Alan, now 30 years old and 6 years clean, shares with us his 8 year success story of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. He started experimenting with alcohol and pot at the age of 15, and added cocaine and crystal meth to the mix at age 19.
As a child he hated alcohol because his mother was a full blown alcoholic. One morning his troubled family finally splits up leaving him and his dad together without any more notice than a letter on the table saying goodbye. Alan was only 10 years old. Lost, confused, and abandoned he finally finds relief at the age of 15 when he starts drinking, smoking pot, and shoots up 8 inches in height.
It’s at this time in his life that woman start to notice him and he finally starts to feel a part of society for the first time. Over the next 8 years his drug abuse and alcoholism escalate quickly, and Alan starts dealing drugs in order to support his habits. For the final 3 years of active addiction, Alan ends up homeless sleeping in someone’s kitchen, dealing cocaine, weed, and crystal meth as a busboy in a bar. He finally moves into a trailer with his mother to avoid being arrested. When his alcohol dependency reaches an all-time high he calls his father and asks for help, this phone call saves his life. It’s an amazing story of hope and recovery. Join us now!
SHAIR – Sharing Helps Addicts in Recovery
Here are Alan B.’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Clean Date: December 24, 2008
Tell us about how your life is today. Your hobbies, what you do for a living. Take us into your normal daily routine, including recovery.
Alan: Alright, well I’m also a gym rat. That progressed as I’ve been in recovery more than anything. It’s been my safety net when it comes to sanity and all those kinds of things. Usually I wake up, go to the gym, do something that has something to do with physical exercise and eating wise and all that. We have a pretty good diet over here. After that I usually go to work like every other schmuck. I try to keep it as real as possible. I try to make sure to include a meeting in the day later on and do something that has to do with that. I keep in touch with my sponsor. I try to keep in touch with people in the group. I’m a pretty sick guy when it comes down to it. If I don’t stay directly from [unintelligible] when I get up, I get real squirrely.
On average, how many meetings would you say you make per week?
Alan: About four. We were making a lot, like almost six a week for a long, long time. In the beginning, I was definitely making six plus. I didn’t have anything else to do. I used to ride the bus. I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have anything. Woke up, had nothing to do on the Saturdays or Sundays because I had a regular call center job where I was doing customer service for like Hyundai or something like that. Saturdays and Sundays were like dead zone. I had no money and I was just going to meetings man. That’s all I was doing so I would easily make that stuff. Life gets better.
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Alan: The thing that was the scariest part for me because I realized how physically dependent I was that I thought I would physically be unable to survive stopping. Also I thought I was going to be emotionally incapable of dealing with the reality that I created. It was the fear of facing the reality of who I was, what I’d become, the things that I had done and not have an escape anymore or excuse to act the way that I was still acting.
At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that ‘aha’ moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Alan: I talked to my sponsor about this the other day. It was actually when I was working at this call center. I was in a mall and there’s a bar downstairs at the mall and I actually thought it was the first time that I had said ‘no’ to people asking me to go to the bar, but it wasn’t. The time that I realized that it had really started to work in my life is when I had been open enough with the people around me. They’re normies. They’re not people that do what I do. They actually paid attention enough and I had been open enough to where they didn’t ask me to go to the bar. They said “I know that you’re going to go to your house and all that stuff. It was a great day with you today” and I just walked, said goodbye. I didn’t feel awkward. I didn’t feel like I was outcasted because I wasn’t going to go party with them. Any of that. I went straight out the front door, felt free as I had ever felt in my life and that was one of those moments. The sun was out. It was like I couldn’t explain it to you.
Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a new comer that you read in early recovery?
Alan: I am somebody who, I don’t read. Not necessarily and it’s because of my attention span. I am freaking out in my mind still to this day and that’s why I do the exercise, but if I did have something to suggest and I know that what I actually suggest to my sponsor is that they watch Fight Club. The reason that I do is because the guy struggles with the dual personality through the entire thing and he struggles actually with alcohol addiction.
Actually all the different things. It’s really the fact that we are, at least I was, very similar to him. I felt like the guy who couldn’t accomplish anything, that was scared, that did what I was supposed to do inside my head and then on the outside I would try to portray this guy that was completely confident that had it all figured out. Everything was perfect and all this stuff like that and in the end it all crashes because you can’t do that. You can’t do it. It is a book too so I guess if I was to suggest you read it, you could read it. I guess the book is actually better too. That’s what I would suggest just because it makes it very clear of the searching that we go through to find an answer to our inner turmoil.
What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Alan: Oh man, this is one of those things because I’ve gotten so many good ones over the years now that are just life changing. I think the main suggestion is that in the beginning when you’re new and you sit in the meetings and you look at people’s faces, you know that principal before personality thing they always talk about? My sponsor, he realized that I was having a tough time stomaching some of the stuff that was going on because of my own ego and he said “listen, instead of sitting there and staring and giving them the fucking stink eye, why don’t you stare at the floor and just listen to what they’re saying?
Don’t think of their face. Don’t think of their hair. Don’t think of any of the stupid things” I was telling him in the meeting because that’s what it is. My inability to pay attention carries into every part of my life and when I don’t listen to things, I might miss something. I might not hear what I need to hear and that was in the beginning. That was like the first suggestion. It’s not even a real suggestions. It’s more like “do this otherwise you’re being an asshole” and that’s what triggered with me. I was like “alright, I’ll stare at the floor” and I still do it to this day. Don’t get me wrong.
If you could give a new comer only one suggestion, what would that be?
Suggestion’s for the Newcomer!
Alan: Be yourself. Be yourself. Allow the change to happen. When you’re writing your step work, don’t be scared of what you’re going to write down. The main thing is well a) do your step work. That’s one of them, but the main thing when you’re writing your stuff down, don’t answer the questions trying to be somebody you’re not because you just spent the last years of your addiction being that person. You’re not that guy or that girl anymore. You don’t have to be that guy or girl ever again. Be yourself. Write down exactly how you feel, what you think, the way that you want to be because if you don’t do it at the core, it’s never going to take hold and you’re still going to be trying to hide something and I don’t hide anything today. I just don’t. I don’t have to and it makes me happy on a daily basis so just be yourself.
Of all the meetings you have attended anywhere in the world, which group is your favorite and where is that group located?
Alan: Well you know it’s our home group, the Vigilance night meeting. It was where I went through all my changes. I had gone through several of my anniversaries, I’ve gone through several tough things, losses of jobs, getting of jobs, changing homes, buying of homes, doing all these different things so it’s that group of Vigilance Club in La Sabana, Costa Rica at night, the best meetings are definitely there for me.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Alan!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.