Real Recovery Success Story
For this week’s Real Recovery Success Story we sat down with New Life House Alumni Basel S. who found sobriety young and is pursuing his college dreams!
New Life House: When’s your birthday?
Basel: 7-27-91, I’m 25 years old.
NLH: What’s your sobriety date?
Basel: Sep, 20, 2011
NLH: Was New Life your first attempt at sobriety?
Basel: No, I went to three places before I ended up at New Life.
NLH: How old were you when you first started to try to get sober?
Basel: I was 17 years old
NLH: What were those 3 years like of trying and failing?
Basel: I was getting kicked out of high schools. I was kicked out of my own house, I wasn’t welcome to any family functions, I wasn’t allowed to hang out with my younger brother because the fear my parents had that I’d be a bad influence, and there was a lot of fear and guilt around not being able to stay sober and feeling alone in that no one understood what I was going through.
NLH: What about New Life was particularly important for you find success in your recovery?
Basel: Community; the feeling of belonging and having healthy influences around me that were able to guide me to a more productive happy and healthy lifestyle. Soon enough, I began to feel better as a result of the new actions and behaviors that I was being taught, and I felt like I was home.
NLH: Did you struggle with certain aspects of the house?
Basel: Yes, getting sober at 20, I had many reservations in regards to having a “normal college experience” as well as letting go of my old friends back home. Also, the structure of the house was difficult at times, because naturally I like to dictate my own outcomes although I proved to myself time and time again that I landed myself in harmful places.
NLH: What type of work experience did you have coming into the house?
Basel: I had never worked a day in my life, I was terrified and fearful of going to work with people and failing, and then people not like me.
NLH: So I know you work full time now, and even go to school, so what was it like going from no experience to being on a career path you’re passionate about?
Basel: Early on in my recovery I realized that I had a passion for helping other people, and after some time in my recovery and learning new tools to tackle life I gained the confidence to chance my dreams and accomplish what I wanted to, which was the starting point of my working / school career. I know today that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to and it’s the first time I believe in the saying that anything is possible, I feel like I’ve found my life purpose.
NLH: What was it like being a college student in sobriety, and going from community college, then to a university, and now to a masters program?
Basel: I started community college about a year into my sobriety, and I was absolutely terrified of it. My biggest insecurity growing up was not being smart enough, so I just did what I was taught and put one foot in front of the other and show up for my life regardless of my fears and do one class at a time the best I could. I worked through my insecurity and realized that I could do well if I wanted to. I had 15 F’s going to college so I had a lot of ground to cover, a counselor told me to cross any university off my list and not to count on getting in. I made it my goal to prove him wrong, I remember that one day in class my teacher said that only 22% make the transfer and I remember thinking that I wanted to be a part of that fraction. More importantly to prove to myself that I was capable of accomplishing something like a university, and then one day in school I realized that I loved learning, and before I knew it I had been accepted into a university.
NLH: What has the transition been like into a masters program for psychology?
Basel: It’s been great, I remember applying to the masters program and having to write a 5 page autobiography. I remember being so grateful for where I was, prior to sobriety, and where I am today. Getting accepted into grad school, and starting grad school, was a big deal for me. I came into sobriety so broken, and even the thought of being in grad school is still very weird for me, but I know now that there is so much more for me in life and I will be able to provide for others further If I finish this, and I am so pleased that my life had surpassed my wildest dreams.
NLH: So you’ve worked in recovery for over 3 years, what is the difference between being in a program to now working for one?
Basel: In the program, I was having to endure my own struggles, and gain the necessary tools that I needed to maintain sobriety as well as a healthy lifestyle, and today I have a passion for giving that same service to others because I know how much that helped me. It’s a privilege to give that and I hope that some day they will be able to pass that on to somebody else.
NLH: How did you end up deciding on the path to becoming a therapist?
Basel: Early on in my recovery, I felt like I enjoyed helping people, and I found a passion for it because I was able to overcome my struggles and naturally I wanted to give other people that same opportunity.
NLH: What is your involvement with the house like now?
Basel: I still come back by the house and give the guys a ride to meetings, take them out on a Friday night. And I try to stop by once or twice a week to say hi to the guys.
NLH: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Basel: There was a point in my sobriety that If I wanted to achieve the things in my life that I aspired towards, I needed to get out of my own way. Life is beautiful as long as we choose to see it that way.
Thank you for spending some time with us Basel!