Stopping a 25-year drinking cycle: Jeremy’s story

Photo of Jeremy and his family, who were instrumental in his alcohol addiction recovery

Published Jan. 4, 2023

Jeremy had already told his wife he wanted to quit drinking when he survived a day that could’ve cost him everything.

The last thing Jeremy remembered was opening a second jar of moonshine at 9 a.m. He was in downtown Sioux Falls for a ceremony and gave two speeches throughout the day, neither of which he remembers. He’s watched recordings of them since and even he can’t tell how drunk he truly was.

“That really opened my eyes to how bad it was,” he said. “I had already started thinking I didn’t want to do this anymore. I want to be around for my son.”

The next morning, without any knowledge of how he got home and into his bed, Jeremy woke up to his wife emptying all his liquor bottles. He called a friend, who introduced him to someone at Face It TOGETHER.

“I remember him saying, ‘I think we found someone for you to talk to,” he said. “When I first met Terri, she put me at ease right away. We talked for an hour and a half. I told her everything, then she told me her story. I just never really looked back from there.”

‘I didn’t know anything different’

Addiction was present on both sides of Jeremy’s family. Life wasn’t easy while he was growing up.

“Drinking and doing drugs – I didn’t know anything different,” he said. “My 43rd birthday was my first sober birthday since I was 16.”

Jeremy drank heavily for about 25 years, off and on. He’s been sober from drugs for more than 15 years.

“My now-wife was pregnant and threatened to leave me if I didn’t stop using drugs,” he said. “I was good for a while, until after my son was born, then I started drinking heavily again.”

When Jeremy was ready to stop drinking, the support he received from his wife and son was the greatest help.

“My wife said, ‘We have your back. You have to figure this out, but we’re here,’” he said.

Since then, Jeremy has worked to heal his relationships.

“(My wife and son) seem to be happier, they really do. I’m not focused on going drinking with my friends. I’m more focused on my family, having dinner with them,” he said. “I haven’t missed a show choir performance of my son’s in years. Before I stopped drinking, there was a time I passed out drunk in the car and they left me there.”

Sobriety has presented a lot of firsts – first wedding, first concert – that used to be excuses to “get hammered.”

“I’ve done a lot of things I used to do drinking. I don’t worry about a hangover or my family being mad at me,” Jeremy said. “I can enjoy life.”

Jeremy has also gotten healthier physically. He’s lost weight and started working out, and his blood pressure has gone down.

“Without me getting sober, none of that would’ve been possible,” he said. “I became a better person.”

Throughout Jeremy’s journey, his coach, Terri, has been there for him.

“She cares; she wants to know how I’m doing. I can’t pinpoint one thing she’s helped me with because she done so much for me and my family. I tell her almost every time we talk that I thank her,” he said. “I remember her saying, ‘I can tell you’re going to do well and it’s not going to be easy,’ and she was right.”

‘Drinking wasn’t going to solve anything’

In October 2022, Jeremy’s father died unexpectedly during a minor procedure.

“That took everything I had to stay sober,” he said. “As soon as I found out he died, I had to make a few calls; Terri was the third call I made.”

There was more than one occasion during Jeremy’s early grief when he almost drank. He remembers Terri telling him she wouldn’t blame him if he had, but she was glad he didn’t.

“She said, ‘This is one of those times we talked about. Things come up that show how strong your recovery is,’” he said. “I realized I didn’t need to go back to the way I was; I could handle it. Drinking used to take away the pain, but it was only temporary. So, I faced it head on and did what I needed to do.”

Jeremy’s father also used to struggle with alcohol; he had more than 30 years of sobriety when he died. Jeremy said he knows drinking wouldn’t have cancelled all his previous recovery, but he’s proud and grateful he remained sober during such a difficult time.

“Drinking wasn’t going to solve anything,” he said. “I would’ve let myself down, my wife down, my dad down.”

Everywhere Jeremy went in the weeks after his father died, his family and friends made sure he was OK. A few even checked his drinks at a wedding reception. (If you’d like tips on attending a wedding reception while sober, be sure to check out this advice blog.) That comfort made all the difference.

“The support of my family and Terri getting back to me so quickly, it was a game changer. It was on her personal time, and she set up time with me. It says a lot about her, and it says a lot about the organization,” he said. “Terri went from my sobriety coach to my friend to my family, and that’s amazing.”

The help Jeremy received from Terri that makes him want to help others.

“The longer I go through this process, the better I feel about myself and the more I want to help,” he said. “Paying it forward – that’s how I try to live. I want to help because this organization has done so much for me and my family.”

To other individuals who may be questioning their use, Jeremy hopes they won’t be afraid to ask for help. He used to be, and he knows how difficult the journey can be, but he couldn’t be happier that it’s a journey he started.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” he said. “It’s not easy to get sober and stay sober. It’s a long journey, but the best things in life to do sometimes are not easy.”

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