Sober Living Alumni: Aidan B.
Not the best of times around the world, but Surfside is still moving forward in our mission to help young men recover from addiction. We hope everyone in our community is safe, healthy, and hopeful that this too shall pass. Surfside will follow all public health guidelines to ensure our residents’ well-being, and we encourage you to do the same. While cuddled up on your couch, enjoy some inspiration from a sober living alumni in another edition of the Surfside Alumni Spotlight.
In this month’s interview, we take a look at the recovery journey of Aidan, an alcoholic of the hopeless variety who finally found some peace of mind as a sober man. Enjoy!
Aidan grew up in Princeton, New Jersey with a household of five siblings. In a unique family situation, Aidan is the only sibling that is not adopted, which from the beginning, had him feeling on the outside-looking-in. From an early age, he saw his family as Aidan, then the rest of his brothers and sisters.
Growing up, Aidan had some friends but seemingly had a difficult time fitting in. He never remained content, always wanting more.
“If I had three friends, I wanted four. If I had ten dollars, I wanted twenty,” he remembers.
As the youngest sibling by eight years, Aidan constantly saw his siblings partying and drinking with friends. He immediately made a connection in his mind: if I drink and party, I will always have a good time. A dangerous thought, indeed.
At 16 years old during a party thrown by one of his sisters, Aidan enjoyed his first drink. It wasn’t necessarily a romantic moment to remember, as he ended the night by vomiting; but he did feel the connection that alcohol and partying could mean more friends and happiness.
Aidan graduated from high school and went on to college, where any sort of accountability or oversight went straight out the window. Things quickly took a sinister turn.
He joined the rugby team which brought its fair share of comrades, alcohol, and drugs. Partying came with the territory as a member of the team, and Aidan saw no wrong in any of it. Life was one big party.
One evening, a friend introduced Aidan to cocaine, which became the stimulant he craved to increase his ability to party.
The next three years hit him quick.
He started failing classes, disengaging from his friends, and prioritizing isolation over the party life.
“I remember the day vividly. I woke up, and I didn’t want to party anymore. I just wanted to be alone and get high.”
For a young man who couldn’t live without the party, who so desperately craved connection, and could not sit alone with himself, the decision to turn to isolation stood out as a major turning point in his active addiction.
The utter loneliness took its toll quickly, and Aidan became incredibly depressed with suicidal idealizations.
His father’s paternal instincts set in, and the family realized that something may not be right with their youngest son. At the request of his father, Aidan attended his first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It didn’t really catch, however. He couldn’t identify with the stories and saw it to be a complete waste of time.
“At that time, I didn’t think alcohol was my problem.” Aidan did not return to another meeting.
But one day in 2018, Aidan had enough. The walls around him were closing in, and he had no choice but to finally ask for help. He made a call to his sister, and they had a conversations about rehabilitation centers and recovery. In her own struggles, she found peace and contentment in her life. She encouraged him to make a change.
“I had never seen her so content in her life,” he recalls.
The seed had planted. He called his mother and finally asked for help.
Aidan went to Williamsville Wellness Center in Virginia, and upon completion of the program, entered a sober living facility in Richmond, Virginia.
He did well in sober living. He established a network, worked with a sponsor, and felt some sort of peace of mind. But the future seemed uncertain, and at some moments, frightening. He didn’t really know his next move.
One day, he received a call from his mother, who mentioned a program for young men near Atlantic City. Not too long after, Aidan received his first call from a man named Ian, the Executive Director of the program.
Another seed had been planted.
He sat down with his house manager in Richmond to show him the nuances of this program called Surfside. After several minutes, the house manager looked at Aidan.
“You need to go.”
Uncertain about his future, but ready to make a change, Aidan admitted to Surfside, and has since lived a life of contentment, connection, and inner peace.
Interview with a Sober Living Alumni
What is your sobriety date?
July 9th, 2018.
What do you do for work?
