My name is Matt and I’d like to share a bit of my recovery journey with you. I’ve been an avid drug and alcohol abuser (or super user as I liked to call it) most of my life. I started when I was 15. The typical teen partier smoking pot, drinking alcohol, and generally “having fun” with whatever we could get our hands on.
At some point, I couldn’t even really tell you when, this evolved into more of an escape than a release. I always told myself I loved doing drugs because of how amazing it was to feel something different, but at some point, I began to want to feel different more than I wanted to feel reality. Why would I want to feel pain, suffering, monotony, and indifference when all it took was a little bit (or, far too often, a lot) of any given substance and suddenly I was floating on a cloud or off to the races on an epic party spree?
Over the years I would often become addicted to one substance or another. I’ve been addicted to more drugs than I even care to admit. Each time I would find myself in a depressed dark hole just wondering when I would get my next fix. Each time I would slowly dig myself out of that hole, swearing I would never touch that stuff again.
Inevitably, my pain, suffering, or boredom would resurface and I would either find new substances to “cure” them or, in a moment of weakness, return to ones I had sworn off just to achieve that momentary flood of chemicals that I knew would ease my suffering, if only for a short time.
This cycle continued for 21 long years. Each time ending in more catastrophic results. From stumbling drunkenly to bed night after night to overeating and tipping the scales at 330lbs. From losing months, if not years, existing in a catatonic state to spending weeks at a time with little to no sleep feeling paranoid and afraid. Each time the consequences became worse and worse. Until one day in May of 2022, I found myself sobbing and alone after a week-long bender that was supposed to be an amazing vacation.
I had always told myself I was strong enough to pull myself out of these binges and put myself back together, but that was exactly the problem. That was all I ever thought about so that was all I had: myself. I was all alone. Alone with my thoughts, my pain, my suffering. I had no tools, friends, or mentors to help me find peace. I had nowhere to turn.
I finally sought out an AA meeting as they are well-known and easily accessible. I will always be grateful to those rooms as they were a refuge in a very dark place in my life. I fought back tears at nearly every meeting for the first few weeks. I learned tools to stave off craving and met many wonderful people there.
At some point, though, I realized I wanted more. Not only did I want to stay sober, I wanted to connect with myself and others, heal my trauma and find tools to deal with my suffering. In a twist of fate, I found Recovery Dharma and the Sangha. Buddhist principles, meditation, and the Dharma were all brand new to me. They felt foreign and honestly strange to me, but the more I practiced the more I realized I had found what I was looking for.
Through practicing meditation and the eightfold path I was finally capable of connecting with myself, recognizing my suffering, and using my newfound tools to not only accept it but thrive in it. All while still having a community, the Sangha, to lean on, learn from, and grow with.
I still struggle with anxiety, depression, cravings, and self-doubt. Sometimes on a daily basis. But now I have the tools and a practice that are helping me to be the person I always wanted to be. The one who is actually strong enough to resist temptation and make wise choices, speak and think wisely, and practice mindfulness. And when I feel unsure or not strong enough to do it on my own, I have a community of friends and mentors to help me through. I am forever grateful for this community.
May all beings find happiness and healthiness as I have found!
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