Being sober has given Kyle a life more valuable than any drunk or high

What is was like.

My name is Kyle Joseph Mann.  I'm an Alcoholic, and my sobriety date is July 15th 2014.  I did not pick this date on my own will because for the longest time, I didn't want any part of sobriety, recovery, and benefiting myself.  I have struggled with addiction every since I was a child.  I had a problem with my own self image, idolized all sorts of addicts, and had a big problem with authority. 

Throughout the years I was always told that drugs were bad, through DARE and other various programs.  This did not influence me in a positive way, in fact I looked at these programs with very negative views due to the fact that they were telling me how to live my life, at least I thought that.  All throughout my life I never liked be told what to do.  I had pent up resentments towards my parents, teachers, police, and any other authority figures.  If I was told to do or not do something, I would do the opposite because of that. 

I started my addiction to substance by stealing my older brothers cigarettes.  Eventually I smoked and drank by the age of 12 and I had found what I loved in life.  I idolized punk rock icons and skateboarders, and a majority of them liked to drink and use drugs.  I wanted to be just like them.  This carried out throughout my teenage years when I would do anything I got my hands on.  I carried a reputation for being the kid that was always on drugs and knew how to get drugs as well as the kid that parents would advise their children not to associate with. 

At 16 I used drugs regularly, sold drugs, and had been kicked out of multiple high schools.  Around this time was my first experience of getting in trouble with the law.  I was arrested for selling drugs and because I was a minor and this was a first offense, I was offered a drug diversion program which involved outpatient rehab.  This was my first introduction to AA and I wanted no part of it.  I manipulated authority once again, put on a fake persona as if I wanted to straighten my life out, impressed my parents and counselors only to be lying to their faces.  I faked the drug tests and I didn't learn anything because I did not want to be sober. 

I had many more run ins with the law, had done time in LA county, and my addiction resulted in me be homeless in Los Angeles.  I started using heroin at 16 years old and it progressed to destroy my life and everyone else around me.  I was kicked out of my parents house, burned bridges left and right, and was left in LA with no roof over my head and I was content with that.  Eventually, when I could no longer support my habit through selling drugs and panhandling, I was left hopeless.  I took a look at my life then and realized I needed to get help and I couldn't live like that anymore.

What Happened?

I contacted my family.  I hadn't spoken to them in months, they did not know if I was alive, dead or anything in between.  I told them I needed help and I couldn't stop using drugs.  They did some research and found me a rehab in Anaheim called The Lighthouse.  I went there with the intentions of getting off heroin, not staying sober.  I was also under the impression that I was just going to do detox and no treatment.  God did for me what I couldn't do for myself and the intake coordinator told me I wouldn't be admitted if I refused treatment.  How grateful I am today for staying. 

I went through rehab holding onto my old ideas until my second week there when something clicked.  I realized that I needed to grow up, take responsibility for my own actions, and be an adult and I couldn't do that if I incorporated any sort of mind altering substance in my life.  I always prioritized getting high and never had any ambitions to succeed in life.  AA panels would visit The Lighthouse and various members of AA would share their experience, strength, and hope with us.  A few of them had what I wanted.  They had freedom, happiness, confidence and were responsible adults. 

When I heard their stories and where they came from, I realized they have overcome something that I had never thought possible and had created an amazing life for themselves.  All of them made the same suggestions.  Work all 12 steps with a sponsor, find a god of your own understanding, and help others always.  When I continued to hear the same thing I realized maybe this AA will actually work for me if I give 100% effort into it.  That day forward I made a promise to myself that I would do all 12 steps and finish them.  If nothing changed within myself and I didn't feel better sober, I would get high. 

I'm glad I was not disappointed as I embarked on a journey that changed my life forever.  I lived in sober living for a year, paid my own bills, and genuinely enjoyed life.  I had friends who I cared about and those who cared about me.  I participated in Panels and sponsored men and started working in recovery as well.  I didn't take life for granted anymore, I continued to do God's will and not my own by helping other people.  In turn, I felt great about myself by helping others and felt that I had a purpose in life.  I made AA the most important thing in my life and in turn I gained the love and respect from my family back as well as had a new found respect for myself.

What it's like now.

Today I live an amazing life.  I currently work at an outpatient rehab in Anaheim and I don't call it work.  I go to school for drug and alcohol counseling and make helping others my primary purpose in life.  I play in a band and play shows regularly.  I have taken a few men through the steps and watched their lives go from hopeless and broken, to happy and fulfilled.  That in itself, is why I continue to stay sober, knowing that I genuinely care about other people. I'm a good person today, and I get to see others have this amazing life that was so freely given to me.  I'm doing my 12 steps again as this program has shown me that the steps are tools to live life with a positive attitude and maintain peace of mind. 

I love my life today, and to think I wanted no part of this amazes me.  I love myself and am comfortable in my own skin and it's all thanks to this program.  I feel I don't deserve this life but I know if I can continue to pay it forward by constantly helping others I can continue this path of righteousness.  I have fun in life and enjoy it by going to concerts, getting tattooed, participating in local events.  Being a good person never felt so good and AA has proven how awesome life can really be. 

As for words of encouragement for the addict or alcoholic who is still suffering, there is a better way to live.  There is always help if you reach out and have the willingness to do the work.  I can guarantee your life will change if you do all 12 steps and implement them into your life.  You will gain a new found love and respect for yourself and you will live up to your potential.  I suggest you set the same goal if you're just starting sobriety, at least do all 12 steps honestly and thoroughly before you decide to relapse.  Well before the end of this process, your attitude will change.  Instead of fighting to stay sober, you will want to stay sober.  You will have a life more valuable than any drunk or high you've ever had.  There's a little work but the results are astonishing if you have the willingness and determination. 

Thank you all for listening to my story and God bless. 


Kevin ZurekComment