Real Recovery Alumni Spotlight
For this week’s Real Recovery Alumni Spotlight we sat down with Alex H, a New Life House alumni who got 5 years sober today! He spent some time talking to use about his journey to get sober and what life is like today.
New Life: Congratulations on your 5 years Alex! Was this your first time getting sober?
Alex: No, when I entered New Life I had attempted to get sober 4 times at three different rehabilitation centers.
NL: What brought you to New Life after all that?
Alex: Two of my best friends growing up had gone through New Life and had attempted to reach out to me during my using. I was unwilling to commit to such a long and difficult process to get sober. I was arrested for the last time in 2011 – I was in jail for approximately a month and when I was released I had a moment where I looked at my options and realized how few I had. At that moment, my parents had heard I was released and, although we weren’t speaking, called and asked if I would commit to 30 days at New Life House. Having no other options I agreed to go.
NL: What were your biggest struggles in the house?
Alex: Choosing specific struggles through the house is difficult. I struggled with EVERYTHING. I fought against everything that was asked or required of me. I believed I had all the answers and didn’t want to listen to anyone else. It took me a LONG time to change. When I had a year sober in the house I had to take a look at my life. I was a year sober and miserable. What was I doing wrong? Finally I was in a state where I was miserable sober and miserable getting loaded and I asked for help. I asked Brett LaShure, who was the manager at the time what I should do to be happy. He put me on a journey that saved my life. I became willing to take suggestion and give it my all. Today, I am grateful for the time I struggled in the house. It allows me to live a full, happy life and help others out who have struggled with the same issues.
NL: How did New Life House and your recovery set you up for success?
Alex: New Life House did not just set me up for success, without New Life House I would have no success. I have a high stress, very busy job. I manage 6 restaurants in Los Angeles, 2 in Las Vegas, 1 in Chicago, 3 in Dubai and 1 in Japan. I also do the corporate openings and am the executive souse chef. NONE of these things would be possible without the tools I learned in the house. I still do the things that I was taught in the house every day. The list of things that I do on a daily basis that I was taught in the house would run on for days. Not only did they help keep me sober but the life skills that I was taught have laid the foundation for a very successful and infinitely happy life.
NL: Was there anything particularly important about the structure of New Life house that helped you build a solid foundation? Things you wouldn’t have done on your own?
Alex: Again, choosing anything in particular would be very difficult. It is the structure upon which I have built my life. I suit up and I show up for life. I am attentive to details and I am never late. I care about everything I do and it shows to my superiors and everyone around me.
NL: Are you still in contact with the guys you group of guys you got sober with all these years later?
Alex: Of course I am still in contact with the guys I went through the house with! I live with two of them and my core group of friends has always been people I went through the house with. I am lucky to have a strong group of friends all around my time. We do everything together – we go sky diving, paintballing, movies, dinners. I am truly grateful for my group of friends. My best friend and roommate has just about the same amount of time as I do and we do everything together.
NL: Where did you work in the house / what did you do there?
Alex: When I was ready to begin working again I had to make a decision. I had worked in restaurants my whole life, there is a lot of drug abuse and alcoholism in the restaurant industry and I didn’t know if that was what I wanted to do. However, after some time, I decided that I can make more money in the industry and it would be easy for me to focus on my sobriety. I worked in three separate restaurants as lead line cooks until I started working for the company I work for now. Since then I have moved up from a lead line to the job I have today. I get to travel all over the country and world doing what I love. I am infinitely grateful for my jobs and I believe I was presented with the opportunities to advance when I was really ready for them.
NL: Can you tell us more about what you do now?
Alex: Today I work for a restaurant group in Los Angeles. We started with one store near UCLA and now we have 13 stores nationally and internationally. I am the corporate opener and oversee them all for operations. I am also the executive souse chef for the company. I get to travel all over the world and country opening restaurants and I love my job. It is high stress and I always have a lot going on, but New Life House taught me how to overcome any problem that arises.
NL: Thats awesome! Was graduating and moving out to the point where you are now a big transition?
Alex: Graduating and moving out of the house was a big hurdle for me. I was so secure at the house and then to not have my support group surrounding me all the time was a big shock at first. I tend to be an introvert which is dangerous when you are newly sober and all alone. When I was in the house I was forced to go out and be social but when you move out it is up to you. I was lucky to have a good group of friends who are always doing something fun. Today I get to live with some of my best friends and we always have people over and are having a good time. Truly blessed with the sober friends I have today.
NL: Outside of work what hobbies or passions do you partake in?
Alex: Unfortunately I have very little time outside of work but fortunately, I love my job. When I do have free time, I am passionate about travel. I saw 15 countries last year and looking to get 10 more this year. I ride a motorcycle and nothing clears my head like a ride through the mountains. I began a path towards fitness last year and I really fell in love with – it whether it is time in the gym or long hikes, I love it.
NL: If you had to choose one thing you are most grateful for, what would it be?
Alex: I think the thing I am most grateful for is my happiness. Even when I was a kid and not in active addiction I was always miserable. I have been diagnosed with multiple psychiatric issues over the years, spent countless hours in doctor’s offices and psych wards. Sobriety aside, which I know nothing would be possible without it, the thing that I got from New Life is a happiness and freedom. I live a very full life, I am free to pursue anything I want to do and I DO. This has been the biggest gift.
NL: You’re busy! Do you still stay involved with the house?
Alex: With how much I travel I am not always able to have a lot of sponsees which is hard for me because helping others has always been a big part of my sobriety. I am grateful that the managers at New Life call me whenever they have someone they think I can help. Having gotten through different issues that a lot of others haven’t experienced (ie, suicidal thoughts/actions, self-harm, depression ect), it gives me a unique ability to help people with the same issues.
NL: What are your goals for this year?
Alex: This year I am backpacking through South America for a month. I am opening 3 more restaurants for the company I work for now, one in Los Angeles, one in Australia and another in Japan. I want to be able to begin opening my own restaurant! It has been a dream of mine long enough and it is time to make the leap.
NL: Do you have any advice for the guys in the house, their parents, and people in AA?
Alex: To the house members: STAY! Have faith in the process and stop fighting. In 5 years I have never seen the house steer anyone in the wrong direction. If things are tough, have faith that it will get better. The first year is a struggle, get through it and I PROMISE you will have a life beyond your wildest dreams.
To the parents: don’t listen to your son!! Trust in the process, it is not easy getting better. The best thing my parents did for me was to stop helping me.
People in AA: Stay! It gets better, go to as many meetings as you can, surround yourself with a good group of sober friends.
NL: Is there anything you’d like to add to the guys in the house?
Alex: If you give yourself to New Life House even half as much as you dedicated your life to getting high, I can PROMISE you, you will have a life beyond your wildest dreams. You will learn who you are and live a happy fulfilled life. Just stay, trust the process, and get through the hard times. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even when you can’t see it and when you reach the light it is the greatest feeling in the whole world.
NL: Is there anything you’d like to say to the parents and families?
Alex: Stay strong, my family had given up on me in my active addiction, today I get to show up for them in ways neither of us could have imagined.
Thanks Alex, and happy birthday!