, alcohol, and the life associated with it. I was not thinking about getting sober as a teenager at all. I continued to try and sit in the groups, do homework, and make the best out of my situation. I finished the rest of that program and went to New Life House. There, is where I found the true meaning of friendship, unconditional love, and living in my truth.
Being so close to home, I knew that I could go back to my old life at any time but I stayed, adapted to the lifestyle, and completed the program at New Life. Going through the twelve steps with a sponsor, I got to see how I am an alcoholic, even without multiple years of drinking and using under my belt. I saw patterns and behaviors that normal people do not do, even as a teenager. I was maladjusted to life. Yes, I was in my hometown, seeing old friends, and going to to the same places, but the lifestyle of recovery became more appealing to me than all of that. I understood that going back to that life was not conducive to freedom and happiness. I stuck with recovery and now have an amazing life with more than I could ever ask for.
All I have to thank for that is New Life House and the twelve-step process. Today, my life consists of working as a barista, making my own money, and paying most of my own bills. My three roommates and I rent a four-bedroom house, which I am able to pay for on my own! I do still need some support from my parents, which they are happy to provide now that I am making good choices, and staying involved in recovery. My parents invite me over for dinner, and welcome me when I just want to stop by! My little brother invites me to his sports games and looks up to me so much. My relationship with my dad has improved tremendously. Now, we go golfing together often, get coffee or lunch every week, and talk on the phone almost every day. My parents love that I live so close to them because I am able to show up and help them out whenever they need it. I am no longer a burden to have around, but more of a joy. I am trusted today, which means a lot to me.
Getting sober as a teenager who was immature, careless, and defiant, proves that this program works like nothing else. I lead a simple, yet fulfilling life today for which I am truly grateful for.