Celebrating 9 years clean of heroin, while studying abroad in Germany

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When I was 18, I dropped out of college to tour the U.S. with my old band.  We were signed, released records, and bound to succeed.  Most of the band was fresh out of high school; part of our charm was our youthful energy and taste for raw, unfiltered rock-n-roll.  The partying escalated over the years and my life sunk into a dark and depressing addiction.  I graduated from pills and drinking, to shooting heroin and cocaine on a daily basis.  I was kicked out of the band, hit rock bottom, and often found myself sleeping on the streets or in a jail cell.  Four years of my life was destroyed by this addiction and there was nothing glamorous about it.  It was a fucking disaster.

On July 17th, 2010, my sister Katie was struck by a car and died at age 29.  I was clean, but struggling to stay clean in light of this horrible tragedy.  I knew that I’d join her soon if I chose to relapse and throw all the progress away.  Days later I stood peering into the open casket that contained Katie.  I saw myself in that casket; lifeless, thin, and pale.  I wished that the roles had been reversed.  I thought that maybe I could get clean to honor her memory, or something like that.  What I learned though, is that there is close to nothing that anyone can do for an addict, what they must do for themselves.  Words are nice, but they don’t mean a damn thing.  What counts is action.

So, like many other young people in this country, I decided I would quit; walk away.  I chose to rebuild my life with the support of my friends and family. They could only show me the door, but I had walk through it, and I did.  Today, I’m a proud Chico State Wildcat, I got a beautiful family, and I am very grateful for the smallest of things that come my way.  I never forget my struggles and failures, in fact, those are the memories I hold onto the tightest.  They keep me strong.

The following events in my life would never have occurred if I hadn’t stopped using:

My wedding day

Wedding reception (with my best bud, Keil, the creeper in the background)

Golfing with my dad, brothers, and my son

Seeing H.I.M. on my 27th birthday, December 16th, 2014 with my brothers and friends

Party at my apartment in Tübingen with my friends from CSUIP Germany

Ausflug to Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart

See the Zugspitze in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Celebrating family and keeping Katie close in our thoughts

Having a family that I love and call my own

Playing at the park with my boys

Going to school with Ezra every day because he goes to the Chico State preschool

Raising two little Wildcats

Eating burgers at the Madison Bear Garden in Chico, CA

Cutting down Christmas trees every year together

… and that feeling when you hear your kids’ cries for the first time

Getting clean was obviously the best decision I made in my entire life.  It enabled everything else to come through.  My relationships, my family, education, work, and the list goes on… This study abroad experience is one of the best highlights of my life.  That is possible, because of my decision nine years ago.  It’s also possible due to everyone who has helped me along the way, especially the FEA.  I will spend the rest of my life doing right by others, because I wouldn’t have a life if others hadn’t done it for me.

My life is described by the words of Thomas Edison, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”