I was an overweight, insecure kid whose parents divorced when I was nine. Like most kids, I wanted to be popular, athletic and smart; in reality, I was awkward, could not throw or hit a ball, and I was average in school.
From an early age, I was fascinated with alcohol. Whether hounding my father for sips of his beer, or begging for a small glass of wine on special occasions, my preoccupation was not normal.
I discovered playing the drums, and with it, partying. In my teens, I started drumming in bands, playing in bars on school nights and being paid in drinks. Drinking and getting high became an inseparable part of my music. I was a daily pot smoker and took so-called recreational drugs—cocaine, mescaline, acid, psilocybin, and others—whenever I could. I played in a string of bands through my 20s.
I stumbled into the medical field, working in operating rooms as a surgical technician. This was the “day job” I would leave when my music career took off.
My existence was a succession of problems due to my substance abuse. Instead of achieving success as a drummer and quitting that day job, I struggled as my life began to spiral down. My music suffered and bands fired me. My livelihood was in jeopardy, and my relationships were hollow shells. By the time I was 30, my life was circling the drain.
In September 1990, I had a mental and emotional meltdown, and hospitalized myself in rehab. I struggled to come to terms with my addictions and their wreckage. I was introduced to recovery, but still needed to learn some hard lessons—it was my orientation period. Drinking and drugging gave me a final beatdown, and in the defining moment of my true bottom, in utter despair, I contemplated suicide. However, instead of ending my life, I began a new one in recovery.
I got sober in the traditional model of recovery, following Alcoholics Anonymous’ suggested program. I did the work and succeeded. Not only did I stay sober, but in five years’ time I reinvented myself – I quit smoking, became physically fit, earned a nursing degree and bought a home.
Yet, I had questions. In the first days of my real recovery, I had a mystical experience, and I thought about it every day that passed. The first time I attempted prayer, five days sober, the prayer was answered—in a way that was completely unexpected and surprising—but answered nevertheless. I received the gift of faith. I never again struggled with the obsession to drink or get high, but I had more experiences that continued to raise questions. I wanted answers.
So I read—a lot. I also began to study alternative and holistic healing. At the same time, new ideas in science fascinated me. The idea that there is more than we see, hear, smell, taste and feel became inescapable. I pursued deeper spiritual knowledge, and my belief system began to crystallize. Finally, it all seemed to circle back to support my recovery.
I realized that my positive outcome was not commonplace, as many continue to struggle for months, years and even decades into recovery. Amazing recovery comes with a different set of problems. It’s not really possible to simply accept that kind of gift and go on your way. The biggest problem in my life today is that we collectively still struggle. My purpose for living has become a mission to help those who suffer as I once did.
Eight years ago, I began studying new techniques in personal transformation, particularly as they pertained to recovery from addiction. I wanted to understand what I had done differently, why it was working so well, and how it could work for anyone else. This opened up a new world for me, and I began to write my first book in 2013; I literally quit my day job as a nurse to write full-time, having faith that it would all work out. It did.
Amazing recovery from addiction does not happen randomly. Most people enter the process and get a vague expectation that if they go to meetings, have a sponsor, get involved and follow the herd that they will stay sober.That might be enough for the mere maintenance of sobriety, but there are no guarantees of even that.
The 85-year-old, twelve-step peer recovery movement is just as lost with bold new ideas as it is with the opiate epidemic. The response to new ideas is usually “keep it simple.” Unfortunately, what that’s really saying is don’t threaten the old ideas with your new ideas. And this is part of the dilemma of AA, which has long been the flagship of recovery. In making it tamperproof, the founders inadvertently made it resistant to evolving with the times.
Recovery is a skill that can be learned. The traditional model has worked the best for the most for the longest, and it gets a lot of things right. By taking those elements and refining them to their essence, one is left with the pillars of recovery. Understanding the components of peer-based recovery takes the guesswork out.
But there is more, much more. The cause and effect version of reality we have been raised in, educated in, and conditioned to is incomplete. Once I learned to stop living by the laws of cause and effect, and instead learned how to cause an effect, my recovery became a transformation. Once I was a man who could not go a single day without drinking and drugging; today I am an upgraded version of myself who is free of the ball and chain of addictive illness. And all I had to do was learn, understand and apply some simple ideas and concepts that will be understood by schoolchildren in a few more years.
My recovery is sustainable, an engine that drives itself. My recovery is infinite.
In the limitless potential of all that is possible, you can have a recovery beyond anything you ever thought possible. If I can do it, so can you. Please… Let me show you how. You are so worth it.