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Sober Living Alumni Spotlight

A very, very Happy Thanksgiving to our entire Surfside family! During this holiday season, we reflect on just how grateful we are for the Surfside community and how much it has grown over the last few years.  All of your unwavering support allows us to keep helping our young men in their fight against addiction. We know you have a lot of eating to do… but take a few moments to enjoy the November Surfside Alumni Spotlight interview, which will highlight a sober living alumni who is now an integral member of the Surfside staff.

Jared S. came to Surfside in its infancy, and he has witnessed the program mature from three men in a basement, to over thirty men across three houses.  He now works closely along side our senior residents as they make their final transition back into the real world. Enjoy!

sober living alumniJared grew up in a small town in West Chester, New York- one of those towns where everyone grew up together and knew each other. From an early age, he really had no problem fitting in. Making friends came naturally to him, but he definitely still suffered from some anxiety and depression.

Upon entering high school, Jared’s world got a whole lot bigger, and he struggled to really make a name for himself amongst his peers. That all changed when he introduced himself to marijuana and alcohol. The alcohol and drugs immediately granted him the identity he craved. He embraced the “weed guy” and “stoner” mindset, and it allowed him to be accepted by those around him.

After high school, Jared didn’t have much drive or passion to do anything. All he wanted in life: drink and smoke weed. With all of his friends going off to college, Jared decided to give school a shot. He stumbled on the University of Colorado at Boulder. We will let you decide why he ultimately chose to be a Buffalo…

The next couple years at college were an ongoing battle that Jared could never seem to win. He rarely went to class, he had no motivation, and he lied to everyone around him to keep them off his back. He had one thing and one thing only on his mind: drink and get high. He did the bare minimum to keep his parents off his back, and constantly lied to them about what he really had been up to. In all reality, Jared did what Jared wanted to do.

Then, a dangerous cycle took control of Jared’s life.

Step One: He would fail a semester.

Step Two: He would return home.

Step Three: Return back to school, binge on alcohol and marijuana, then overuse adderall to get his work done.

Step Four: He would become obsessed with getting drunk and high, fall behind in school, and his grades would slip.

Step Five: Repeat Steps 1-4.

He became completely hopeless. He woke up in search of adderall, alcohol, and marijuana to get him through the day. Once he found what he sought, everything else took a seat on the bench.

Finally, six years after first enrolling in college, Jared decided to give school one last try. At this point, all of his friends had graduated, so he didn’t really know anyone around campus. He acquired an apartment, and gave the adult life one last honest try. He started out strong: handling his assignments, shopping for groceries, going to the gym. He thought he had finally figured it out. But three weeks later, he had to cram for a test.

“What’s the use,” Jared recalls. “I might as well at this point.” One Adderall later, and Jared found himself back in the cycle.

A few months later, after living in a filth-ridden apartment, Jared encountered an old family friend who had found himself out in Colorado. The family friend visited Jared at his apartment, and gasped at the environment in which his dear friend now lived. Jared’s parents were contacted, and they immediately came across the country to pick him up, and off to treatment he went.

Jared admitted to RCA Lighthouse, and like most who walk through the doors, had not totally bought into the idea of recovery. He didn’t really believe he had a problem.

“At that time, there was no question I would drink again.”

Then one Friday night, everything changed.

A man from a local sober living facility came into RCA to conduct a men’s meeting. The topic: powerlessness.

From the first word to the last word, Jared could not believe what he heard. He identified with every word the man said. From the danger of the first drink, to the insanity that followed, Jared heard his story from the mouth of a complete stranger. Well, that man turned out to be Surfside’s Executive Director, Ian.

Ian visited with Jared several times after that first Friday meeting. The two became close, and eventually Ian offered Jared a bed in his new sober living facility in Ventnor. Jared, completely indifferent to the direction his life could go, decided to accept the offer.

Jared officially became the third resident ever at Surfside, and has been a sober man ever since.

Interview with a Sober Living Alumni

What is your sobriety date? 

May 27th, 2016

What do you do for work?

I’ve been working at Surfside since 2016. My roles have transitioned over the years. I mostly worked with the residents in the later phases, helping them to budget and live independently. Recently, I am now the Assistant Program Director who oversees all of Surfside.

What are some of your hobbies? 

I love playing golf, reading, CrossFit, and playing with my dog.

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

I didn’t truly believe I was an alcoholic at that time. I didn’t relate to some of the crazy war stories- homeless, shooting heroin, etc. My roommate in treatment told me some pretty graphic stuff from his use. So I just wasn’t totally convinced I was like these people.

Also, I really didn’t want to leave my dog.

What was your biggest takeaway from Surfside?

Surfside provides a real sense of community and family. It surrounded me with really good men who have my back

The program gave me a slow introduction back into life, while I could practice life skills and learn how to stay sober. I didn’t have to rush back to everything at once. I needed the structure, and the tools I learned definitely still apply to my life today.

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

Personally, I haven’t been to any other programs like this.

But from what I have heard, the main difference is the staff at Surfside. They are genuinely interested in the resident’s success. They have a sincere desire to witness growth in each and every resident.

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

The best part is I can live a life free of constant stress and anxiety because I have learned to be honest in all of my affairs. Whether it’s school, work, or relationships, I don’t have to cover anything up. I don’t have to worry about lying to others. It allows me to focus on more important aspects of my life, like saving money or continuing my education.

The most challenging part is budgeting money and remaining consistent with my program of recovery. I certainly know what the winning formula is; it’s just a matter me doing it. I have a community of guys to help me and keep me accountable, but it’s ultimately up to me to put in the work.

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

Surfside is a massive part of my life. I have been involved with the program since day one. It is a big reason I am the man that I am today.

But sometimes, I could definitely use a vacation, haha!

Final Thoughts on Surfside?

I’ve seen many people go through Surfside. Every guy who has come in with honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness, has had a positive experience. Those guys have left the program, and their lives have gotten better. I know in my life, I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for Surfside.

What is your 5-year plan?

I want to finish my Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology- I should be done in October 2020. Maybe if a consulting firm job pops up, I would consider it. But it will take a lot to get me to leave this place.

We reached out to Jared’s parents to hear their experience on Surfside.  Check out what they had to say!

Why did you decide to send your son to Surfside?

Jared started out at RCA Lighthouse, and we had no idea what the next step would be.  When Jared met Ian, they had an immediate connection.  One of Jared’s counselors suggested he give Surfside a try.  It was a new program.  We didn’t have much information on it.  But once you have a conversation with Ian, you want to follow him to the end of the earth.  His will and passion for the guys to succeed is so clear.  He cared about the parents.  We didn’t feel like we were just sending him somewhere random… we felt safe.

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

Everything is going to be OK.  Surfside is safe and structured.  It is an active program, and the guys will be involved from morning to night- not just for the body, but for the mind.  There is so much support.

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

It’s night and day.  I sent him away as an impulsive, young, irresponsible boy.  He is now a responsible, mature, communicative adult.  I can’t say much more than that.

He has a life now.  He is committed to his life.

We are incredibly grateful that Jared found Surfside, and for the role he has played in changing the lives of many young men.  Keep up the great work, Jared!

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