The Star-Herald

Robert’s story

Editor’s note: Recovery Aroostook celebrates National Recovery Month by sharing stories of local people involved in this life-changing experience. The focus is to celebrate all people who make this journey and to embrace the 2021 theme: “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community. 

I fell in love with it as soon as I drank “it.” I absolutely fell in love. The high from alcohol calmed me down when I was stressed. I didn’t even care about the hang overs, shakes, or hours of dry heaving the next day. I had fallen in love.

At the age of 34, I had been admitted to the emergency department nearly 10 times to find relief from alcohol poisoning, withdrawals, or manic episodes. During one of my many, many attempts to stop, I ended up in an intensive care unit for five days battling severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Still, I loved “it” more. 

Alcohol negatively impacted my life in so many ways. I was depressed. I didn’t care what happened in my life, with my relationships; really, with anything. Anger was my go-to feeling. I lost an amazing job and was forced to resign from earned positions with community services groups that I was so passionate about. Still, I loved “it” more. 

It’s not like I hadn’t tried to quit before. I hit up all the acronyms and time periods — AA, ACSU, AMHC, seven days, 30 days, 90 days. The list goes on.

One day I woke up and realized that I was out of options. I had destroyed my body, my job — my relationships. My doctor gave me two years, tops, to live.  I didn’t love “it” anymore.

Realizing that I had to quit didn’t make it any easier. It took effort. Finally, I checked myself into rehab. I remember that night vividly. I was sitting outside, by myself, just thinking about everything. How much I missed my friends, family, life … me. Then came my “Eureka!” moment. It wasn’t a lightning bolt or a cloud in the shape of an eagle, but a simple whisper in my head: “I can do this.” It was then that I knew that my recovery was going to make a difference in not only my life, but in the lives of others.

The whisper I heard gradually turned into a loud roar as the pieces began falling into place. I was scanning dozens of job descriptions, shared to us in rehab, by a local social worker, when one caught my eye: substance use disorder counselor. 

This was what I could do to fan not only my own flame of recovery but inspire others to be successful in their recovery as well. With the help of the social worker, I identified every opportunity to grow my knowledge of recovery. Taking classes at a local college, continuing education courses and certification classes allowed my passion for my own recovery to flourish. 

I have grown my passion for recovery into a career and currently mentor men in recovery. I feel I can offer my story to others in recovery and show them, by my example, that recovery IS possible. I use my experience and knowledge of the process to help them minimize wrong turns. My current position has allowed me to use my strengths and share them with other people. 

 I tell the men that I understand this may be an uncomfortable place to be right now, but you are safe, and you are doing the right thing. You are at a crossroads, and you have to make a decision. Ask yourself: “Am I going to go down again or is this my new path?” 

To date, my recovery has allowed me to effect change in the lives of dozens of men, maybe even saving a few lives. My recovery story continues — and yours can, too.

To find out more about the pathways to recovery, and supports available for individuals and family members, find Recovery Aroostook on Facebook @roads2recoverycommunitycenter @recoveryaroostook @carlcenter or email recoveryaroostook@gmail.com.

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