Meet Recovery Rockstar Devin
“There are few things that provide so much joy as to watch somebody’s life go from shit to great. I have a front row seat to miracles like that every day!”
This was the last thing Devin said to me during our conversation. Today, Devin has been sober for nine and a half years.
- The Beginning -
Devin started drinking his sophomore year of high school and was introduced to coke and other drugs his freshman year of college. He started drinking and partying because that’s what everybody was doing, and when he drank he liked it. In Devin’s words, “drinking added to everything.” Devin ran with a crew that pushed the envelope; and he led the push.
Devin drank quickly to get drunk, and learned that snorting Ritalin and Coke would help keep him up. With all the drinking, Devin registered it was becoming a problem. He started traveling and keeping busy to limit drinking and would try to fix it with ways that he thought would make situation better.
At 27, his friends were worried, business wasn’t good, and finances were shit. He went to AA for the first time, which lasted 6 weeks. He said he went and enjoyed the stories, “drunks have great stories.” At AA, he met all walks of life. All of the people he met drank differently, did different drugs, and had different backgrounds. With all the differences, there were similarities that everybody repeated. To get sober and stay sober you need to get a sponsor, read the big book, and do the 12 steps.
After 6 weeks, he decided AA wasn’t for him for several reasons. A buddy suggested that he simply lay off the hard liquor and coke and he’d be fine. That plan worked out for about 4 hours. After AA, Devin went to a wedding, drank wine, beer, took shots and ended up doing blow. After the wedding he was drunk for about 2 years. He drank because he liked the effect of the alcohol. He had no desire to sit down and drink a merlot with you, but count him in if you’re up for 12 shots. Towards the end, he was drinking every day. Drinking was a craving he could not overcome. He could see the destruction, but couldn’t get a handle on it. He had an inability to overcome the craving. Every day he would talk to himself, “Dude you know what you did last night was terrible, why the fuck are you heading to the liquor store?” The liquor store always won.
“The problem with being an alcoholic is when they start drinking they can’t control the amount they put in afterwards. If we went to a bar and I bought you a couple of beers, you can go back to work finish up the day, head home hang with the family and tuck your kids in. If you bought me a beer, chances are I’d have no clue where I will be at the end of the night. I’d put my money on TJ. I don’t get to pick when I stop.” Devin could register the negative things he was doing in his life, he just didn’t have the ability to stop it on his own.
- A Turning Point -
Devin got evicted two days before his 29th birthday and moved into his parent’s house and started drinking again. It was 7a one morning and he was in his parent’s basement in the bathroom staring in the mirror. He was 30 pounds underweight because he couldn’t eat anymore and was shaking like a leaf. He was on his second warm beer when it hit him. He didn’t feel like he hit the bottom, but looking in the mirror he knew he had hit his top. He had reached the pinnacle of his existence if he wanted to keep living this way. Looking in the mirror that morning he knew that his life was as good as it was going to get if he wanted to keep doing things his way and he wasn’t where he wanted to be. At that moment he said, “Fuck It, I’m going to AA.” That second warm beer was the last drink he had ever had.
Devin got a sponsor when he was 4 days sober. He sat on his sponsor’s couch and told him everything he was never going to tell anybody when he was 11 days sober and started going back to the people he “fucked over” when he was 40 days sober.
Looking back at the end of his drinking days, he defines his life is SAD. The party ended YEARS before he made the step to get sober. Towards the end, he wasn’t hanging with friends, going out to concerts, or chasing girls. He was sitting on his couch alone, drinking until he knocked himself out. He’d wake up in morning shaking and sweating. He was in a perpetual detox. He’d wake up puke, and then dry heave and yell at the toilet. He’d try to do some manual labor but would get furious with those around him when they talked about getting lunch. The thought of eating made him want to puke more! At the end of the day he’d run home and drink until he was knocked out.
Based on his experience, AA worked for him when he was finally willing to go any length to stop his drinking. Now that he is sober, when he tries to go save someone, it is so clear when watching an alcoholic or drug addict destroy their live because of those substances. When he was drinking so many people would point out that he needed help, but he would never listen.
“People that are in a relationship with an alcoholic aren’t going to be able to beat them over the head with reality in order for them to get sober. It’s typically something a person wants to do, and wants to do it above everything else. Loved ones should be patient and try to continue to help, but realize it’s not a quick fix. You can try to point them in right direction or do an intervention (the right way), but ultimately it’s their decision to make a change.”
A lot of time for those battling addiction, it’s a collective effort of things that go wrong that becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back. For him it was losing his friends, police problems, hospital problems, and financial problems. It all just accumulated to the point where he knew he wasn’t going to be able to fix this problem himself.
- A New Life -
Today, Devin is 9 and a half year sober. When Devin got sober, he thought his life was over. He believed if he got sober there would be no more fun, no more travel, no more girls, no more anything. He was willing to give up all the pleasure because he was in so much pain. Today, he is happy to report he was completely wrong. Since he’s been sober he has traveled to over 20 countries. He lives a beautiful life in southern California. He has pursed his dreams and started a couple successful business. The cravings that he once had for alcohol and drugs is completely GONE!
“Part of the pleasure of being sober is eliminating the pain that was always there. I’m no longer closing down bars at 3am. I wake up early on a Saturday morning and don’t have to worry if I tried to sleep with a buddy’s wife, or something like that. This adds pleasure to my life. I’m working on several business ventures and traveling. I feel fucking great!”
Some of the biggest pleasures he gets is through AA, being on the other side of having the problem, and knowing where he’s come from.
According to Devin, “It is possible to get sober, to stay sober, and to live a great life and help other people who want to get help. There are few things that provide so much joy as to watch somebody’s life go from shit to great. I have a front row seat to miracles like that every day!”