Jonathan takes us along on his journey to sobriety.
In my journey of sobriety, I have made some interesting realizations about myself. To be quite honest – about a lot of people that binge drink. There is no doubt in my mind that binge drinking on a weekly basis (weekend) is the most dangerous with regard to the safety of oneself and others. Since I resonate more with binge drinkers, unlike you with daily drinkers, I can agree with your statement about going inward to try and resolve internal issues (emotional and psychological).
Ethnicity plays a huge role in my story. I am Mexican, and my drinking began at the age of 13. I had my first blackout at the age of 13. That wasn’t constant until after high school, since I no longer had school and the raving/party seen was on full blast. From the ages of 18-21, I blacked out every weekend – waking up with horrible hangovers. Mostly because I tended to mix drugs like cocaine/crystal/ecstasy/noz to accompany my alcohol of choice. At that point, it was anything I could get my hands on – 40 oz to 4 Locos to Jack Daniels. As a young buck, I had no intentions of stopping – until suddenly the bad moments weren’t just when I woke up with a hangover, but more so when I was starting problems with my own friends and being angry and raging instead of having a good time. This caused me to slow down a bit and say ‘well OK, I need to chill’.
I ended up picking up weed – more just to chill out. At the same time, I decided to go to school for pharmacy tech (what a risk that was 😅). During school I would rarely go out since I had a job and school. However, there were those occasional times I would go out. It was 50/50 in the sense that I didn’t know if it was going to be a good night or a bad one. Doing my best to stay focused, I ended up obtaining my pharmacy tech license. Luckily, I was hired full time right out of my externship. Having this new sense of value and a “career”, I felt super accomplished. No doubt I felt on top of the world. Now, I forgot to add that I was hustling weed, ecstasy, and cocaine prior to becoming a tech. With my new career in hand, I decided to set aside my ‘easy money’ ways and kick dealing to the curb.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out the system in the pharmacy and inventory count. My old ways and hustle mentality were just unshakable. The suspense and thrill I would get was better than a cocaine high. Now, I’m really partying like a rock star and man was it crazy. Five months later I get arrested on a public intoxication charge. My downfall was having “Xanax” on me, thus putting me in a felony cell. Once released, I made sure to renew my pharmacy license before Sacramento found out about my case. Sooner or later I realized I would have to leave the industry. This event had me devastated. I knew I had to settle down…and literally that’s what happened.
At this point I am 22 and my girlfriend is about to give birth to my first son (we met the night I was arrested). After dating for 3 months, we discovered we were expecting and moved out into our own place 7 miles from the city. Subconsciously, I knew this would help me; however, I also knew that I would have to step up and be a better person.
I can’t describe the feeling I had of freedom and being incarcerated at the same time.
Deep down, I knew things were moving rather quickly with my girlfriend and she was riding the wave just as I was. It didn’t take long until verbal fights and disrespect broke out from both of us. We were clearly not ready for this, but we both had that feeling of needing to stick together “for our kid”. As my pharmacy tech gig went to a close, I had to look for work elsewhere. She had to pick up my slack and things got even more tense. I was drinking my sorrows away and she was also doing her thing on her own. We started growing apart as roommates.
Feeling like it was my fault, I knew I had to do something to better the situation, which I relentlessly did. I found a union job that paid fair and as I grew with the company, things seemed promising. This helped neutralize the tension, but my drinking didn’t stop. My alcohol bone was always attached to my cocaine bone. Cocaine was pretty much a part of my drinking sessions. One weekend, I took off to Vegas without telling my girlfriend. When I came back, my stuff was packed. She gave me the boot and I didn’t blame her. After long weekends of depressed drinking and lashing out at the world at bars, I went back to ask for forgiveness and an opportunity to redeem myself. Being away from each other might have helped and our relationship was active again. Thus, we got pregnant with my second son. During her pregnancy I set out to start working out and told myself my kids were not going to have a crony, tweaker-looking dad. Even though I still drank, I was trying to better myself physically.
Journey To Sobriety
June 22, 2016 my second son was born. I was feeling better about myself physically and I had even stopped drinking about 2 months in!
Everything was going well! Two months turned into a year and in no time, I began to see really impressive changes in my health and body.
However, my relationship was on the decline. It was weird. Really weird, actually. I thought that my journey to sobriety would solve everything! It was something I was willing to “deal with”. Before you know it, I am 2 years sober, loving life, and really noticing a huge character change and love for life in general. But, my relationship was going nowhere fast. I just couldn’t put it together on what was going on.
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Then 2018 comes around and my journey to sobriety is 3 years in 🙏👐. However, I’ve grown as a person and am no longer happy in this relationship. So I left. I did everything in my power to put myself in the best situation to see my kids and have 50% custody. (I wasn’t married). Since I was spending more time alone, I started reflecting. I didn’t drink, so I began to read. I was never a reader. Leaving my family was the hardest thing I ever had to do (harder than stopping drinking). I grew up not knowing my dad, so relapsing was out of the question. I started writing in a journal, writing poetry, writing a letter to my childhood and to my father. I wrote to the point where it all went away.
As a child I was sexually molested. I always tried to cover it up deep in the back of my mind, but it will always pop up one way or another. I felt dirty and disgusted with myself. And that’s when it hit me. This is why when you drink you get out of hand. You never resolved this and forgave yourself and accepted yourself – also the situation with my father. There is always exterior problems that cause stress, but the ones on the inside are the ones that are most important to resolve. That is what I got from this experience.
2019 – I am now 4 years sober. I started the alcohol and drug abuse counseling certification program at my local junior college. My professor asked the question.
What do you guys think can help with alcohol and drug abuse in our new age? What new programs or resources can be applied now? How do old programs and resources get it wrong? Or how should they change?
It wasn’t a homework assignment, but I took those questions home with me and my brain started firing up all sorts of ideas. What I came to realize, is that the world is constantly changing and so are we as humans – as are the drugs, alcohol and bad habits. I don’t need to be a counselor, per se; I can use the information and knowledge. However, I want to come up with my own program – my own way to not just help or support recovering addicts, but to prevent it from even happening.
Share Your Story
We’d love to hear about your journey to sobriety! Please share your story and help others!