I work at a vape shop and I’m about to do some restaurant work in Long Beach Island this summer.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love cars and rugby. I’m a huge NASCAR fan too.
What were some of your biggest concerns before coming to Surfside?
I was definitely nervous that I wouldn’t fit in. I started building a network in Virginia, and it was a little scary to leave. The structure at Surfside was intimidating too. At that point in my life, I liked to do what I want, when I want. Not to mention, getting sober near Atlantic City sounded crazy to me!
What was your biggest takeaway from Surfside?
I don’t have to do this alone. For the longest time, it was Me vs. the World. I couldn’t let anyone see me fail, or struggle. I had to be perfect all the time. Surfside showed me that it’s OK to be vulnerable, and not to have all the answers. What’s not OK is sitting alone and not asking for help. I have people in my life now that actually want to see me succeed.
How is Surfside different than the previous programs you have attended?
It’s a night and day difference. Surfside gives you the tools to achieve long-term recovery. My sober living in Richmond was solid, but they were more “figure it out yourself.” Surfside allowed me to do nothing else except focus on my recovery. I needed that in the beginning for sure.
What are some of the best and most challenging parts of living independently after Surfside?
I get to stretch my legs a bit in recovery now. Surfside is what I needed in the beginning, and I got to learn a lot about myself. Now I get to live my recovery and expand my limits in what I want my recovery to look like. i have some more freedom now. I continue to run things by my network, of course, but I can truly live my life to the fullest.
There are some days that I’m tired, and don’t want to do anything. I have to hold myself accountable and the things I need to do for my recovery. It can be easy to fall back in my old nonsense.
Now that you have completed the program, how do you stay involved with Surfside and your recovery?
I go back to the house frequently because I enjoy being of service to the new guys there. Some days it’s hard, to be honest. Some days I wish I didn’t have to do all these things. But at the end of the day, my worst days today sober are nothing compared to my worst days using. I have to stay motivated to keep living this life I have now.
Any final thoughts on Surfside?
Surfside gave me the tools to have a life that didn’t seem possible. I can now have peace of mind, completely sober. I have the tools to stay content in my life. Some days are better than others, but I can fall back on what Surfside taught me, and I’ll be fine.
What is your five-year plan?
I want to finish school and hopefully get a job selling cars or working for a race team in some capacity. That’s been my dream since I was a kid.
We reached out to Aidan’s parents for their thoughts on Surfside. Check out what they had to say!
Why did you decide to send your son to Surfside?
When I found out about Surfside, the first thing that struck me is the word, “structured.” I liked the three phase component of the program, and the intention was clear to get these young men back into the world and back into a productive life. Surfside seemed to be addressing so many different parts of someone’s life, not just sobriety. They helped his self confidence and taught him how to take care of himself. Surfside offers challenges for these young men: things he had never tried before. These were all things that could get him to a place where he felt good about himself. Just taking the drink or drug away is only part of the problem.
Aidan needed the community. It was something that was missing in his life. And Surfside provided that community that he wanted and needed for so long.
What should prospective parents know before sending their son to Surfside?
This is a process. It’s a continual process. This isn’t just a quick fix. That was a big realization for us when we first sent Aidan to rehab. We didn’t realize that was rehab was just the first step in recovery. Surfside takes it further and provides the lasting change.
Aidan is proud that he completed Surfside. He is not ashamed. It is a real accomplishment in his life. Surfside is a part of who he is now.
How have things changed now that your son is a sober living alumni?
We have a real relationship with Aidan now. He is coming back into our lives. I always had this feeling of missing him. We have real quality moments where we can connect with him. I can feel his love for me, and he can feel our love. He not only feels it, but can take it in.
He has taken everything he learned at Surfside, and now applies it to his life and family.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Surfside Alumni Spotlight! We are so proud of our young men and look forward to many more sober living alumni success stories. Keep it up, Aidan!
As always, if you or a loved one are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out. The journey to recovery starts with one phone call.