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Surfside Alumni Spotlight July 2019

Is it seriously already July? We hope everyone is having a great summer and enjoying the beautiful weather. If you have a few minutes, check out July’s Edition of the Surfside Alumni Spotlight. This month, you will hear the story of Collin P. and how he transformed himself into the man he wanted to be. Enjoy!

Collin grew up by the shore here in South Jersey. Early on in his teen years, he started drinking and smoking weed with his buddies like most young guys do. He had heard marijuana classified as a “gateway drug” and laughed at the thought that smoking some weed would lead to any consequences. Little did he know, trouble waited for him down the road.

Growing up in a seasonal beach town, Collin found himself incredibly bored during the offseason months. His town went from fifty thousand people in the summer to around five thousand in the fall and winter. As a youngster, Collin would immerse himself in a plethora of hobbies such as sports, filmmaking, art, and music. Later on, drinking and drugging would stifle his progress and desire to pursue his hobbies.

As a sophomore, Collin gained admission to a prestigious boarding school in Pennsylvania. The prep school placed a large emphasis on academics and discipline. He enjoyed the structure and relocation at first, but in retrospect, it may not have been the best fit for him. The school required the students to attend classes six days per week. Students could request one off night per week to stray from campus. During the night off, Collin and his buddies gathered as much alcohol and drugs that they could muster and proceed to binge for the entire evening. In his mind, he had to fit an entire week’s worth of drinking and drugging into one night.

His one night out per week was both advantageous and dangerous. With minimal opportunities to party, Collin could focus and excel on his studies during the week. However, binging for one night illuminated Collin’s inability to control his drinking once he started.

Over time, the cycle of studying and partying became exhausting, and Collin found himself very unhappy. In his mind, he struggled to reach his full potential due to his obsession with the one-night-party. For personal reasons, the school asked Collin not to return for his senior year.

Returning home, Collin felt a tremendous amount of guilt for the way his academics turned out. He returned to public school at home for his senior year where his old friends and drinking buddies greeted him with open arms.

After high school, Collin attended an art college in Georgia where he studied film making and worked as a sound mixer at local bars. The “rockstar” lifestyle quickly progressed as drinking and partying became part of the daily routine. Collin and his friends would gallivant around bars and house parties with photographers and graffiti artists alongside.  He met nationally touring bands and became somewhat of a celebrity.  Life seemed great.

After college, he moved back to the Tri-State area and created his own recording studio.  Isolated from his friends and family, Collin relied on drinking and drugs for comfort. The balance of drinking and work swayed back and forth, and Collin became incredibly depressed.

A six-pack of beer became a twelve-pack of beer, which became a case of beer. He slowly lost the drive to keep his studio in use. Life began to rush past him and Collin stood as a bystander. He had labeled himself as a failure and the only way to remove the guilt was to keep on drinking.

Collin entered into a relationship with a woman who had a history of substance abuse issues. The relationship proved to be toxic from the beginning. Collin tried to help her stay sober, and eventually, he went down with the ship. Drinking and smoking weed turned into a full-blown heroin addiction.

After several years, the addiction had finally taken its toll. Collin ended the relationship and tried to kick himself from the substances on his own. Ultimately, he failed, and decided to ask his family for help.

Completely broken, Collin entered RCA Lighthouse in Mays Landing. He moved forward with the step work packet and worked diligently with his counselors. He exhibited complete willingness from the jump. Surfside’s Executive Director heard about Collin during a visit to RCA. Ian spoke with Collin about the program, and he confidently accepted the invitation to join Surfside. Collin has been sober ever since.


What is your sobriety date?

September 1st, 2016

What do you do for work?

I am an accountant and a co-founder of a video production company.

What are some of your hobbies?

I like filmmaking, playing music, primitive wilderness survival, and surfing.

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

Coming into Surfside, I was faced with a huge reboot. Where do I go from here? It was a brand new situation, and I was told to embrace it. Once I got to the house and met the guys, I knew I was in the right place. These guys were serious about getting well.

What was your biggest takeaway from Surfside?

Surfside teaches you a blueprint for living. It’s a discipline and a lifestyle. Surfside gave me the playbook on how to live my life, and now it’s up to me to run the correct routes.

I learned to trust people at Surfside. In my four months at the program, I found people that I really trust, and that is new for me.

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

Surfside had the structure that I needed. The structure allowed me to focus on improving my life. It was a safe place where I could learn the causes and conditions of why I was discontent with my life. The supportive staff, residents, and alumni all played a huge role as well. They were able to help me, and I was able to turn and help the next guys. There is no program that has the camaraderie life Surfside.

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

After Surfside, I was able to live with my friend who I went through treatment and Surfside with. He has become my brother. There was no one telling us we had to stay sober. We were able to do it because we both wanted it for each other and ourselves. He’s like my family.

Honestly, compared to where I was, nothing has been challenging. It’s inevitable that life is going to happen and I am going to face difficulties. So I have to be prepared. But compared to what it used to be like, nothing seems that bad.

I would be remised not to acknowledge guys who have succumb to their addiction.  Losing someone has not gotten any easier for me, it is really tough.  At Surfside, we grieved together and our bonds grew stronger.  It has taught me to be more compassionate, generous, and fearless in my interactions.  In my mind, it can be anybody on any day, so I try to act accordingly.

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

The alumni network built around Surfside is tremendous. As alumni, we are encouraged by Ian and his staff to come back to the house and work with the guys. We pay it forward as sponsors to the next wave of guys. We can relate since we have been where they are now. I have been sponsoring guys since I moved out of Surfside. These guys keep me motivated to improve because they are doing the same.

Any final thoughts on Surfside?

I can’t recommend it enough. As a resident, I didn’t understand why certain things at Surfside were structured the way they were. Looking back, I can see that everything was perfectly calculated to give the guys the best chance at success. The design of the program is flawless. If you’re willing to do the work, it is the premiere place to be. Surfside is a brotherhood. And not to mention, we have a lot of fun at Surfside!

What is your five-year plan?

First and foremost, I want to be working my program and developing as a person. I hope my relationship blossoms and my production company flourishes. Hopefully, I keep a continuous balance throughout all aspects of my life. I hope my appreciation for this new life I have is still thriving.

A Note From a Surfside Family

We spoke to Collin’s family for their take on Surfside.  Check out what they had to say!

Why did you decide to send your son to Surfside?

At RCA Lighthouse, a staff member let us know that a place was available for Colin. We had no idea what it was about. We were still pretty shocked about the whole situation. But this gave us some hope for the future.

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

They don’t need to know anything… they just need to trust the process. It’s a family situation. It’s not about knowing, it’s about learning. Buying into the Surfside philosophy will ultimately determine their son’s outcome.

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

We have a relationship with Collin that we never could have dreamed. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. He’s grown into the person he has always wanted to be. Through his battle and coming out the other side, he’s living the joy of life.


As always, if you or a loved one are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out.  We are always happy to help point you in the right direction.