Photo of Erik, peer addiction coach

Maintaining lasting sobriety

Meet Erik
Erik struggled with his cycle of addiction for nearly 20 years. After working from home during the pandemic, he realized he needed help.

Q: My sobriety never lasts long. What should I do next?

A: There are plenty of great tools out there to help you along your wellness journey – the key is using them. That’s a big part of my own story. When I was trying to get well, I tried out several meetings, both court-ordered and on my own. They’d usually work temporarily, but I wasn’t willing to put in the work necessary to be successful. It seemed like no matter what I did, nothing lasted.

Getting sober was easy. I did it many, many times. Sustaining sobriety was the hard part. I would make it days, weeks and even months, but it would always be short-lived. I’d be right back where I started. It didn’t matter what was driving me to quit – DUI’s, possession charges, job loss, the deteriorating relationship with my wife or even the birth of a new child. Nothing was enough to keep me from using again. It seemed like a life of addiction was inevitable for me.

Even though I tried to cut back and was successful for short periods of time, I avoided enrolling in a treatment program. I was afraid of the stigma that came with rehab, but my pride also played a role. I always thought treatment was for people who had no other choice. There was no way I needed to talk to someone; that was only for people who had serious issues.

I’m sharing this to illustrate the ways I was holding back while I had intermittent periods of sobriety. Everything looked OK from the outside, which allowed me to stay in denial and avoid the work I needed to complete to stay well. I was always a high performer at work, I paid my bills on time, I helped make sure my kids had what they needed. The truth was, I had a serious issue. I failed to see the hurt I was causing my wife, the time I would spend with friends instead of my kids and the toll my use was taking on my health, among other things.

If you’re someone who’s already tried treatment, support groups or other forms of support, think about what worked or didn’t work in each attempt. You’ve probably already learned tools or strategies but might need help executing them. Talking to someone – particularly a peer coach who’s been through similar experiences – is really helpful. I’ve finally recognized that there’s no shame in getting help from others. Why not equip yourself with every tool possible? A peer can help you weigh your options and brainstorm ways you can meet your goals.

I never thought a life in recovery was possible for myself, but it was. I just needed to do the necessary work and talk to someone with a similar lived experience. They were able to help me see there was a life beyond addiction. As a peer coach, I want to be that person for others. Let’s face it better, together.

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