Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation hat he is in error. – Andrew Jackson, U.S. president
Where do I begin? Just being able to ask that question of myself, in an environment such as this, with the idea that I may be able, in some small part, to give back a little of what has been given to me, is a sign that I am a far, far better man than ever I was. My detox in rehab, the first step of my alcohol recovery, seems a good as a place as any. Let’s start there. (Read This: 5 Reasons to Stop Drinking Liquor)
The road that finally led me, Andy, to rehab was, indeed, a long one, and I’ll make reference to its journey here, but my first steps across the center’s threshold were the most necessary I’d ever taken. To say that I was able to do so without the physical support of the medical staff would be a lie. I was a shell of anything I ever had been. My small hope, just enough to be a conscious thought it seemed, was that they’d fill me with something that wasn’t my alcohol addiction; the physical and mental damage it had done me was plain to see, medical professional or not.
Withdrawal, in itself, seemed like a punishment I’d earned, and I took it. I took it with the same unquenchable measure as the endless drinking, the related drug-use, and the same unfeeling, dead emotion of years filled with abuse. Punishment – deserved, yes. Painful? Surely, but earned. I remember thinking as I lay figuratively incarcerated in my bed, if there’s anything left at all of me after this, you can keep it. That is the power of addiction, and that was my resignation under that power.
Months and months of therapy, counselling, meetings, psychiatric and psychological interviews, exercise regimes, dietary advice, classes on self-confidence, building self-esteem, scheduling your day, keeping a journal, you name it, and all within the walls of my rehab, got me to a new place, a better place, both physically and mentally. It was there that something happened, something that appeared unbelievable to me. I started to grow.
This article is about that growth, that of becoming a better person, a better man than that previous shell that I was, the physical, mental, and even spiritual husk I’d been when I first entered the rehab center. These are my 4 reasons why alcohol recovery made me a better man. I hope you gain from them.
Heavens, you better believe it. It amazes me the punishment we can put our human bodies through, and how those very same bodies can come back, and can repair themselves, even to the point of being fitter, stronger, and more athletic than what they were before.
I came to the U.S. from the one-time murder capital of the world – Medellín, Colombia. Born and initially raised there, it’s a place you learned to run before you could walk. My leg muscles were very well-developed for my age simply because running was a daily activity, whether you wanted to or not. Because of the clear and present threat of violence or worse, my parents moved us all out to south California, where I stayed, for better or worse, until a few years ago. Where did I go then? Back to Medellín, of course. More of that later.
As a kid, you couldn’t have surgically removed me from my bike or my skateboard. I really was the kid you always saw around the neighbourhood, enthralling my friends with daring twists and turns on wheels that occasionally let me down. In fact, I still have the scars on my right knee from one attempt to be the next Señor Evel Knievel on the circuit.
However, my true passion (and it still is) back then was basketball. Me and friends owned the local court, and you’d better believe that. If I couldn’t play basketball, regardless of my wheels, I was just plain, old bored. Basketball was the center of my life as a child, until my first taste of a liquor called aguardiente, some would say the true taste of Colombia. Anise-flavored, strong, and served neat. Give that to a 9-year old (yep, just 9), as my drunken uncle did at a family party, and he may never look back.
Sadly, I didn’t. That first drink was the precursor to my addictions; alcohol at 9, smoking dope at 14, and doing meth at 19. And together, apart from all the other destruction they brought to my personal door, they shredded the young athlete I was becoming. I only returned to the physical kid I was back in my basketball days in rehab.
Sobriety (I’m glad to say that I’m well over 8 years into being clean and sober) has returned my fitness, my strength and my athleticism, and some. Physically, I’m a grown man now, and you’ll still catch me out on a court, owning that strip of concrete with the friends I have now. Some people even refer to me as “the basketball guy.” So much better than being “the drunk guy,” that’s for sure.
Addiction, whichever one it is, or whatever combination like me you suffered with, has many undeniable truths. Yes, it does screw up your body. Not surprising when the disease can be fatal. Another truth? It screws up your mind, and many, many sad cases exist where people didn’t come back. The mental health damage that was inflicted upon them is there until they die, not reversible and not curable. Our body can heal given the opportunity, and get better over time, in most cases, but the workings of our brain? A far more complex problem for the professional to get to grips with.
