*This post was written by AF, a 22-year-old student at CSU Channel Islands, born and raised in Ventura County and passionate about keeping the youth and other members of the community safe, informed, and responsible.
Steve is 46 years old and has been sober for over 9 months, which is the longest he has been sober since he was 12 years old. His addiction was to alcohol and marijuana, and he also has abused prescription medication. Steve’s history with alcohol begins in the 6th grade. At that time, he would drink occasionally, but by the end of middle school, his drinking progressed and soon he was drinking daily.
Steve’s parents were drinkers and marijuana users as well. He was able to get those substances from his parents’ cabinets with relative ease. There was a time when Steve brought his parents’ marijuana to school to show he was “cool”. His parents would drink with him sometimes, like when they were on the lake or river in a boat. His parents didn’t really seem to care much that he would drink some beers with them.
Steve’s parents split up when he was young. He had step siblings that were close to his and his sister’s age that he would be around often. His siblings could control their drinking easily, but Steve was not able to and would only stop drinking once he was passed out or otherwise too out of it to continue.
Looking back, he believes that his mom knew he was drinking a lot but didn’t want to face it or just didn’t care. His dad had a rough childhood and became an alcoholic, so there came a time when Steve would drink with his dad as a way to bond.
By his junior year of high school, Steve was going to parties and drinking heavily there. He had a midnight curfew, but otherwise his parents tolerated his partying, especially if the parties were close by in the neighborhood.
After high school, Steve lived at home for a few more years, eventually moving out and meeting his ex-girlfriend, who would eventually mother his son who is now 18. He would go on to work some construction jobs, but he would use his long commute home as a time to drink alcohol. He would be drinking and driving pretty often, getting caught once. He had to pay the fines, go to classes, and do community service. He continued to drink and drive many times after that, as if he never got caught.
His son played in little league baseball for some years, and Steve coached the teams. He would be sure not to drink when there were games and practices, and felt like he was making a good, responsible decision by doing so. Steve was there for his son’s baseball activities and he was able to pay bills, so he felt like he was being responsible. Looking back, he was not being as much of a responsible man or father as he could have or should have been.
Steve also spent many years making sure he did not drink or smoke marijuana at home, but instead going to bars to do so. Coming home from the bar often caused problems with the ex-girlfriend, who would get angry, confrontational, and sometimes violent about his behaviors. There was a time when that girlfriend and his son confronted him at the bar by driving around back and finding Steve, and got angry at him there. The relationship with this girlfriend quickly became more and more toxic, only fueling Steve’s addictions and anger issues more.
At some point, Steve began abusing prescription medications. He would take them while also drinking and smoking marijuana. He is able to take his prescriptions responsibly now, but there was a time where he abused them and began speaking random phrases to people that were not in the room and other worrying phrases that made no sense. He would try to take a shower but he couldn’t lift his leg to get into the shower. Looking back, what he was doing really could have hurt him or others, and he is lucky to have not done serious damage to anyone.
There were times that he knew he had a problem but did nothing about it. He had lost jobs and things were not going well, plus the relationship with the ex-girlfriend was very bad for him, so he went to live back with his mom. Near this area, there was a creek that he would visit to pray. The time at this creek and his time in prayer helped him realize some of the problems he had so he could start to work through them. He took some anger management classes to get those issues under control. He would also channel his anger into playing golf.
In leaving his ex-girlfriend, he also left his son, about 14 at the time. Looking back, he knows he needed to do that because the situation he was in was not going to allow him to leave his anger and addictions behind, but he does feel some guilt about his sort of abandonment of his son. His son also has anger problems and fights with his mom, so Steve hopes his son can learn to deal with those.
Steve tries to keep in contact with them, but they harbor some anger towards him. Steve is trying to move forward in his recovery, but his ex-girlfriend and his son always seem to bring up the past and play the blame game. They can’t understand why Steve didn’t quit drinking years ago, before he left them. While Steve can understand their feelings, he wishes they could be proud of what he has accomplished now. Steve hopes that his recovery and positive outlook going forward will be appreciated by his son, because currently their relationship is strained.
All the drinking and smoking put some serious wear and tear on his body, which does not heal as quickly as it used to. He always seemed to be in a fog that never lifted. He had forgotten what it was like to be in mainstream life, with a job and goals. He missed a lot of time during his son’s childhood because of his alcoholism. He wishes he could have seen there was a problem earlier and began his recovery when he was much younger and still in his prime, but it’s better to recover now than never.
Steve had a friend who knew about the sober living home and got him to call. He called and came in to the home, which he hated it at first. But his self-esteem was so low and his life was not going anywhere, so he surrendered and came in. He could be dead or living in a car, but instead, he has a bed and a shower, and so he is thankful.
The friend who got him to call even paid his first month’s rent to help ease him into it. Steve had tried AA before, but he was not ready. For a long time, he did not care if he had a problem. It took seeing that someone cared about him to make him want to care about himself.
There was a time when his family was trying to get him to move in with them in Havasu, a notorious place for drinking, and he declined to live in sober living. He was afraid that living in Havasu would trigger him to drink, and so he made the right choice for him and his recovery.
Another motivation for Steve to begin recovery was that his dad had passed away when he was only 49, and he never got to meet Steve’s son. Steve wanted to take control of his health so that he did not leave his son early too. He feels some guilt about his relationship with his son, but he understands that he needed to leave to save his own life. He hopes to make it up to his son in the coming years, and he knows it takes time to rebuild trust. He wants his son to focus on the positive aspects of his recovery, and to be proud of the steps taken so far. He hopes that the addictive behaviors will skip a generation so his son will not become involved in these things, too. He wants his son to be healthy and happy, and he prays for him often.
Steve knows he can’t take back the past, so all he can do is move forward making healthier choices. He can meet up with people and have conversations without having a drink in his hand. Now, to help maintain his sobriety, Steve stays involved. He goes to meetings, and he has a sponsor that he does things with, like playing some sports. He also has a job to keep him busy and away from unhealthy behaviors.
Steve is happy to have gone through what he did because it taught him some important lessons. One lesson he wants to pass on to others is that it is really important to be careful about who you hang around with. You will probably do what they do, so hang out with people who do the right thing. The whole concept of peer pressure is true, and it’s likely you will cave in.
Steve’s story had another very important lesson for the readers of this post. Steve was active in sports growing up and he got good grades in school, yet he still developed a substance abuse problem. This is an important example for anyone who thinks that extracurricular activities and good grades automatically exempt you from having these issues. Poor school performance or involvement are not the only risk factors for addiction, and people should be aware of that.