Shane Watson is a writer, Youtuber and prevention specialist. He speaks to kids and adults about substance use for an organization called Not My Kid. It’s a nonprofit that educates students not only about addiction, but also unhealthy relationships, depression, self-injury, bullying, and suicide.  His blog is called the Silver Ladder and he has an unbelievable story of addiction and recovery. Here is a glimpse of his experience.

If being regularly jolted awake by the tormented screams of inmates in neighboring cells wasn’t bad enough, there was the fact that I was sharing a cell made for a single inmate with three other people. We were crowded four-deep in a tiny cell, and there was no escaping the smell. To call it unpleasant would be putting it lightly. It was overpowering.

Shane was addicted to alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamines, and heroin. He is a felon. He is now clean and sober and helping the future generation to stay that way too.

I am a living example that people can change.

CLEAN DATE: Nov 29th, 2011

Listen to Shane’s story!

Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!

Shane’s Story

Shane didn’t come from trauma and tragedy. He loved life with his family, until middle school where he was an outcast. He was awkward and desperately wanted to fit in, but not only did he not fit in, he stood out.

I was just different.

Bullied viciously, Shane became willing to do anything to get friendship. He compromised his health and safety. He risked getting into trouble just to be accepted. He was really just entertainment for the kids he thought were his friends, but it filled his need for approval.

That’s why he first tried alcohol. Although he was curious, it was mostly to impress a friend. He felt wonderful right away and saw it as a solution to his problems. There was no immediate disaster, so he thought that there wasn’t a price to pay for it.

Once in high school, Shane drank more and more, up to the point he used alcohol daily. He put aside his music, writing, and art to focus on drinking. He remembers noticing how his life was being taken over and thinking, “This might be out of control.” But just as soon as he had that thought, he pushed it out of his mind, justifying his drinking like a seasoned addict.

After college, Shane went from alcohol, pot, and pills to cocaine, meth, and heroin. The drugs consumed his life and damaged his relationships.

Shane got married during a period of sobriety. His wife had no idea. She fell in love with the real him, but he started using again and hiding. They were already having problems before their honeymoon phase was even over. He was lying about where he was and about where all the money was going. He couldn’t keep a job because he couldn’t ever make it to work.

In under a year, Shane cleaned out almost 10K of their savings account. He had nothing to show except health problems, which were about to culminate into a health emergency. While his wife was out of town, he went on a binge of fentanyl, coke, and alcohol. After a few days in, he felt something was very wrong with his body. Sweat is poured off him. His hands shook. His body seized. His heart raced, and he had chest pain so bad that he could feel it through the painkillers.

He should’ve called 911. Then the addict thoughts came in. Everyone would figure out his secret. The police would come. He was ready to die than to let that happen. He promised himself if anything else goes wrong, he’d call. Then his peripheral vision went out. He sat in the chair for 3 hours. The symptoms went away.

You would think that would be the end of his drug use, but 5 minutes after the symptoms went away, he grabbed the bags of what was left and did more.

If not damaging relationships, if not losing thousands of dollars, if not almost dying, what would it take to get me to stop?

Not even his first arrest motivated him to get help. The years crawled on, and he was using every day—not to get high. That was impossible now. He used just to not go through withdrawals. Had not job in quite a while and he was in debt. His marriage was strained.

I came to a place where I hated myself.

He already threw his entire life away. It was far too gone to repair. He was going to die, and he didn’t care. He was going to ride this train till it crashed. One night everything built up and he lost control. He went on a berserk rampage and physically hurt people who didn’t deserve it. Later, when the reality of what he’d done hit him. He said he was done. He tried to commit suicide.

Shane’s wife called 911. Police showed up and he was arrested and charged with 2 misdemeanors and 2 felonies. He woke up in a crowded, loud, and insane cell.

He had nothing but time but sit and think. He went through excruciating withdrawals. Where did it all go so wrong? He went all the way back into his memories and traced his addiction back to that first drink in 7th grade. He made a promise right then that even if he couldn’t get the people in his life back, he was going to get clean.

In that moment I made myself a promise to make my faith, my family, and my sobriety my priorities, and this time I kept my promise.

 What kept Shane from getting clean?

Guilt, shame.

Shane was convinced he was never going to lead a normal life, much less a joyful life. He now sees it as that he was doubting God.

That aha moment

Shane reached the peak of his stimulant use and remembers listening to his favorite band. The words in the song spoke to him. They said, it’s beautiful once you’re out here. It hit him hard. He was ready to quit. He even had some of his 8-ball left on his desk, but he didn’t touch it. He called his wife, his mom, and then an old friend. He said:

I’m addicted to cocaine and I need help.

He self-intervened.

Shane also talks about the pain that sparked a change, and the grace he was shown thereafter. He remembers the day he got out of jail, his parents gave him a hug. There was no disappointment. No failure. Just unconditional love.

Favorite Books

Shane recommends reading the Holy Book of your choice

He also reads military memoirs. Seeing what soldiers have to go through puts his life into perspective.

Best suggestion

Don’t quit, give it time.

When you leave drugs and alcohol, it takes time to heal. We put a lot of effort into our addiction. It takes time to get out too.

Suggestions for Newcomers

Don’t fight your battles alone.

Speaking up and asking for help takes courage. It doesn’t make you weak. You can’t heal until you get connected to someone who can help you.

We SHAIR our stories every Tuesday so subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

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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.