Looking back, a nearly constant theme during my active addiction was responsibility. Over the years, there were a lot of times I needed to show up and be responsible, and a lot of people I needed to show up for. Naturally, I failed them pretty much every time. Welcome to the life of a drug addict. My existence was just one long string of either dodging my responsibilities or trying to fulfill them and failing. I remember multiple instances where I was hired for a new job, showed up for the first few days, then got paid and disappeared on a binge, never to return. I can’t tell you how many friends and family members were let down when I failed to show up for them. Responsibility was a big theme—specifically, failing to take it.
Things looked quite a bit different for me in recovery. I wish I could say I put down the drugs and alcohol and started behaving like a responsible adult, but that would be stretching the truth. I was in pretty rough shape when I came in to sobriety. Years of active addiction made me forget the skills and behaviors expected of an adult—or maybe I never learned them in the first place. I’m not really sure, and it doesn’t matter now. The important thing is, I had a lot of work to do to get my life back on track—so I got started.
I was fortunate enough to receive inpatient addiction treatment at a place that heavily emphasized accountability and responsibility. They even made us cook, clean, and do our own laundry. It may seem silly, but these are things that helped me a lot. When I came in, I simply didn’t know how to care for myself properly. I’m proud to say that that has changed, and I successfully manage to feed and groom myself on a daily basis. I keep my apartment clean as well—I still make my bed every morning, a habit I learned in treatment.
Treatment was great for getting sober and learning basic life skills, but for the rest of it, I was on my own. At this point in my life, I was in my twenties, had been kicked out of school, and had never successfully held down a job. I had a long way to go. My first job in recovery took some getting used to, but I’m happy to say I didn’t get fired—or even reprimanded! It’s the small things in life. Then I decided I wanted to finish my degree, so back to school I went, and something crazy happened—I was actually successful. I didn’t become a straight A student, but my GPA was nothing to sniff at. I was lucky enough to work for my college’s recovery organization, so I added more responsibilities to my plate. Then I got an internship in my field, and that went fine as well.
I’m not sure when it happened, but today I’m successfully juggling many responsibilities and showing up for everyone who expects me to. I believe the key factors to my success were the strong foundation I received in treatment and adding responsibility over time. My first job was easy, and I didn’t jump back into school right away. I took my time, and took on new challenges when I was ready. As a result, the person I am today looks very different from who I was a few years ago.