Addiction Recovery Success Story: Surfside Structured Sober Living
We hope everyone is having an awesome start to the New Year! We have some exciting new projects in the works at Surfside… be sure to check out this month’s newsletter with all of the information! But first, let’s start off with an incredible addiction recovery success story from a Surfside Alumni.
In this month’s edition of the Surfside Alumni Spotlight, we will celebrate the recovery journey of Keith M. Strap yourselves in… because this is one chaotic, wild ride on the path to recovery, but we could not be prouder of the man that Keith has become. Enjoy!
Keith grew up in Flemington, New Jersey with a loving family that provided him with everything he ever wanted or needed. But from the very beginning, Keith never truly felt connected to the world around him. He could never describe the feeling, but he had tremendous difficulty connecting with his peers or trusting those in his life. This innate sense of isolation and loneliness led Keith to pick up his first drink at the age of 12- a simple theft of his family’s liquor so that he can drink alone in solitude.
At age 13, Keith finally found the connection he so desperately craved, and it came in the form of marijuana. Some friends offered him a smoke, and after that first hit, he felt apart of the group and all of his troubles seemed to fade in the distance.
They say addiction is a progressive disease, and that it only gets worse… never better. Well, Keith’s drug use progressed rapidly, and the line between recreational use and addiction began to blur. Within one year of that first smoke, Keith had been arrested, searched by the police, sent to an alternative program in school, and went to his first rehab. Initially a quiet, smart, polite young man turned into a shell of himself. But in Keith’s mind, none of the consequences mattered as long as he could continue to drink and use the way he wanted to.
Much to his surprise, the situation became far worse. In that same year, Keith found his first prescription pill, and with a solid drug connection from a co-worker, he could get high whenever he pleased.
By 16, Keith evolved into a daily heroin and cocaine user. Although, it didn’t particularly phase him.
“I knew I had a problem from the very beginning,” he recalls. “But I really didn’t care. I’d rather have this problem than other problems.”
The next year, Keith started to experience the physical symptoms of an opioid addiction. He lost the connection that he had previously found in drugs, and only used them in order to bypass withdrawal. This moment stood out as the first time he realized there might be a serious problem.
In an attempt to get his life in order, Keith decided to enlist in the military. He became convinced that the disciplined lifestyle would solve his drug problem. However, he had no idea that his addiction would follow him wherever he goes.
“The military didn’t solve anything.”
He fought his way through basic training, always contemplating whether to stay or leave and get high. He could satisfy his cravings at times through some comrades who had obtained a Vicodin prescription from a doctor.
He had absolutely no idea how deep he was in addiction, until one day in South Korea…
Stationed at a post in Korea, the obsession to use became so great, Keith forged a document in order to leave. By the next day, he was in Kensington doing heroin.
To summarize, the mental obsession of Keith’s addiction became so severe, in the span of 24 hours he travelled from South Korea to Kensington just to get high one more time.
Only word comes to mind: powerless.
Might sound crazy, right? But to Keith, this seemed completely normal. He had no other choice. No amount of consequences would stop him from getting what he wanted. He had come to the conclusion that he had no control and he would be dead in the near future.
Keith went on to attend multiple treatment centers up and down the East Coast. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually, he found himself homeless and begging for money in Philadelphia.
One day, with nothing to his name, he received a call from his mother.
“When you are ready for help, call Ian,” she said. Keith had no idea that his mother had silently wanted him to go to Surfside for years.
Completely broken, he decided to call Ian. Within two hours, he went to detox… and from detox, he went to Surfside, with a sincere willingness to change.
While at Surfside, Keith spent 7 months with a peace of mind that he had never experienced before. For the first time, he thought life without drugs and alcohol could be possible.
But then something happened. He stopped going to meetings, stopped working his program, turned his back on his support network. He became genuinely convinced he could continue to live without any more help.
Fast forward two months, Keith was once again homeless and living in a motel with his drugs and alcohol. He had given up on himself, but the guys back at Surfside did not. They constantly called him, eagerly pushing him to come back home to his brothers where he belongs.