I was lucky, and I thank my lucky stars every single day that I came out of it relatively mentally unscathed from an existence of addiction, nothing more, that constituted my life back then. I didn’t manage it alone, obviously. Without listing them all again, feel free to re-read the elements of my alcohol rehab (the therapy, counselling, etc.). All of these were designed and put in place to deal with the physical and the mental fall-out of each addict treated there. Each element helped in putting my mess of a mind back together.
So just how good a job did they, and the others who have followed in my life beyond rehab, make of it all? You’d be surprised. I certainly am. And thankful. Let me tell you a little more about where, why, how and who I am today…
Rehab gave me the will and self-confidence to learn about new stuff. I chose digital technology, website creation, and marketing. Rehab also unearthed my entrepreneurial spirit, one that maybe I was aware of, but not confident in. These 2 things, the knowledge and the ideas, became good buddies, and, when I was confident enough in myself, my ability and my sobriety to take the leap – I leapt.
I jumped along way too (and I can’t put that down to my newfound athleticism). I jumped back to Medellín, the city of my birth, with an idea, which was this:
● I would create a digital marketing agency right here in the streets that held so much fear for so many people over years and years.
● I would employ local talent, supplemented with people from other countries that had made their home here.
● I would be responsible for their growth just as rehab was for mine.
And that’s what I do now, and the level of satisfaction I receive from this project, this agency I run successfully, is beyond measure. It’s the cornerstone of my sobriety, and it could not have existed without that sobriety. Sobriety cleared my mind of all that was bad, and has led me, in its wisdom, to this.
My apologies for the direct approach here, but this is a no-brainer. No, really. Okay, what would you prefer? A drunk 9-year old? A stoned 14-year old? A meth-addled 19-year old? An 21-year old trying to deal with his life in a state pen following a drug bust? (Yes, that was me too). Or a clean and sober 30-something with a sense of humor, a cultured business brain, and more life experience than you could throw a proverbial book at? Did I mention the clean-shaven good looks?
Seriously, as an active addict, you cannot be socially aware – fact. Sobriety has presented me with many gifts, each of them gratefully received, and most, if not all, are about becoming that better man. I am now a responsible family member; I’m a socially responsible employer; I am a good friend to those who need me to be. In simple terms, and from what I see around me every day, I’m a good person to be with. That is my clear proof, if you like, that I am a better man, thanks to alcohol recovery.
We all have ideas when we’re young of how life is supposed to be, and many of these are just simple misconceptions when reality appears. My sheer, brutal addicted life wasn’t what I had planned. Believe me, nobody but nobody chooses to be an addict. Now, I consciously choose a life of abstinence from the alcohol and drugs of my past. It’s all I can do in terms of self-treatment – be free from their unswerving power over me by living an abstinent life.
Doing this successfully is no mean achievement. Ask any recovering addict. Triggers to past behavior abound in your daily life, places that are dangerous for you to be in are everywhere around you, and have to be recognized as such, certain friends cannot be your friends any longer, and the environment you choose to live in has to be chosen with the seeming expertise of some kind of military operation.
Surround yourself with people, places, activities, even social occasions, that assist you in your sobriety. Doing so has worked for me. Why put something so valuable at risk? This is a choice that you can make as a recovering addict. I chose my sobriety above all else, and continue to do so. This better man I have become will count for nothing, when all is said and done, if I chose something else.
So, there you go, my 4 reasons why alcohol recovery made me a better man. I started this article crossing the threshold of the rehab where I began my treatment, and so, fittingly, I’ll finish there. Rehab gave me the tools I needed for what lay in front of me. I used them then to help rebuild and rediscover myself, and I continue to use them every day in my life as it is now, clean and sober.
If there is something about how you became a better man through such difficult times or periods in your life, please feel free to add a message below to share with other readers. Was it a particular moment you can define, or a process of recovery such as the one described above? That is what this article is about – the sharing. I now choose to share my life for what it is, warts and all. I hope you can find it within yourself to do the same in a way that helps our fellow man.
Lastly, I know I’m a better man now and these are my better days.
About the Author
Hi, my name is Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. I spend my time helping others with their recovery and growing my online business.