Dustin R's Sober Living Success Story - Real Recovery Solutions
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Dustin's Sober Living Success Story

Dustin's Sober Living Success Story

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Sobriety Date: 1/30/2018
Age: 31
Drug(s) of Choice: Alcohol/Stimulants/Opioids
Alumni Interview Date: 05/09/2022

When I was in my active addiction, I lived a life on fears, lies and insecurities. Ultimately, I lied to myself for decades and never wanted to take a good look at Dustin.

– Dustin R.

Personal Background

I grew up in northern Pennsylvania where the mindset is work hard drink harder. Born an only child I grew up with a father who struggled with his own substance use disorder and subsequently he spent most of my childhood life in state prison. This led me to feel unworthy and unlovable at a young age. I showed the characteristics of being an alcoholic long before my first drink. Lying, manipulation, bullying and being deceitful were apart of my daily routine as a child.

Recovery Background

I tried alcohol at a very young age but didn’t get truly drunk until I was 14. By the time I was 16, I was drinking on the weekends and by senior year I was chugging beer and liquor before school. When I was 18 is when my drug use with prescription medicine, cocaine and hallucinogens began. By the time I was 19 I was in a full-blown spiral with depression, anxiety and addiction.

The consequences of my addiction were more internal than external. I got a DUI when I was 21 and suffered my first legal consequences. Depression, anxiety and wanting to die daily followed me wherever I went. I managed my alcoholism by getting addicted to opiates and benzos in my mid-20s. At this time, I had reached a new bottom been in trouble with the law a few more times and burnt bridges with those I cared for most in this world.

How were you introduced to the 12-step program and recovery?

My first treatment facility was in 2012 and this is where I was introduced to a 12-step program. I did not stay sober long after that and wouldn’t make it back to another 12-step room until 2016. In 2016 I went back to rehab and moved to Boca Raton where I was truly introduced to AA and the 12-step program for the first time. While in Boca I worked with a sponsor and completed my 12 steps for the first time.

Dustin's Journey at Real Recovery

How was your experience at Real Recovery?

Real Recovery for me was an integral part of why I am still alive and sober today. I moved to a city where  I knew no one and 14 months later left a new man. Pat, Mark and everyone affiliated with Real Recovery  were genuine in support and encouragement while also holding us accountable daily to ourselves, our  program and to our fellow people. It set in motion a turn of events that have help shape me into the  person I am today 3 years later.

Was there anything that you did while you were in sober living that you think made a difference this time?

This time around I just gave it my all! What really changed the game for me was finding a sponsor with 40+ years of continuous sobriety. He opened the door and showed me what true fellowship was. I was  able to once again work through the 12 steps but this time I did my steps (especially step 9) to the best of my ability. I also met a few gentlemen along the way who became brothers and having their daily  support was a real game changer!

What was the hardest or most challenging step for you?

When I was in my active addiction, I lived a life on fears, lies and insecurities. Ultimately, I lied to myself  for decades and never wanted to take a good look at Dustin. Step 4 for me was at the time super  difficult because I hated myself and didn’t want to dig into my moral inventory. 

Was there a step or a point where you felt that things shifted or that you got the most relief from?

Step 8 and 9 making amends to others and myself was absolutely where I experienced my spiritual  experience. I carried hate, rage, resentments and frustration for decades and when I forgave myself and  others and was able to take full ownership of my addiction and actions is when my life changed. I  started building healthy, loving bonds and through making amends I have repaired and rebuilt so many  bridges that I never thought would have ever been repaired.

After Real Recovery & Life In Sobriety Today

How’s life now?

After I left Real Recovery and moved back to PA, my life has absolutely changed before my very eyes. I knew if I did not do something different this time, I would end up back in Florida or dead. I got into photography and hiking and subsequently lost 160lbs in 2 years. In Nov of 21, I had the privilege of speaking at Real Recovery Alumni BBQ in St Pete in front of 400 sober men and friends. As of April 22, I am a Certified Recovery Specialist in the state of Pennsylvania. Within the next few weeks, I will start a new endeavor in the mental health field. My goal is to incorporate nature and the outdoors in helping people with substance use disorders called Wanderlost. I still go to meetings and recently started back working my steps.

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What three things/tips would you tell your past self or share with someone considering sober living/recovery?

  1. Be vigilant on who you hang out with or spend your days with while in sober living.

  2. Don’t get sober for anyone but YOURSELF 

  3. LOVE yourself on the good and bad days!!!

Do you have a daily routine that helps you stay sober?

I have found that altruism works best for me. Whether it is someone in recovery, suffering from mental health issues or a neighbor who needs a helping hand. Today, I show up for others because I had people show up for me. Nature, the gym and going to meetings are just a few ways I ensure that just for today I am going to remain sober.

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