Getting Sober In L.A.
When I first came to Los Angeles, I had no clue what I was in for. I was a broken 20-year-old and all I knew was that I needed help and a way out. I was tired of being tired. I came to L.A. with a twisted idea of what life would be like, and thought that sobriety was going to be a jail sentence, definitely not one of the best cities for sobriety. My experience out here over the last 18 months has been the quite the opposite and exceeded my expectations. Getting sober was not and is not easy, but I have learned that it is possible to have fun and enjoy life without abusing substances. I lived most of my life isolated from others, too afraid to experience life and put myself out there into the world. In sobriety, I’ve challenged myself and discovered that all sorts of doors could open.
The first thing I noticed when I showed up in Los Angeles was the beach city vibes – palm trees, cool breeze, warm weather. This is a typical southern California experience, but as I’ve explored, I’ve found that it’s not just the beaches that make L.A. a great place to get sober, but it’s more so the community that I’ve found, of sober people that are integrated into this continually evolving Southern California culture. I had this idea that sober people were a bunch of dull middle-aged men who sat around and talked about how they wanted to drink, and what I discovered is that there are thousands of sober men and women of all ages who have built lives here and seem to have found happiness. I remember when I had a couple of months sober staying in Manhattan Beach, and it hit me that I was enjoying myself, free of drugs and alcohol. It was a sobering moment (haha), and I knew right then and there that maybe there was something more to this sobriety thing than I had previously thought.
The Los Angeles Recovery Community
Los Angeles has thousands of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings of on a weekly basis, more than most places in the entire world. There were so many people out here of all different cultures and ethnicities and ages, and I’ve seen such a mix of people in A.A. that I never thought I would. Sometimes the last person you’d expect you find in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, the more I got to see this the more I understood that it’s not a bad thing to need help and that with some work it’s entirely possible to live a healthy life. This community of people is beneficial when first getting sober. As with most addicts, I lived an isolated lifestyle for years. Uprooting my old life and coming to L.A. was not easy, but a small part of that hole that drugs and alcohol had carved out in my life was immediately filled when I finally felt apart of something bigger than myself. I don’t believe there’s a more welcoming community than the one out here in Los Angeles. I got to see that it’s not about where you’re from or what you were doing, because the young people’s community here in L.A. welcomes all sorts of people, especially in alcoholic’s anonymous meetings. With so many people in Los Angeles, there is a lot of opportunities and a lot of flexibility in lifestyle choices. From yoga teachers to tattoo artists, to financial advisors and entrepreneurs, there is no limit on what you can do. People come from all over the world to reinvent themselves here, and it’s the same thing with sobriety. The culture here is always changing and evolving, which lends itself to adopting new, healthy lifestyles. There are many healthy outlets in L.A. for expressing yourself and finding healthier ways to live. I know a lot of people who have taken up yoga and meditation, have discovered hobbies like hiking or rock climbing, or have just changed their entire diet to some healthier alternatives. Anything you can imagine is in or around Los Angeles, and my entire social circle has engaged in a vast array of hobbies and enjoyed an incredible amount of live music as well.
Opportunities in SOCAL Sobriety
There are also many different opportunities to find a career path that you love while out here and get an education while you’re at it. Currently, I’ve enrolled in college again after a couple of years off to facilitate a strong foundation in my sobriety, and something I’ve been able to see is that it’s possible to reinvest in education even after a long break. I have the option of eventually transferring out to a university or maybe even going a different route and finding something more specific that I enjoy doing like a trade. The longer I’ve been sober the more I feel like I can really do anything. I am not sure I would have that same feeling if I lived in the middle of the country where the population is so much smaller and not as diverse. Since I know I feel sort of trapped when living in a small town. Even if I don’t get around to doing everything in L.A., it feels good to know that I have the freedom to find out what I am good at and what I like. Los Angeles is by no means perfect, though. There is a lot of poverty and people who are struggling and hurting for some help. Although my struggles have not been exactly the same, I understand needing help and being lost. This is why its so cool that there are many opportunities to be of service to the communities out here and I’ve got to get a taste of that while I’ve lived here. Part of my recovery has been giving back and being of service to those who need help. I’ve been able to take part in fundraisers, and community outreach programs as well as have gone to feed the homeless. There are opportunities like this on a daily basis to reach out and extend a hand for those who need it. I think that is one of the most beautiful things about Los Angeles. That a city with a history like L.A, that has been through many trials and tribulations along the way, has been able to survive and thrive because the community helps one another out. Those are some of the reasons I think L.A. is a good place to get sober.
Written by Austin D, a New Life House Alumni