Overcoming personal
battles of addiction.

I ‘m so thankful and blessed that God gave me a second chance at life when he did. I didn’t lose my life, I didn’t lose any of my businesses, and I didn’t lose my children. Unfortunately, I did lose a lot of time with my children because of my neglect, and that’s time that I can never get back.  

THE BEGINNINGS

I was 21 when I first experimented with cocaine, and I just happened to be with some friends at a party. We ended up staying up all night until we finally ran out. After that, I would say for probably five or six years, I may have done it only a couple of times a year. My uses were few and far between, and then I opened my first sports bar, Spectators, when I was 28. I don’t want to say that the bar scene made me do it more or that it was more available, but as I was working all day in lawncare and all night at the bar, I began to do a little more. As my life progressed, I ended up getting a divorce at 35. Looking back now, I can say that while I was 35 years old, I felt like an 18-year-old bachelor.  

I started my first business at 19; so when all my friends were enjoying softball, going on float trips, and doing all those things, I was working seven days a week trying to create a lawncare company. I missed those days where people in their late teens learn and make silly mistakes. All of the sudden, I was 35 with a couple of good companies going, and I probably had a little bit of a bigger ego than I needed to have.  

ROCK BOTTOM

In my 30s, I can honestly say I didn’t think that my cocaine use was out of control. Even though I was using, it was still only on the weekends when I was out drinking. At that point, it felt more like I had a little secret. Except when we thought we were being sneaky, a group of us were coming in and out of a bathroom stall to take turns getting high, we weren’t nearly as secretive as we thought we were.  

By my early 40s, my addiction really began to set in. I was in a toxic relationship with someone for about four or five years. This was a really dark part of my life, and I was using roughly $100 worth of cocaine every day. Being in the bar business and surrounded by people kept my mind from wondering about my failures or the things that I was lacking in life. But after getting high, I would always wind up in my apartment alone, paranoid, and unable to sleep. I would just lie in bed until 6 a.m. and then get up and do it all over again. Over time, I became increasingly paranoid, especially when I would go maybe three days with no sleep. I was always thinking everybody’s a cop or out to get me. It got to the point that I wouldn’t want to leave my apartment, and when I did, I would have someone meet me at the front door to walk me through the busy crowd of the bar until I could lock myself in my office to close up for the night. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. As an addict, you always tell yourself you’re not doing it again, but then you do. 

THE PATH TO RECOVERY

I can’t blame my addiction on any person or situation. I think people use drugs and alcohol as a crutch, and that’s what I was doing. I hated my life, and I hated myself because of my addiction. On July 24, 2018, I woke up from another three-day bender and knew I had to get home. When I got there, I remember going upstairs and having a real heart to heart with myself, telling myself that I’m better than this and praying to God. In that moment, I convinced myself to quit drinking for one month. If I could quit drinking, which was a trigger for me, I could quit cocaine. The next morning, my good friend Curt Fischer called me and offered to get me into rehab. After some bickering back and forth, I told him to give me two weeks to do it on my own, and he agreed. For the first couple of days, I was vegged out. But within a week, I had joined a gym and started taking a mix of vitamins after talking with my doctor about my sobriety. 

I had always been honest with my doctor about what I was doing. He likely didn’t know the amount associated with my addiction, but I was honest about using cocaine recreationally because if he ever would prescribe me something, I didn’t want there to be a chemical imbalance. Of course, he didn’t approve of it. The day I came in and told him I was five days sober, he was so excited. He ended up giving me about $100 worth of vitamins: vitamin C, vitamin B, and all the multivitamins that would help me bounce back and help me feel like I was alive again. It was a month’s supply, but he told me to be honest with myself and take them for two weeks. If I didn’t like them, I could throw them away. Over those two weeks, I started to notice that the little things that I would go through weren’t bothering me as much anymore. When anything would happen, I wasn’t feeling like I needed to get high to calm down. I noticed a lot of changes happening with me almost immediately. It didn’t take long to notice more color in my face. I had more energy, and other people started to notice the changes in me too. I started going to the gym religiously and lost 20 pounds within a couple of months. I looked good, felt like a million bucks, and the only things I changed were not getting high and drinking.  

A LIFE IN SOBRIETY

Since the day I made my decision, I have never had a relapse. For me, I think it was an easy choice because I knew that from where I was, my next step would have to be life changing. I was either going to lose everything, or I was going to change. I was able to step back, and God helped me rebound. A couple of months went by, then a couple more, and here I am more than five years sober.  

Since my sobriety, I’ve sat down and talked to my kids as a group about my cocaine addiction and how a little recreation can turn into a way of life; it’s a bad, dark life. I wanted them to know that I’m here for them, that I’ve been down that road, and that they can always reach out to me. My biggest scare, however, is for anyone who is still doing drugs. Nowadays, so many people have to worry about fentanyl. It’s something I never had to worry about; it wasn’t a thing back then. Now, there are people that die all the time from just doing a very little amount, and that’s such a scary thing to know.

THE POWER OF HOPE 

I don’t mind talking about my story because if I can help someone in the same shoes I was in, it’s very rewarding to see them move forward. I have bad days like everybody else. I get upset, but I don’t ever think to turn to drugs or alcohol as my crutch. I’ve realized that I can only take each problem day by day. Since I’ve become sober, I live my life like I drive my car, and that’s always looking forward.