“If it weren’t for my brothers at Surfside, I would have been running for a long time. Not just a week,” he remembers.
He decided to call Ian once more. Keith came home to Surfside, and has been a sober man ever since.
Interview with an Addiction Recovery Success Story: Keith M.
What is your sobriety date?
February 2, 2019
What do you do for work?
I work at Bacharach Medical Center with the kitchen staff.
What are some of your hobbies?
I like spending time with my friends and going to the beach and playing sports.
What were some of your biggest concerns before coming to Surfside?
Is this really going to work? I was completely hopeless, so I really came to Surfside because I had no other options. I wondered if this place had my best interest at heart, or did they just want my money. But pretty soon after I arrived I realized what Surfside was all about.
What was your biggest takeaway from Surfside?
I actually have a life that I enjoy living. I never have to go back to the way things were. I have goals and aspirations today. I used to to not care about anything besides getting the next drug.
How is Surfside different than the previous programs you have attended?
They actually care. They are 12-Step intensive, which is actually the solution for addiction. No other program is like that. Most programs don’t really care what you do. Surfside shows you how to do it, and that recovery is possible.
What are some of the best and most challenging parts of living independently after Surfside?
The best part is I’m actually able to live a life. Surfside literally gave me the tools to live life after Surfside. I felt completely prepared when I left, and I still continue to do all of those little things. I still go to meetings, meet with my sponsor, do my chores, take care of myself, and set goals in life.
Sometimes it’s challenging because I can lose motivation. It’s now up to me whether or not I do the things I’m supposed to do. I don’t have Surfside there to hold my hand. I have to keep myself accountable. But Surfside definitely gave me the tools and friends to get it done.
Now that you are out of the program, how do you stay involved with Surfside and your recovery?
Today, I sponsor one of the guys at Surfside. I come by at least once or twice a week to hang with the residents. If I ever go to a meeting on the island, I make sure to grab some of the guys from the house. I live in an Oxford house off the island, but Surfside is still a big part of my life.
Any final thoughts on Surfside?
I would recommend Surfside to anyone. This place taught me that recovery is possible, and that’s all that I needed. At the end of the day, I just needed some hope. I became convinced that I was going to die, and was completely OK with that. But Surfside showed me that I could live a good life, and now I actually want to live a good life. No other place has been able to do that for me.
What is your 5-year plan?
I want to go to Culinary School this fall, and maybe move up the ladder at work and become a head chef. I want to continue with my recovery program; working with my sponsor and sponsoring other guys. I want to stay involved with Surfside and hang out with my brothers. I just want to live a good life now that I know it is possible.
We reached out to Keith’s mother for her perspective on Surfside. Check out what she had to say below!
Why did you decide to send your son to Surfside?
We were running out of options. We felt that he needed some extra structure and support. We were caught in the cycle of rehab, relapse. He needed some structure. I talked to Ian and it seemed like a good fit. He needed the community that Surfside could provide.
What should prospective parents know before sending their son to Surfside?
It’s important to trust the process and the program. Parents can reach out whenever they want; whether its for information or a bad feeling. I know a few times I had a gut feeling that Keith was struggling, so I reached out to Jared. And the staff was already on top of it. It was very reassuring. Ian and his staff helped with all of the logistics of getting Keith into detox and treatment, and then to Surfside.
Surfside has given me a community, as well. I feel like I could call Ian or Dan whenever I need help.
How have things changed now that your son has completed Surfside?
Keith is independent, and he is taking care of himself. He doesn’t want money or anything from us. He wants to take care of himself and be self sufficient. He has matured so much, and has learned so much about himself. He is responsible and shows up in life. Surfside gave him the structure and community that he needed. He is realizing that he can get through anything without drinking and using.
We hope you enjoyed another addiction recovery success story from Surfside. We are so proud to watch our young men grow and transition into independent life. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past… recovery is possible! Keep up the great work, Keith!
As always, if you or a loved one are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out. One call with our Executive Director can point you in the right direction of adequate treatment services.