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Why we do the things we do…

In this month’s edition of the Alumni Spotlight, we take a look at the story of Ryan N. and his path to recovery!

Ryan began drinking at the age of 16 with a couple of buddies. To him, it was nothing out of the ordinary- just a bunch of kids having fun and doing what kids do. In high school, he was a regular “weekend warrior” and partied on weekends. At this point, drinking had not taken a major role in his life.

After high school he went to a prestigious college. His drinking and drug use rapidly progressed. He wanted to fit in and feel accepted and the substances did just that. No longer just a weekend warrior, Ryan began drinking on more days than not. At the time, he was not aware of it, but things started spiraling out of control.

In his sophomore year of college, Ryan attended his first treatment program in Pennsylvania.  Following treatment, they sent him to Florida for their extended care program. While at extended care, Ryan began drinking and using again. Of course he met a girl and began to use with her. She helped him try other substances that he never used before. It was as if the “people, places and things” he learned to stay away from in treatment were in treatment with him! His addiction quickly progressed to a new level. He did not have any stable employment, so he had to perform odd side jobs as his financial problems became more increasingly difficult to solve.

He moved back up north to his mother’s house while still getting high. Ryan had been seeing a therapist off and on to try and curb the urge to use. The man was very good and got in Ryan’s head but was never able to keep him sober. One hour a week was not even close to enough help to repair the damage Ryan had done. Eventually his mother became fed up with the lies, gave him the ultimatum: treatment or the streets. Ryan, like most young adult men, didn’t have a homeless bone in his body so chose treatment. 

Ryan attended Seabrook house for treatment. He demanded that he go back home afterwords, something about a girl and getting back to his “life”. He started seeing the therapist again who told him about Surfside. Ryan new in his heart that he would never stay sober if he stayed at his parents house, he new that it was a matter of time until he used again. With some aggressive pushing by the therapist he decided to give it a shot, and this is where his journey begins. Ryan got to celebrate his 21st birthday with Surfside sober and has maintained his sobriety since, recently celebrating 2 years clean.

What is your sobriety date?

April 10, 2017

What do you do for work?

I work at Merrill Lynch.

What are some of your hobbies?

I like to play tennis and golf, go to the gym, and wakeboarding.

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

I was never going to have any fun again and that sobriety would suck.  How am I going to live? How am I going to get my life back together?

What was your biggest takeaway from Surfside?

Learning how to have fun and develop relationships in sobriety.  I’ve never had true relationships that meant anything. When I got into Surfside, there was a community of 13 guys that I never thought I would bond with. But I did immediately. It was such a unique experience I can’t even explain. I felt so welcomed when I walked in.

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

The structure. The structure was critical. When I was in Florida, it was a great program. But there was so much down time that I didn’t know what to do with myself.  Surfside keeps things regimented so I don’t have time to be in my head. That helped a lot.

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

The best part is I don’t feel like I’m in a bubble anymore. I feel like I’ve matured enough that I feel like I everything I have is a blessing.  Through staying sober, I was able to achieve trust from my parents. The most challenging is it’s easy to isolate.  It’s easy to fall back into old ways of just sitting in my room when I don’t want to do anything. But I’ve learned to cope with that and started setting little goals for my day.

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

I go to alumni events and go back to the house and talk to the guys.  I see the guys at 12-step meetings. I try to stay connected with some of the guys I went through the house with.  It’s a blessing because we keep each other on track.

I go to meetings every day and stay connected with my network. I go do things! Yeah, meetings are important, but I also like to have fun.

Final thoughts on Surfside?

It’s one of the best programs I’ve ever been to.  Learning how to clean, cook, have fun, create hobbies, and other things these are the aspects that made me love Surfside and created me into the man I am today.

What is your 5-year plan?

Get promoted at work, own a house.

I would like to help as many people as I can.  It’s they key to everything. If I don’t put my sobriety first, I’ll lose everything.

We reached out to Ryan’s mom to get some of her side of the story. She said when the therapist gave the recommendation and He thought the program would be beneficial to Ryan that she agreed.  “I put my trust in the therapist since we were with him for a long time. Alcoholism is in our family.  Ryan wanted to sign himself out of rehab every time. I had lost hope. Mothers aren’t supposed to bury their children.  I didn’t know what to do, but I didn’t want to spend more time worrying. He said it was a structured program and it would be great for Ryan.  We had sent Ryan to Florida, and I would never recommend anyone to be sent so far away. But it’s a learning experience.  He hit rock bottom in Florida.”

She continued to say “So we trusted the recommendation and and let go and let Surfside do their thing. Ryan is totally independent.  He got out of the nest and things have been great.  It’s great to have a mature relationship with my son and not have to rescue him or constantly worry.  It’s great to let go- it’s a different side of parenting. At the end of the day, it’s rewarding to let go and let your child be who they are supposed to be instead of who you want them to be.”