By Wasatch Crest program graduate, Kevin S.
Wasatch Crest program graduate, Kevin S., shared his story of addiction recovery. You can read his full narrative below.
Factors That Lead To My Addiction
I had it pretty good as a kid, or so I thought. I was raised in Utah County in the Latter-day Saints church with a decent home, food in the fridge, and clothes on my back. I went to school, played soccer, and attended church. I thought I was on track to heaven!
The one thing I have come to realize through addiction recovery is that I was never taught anything about emotional intelligence, just how to go through the motions that everyone else around me were also carrying out.
My father never seemed to have an interest in my family’s religion which created a pretty large rift in my parent’s marriage. My parents split when I was 10. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. I suppressed most of the emotion I felt because I wasn’t sure what to do with it. My mom began working as a school teacher again and we really just focused on survival for years.
My mom remarried when I was 15 and everything changed. I was forced to read scriptures at 6 a.m. before school, attend every Sunday meetings unless I was on my deathbed, and constantly participate in activities on weeknights. The only good that came from that was that I achieved an Eagle Scout ranking, learned respect for women, and developed family values, although those principles should be common practice inside or outside of a religion.
My Struggle With Addiction
My brother didn’t go on a mission, so I felt less pressure to go myself. The timing of my decision to not go on a mission just happened to line up with when my friends were starting to experiment with alcohol and drugs. I had my first drink at 18, and to this day feel blessed that I was able to obtain an adequate education before I went off the deep end.
A friend introduced me to smoking and drinking. I thought that it was the bee’s knees. All the pain and emotion I felt vanished, and I began using more and more, basically daily from day one.
My friends had a band and needed a bassist, so I joined their group which was called Dipped in Whiskey and started drinking often – at bars, practice spaces, and venues. With a band name like that, people would hand us shots all night long, any day of the week.
Looking back I think these routine, casual occasions were the major factors that contributed to me actually getting being grabbed by addiction. I also found out that when the reason you drink changes, the amount usually does too, which is when I really should have caught myself.
I was in a harmful cycle, constantly escaping my pain with substances. The addiction continued to grow as my tolerance did, and I slowly increased the trips to the store over the years.
I had the thought that I wanted to stop on my own for some time, two to three years at least, but I couldn’t go more than a few days without returning to the liquor store. I was hiding my problem from my wife, family, friends, employers, doctors, therapists, and my true self for way too long.
From my first drink to my sobriety date was a 13-year process. My whole adult life, I had been stuck in trauma responses using horrible coping mechanisms to scrape by, slowly destroying my life, all while dragging my wife and daughter to my rock bottom, without them knowing it.
My wife finally confronted me with a counter full of empty bottles and the one full bottle I had hidden downstairs. I told her I thought I could do therapy four days a week and stop on my own. I thought that with people knowing about my struggle, I would be more accountable. It still didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t in control. As a result, I continued to try and hide my problem.
Shortly after my next blackout, my wife suggested I look into substance abuse treatment. Initially, my thought was, “Hell no.” I just got a new job. I just started therapy. What did it matter if I messed up, again…?
I knew I needed to get help though, and took the weekend to meditate and find some clarity before I decided for myself and the future of my family (if I wanted to keep mine) that I would need to seriously consider treatment.
I looked into some options. I found some I really wasn’t fond of, and almost gave up. I had very little hope left at that point. After some more research and talking with my family and employer, everything lined up perfectly for me to take the 30 days to get some serious sobriety under my belt. So I pulled the trigger, packed my personal belongings I would want for my stay, and went to live in the mountains of Heber, Utah for a month.
Attending Addiction Treatment at Wasatch Crest
Attending addiction treatment was actually a wonderful experience for me, after I got past the initial shock and emotions of leaving my comfortable life behind, and transitioned into a full-time job of addiction recovery. I picked Wasatch Crest because it is based around mindfulness and outdoor therapy modalities, which aligned perfectly with who I am.
Developing a routine of gratitude and learning to stay grounded in the present moment made my early recovery possible. I did struggle with the wave of raw emotions that seemed to creep in, as I didn’t have any of my old, unhealthy coping outlets.
The skills that I was provided with at Wasatch Crest, however, were essential, and I have integrated them into my daily routine to remain alcohol-free since completing treatment. For instance, starting and ending every day with positive affirmations and statements of gratitude are practices that seemed so inconsequential at the time, but once I stopped doing the daily exercises, I missed them.
I was able to go on some nice hikes in the fall, and even in the winter, I would spend time outside meditating, playing games, and sitting around the fire. The sound bath every week was a highlight, and I have since gotten singing bowls, tuning forks, and a galaxy light to create my own sound healing. Additionally during treatment, I gained a new respect for yoga and reading. The Lakota sweat lodge ritual was the icing on the cake.
During my stay at Wasatch Crest, I was able to meet people with similar struggles, live with them, make friendships, and learn to communicate in new ways which are experiences that aren’t typical in many other settings. Addiction treatment allowed the opportunity to express myself and process powerful emotions alongside others doing the same thing, which was an absolute blessing.
It was very beneficial for me to take 30 days for personal reflection and growth. There are things I miss about being in such a great substance abuse treatment center, but not enough to need to go back. For instance, having a chef was fantastic, but having a home where I can learn to cook what I want to eat is much better.
Life in Early Addiction Recovery
I found Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) while in treatment at Wasatch Crest, and I have continued to attend meetings on my own, which has been awesome. Meeting a sponsor and more people willing to join my support network helped me realize that I am not my mistakes. I can move forward with my grief to create a life beyond my wildest dreams.
Finding a connection to a spiritual path in my life again has been very welcoming. No, I do not go to a specific building to practice a distinct religion. I have, however, found, through meditation and sitting with myself, a profound peace within me, and I have come to believe that we all are part of the same source, love. When we can change from living in a state of survival and fear, to love and gratitude, nothing is the same. However one wants to perceive their higher power, I have found, personally, that having a higher power creates another avenue for me to stay grounded inside my head. It helps me slow my thoughts and let whatever is, to be still, in the now. By observing without judgment, I’ve realized we are human beings, being human, and our worlds can be as calm or crazy as we decide.
I am still just beginning this journey of recovery myself but I have to say it is so much easier to stay sober than it was to get sober. I am approaching my 90th day alcohol-free and life is already immensely different. My drive to pursue my hobbies again is skyrocketing. I’m attending AA, a men’s group, and individual therapy. Work is so much easier to perform without constantly having a freight train of thoughts and emotions driving me to drink. I have never been this consistent and good at communicating. I am ecstatic to continue feeling this way and see where I can take this beautiful opportunity to live a life I truly desire, without the grasp of alcohol constantly wrapped around my day.
With that, I am going to end my day by making a gratitude list, and a list of things I can and cannot control, so I can rest my head easily, knowing I made it one more day to my pillow sober.
ADDICTION RECOVERY AT WASATCH CREST
To learn more about available addiction treatment resources, get connected with care that’s a fit, and find out about Wasatch Crest’s addiction treatment programs, you can reach out to our admissions representatives.