When an addict is growing up, we see our parents or family members struggling with alcohol or drugs, but never think to ourselves "that will be me one day." Until you are able to stop and look back at your personal destruction (if you are lucky enough to make it this far) and realize you became them and worse. There is no set time when you will realize, what turn your life has made, whether it is 5, 10, 20 years it is different for everyone that is given the opportunity to see their life from the outside looking in.
My span of drinking was almost 20 years with each year bringing on a little more destruction of relationships, emotions, and physicality. Although I hurt a lot of people, a fair amount of trips to the ER for physical injuries, destroyed my finances, and 3 trips to jail; I was still functioning as a Leader in my career. I like many others was able to cover up my issues with success at work or at least by my definition was successful. By successful, I mean I was able to get through my day and get home to have another drink!
I tried AA, NA, Court Ordered sobriety but none of it stuck and it would never stick until I accepted that my life had to change. In 2013 I was blessed with a judge in Henderson NV who I respected due to him being a retired marine and his help in the veteran community (no I am not military) throw the book at me and for some reason it stuck that time. Maybe 3rd times a charm or it just simply comes down to respect.
After my charges and convictions became reality I started to work on myself. I started focusing on respecting myself and more importantly my family. Too often I hear "you have to get sober for yourself," and yes I agree but the reality is we sometimes need a better reason than ourselves to begin sobriety. I couldn't imagine the pain I was dragging my wife through day in and day out, but I knew I couldn't do it anymore.
An addict will always be an addict BUT addiction pointed in the right direction can create an amazing life worth living. In my 8 years of sobriety I have realized that focusing on helping others along with helping myself is why my active addiction was so destructive. In a sick and twisted way it was giving me the tools to help others be better humans and better Leaders. By continually striving for self growth I have achieved a BA in Business (Summa Cum Laude), MBA (Summa Cum Laude) (well 2 papers until completion), Area Director for Toastmasters here in Las Vegas, and working on a Toastmasters group for recovering addicts.
The love and support from my wife, friends, and family helps me wake up every morning focusing on being a better person. There are so many clichés that make me think "oh God another cultish comment" but some I do enjoy; like "help others by helping yourself." I don't know when sobriety will end for me, but the realization that it could end at the blink of an eye keeps me focused.