Long Term RECOVERY
A few local sober folks with over 20 years of clean and sober time share their wisdom, motivation and the tools that have helped them along the way to stay the course.
Make New Friends
“I’m still doing the same things that I was doing in the beginning, like being part of my sober group, helping others, being of service and sponsoring people… Sobriety is available to anyone who wants it. The challenges I’ve had in sobriety was watching my friends die of AIDS. A lot of the peers of my youth didn’t make it. The solution to that is I had to go out and make new friends. The biggest difference between me today and me 24 years ago is that I’m a grown up. It’s cute when you’re in your 20s and you act like a kid. When you’re in your 30s it’s a little bit annoying, when you’re in your 40s it’s ridiculous and when you’re in your 50s, it’s embarrassing. It’s good to grow up.”
—Carlos Martinez, sober since October, 1991.
Gives Me Purpose
“When I first got sober people encouraged me to dream big and that if I stayed sober no matter what, my life would change. If I didn’t put a pipe in my mouth, there was hope. I would stay out of jail and stay off the streets. That hope gave me the ability to take action and to go after things in my life. Even if I fell down during the journey, recovery would support me and help me get back up. I was one of those people that was in and out for five years. I didn’t know that recovery could work for someone who was so sick and dependent on meth and alcohol. I had no hope. When I started putting days into years together, things started happening in this journey that I didn’t believe would happen. I went from being a tweaked out homeless hooker to working on Broadway and to having the career that I have today… I now have the ability to care about other people, not just myself. Being of service to the community gives me purpose and feelings of being worthwhile and it shows by the valuable people in my life and in the friendships I cherish.”
—Jeffrey Drew, sober since November, 1988.
No Matter What
“In the beginning I learned to take this seriously. If you want to stay sober, when they say no matter what, it really means no matter what. If you don’t want to stay sober, then admit that to yourself and be okay with it… Working with others has helped me stay sober this long. Being a recovering tweaker, I was told to hurry up and get into working the 12 steps of recovery because tweakers go out fast. I’ve had my challenges these past 20 years. I’ve had a lot of fucked up shit happen to me. What kept me sober was no secrets. You cannot save your face and your ass at the same time. It’s about getting over yourself. I also learned that it’s okay to abandon your shame. My life has changed in the past 20 years. Today, I have more than 20 teeth. I’ve been able to get dental implants in recovery. Today I have less fear. I thought I was ballsy and a badass, because I would do things like jump out of a moving car, but I have learned that it wasn’t fearless, it was fear-based. Today, I care a lot less about what people think of me. It’s not like I don’t care, but I care less… Today, I also know that God is working in my everyday life. There is no way you get here from there without God.
—Shah E. Smoak, sober since June, 1996.
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