Tommy found his purpose after years of struggling with addiction

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My name is Tommy, I’m a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. This is my story.

I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. I was a high school athlete with a lot of friends and a good family. I took my first drink at 15 years old just because me and my friends wanted to see what it was like. I fell in love instantly. My father had just left my mother after 20+ years of marriage and drinking on the corners, schoolyards and whatever bars would let underage kids in made it easier to deal with.

I was always a good student and got an academic scholarship to college. I would spend the next 7 years in Pleasantville, NY. From the minute I stepped on campus drinking became my major. Looking back on it, at 17 years old I was an alcoholic. So much so that at my first year awards ceremony for my fraternity I was voted most likely to wind up in AA. I thought that was the greatest thing ever. I went on to win that award 5 years straight. After graduation I milled around town not really wanting to give up the college life. I watched all my friends graduate and get jobs in their chosen fields while I bartended at our old hangout and drank day and night. One night looking for a little something extra a friend handed me a little foil packet. I did my first line of cocaine that night and would rarely go a day without it for the next 6 years. In 2000 things started to get out of control so it was time for a geographic change and I decided to move back with my family in Brooklyn. I landed a great job with a Wall Street firm and said I would only drink and smoke pot from then on. That lasted 2 weeks. The drinking and cocaine became an every night thing once again. My routine was to party all night and take an Ativan or klonipin in the morning to stop the shakes and get through work so I could do it all over again. That routine lasted a little less than 2 years and in February of 2002 I lost that job and entered my first detox followed by a 10 day stay In the psych unit. It was my first exposure to AA. Speakers would come share their stories but I wasn’t listening. I was willing to stop the cocaine but not the booze. It was the first time I hadn’t had anything in my system in years and I felt great but I didn’t know how to live sober and I was drinking my first night home.

A few years earlier I was given Percocet for a pulled tooth. I loved the feeling and every now and then would take a few during a night of partying. When I was in the psych ward I was told about OxyContin. I had seen them before in my house. My aunt was prescribed them on a monthly basis. I never really knew too much about them, unfortunately I found out. I took one and that one would become an 800 mg a day habit on top of the booze and the cocaine.

Over the next 3 years I would cross every line I said I wouldn’t. I would lose everything and everyone in my life and it would culminate with me smoking crack and snorting heroin alone, in the bedroom I grew up in, with my mother in the next room, her door locked crying herself to sleep every night. The drink that made everything easier 14 years earlier turned into a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. At 29 years old I wanted to end my life. I asked for help on March 12, 2005 and got it. I entered a program and started going to meetings. My life got better and days turned to months turned to years. I was living the life I dreamed about for years.

The next part of this story is the most important part. I attained so much in 4 years of sobriety that I lost sight of how I got there. I stopped doing the things I needed to do in order to stay sober. A small back injury and a moment of weakness led to me taking 1 Vicodin, “I had an 800 mg a day habit 4 years ago “ what’s 1 Vicodin gonna do ? That’s what I said to myself. That 1 Vicodin woke something up in me and instead of telling people I was struggling I tried to get through it myself. That 1 Vicodin took six and a half years to put down. By the grace of God and a lot of support from the people closest to me I entered treatment on January 27, 2016 and haven’t picked up a drink or drug since.

I thank God for the life I have today. It isn’t the life I dreamed of as a kid living in a neighborhood where flashy cars and wads of cash were looked up to and idolized, it’s the one I dreamed of and prayed for when I was at my worst. I wake up everyday and go to a job I love. I come home to a beautiful wife who stands by me no matter what. I have family and friends who love and support me on a daily basis. I try to be of as much service to others as I can. Through my struggles I found my greatest strength, I found my purpose in life.

I share my story as often as I can so that someone else doesn’t have to go down the same road that I did. I share it so that people who are on that same road know that no matter how bad things may get, there is help out there and there is always hope. Life is a precious gift and I know that today.

Thank you for letting me share my story. God Bless all who read it.

Tommy F.