Joe’s Story: Hope in the Face of a Drug Epidemic
Our country is experiencing a drug epidemic. 100 people die a day from drug overdoses. Heroin is taking out entire cities. People are becoming hopelessly addicted to painkillers. Meth labs are everywhere.
But all is not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, a graduate of The Treehouse, Joe.
Joe’s story is one of pain and destruction but also hope and inspiration. This may mirror your life. This may mirror the life of your loved one. We want you to know that addiction can be treated and a fulfilling life can be had. Joe is proof. Read on.
What is your background? When did you start drinking heavily?
From what I can remember, I was always a casual drinker. I started drinking around the time I was 19 years old – it was legal then.
I got married young, but it didn’t really work out and we divorced shortly after. About two years after the divorce, I remarried. That’s when I started drinking more and more. I started drinking six beers a day, and then ten beers, and then twelve. Eventually, I started stopping everyday on my way home from work to pick up a 12 or 18 pack of beer.
What happened after that?
This went on for many years.
My wife left me back in May. She had left and come back many times through our marriage. We had actually divorced once and remarried. But this time, I knew she was really gone. This time, our kids were grown and moved out – and it was tough coming home to an empty house.
I started buying bottles and boozing harder on the weekends.
How did you get into The Treehouse for treatment?
You know, I never got a DUI or anything, I never lost my job from drinking. I didn’t face a lot of the consequences that so many people face from drinking or drugs. But every single night when I got home from work, I would start drinking – and drink until the time I went to bed. For me, beer was just like doing meth. I never did meth – but for me, beer was just as dangerous.
One day, I heard an ad on a Christian radio station that mentioned dual diagnosis and trauma treatment. I had a lot of fears and concerns about going to treatment: I wondered if it would leave me with a financial nightmare. I thought to myself, “Am I really not going to drink ever again?” I really had a fear about that.
But I made the call and I went, because in my mind, I knew what I was doing wasn’t healthy.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself while in treatment?
You have to learn to forgive yourself. You have to. Whatever B.S. you’re feeding yourself – the “woulda, shoulda, coulda’s” – let them go. If you don’t, you can’t move forward.
I really learned to think about what kind of man God wants me to be. I knew the way I was living wasn’t it.
What would you tell someone who is maybe walking a similar path that you did?
You have to totally believe and understand that there’s another chapter in your life ahead of you. And whatever lies ahead of you in that new chapter has got to be better than where you’ve been. Getting help is where it all begins and you have to be all in.
What keeps you sober each day?
I know I changed my habit. I’ve replaced the bad habits with the good habits. I used to stop at the grocery store and pick up a 12 or 18 pack everyday, get home and crack it open. Now, instead of stopping at the grocery store to get beer, I stop and get carbonated water. I actually look forward to getting home and cracking open a cold, carbonated water. Whenever I start to think about wanting to drink, I go for a walk or turn on a movie – something to get my mind off of it.
Also, part of it is knowing that I made a huge investment financially. Why would I ever want to throw that away?
What would you tell someone about The Treehouse?
I would say that if you’re going to go to The Treehouse, get into an active cycle with groups as soon as you get there. This begins the rest of your life, and if you do these things – it’s going to sink in. There’s such a diversity of people at the Treehouse, someone is going to nail on an event that happened in their life, and you’ll be able to identify with it. Through the groups, you can really learn how other people handled certain elements and events in their life – and it helps.
What is life like now in recovery?
This is the next chapter in my life and it’s going to be my best. It can’t look like the mess I left behind. It looks so much better. My state of mind is clear and I’m not boozing it away. I look better, I sound better. My girls come to see me. It’s all very exciting.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Get excited! I wish I had the chance to sit down with everyone who is ready to make this change and have tell them this. My future is so much better than what I left behind, and I’m really just excited to be moving forward.