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What I've Learned From Being Sober in My 20s

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From the moment I took my first sip, smoked my first joint and snorted my first line, I was doomed. No matter what substance it was, it changed me. For me, there was no better feeling than getting intoxicated. Sure, I didn’t become a drug addict overnight, but it did happen gradually. I thought I was having the greatest time of my life in my teenage years, until it all came crashing down on me.

They say how spend your 20s will define you, but if you ask any 20-something, they will probably disagree. Your 20s are supposed to be the best time of your life. It is a time for maturing, having the time of your life and finding yourself. Everyone looks forward to turning 21. And no words can describe the ultimate freedom of ripping your first legal beer. But I managed to never take that first legal drink. I am halfway through my 20s and have spent the entire time sober.

Through all of high school, I mainly got high. I thought that was the point. I was always down for a wild time: whether it was a new drug, robbing someone, getting a fight or skipping school. I felt invincible. I basically was, at least for awhile. My parents would send me to outpatient rehab from time to time, but I would eventually end up getting high again. There was nothing they could do about it. I thought my drug habits were “not that bad.” All my friends got high just as much as me and in my eyes, I had no serious consequences. Yeah, nobody trusted me anymore and I didn’t make the cut for sports teams and my grades were plummeting, but none of that mattered to me, as long as I could get high.

The first time I got intoxicated, I was about 13-years-old. I really didn’t stop until I was 19. Getting high and partying had its ups and downs, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a blast at first. However, it finally all came crashing down on me and I was hit with the ultimate ultimatum. Go to rehab and stop using drugs for good or continue to use drugs and inevitably, have it kill me. I obviously chose rehab, because I otherwise wouldn’t be writing this article today.

On April 20, 2010, I got high for the last time. I honestly thought my life was over. I was only 19 and I knew if I wanted any success in life I would have to abstain from alcohol and drugs completely. But how could I? The drug addict lifestyle was the only lifestyle I knew. I had to make one change and that one change was everything. I decided to dedicate my life to AA and in turn, I received true happiness.

From an outsider’s point of view, I am no different than any other 25-year-old. I do the same thing everyone else is doing my age, except I do not drink or use drugs. Although this is a big difference, I have way more opportunities to have fun. For example, one summer I decided to travel around and go to various concerts, festivals and shows. Of course, the main attraction at these events is the drug scene. But I had the time of my life sober and I was able to enjoy every minute of each one. I used to spend every dollar I had on drugs but now that I’m sober, I can spend it on worthwhile things.

I managed to graduate college with a 3.0, lived in Israel for a year and do all of the hobbies I used to do as a kid. People who know me will tell you I have more fun than anyone they know. I live every day to the fullest because I know every single day I wake up sober is truly a blessing. When I was getting high, I pushed everyone out of my life. I only called my parents to ask for money, my siblings wanted nothing to do with me and my only friends were drug addicts like myself. Now, I have a great relationship with everyone in my family, friends who actually care about me and a normal nine-to-five job.

My obsession with using drugs has been lifted and if you ask anyone who struggles with addiction, it’s a dream come true. I have complete soundness of mind and with this, anything is possible. Thousands of people die each year from this horrible disease and I could have very easily been one of them. I was spared, for whatever reason. But now, my life’s mission is to figure it out. I have spent my 20s soul searching and committing to a better self. If your 20s are the age that define you, I am one lucky person, because I have been through the wire. And I’m now able to handle any adversity thrown my way. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you have options — be in a rehab center (where I work now) or another treatment option, make the leap of faith and choose a life of sobriety and serenity

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA‘s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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Originally published: February 14, 2017
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