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October 2019 Sober Living Alumni Spotlight

The sweet, sweet smell of Fall.  It’s time to curl up in front of the fire with your blanket and hot tea to enjoy another edition of the Surfside Alumni Spotlight. In this month’s issue, we sat down with a former Surfside resident who not only helps others in his recovery, but is on his way to pursue a career in helping those with addiction.  In the spirit of anonymity, and per the request of our alumni, we are going to refer to him as John.  Enjoy John’s story to recovery and see what he is up to as a sober living alumni!

John grew up in South Jersey and had a very solid upbringing. He stayed involved with sports and put forward quality effort in the classroom. Soccer dominated much of his time, as he played a key role in the South Jersey Championship Team’s title runs from ages 8-14. Around freshman year of high school, he started to experiment with drugs. His older brother, a heavy drug user himself, introduced John to his first oxycodone. It didn’t stop there… The two began using heroin together when John turned 16.

John’s addiction did not progress slowly, but like a seething boulder tumbling down a mountain. By junior year of high school, he began using drugs regularly. John found himself in a tough spot: he knew he had a problem, but he had plans for the future. As long as he could control the problem, he could go on to accomplish his goals in life. One of his goals included going to college, and after his senior year, John enrolled in a four-year university.

Fortunately, John couldn’t find heroin while at college. But like most drug addicts, that didn’t stop him from getting his fix. When he came home on breaks, he would contact his old dealer and off to the races he went. This cycle continued for the next few years.

Eventually, John’s parents had enough. They sent him off to his first rehab at the age of 18, hoping to nip this thing early. John will admit… he wasn’t ready. And of course, he relapsed shortly after treatment.

The next ten years were a bad dream filled with personal and family tragedy. John couldn’t stay clean… in and out of treatment more than five times. His parents divorced. Tragically, John’s brother lost his life in his battle with addiction. Completely hopeless, John had hit his rock bottom. The world around him crumbled. He decided one last time to give treatment a try.

John entered RCA Lighthouse in March 2018. During one counseling session, his therapist mentioned aftercare and that Surfside could be a perfect fit. With no other options, John reluctantly agreed.

He has been a clean and sober man ever since.

Time to Chat with a Sober Living Alumni

What is your sobriety date?

March 24th, 2018

What do you do for work?

At the moment I am a full time graduate student and intern. I am on track to graduate in May 2020.

What are some of your hobbies?

Snowboarding, guitar, philosophy, reading, writing, chess

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

Why would this time be any different than the other times? What’s it going to be like living with a bunch of other guys in close quarters? I’m older than most of them probably are.

What was your biggest takeaway from Surfside?

My biggest takeaway from Surfside is that there is life beyond recovery. Surfside allows you to recover in an environment of supportive brothers. Although there is plenty of time to focus on recovery and the 12 steps, they also make time for fun and activities. That is important too.

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

Surfside was the only program I attended that basically forces you to work through the 12 steps and do the work necessary to recover. This to me was the defining, differential factor that made Surfside unique and formed the foundation of a successful recovery.

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

When you’re in Surfside you are in a bubble. Yes, you can still find a way to drink or get high if you really wanted to, but it is very difficult. You are in a much more protective environment. When you leave Surfside, the real challenge of dealing with life begins. That’s why continued sponsorship and commitment to recovery is essential. Freedom from addiction and being able to pursue my dreams is the best part of living independently after Surfside.

Now that you are a sober living alumni, how do you stay involved with Surfside and your recovery?

I try to, but I know I fall short in this area. At the moment due to my school and internship, I have 0% availability Monday-Friday. That being said, I do my best to try and stay in touch with the brothers I went through the program with. I am still active in my recovery and attend meetings. Luckily, my Internship allows me to work directly with other people in recovery.

Final thoughts on Surfside?

I would recommend Surfside to any parent, family or individual struggling with addiction or alcoholism. Going to Surfside following rehab was the best decision I made and I am convinced i wouldn’t have had the same success going straight to an Oxford or halfway house.

What is your 5-year plan?

My five year plan is to continue to focus on my recovery, graduate with my Masters and obtain an LCSW and LCADC. Down the line I would like to open my own private practice.

We sat down with John’s parents to gain their perspective on Surfside.  Time to hear it straight from the parents of a sober living alumni.

Why did you decide to send your son to Surfside?

Because it was years and years of addiction, and the other places John went never seemed to help. I wanted John to receive the messages he needed to hear to help him become sober and give him the incentive to not want to use anymore. I was desperate to somehow have him receive the necessary message so he could recover.

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

It seemed to really work for John above all other rehabs. Other rehabs didn’t help to change behavior like Surfside has. My son received the spiritual help he needed to recover. Other rehabs did not provide that.

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

My son is healthy, thriving, motivated, happy, sober, helping others, working towards his goals, sees his life as whole and with promise rather than before when he was depressed and stagnant. He finally has a sense of self- worth and fulfillment and I am really grateful for whatever Surfside offered and provided that other programs didn’t.

What a story! Completely hopeless and stagnant in a life riddled with tragedy.  Now as a sober living alumni, John prioritizes helping others and achieving his dreams. Congratulations, John!

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 you in the right direction for treatment services.