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This is Why We Work June 2020

Can you feel it? Can you finally feel that sunshine? SUMMER IS HERE. We hope you are just as excited as all of us at Surfside that it’s finally time to get outside and enjoy some summer rays. While we are still cautious in regard to COVID-19, our guys have taken full advantage of the beach and other outside activities. While your kicking back and enjoying the sunshine, check out another sober living alumni story courtesy of Surfside!

In this month’s edition of the Surfside Alumni Spotlight, we celebrate the recovery journey of Cory K., who tried every way imaginable to do things his way, but only found recovery when he became honest and ready to change. Cory recently celebrated one year of sobriety and has transformed into an inspiring presence in the Surfside community. Enjoy!

Cory K: Sober Living Alumni

Cory grew up in North Jersey with a loving family. As a youngster, he enjoyed causing trouble and found any way he could to break the rules.

“If someone told me not to do it, I would do it twice,” he remembers.

His rebellious spirit stuck with him for many years, and perhaps took him down paths he never thought he would find himself on.

Cory enjoyed board sports, such as surfing and snowboarding, and even found himself as a key role in a local rock band. The lifestyle placed him in the presence of older kids, and he always sought to fit in and be just like them.

The rock and roll lifestyle brings its fair share of drugs and alcohol, and Cory finally had his first rendezvous with marijuana.

No harm, no foul. It’s just a little weed, right? He may have been right, but he cannot deny the fact that the first hit of marijuana changed something inside of him. He felt some relief and a state-of-mind that he would chase for the next decade.

In Cory’s hometown, opioids and other pills ran rampant throughout the young adult population. Although not interested in the pills, Cory did see an opportunity to make some extra cash to fund his weed habit: selling pills.

It turned out to be a pretty solid side gig, until one day on the beach, he decided to try some of his own product. When he ingested his first pill, weed slipped to the back of his mind. He had found his new love.

“I became my own best customer,” he recalls.

Now a full-blown opioid addict, Cory spend the next decade in and out of rehab, countless stints in jail, and progressively briefer periods of sobriety. While satisfying a short stay in county jail, a cell mate pointed out to Cory that he was doing this whole drug thing all wrong.

Pills? Way too expensive. Too hard to find. But heroin? Cheap, and you can find it anywhere.

That’s all it took. A simple endorsement from a fellow cell mate. Upon discharge, Cory drove straight to Patterson on a quest to find his next treasure whose spoils would unravel his life.

A full blown heroin addict, Cory completely spun out of control. More rehab, more jail time. Eventually, his father approached him one day at the realization that he could not save his son. He passed Cory along to some friends who were in recovery, and they helped Cory admit to a 6-month program in Texas.

Cory spent the next 10-months completely separated from drugs and alcohol and enjoyed his freedom living in Austin. He began working some side jobs, mostly in the entertainment industry, where the booze and drugs flowed like a waterfall. Eventually, with no hesitation, Cory picked up once again.

He moved back to New Jersey after four years in the Lone Star state with no intention of getting clean and sober. He didn’t miss a beat.

“At this point in my life, jail became a more regular occurrence than rehab.”

Once again, he ended up in jail in Hudson County, and was finally released on house arrest, with several years of prison over his head if he didn’t straighten up.

He didn’t straighten up.

Before a court appearance, Cory got high. Really high.

He came to in a rehab bed, not prison chains. What happened?

In some sort of miracle, the judge decided to give Cory one more chance at changing his life. And who would of thought that one afternoon during a group session in rehab, his life would actually change.

During this particular group, a handful of young men from a program called Surfside came to speak on their experience of living in recovery as young men. They spoke of the brotherhood that can form when young guys come together to improve their lives. They harped on the fun that can now have, completely clean and sober. In that moment, recovery finally became appealing to Cory.

He put in a call to Surfside, where he later admitted as a resident. Cory has been clean and sober ever since.

Interview with a Sober Living Alumni

What is your sobriety date?

June 20, 2019

What do you do for work?

I work at a local grocery store in Ventnor.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love surfing, music, and snowboarding. But I’l surf all day, ever day.

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

I didn’t know how to do anything. I couldn’t cook; laundry seemed hard. How did people actually go through life doing the right thing? It seemed impossible to me.

What was your biggest takeaway from Surfside?

I can actually trust my own instincts to make the right decision. I learned how to ask for guidance, and then use my judgment to do something. I know that I can be wrong and ask for help, and that’s huge for me.

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

Surfside actually gives a s***! Other places preach that they care, but it’s different. Surfside wants us to stay involved, and they are constantly checking in on me. Surfside promised me that one day my life would be better, and I could see that it could in the staff and other alumni.

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

The best part is I have a feeling of accomplishment of doing things on my own. I go to work and come back to a house that I pay for. I eat food that I pay for. I don’t rely on my parents for money. It’s a great feeling.

The most challenging? Bills, man! Being an adult, it’s a learning process. I’m currently looking at getting a car, and getting all my finances together is something I’ve never done before. It will take time, but I’m getting there.

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

I sponsor a guy at the house. Anytime there is a Surfside event, like a campfire meeting, I’m always there. I love stopping by and hanging out with the guys. I do what was done for me: I spend time with them and show them that life can be great when you’re sober.

Any final thoughts on Surfside?

Surfside is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone that is struggling. It changed my life. I just celebrated one year of sobriety, and I reflected on where I was a year ago. Surfside challenged me in a way I’ve never been challenged before. And I’m so grateful for that.

What is your 5-year plan?

I would like to go back and finish school. I want to find something that I’m passionate about and do that for a living. I’m not sure what it will be, but it’s pretty cool that I can sit here and think about that stuff now. I’m still getting used to the fact that I can think about a career and what I want to do with my life.

Cory is a shining example that no matter how far we have fallen… recovery is always possible. We are so proud of Cory for the all of the work he has done. Congrats, Cory!

As always, if you or a loved one are struggling, please do note hesitate to reach out. Like Cory, one phone call can change your life for the better.