“I am in the Association of Recovering Motorcyclists. We are recovering from addictions and like to ride. I tried to stay sober for 12 years before I got into ARM. After I got in, I have been sober for six years this month. The first thing I think of when I pick up a drink is maybe I could, but I would have to leave the group behind and this is family. I started smoking weed when I was 11 or 12. My brother was five years older and my role model. He drank on the weekends. Partying was his thing and I followed in his footsteps. The first time I got drunk I was 13. I stepped outside and the world looked different. It was fuzzy and bright. More beautiful and happy. I talked to girls better and seemed to handle it well. By 15, I was drinking Vodka and Mountain Dew every weekend. That progressed to pills and psychedelics. That went to cocaine and heroin and crack.
I was a construction worker when the heroin addiction was bad. I made $35 an hour and couldn’t afford the heroin. I spent $200 to $300 a day. You spend 75 percent of your time trying to get heroin and the other 25 percent enjoying it. I couldn’t afford it and didn’t have time to enjoy it. Now I just want to afford my lifestyle of laying around. It was 16 years of my life running, chasing, partying and playing. I grew up too fast. My brother killed himself in 2003. He was 26. I am 37 and now just want to relax. I spent all of my 30’s sober.
To begin to quit. It took months of planning and plotting and wrapping my head around the concept of who I was and who I wanted to be. I recognized I had tried all of the remedies and none of them worked. I had to do a 180-degree change. I left my construction job and moved from Wisconsin to Florida to get my masters degree in maritime archaeology. I started in astrophysics, but I don’t like math. I graduate next summer.
I don’t feel as demoralized when I am sober. I feel there is a way out of the situations I find myself in. I don’t have to run from them with drugs and alcohol. I don’t have to hide from life anymore. I want to go to a nine to five job and have the rest of my day for me.”