The first few months of my sobriety were a rocky road. I remember feeling as if my brain simply was not working and I had problems putting simple sentences together and trying to convey a coherent thought…
Concluding the story of Errol, we explore how Errol took the steps needed to become clean and sober and how by helping others achieve recovery, his own determination to maintain sobriety was strengthened. Click here to read the previous blog entry about Errol entitled, “Recovery starts in an Amazing Place.”
And that was tough as when I was in meetings I had the choice of sounding like a babbling fool or keeping my mouth shut and people thinking I was aloof and indifferent. After 22 years of abusing drugs and alcohol, the process of living without those chemicals in my system took some twist and turns that most people aren’t prepared for.
The next step came in getting used to day to day life. Using an ATM card, filling out an application, going to job interviews, paying bills were all completely foreign to me. But sobriety had also taught me to stay humble, while at first I felt ashamed that common tasks for most people were new and challenging to me-by this time I also had the sense of respect to get help and learn how to adapt. And on that note-having a great sponsor and a team of people behind you in your recovery is so important. For people who have lived a life of drug and alcohol addiction-adapting to main stream every day life simply does not come naturally.
That was big turning point, little by little in small increments I began to change my way of thinking. When my brain was telling me to quit, or stop working the program, or sleep in and miss a meeting-I was able to stay focused and “ignore” the negative signals my brain was sending me in favor of opting for more positive based behavior. And pretty soon, the negative thoughts started becoming fewer and fewer and less prevalent. Out of the many victories that I was able to enjoy in my battle with drug and alcohol abuse was when conquering the negative reactions and substituting those with positive thoughts and reactions became common place.
And as I kept my nose to the grind stone, I started volunteering at various detox homes and helping set up meetings and arranging barbecues and outreach. Before I knew it, I was offered positions working at sober living homes and hospitals working as a recovery aide. I then was offered a job in Orange County at a psychiatric chemical dependency counselor with a company called Focus Healthcare. It was there that I met Rodney. He helped train me to become a crisis counselor working a hot line for people looking for recovery help or their family members. We used to take 700-800 calls everyday and help direct those people to drug and alcohol treatment centers in their area. Being in those people shoes and knowing what it was like to be someone in need of help to overcome drug and alcohol problems. Sometimes we would take calls from someone considering suicide-Rodney taught me how to de-escalate those types of crisis calls.
In knowing Rodney for so many years now, and the myriad of people with whom Rodney has been able to help, and the families whose lives have improved by Rodney’s concern. Rodney’s concern to help people is genuine, and that what makes 449Recovery so special. The amount of care, and the depth of concern regarding the clients well being is something that I am proud to be associated with to this day.
By working with 449Recovery, I get to use my experiences in recovery to help others start their own journey. While I have recovered from the hopeless state of mind that comes with addiction, the journey itself is ongoing. Each new day brings new opportunities to enrich the lives of others, and enriching the lives of other has enriched my life over and over again. My “best thinking” now consists of how I can better help the lives of others instead of how can I get my next drink or my next bag of dope.
Today, Errol serves as a counselor and administrator for 449Recovery.