Thoughts of a Recovering Addict

Once an alcoholic spiraling out of control, Eamon O'Hara is now sober.

March 27, 2008, 3:03 PM

MALIBU, Calif., March 28, 2008— -- On Dec. 1, 2007, Eamon O'Hara's family gathered with four recovering drug addicts in his boyhood home to prepare for a surprise intervention. On that day there was a single goal: to get Eamon to agree to go to rehabilitation.

The 22-year-old was once an honor roll student and star athlete whose life had spiraled into a drunken mess of legal, financial and familial problems. Most recently, a drunken car accident had left him with a face full of glass, but even that was not enough of a wake-up call for him to stop binging on an average of 40 beers, seven nights a week.

The intervention worked, and Eamon agreed to give rehab a chance. He flew to the The Malibu Beach Recovery Center (known at the time as the Marshak Rehabilitation Clinic) in Malibu, Calif. During the clinic's 28-day detox and educational rehabilitation program, Eamon was introduced to a low glycemic diet augmented by supplements and intense yoga sessions.

He is now living and working in Villa Malibu's Club Soba, a sober living facility.

These are Eamon's thoughts after 118 days of sobriety.

I could not have asked for a more rewarding experience than I have encountered during my sobriety, thus far. The obstacles I have already overcome in such a short period of time are things that I truly believed impossible during my lifetime. At first I was reluctant to commit to such a life-changing experience. I had never ventured down a road like this before; I stood face to face with the fear of the unknown. After all, the reason for my excessive drinking and drug use was because I wasn't willing to face reality, and was afraid of the possible grim future that seemed to becoming surreal.

My life just wasn't coming together the way I had hoped. Instead of taking actions to fix the problem I had created, I took the easier way out. I chose to numb my feelings with the use of chemicals in an attempt to feel instant gratification and satisfaction for the way I was living.

The Dec. 1 intervention was a most shocking experience; perhaps one of the most memorable events to take place in my life. Whoever thought that a kid growing up in a middle-class town, with a loving supportive family, and a strong athletic and academic background, would need an intervention at 22 years old because his life had become so unmanageable due to drug and alcohol abuse? Not me!

The fact is that I was in complete denial. I had lived this way throughout my teens and early twenties. Partying every day would cover up the thoughts, feelings, and responsibilities I didn't want to face. I had become an alcoholic. I can now see, crystal clear, how I was lowering my standards of acceptable behavior by the week. Luckily, I had family and friends that could see what I was becoming. They took appropriate actions to get me the help I needed.

Coming to California for rehab was obviously not on my schedule for 2007. The only reason I agreed to go was because I had always wanted to go to the West Coast. It didn't matter to me what I had to do there. I figured I would do 28 days in rehab, and then be on vacation. I had no intention of staying clean and sober the first few weeks of December. All I knew was that I had nothing to lose. If I continued with my behavior a fatal event was bound to happen in the future.

To my surprise I became interested in learning how to live without using mind-altering substances. After all, I was going nowhere fast. The twelve steps of AA were introduced to me and I found myself wanting to know how members of the fellowship were able to achieve consecutive days of sobriety. The longest I had ever seemed to be able to reach was three days. Finally, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Visions of happiness, success and freedom from drugs that once controlled me now seemed obtainable. Rehab gave me the basic tools I need to live a sober life.

With my time complete at the Marshak Clinic, the next step was to move into Soba sober living. Sober living is for people who want to continue to stay sober, whether it be after rehab or after sobering up on their own and getting themselves out of their destructive living situation. It is used as an adjustment period, your body is going through a lot of changes, and real life is easily viewed as scary and overwhelming. Anybody can stay clean in rehab. It is the actions you take after that determines the path you are willing to take in your new life.

Soba is more of a sober community then just a sober living house. Many condos make up a tremendous environment to become involved in living a productive life. I interact with people who are here for the same reason; deterring me to hang around people who could imitate my old friends and old behaviors. Most importantly I have a great time living this way. The key to sobriety, for me anyway, is staying involved in Alcoholics Anonymous. Without working the steps and associating myself with its members I would continue to drink my life away.

I have seen first hand what happens to people that start getting away from the program and don't believe they need it anymore. A relapse will shortly follow and they will have to do all the work over again. That is if they even are fortunate enough to make it back to the program. My experience in sober living has been that of which money can't buy. I have a daily routine that works in my life and I rarely have thoughts of drinking and using drugs. If I have a thought it quickly comes and goes. I now use the tools I have learned to stay on track. I tried living my life on my own terms; it didn't work out so well. I am now to a point where I can enjoy myself. I don't want to use anymore, I learned to enjoy my life at its fullest potential. I find now that I can be a responsible person who is accountable for my actions. This is something I once had growing up, but lost somewhere in my using.

On the plane out to California I was told by John, who is now my sponsor, "Just work your program and everything else will fall into place." He is not the only person who has told me that.

For the first time in my life I have shut up and listened. I must say that it is working out well for me so far. I have a strong network of sober friends, including a great girlfriend, Nikki, who makes this time in my life so much easier to deal with. Although relationships are not encouraged early in sobriety, I wasn't going to turn my head on something that could be potentially great. We have a great time together and help each other through problems. In addition to having great friends, I also have a roof over my head, a vehicle to drive, a flexible job, and food on the table. These are all things I once struggled with while getting loaded. Everything I now have is a gift of sobriety. Currently, I am employed with Soba and intend to go to manager training this summer. Greg, who owns Soba, is very supportive of me and appreciates my work ethic. I am glad to be of service.

This is such a life changing experience that I have been blessed with. I would not trade it for the world. It just goes to show that if you stay sober anything is possible. I have a great life today and I have only been here for 118 days. The future is looking brighter than ever. I can only imagine how I will feel five years down the road. The sky is the limit.

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