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Addiction Recovery During Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Surfside! During the holiday, our guys will head home to spend time with their loved ones- a very special time for all of us here at Surfside.  Watching our families reunite with their sons fuels our passion to continue helping young men recover from addiction.  With all of the hard work our guys put in, we are blessed to watch them go home to their families and show others that addiction recovery during Christmas is possible!

As the weather turns cold, we encourage you to curl up in front of the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy the December Edition of the Surfside Alumni Spotlight. This month, we are excited to celebrate the recovery journey of Surfside Alumni, Jack S.  Jack has transformed into a prominent role as a leader in the Surfside community, and many of our residents come to him for guidance as they progress through early recovery.  He has become an incredible young man of honor and integrity. If you have never met Jack before, just look for the long-haired surfer who never wears shoes (even in the freezing cold!).  Enjoy!

addiction recovery during christmasJack grew up in a loving household, and had everything he ever wanted or needed.  He recalls from a very early age that he never felt like he fit in with those around him.  He lacked confidence and self esteem, constantly sought validation from others, and convinced himself that he was different from everyone else.

As Jack transitioned into high school, the feeling of loneliness and uniqueness intensified.  At the all-male Catholic high school, athletics and partying dominated the social scene, and Jack always found himself on the outside looking in as the odd man out.

One weekend, Jack planned to attend a sleepover at a buddy’s house.  During the prior week, the boys formulated a plan to obtain alcohol and drink for the first time.  Not only did Jack drink for the first time, he experienced his very first blackout.  From the moment the alcohol touched his lips, Jack felt OK.  He had found his solution to all of his problems.  The voices in his end went silent, and he finally felt OK with who he was.  He woke up the next day, in the midst of his very first hangover, and could not wait to drink again.  He immediately went behind the bar at his friend’s house, and poured himself another drink.  From the jump, Jack had no problem stealing from others to get what he needed.

That weekend sparked that match that would ignite Jack’s addiction for the next several years.  He transitioned into other substances, such as marijuana and opioid pills, which dominated most of his high school years.  The pills took away any sort of self doubt or discomfort and helped Jack become an entirely new person.  The booze and drugs provided the validation that he had craved for so long.

Although he didn’t show it, anger and bitterness consumed him throughout high school.  He hated the world and everyone in it.  He stole money and valuables from family and friends to support his addiction, but he didn’t mind dropping his morals.  At this point, alcohol and drugs had him chained down.

After high school, Jack earned an opportunity to go to college in Charleston, South Carolina.  Perhaps a change of scenery would change things, but he would soon find out that all of his problems made the trip south as well.  As soon as he arrived, all he wanted to do was get high and party.  Going to class became an afterthought.  To support his addiction, Jack started selling drugs and became the go-to-guy around campus.  Not only did he earn some cash, but he also found the sense of identity amongst his peers.  He embraced the drug dealer lifestyle and the chaos that came with it.

In his mind, Jack’s lifestyle didn’t hurt anybody but himself.  However, the lying and manipulation to protect his drug use effected his relationship with his family and friends.  Jack soon found himself on an island completed isolated from the rest of the world.

Finally, the university had enough, and the administration asked Jack to leave the school.  He obliged, and spent the next year crashing on friends’ couches and partying.  At one point, he did try to get back into school, but the attempt was lackluster and only to appease his parents.

All around, Jack felt miserable.  But he thought he would be OK as long as he could continue to use.

Then, Jack’s parents approached him about going to rehab.  And of course, he remained incredibly resistant.

“Please don’t make me go to rehab.  Please don’t take my drugs away from me,” he pleaded to his parents.  Looking back on the situation, Jack couldn’t believe that those words came out of his mouth.

But enough was enough, and Jack admitted to Ashley Treatment Center.  He followed all the rules, and some would call him the perfect rehab student.  But at no point did Jack become willing to accept any sort of help.  He manipulated his counselors to cosign his decision to return home after treatment, although they all suggested he attend an aftercare facility.

But Jack does what Jack wants to do.  A few hours after returning home, Jack got high.

Fast forward three years, at 23 years old, Jack finally fell to his knees in the midst of a full blown opioid addiction.  He completely lost who he was, and lived to only get high.  He had accepted his fate of an addict’s death.

One day, he finally decided to ask for help, and he once more admitted to Ashley.

