I started drinking when I was fourteen years old. My drink of choice was beer. From that very first sip, I knew I had found the magic potion that would relieve me from my extreme shyness and make me a more sociable person. My drinking quickly escalated to the “hard stuff,” mostly rum and gin. In my second year of college, I experienced my first “lost weekend” and my first alcohol-induced seizure. That was enough to scare me away from the hard stuff and back to beer. For the next several years, I was a beer drinking weekend warrior. There were still consequences, including a DWI, but never enough to make me want to stop drinking. In 2001, I began a work schedule of 12-hour days. After working all day, I decided to treat myself to 12-18 beers every single night of the week and 24-36 beers on both Saturday and Sunday. This type of drinking went on for the next several years. After my second DWI, I began to totally isolate myself, which only intensified my drinking.
In late 2008, I began to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as shaking hands, acute anxiety, paranoia and suicidal thoughts. On June 22, 2009, I experienced a severe panic attack and checked myself into the local hospital emergency room. While lying in the ER, I had my moment of clarity. I said to myself “if I ever get out of here, I’m never drinking again.” That was Day 1 of an incredible recovery journey that has now lasted for well over 10 years.
After a month of not drinking, I knew that I had to find some type of support and daily accountability. I was big on surfing the internet, so I started to look for some online recovery resources. I read everything I could find online, including literature from AA and NA. I soon stumbled upon a website called Sober Recovery. It was exactly what I had been searching for! There were several different message boards with like-minded individuals from all over the world, available 24/7. It was exactly the solution that worked for me. I learned that it doesn’t matter what method of recovery any one person chooses, but how that recovery program works for them.
Working a desk job, I am able to listen to podcasts just about every day. One day, I stumbled upon this guy named Omar Pinto and The SHAIR Recovery Podcast. The first one I listened to was an interview with a woman named Gaby Campagna and how her alcoholism very nearly killed her. That show moved me so much, that I was instantly hooked on the SHAIR Podcast. I listened to every show and eventually joined Omar’s online community. I was surprised and honored when Omar asked me to come on his podcast and tell my story. I had never told my entire story before and decided that I would tell it, warts and all. It was an amazing experience and made me appreciate my recovery even more.
I also joined the SRC, the SHAIR Recovery Community. This is the smaller, more intimate group that features daily online support meetings. I had never been to an in-person meeting prior to the online meetings, so I didn’t know what to expect. I quickly realized that the online meetings added a whole new dimension to my overall recovery program. I attended nearly every meeting and eventually decided to host my own weekly meeting. I have met so many amazing new friends from all over the world, including many that I had listened to on the podcast. Omar has brought together a wonderful group of loving and caring individuals from all over the world. Those face-to-face, personal connections are now a treasured part of my recovery program.