Shane recently celebrates 10 years clean and takes us through his unbelievable story of cocaine abuse. He starts experimenting with alcohol at age 12 during the yearly 4th of July family gathering and graduates to snorting cocaine and Ritalin during college. Though he does not see any real consequences until he graduates, addiction begins to take root. After graduation, at the age of 22 he moves to Seattle, WA to find his first job.
When things do not work out with his new job, Shane reunites with his old college buddy and they decide to launch an online e-commerce site that eventually takes him to Costa Rica. For the next 2 years in Costa Rica, Shane’s cocaine addiction spirals out of control. Loaded on cocaine, he crashes a motorcycle, gets robbed at knife-point on a weekend trip to Colombia trying to score dope, and soaks a bath towel in blood from an uncontrollable nose bleed, before he finally hits bottom. Out of shear desperation Shane’s partners make the decision to reach out to his Mother. She immediately calls Shane’s uncle, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor with over 20 years clean. That intervention saves his life… it’s a story you won’t want to miss.
SHAIR – Sharing Helps Addicts in Recovery
Here are Shane B.’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Clean Date: November 29, 2004
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Shane: For the first three months I was pretty much in denial that I needed to work the program like anyone else, which is why I drug my feet in getting a sponsor. I was probably coming in thinking I was just going to tiptoe into this and see how it goes and I’ll pick what I want and leave what I don’t. Once I accepted that I was an alcoholic and an addict, I started looking at the commonalities versus the differences. I sat through those first three months of meetings and I started to realize that there was more to this and that I needed to dig my heels in a bit deeper and work this thing like it needs to be worked.
Again, I’m not perfect. I’m not the poster child for this program because as Omar knows, I drug my feet a lot and I needed a sponsor like Omar to kick me in the ass and to push me and threaten to fire me as a sponsee if I didn’t do what was necessary. Those little pushes along the way kept me moving along so I appreciate that. I think that’s pretty much what it was. I didn’t think I was like everybody else. I was hoping I still had this one chance of maybe coming in and proving to everybody or myself more importantly that this is all for everybody else, but now I’ve got a few months under my belt and I don’t need to do all of these things that are really truly required and necessary for long term sobriety.
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 a hope that you could recover?
Shane: I know that when I went to rehab I didn’t fight the fact that I was in need of some sort of help. Again I don’t know if I realized that I was an alcoholic at that point in time, but I did know that I had landed myself into a rehabilitation center for some reason and again I went with open arms when my uncle showed up. When I was in rehab I realized the habitual behavior that I had been living in was definitely addict behavior, addict like and I needed to recognize that on my own I couldn’t do this alone. I knew what I was going to do the next morning without having a program.
I started to do some insight with some counselors and some other addicts in the recovery center and I just remember thinking “I know what I’m going to do tomorrow”. The old saying “one is too many, a thousand never enough” and that was me. So definitely in rehab was my ‘aha’ moment that okay, you’re an alcoholic. You’re an addict. You need to accept that fact and start to do something about it.
“O”: Well, fortunately for you that was very early on.
Shane: It was and in rehab I remember before I could move on to fourth step and fifth step within the rehab, they moved me through those steps a lot faster than when I came to Costa Rica, but the fact is they wouldn’t even recommend that I leave rehab until I accepted God into my life and came to know a God of my understanding. As we know in the program, that’s absolutely crucial to recognize earlier rather than later to pick and hold on to something. It may not be the God you pick for the rest of your recovery and most likely it won’t be, but it’s something you can hold on to at first that will save your ass.
“O”: Beautiful. That’s a great suggestion for the new comer.
Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a new comer that you read in early recovery?
Shane: You know I don’t have a favorite book other than the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I mean to me, I go every Wednesday night to a big book study group, which is absolutely amazing and I’ve learned that the knowledge within that book, the blue print that book lays out as to how and why, the steps and the stories of other alcoholics and the founders of AA, the history of how it all came to be. That to me is really my favorite book. It’s sitting right here next to me as I speak. It doesn’t go far from where I’m at. It’s truly become such an important part of my recovery and my life today. Anything I need is in that book and so that’s probably my favorite book.
What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Shane: I think it’s going again back to when I asked you if you would sponsor me. Funny enough when you said “you need to get rid of the girlfriend” and used different words than that. I won’t share, but you basically said “get rid of the girlfriend. She’s no good for you”, she was an unhealthy person herself and she was certainly unhealthy for me. Go figure, I was dating someone before going to rehab and I came back after rehab and I continued to date someone who was in my life prior to that. I had selected and picked her as a girlfriend for whatever reasons and it certainly wasn’t healthy reasons.
I remember even three months into my program before I even asked you to sponsor me, I remember her at one point in time saying “you’re a better person when you’re using and drinking than you are today” and I just know that was fear for her. She was noticing that I was much more involved with people in the program and it took away time for she and I and that was her way of trying to manage that fear I think, but if I hadn’t broken up with her, who’s to say what I would have thought. Who’s to say I would have said “you’re right, I need to spend more time with you versus less time with the program and people at the program”. That was crucial. I know that for me being in early recovery that was necessary and I didn’t have a relationship I think it was for the first year and a half, certainly after my four steps though.
“O”: What’s amazing is that you took that suggestion; you know how difficult that suggestion is. Telling a new comer to either get out of a relationship or stay out of a relationship in the first year is like asking him not to eat! It’s unbelievable.
Shane: You need that validation from somebody. You think you’re getting love when it really isn’t love most of the time. In my experience, that’s what I’ve seen and that’s what my experience was that it wasn’t love. It was some sick acceptance that I was getting from somebody else and the truth of the matter was that I need to get into a relationship with people in the program and in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous for me.
If you could give a new comer only one suggestion, what would it be?
Shane: One suggestion – I’ll try not to put a period in this one suggestion…
SUGGESTION’S FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“Go to meetings… Shut up and listen… Get a sponsor… Start working the steps… Adopt the program… Attend meetings every day”
Like we were just saying, don’t get into a relationship until you’ve gotten through that fourth step. It’s absolutely crucial and if you’re not willing to do everything it takes then you may not be ready and that’s okay. This program, I think I said earlier is not for people who need the program. It’s not for people who want the program. It’s for people who do the program and unless you’re willing to do the program, it’s all for nothing in most cases. That’s my experience.
The people who come in and know they’re beaten down, have that look of desperation and are willing to do the program are the people that succeed. They’re the people you see every day. They’re the people you see every year come around for an anniversary. We are the fortunate ones and that’s the truth. I know that today. It’s not because of me that I have ten years today. It’s because of God’s grace. It’s because of my willingness to surrender and accept God’s will in my life. Again, I don’t know why I was chosen to be one of the few that get this program, but I am and I know I’m very grateful for that and it’s something I don’t take for granted.
Great suggestions Shane and before we say goodbye, I have one more question for you. Of all the meetings you have attended anywhere in the world, which is your favorite group and where it that group located?
Shane: I have two groups both in Costa Rica. The Vigilance Group NA Meeting in La Sabana, and The Escazú Zú Group AA meeting in Guachipelin.
“O”: Both are absolutely my favorites. We both got sober and clean in those and they saved our lives.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Shane!
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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.