Willing and beaten down, Jack took the suggestions of his counselors and family to attend aftercare.  His counselor presented a brochure to a program in New Jersey called Surfside.

“At that point, I threw my hands up. Whatever you all think is best, I will do,” he recalls.

Finally, after all hope was lost, Jack agreed to attend Surfside, and has been a sober man ever since.


addiction recovery during christmasWhat is your sobriety date?

October 20th, 2018

What do you do for work?

I am a barista at a coffee shop in town.  I also make my own jewelry and want to start my own business.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love surfing, yoga, jewelry making, and going to concerts.  I also really into wholistic health.

What were some of your biggest concerns before coming to Surfside?

How am I going to stay sober?  How could this possibly be a way of life?  How am I going to fit in with a house of 18 guys?  Could all of this actually work for me?

What was your biggest takeaway from Surfside?

The sense of community and brotherhood.  I never felt a part of anything in my life. The concept of a bunch of guys going through the same thing, supporting each other, was huge for me.  My addiction is disconnection from everything around me.  Once I went through Surfside, I finally felt connected to something.

How is Surfside different than the previous programs you have attended?

It’s not just a pay-rent-and-stay-sober program.  There’s a lot that goes into Surfside- like the chores and responsibilities.  The program also exposed me to a lot of really cool things like hiking, working out, and other physical activities.

Most importantly, Surfside is 12-step intensive.  They do it that way because that is what works.

What are some of the best and most challenging parts of living independently after Surfside?

The best part is I can take pride in knowing that I truly want to live this way.  Nobody is forcing me to do it.  On my own merit, I strive to keep growing spiritually.

The most challenging part is the flip side of the same coin.  There is no one hovering over me. I have to rely on those around me when I can’t do it myself.  But I have to take the first step.  If I am feeling uncomfortable, I have to actually take action myself. I have to keep using the tools I have been taught.

Now that you are out of the program, how do you stay involved with Surfside and your recovery?

I am at the main house a few times each week- just about every day that I am not at work.  The guys at the house call me all the time, which I am very grateful for.  I’m currently sponsoring one of the residents.  I go to 4-5 meetings every week, which helps me stay connected with service and my network.

Any Final Thoughts on Surfside?

It’s a one-of-a-kind program.  There is nothing else like it.  It’s a small enough community so every resident can receive individualized attention, but it has the resources to help a lot of people.  The staff worked with me individually and took the time to get to know me and help me.  Surfside works.

I now live in a nearby Oxford House, and most of the residents are Surfside Alumni.  Recently, the house manager told me, “for the first time, this house has strong recovery,” and that is a huge testament to what Surfside does.  Other Oxford houses in town have taken note and encourage Surfside Alumni to live there.

What is your 5-year plan?

I plan on sticking around Ventnor for awhile.  I want to pursue my craft and passion for jewelry-making, which I actually picked up as a resident at Surfside.  I want to help people as well, maybe go back to school, and stay involved with the community as much as I can.

We reached out to Jack’s parents for their experience with Surfside. Check out what they had to say!

Why did you decide to send your son to Surfside?

The day before Jack would be released from Ashley, we talked to Ian for over an hour.  We knew right away this program would be perfect for Jack.  There would be a brotherhood of guys looking out for one another.  Jack was going to learn to live and have fun as a 20 year old without drugs and alcohol, something that seemed impossible at that time.  We definitely made the right decision.

What should prospective parents know before sending their son to Surfside?

They have to trust that Surfside knows what they are talking about. As parents, we had to learn to switch off the oversight for Jack.  We had to trust Ian.  We had so many questions, and Ian always told us, “we got it”.  Whether it was finances or Jack coming home, we were nervous.  But we always had help along the way. We could finally be hands off.

How have things changed now that your son has completed Surfside?

Everything has changed. He is a different person.  We have been introduced to a whole new person.  He will always be Jack, but he has new interests and skills and new people in his life.  He has built a supportive circle in Ventnor which has been perfect. We learn something new about him all the time.

Most importantly, he has become self sufficient and proud of his accomplishments. He owns his problems and solves them on his own.


We are so proud of that man that Jack has become.  While addiction is a disease characterized by loneliness and disconnection, Jack reminds us all that recovery is possible and that hope is real.  As we approach this holiday season, Jack demonstrates that addiction recovery during Christmas is possible!

As always, if you or a loved one are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out.  Our Executive Director is ready to point you and your family in the right direction for treatment services.