“I know based on my experience that your life can change.” – Mike’s Addiction Recovery Story

By Wasatch Crest program graduate, Mike T.

Wasatch Crest program graduate, Mike T., shared his story of addiction recovery. You can watch and read his full narrative below.

Hi, my name’s Mike, and I’m a Wasatch Crest alumni. I’d like to share my story with you. I’m from Birmingham, Alabama. Roll tide. I’m the youngest of three boys. I had a very happy childhood. I had both my parents until I was eight in the same household, and they got divorced. 

When I was 12, I had a family tragedy. My father passed away suddenly. It was a very tough period for our entire family and me. I was young, in middle school, trying to develop socially. You don’t know who you are at 12. 

I started experimenting with alcohol first. I would drink very rarely but I would drink and mostly it was in social settings or having friends over trying to look cool, but that progressed when I got into high school. It was alcohol and marijuana initially. I was doing that fairly often. 

I ended up breaking my wrist when I was 15. I got prescribed Lortab and that provided a sense of ease and comfort that I’d never had in my life. I felt so comfortable in my skin. It did something for me. It provided an effect that I just loved. That really developed over time to where I was using it pretty much every day.

I was taking Oxycontin by the time I was out of high school. Into college, I was a full-fledged opiate addict. If I didn’t have it for a day, I would be sick. Then, one thing leads to another. I’m dropping out of college. I have a child at a young age. I was 21.

When my daughter was born, I tried to get my life back on the rails. I was successful, moderately. I might have had a year with some other maintenance programs, but I was not practicing complete abstinence. It was bound to fail.

I ended up relapsing. I relapsed. At this point, it progressed even further. Oxycontin was not available anymore and it progressed to heroin. It was a miserable existence then. My life had become so unmanageable. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror at all. I was getting into legal trouble. 

I ended up getting a legal case that forced me to get clean. I was given a 65-month prison term. They were willing to suspend the probation if I completed certain tasks. It allowed me to have a view of sobriety and that it was possible, because up to that point I’d never had actual sobriety. I did maintenance which was not complete abstinence and would last only so long. 

Once the legal repercussions were gone, I wasn’t long for the abstinence world. I was not working on any program of recovery. I just did the bare minimum. It ended poorly. That would have been 2016 or 2017, somewhere in that ballpark. I’d relapsed. Addiction is a progressive disease. It just keeps ramping up.

I ended up in a bad way. I lost my home. I was sleeping on a couch and I was extremely miserable with my outside circumstances. Prior times had probably been worse as far as objectively looking outside from the end, but internally I was completely miserable. I was desperate for a new way of life. I was desperate for a way out, and I was trying to find a treatment center. 

The state of my situation was dire, and I believe that I couldn’t do anything local. I couldn’t go to a local program because I just knew I would probably leave. God showed a way. I was trying to find a place out of state. I’d called some places in Texas. I’d called some in California, and I was having no luck.

I remembered I had a friend I went to high school with that was out in Utah. I knew he’d been in long-term recovery and I reached out. At that time, he had been an admissions representative at Wasatch Crest. That was God really opening a door for me. I get to Wasatch Crest relatively easily. Within maybe less than a week of me contacting him, and finding out that he was there, I was at Wasatch Crest. 

My experience there was nothing short of amazing and exactly what I needed. First off, I got there and the facility was just miles beyond what I’d ever seen in the state of Alabama, which you all might say that’s not saying much, but be nice. This facility was great. 

The staff was so nice and welcoming and the program itself they have there was exactly what I needed. There was some structure. There were so many great classes, great counselors. 

The activities really stand out to me. Things I would have never even imagined that I’d want to do like a Native American Sweat Lodge or the fact that I was doing yoga. The high school version of me would have been like what are you doing, but it was so good for me. I think a lot of that was a product of the fact that I wanted my life to change so much, I was willing to do these things. I was open-minded. We got to do intensive work there with my counselors and in small groups. It was really helpful.

The bonds you make with people you’re in treatment with are lifelong in so many cases. The things you go through there together are very powerful. Going through that with the fellowship is extremely important. 

I was there for the 30-day inpatient. Upon graduating from the 30-day program, I returned to Birmingham, Alabama. They had made suggestions of attending a recovery program for aftercare, and going to 90 meetings in 90 days. 

I ended up going to over 180 meetings in 180 days. I missed my Wasatch family. In my early recovery, I went back to Utah just to visit. That’s how much the place meant to me and how much the staff meant to me and a lot of my Utah family meant to me that I wanted to go see them.

For me, it was very important to stay grounded. That’s what going to a lot of meetings will do for you. It doesn’t matter how you’re feeling that day, it could be a great day, or it could be a terrible day, but I need to remember that I’m an alcoholic and an addict. Then I need a daily reprieve to keep from using and that’s based on my spiritual condition which the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps provide an outline for me for my daily living. 

When I got home, I did six months of meetings every day. I had a sponsor by the time I made it back to Birmingham. I actually got it lined up while I was still in Utah. I worked the 12 steps. I did some therapy with my daughter because it’s a disease that affects more than just the person who has it. There’s a lot of family healing to be done. When you’re starting from a point of complete abstinence, working on your spiritual condition, and working the 12 steps, you’re in a place where you can move forward and you can begin to heal, not just yourself, but those relationships and help those people heal as best you can. 

My sobriety date is 1.13.22. At this point, I’m in what they consider long-term recovery after years of early sobriety. It’s been the same process. The pitfalls that would be in early recovery are the same to me in long-term recovery. The things I need to do daily don’t change. I need to work on the steps. I need to pray. I need to call my sponsor. I need to go to meetings. I still go to a minimum of three meetings a week typically. I have a home group. I have a sponsee. I still have my same sponsor. I have a tight-knit fellowship, not just from my family in Utah, but my recovery family here, people that participate in 12-step fellowships. It’s been paramount and it’s allowed me to get back to a way of living to be productive, not only personally to be healthy mentally and physically, but it’s also allowed me to just grow in so many ways that I didn’t know that I needed to.

I’ve been able to participate in hobbies and healthy things that have been years since I’ve done. I go fishing. I go jogging. I’ll shoot the bow. I’ll shoot guns. All types of things, outdoor hobbies, hiking. These things that I just didn’t have time for when I was out there running around, doing no good. Those are the things that this way of life is providing me, and what gave me the springboard for this way of life.

I’m eternally grateful to Wasatch Crest. This is not lip service. The people there cared for me. They helped me. They helped guide me. If you are looking for a change in your life and are in a state where you don’t know the right way to turn, I would suggest going to Wasatch Crest. If you can go there with willingness and open-mindedness and with the ability to be honest with yourself most of all. 

I know based on my experience that your life can change now. My life looks severely different than it did. This time a little over a year ago and I’m very blessed and I’m very thankful for that. I am very thankful for Wasatch Crest and I hope that you’ve enjoyed the story.

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