Resident Of the Month
When 19-year-old Ben went to his video clerk job on a clear and sunny Tuesday morning in Denver, he did not know his day would end the way it did.
“I had problems connecting with others,” Ben said. “I was unable to function socially and thought I was a bit different. I never trusted myself to know what the next right thing was. My behavior suggested that I was a loner.”
During the latter part of the work day, several acquaintances from Ben’s high school walked into the video store as shoppers, saw him behind the counter, and made him an offer that would eventually change his life. “I didn’t see them as my friends – just familiar faces around our high school campus,” Ben explained. “They were surprised to see me working in the store and started talking to me. After making their purchase, they extended an invitation for me to meet them after work for a drink. I felt honored that they would make such an offer and accepted.”
Prior to that evening, Ben knew nothing about getting drunk or being under the influence of any mind altering substances… and so… when he got to the home of the host and took a shot of Vodka mixed with Kool-Aid, he thought he had arrived. One shot, two shots, three shots, and another – Ben became the life of the party. “My friends thought that my drinking was impressive and I saw that as a compliment and drank even more to further impress them.”
Uninhibited and no longer feeling like a loner, Ben savored the effects the alcohol had produced and spent the night at his friend’s home. Besides puking a few times, he said the physical effects from his heavy drinking were minimal. “I wasn’t hung over and didn’t feel any wear and tear,” Ben recalled. “The only thing that bothered me was that I got home Wednesday morning – one day after I had left for work.” After some soul-searching Ben made a commitment. He vowed he would not drink for the next two years. Holding true to his words, he resumed drinking on his 21st birthday and drank socially for most of that year.
“At 21 years old I felt I had to keep up with everyone else around me,” he said. “I didn’t know how to say I had had enough; I just kept on going. I became a functional drinker who was able to hold my job as a cook at a local restaurant.”
For the next seven years Ben’s addiction escalated as his alcoholism opened the door to an entrée of other mind altering substances: marijuana; mushrooms; acid; ecstasy; and cocaine. “I consumed whatever was put in front of me,” he said. “Alcohol and drugs took me away from myself… from that miserable loner who didn’t know how to socialize. The more I used these drugs the farther away I was able to progress from that person.”
Because no major consequences resulted from his using, Ben refused to believe he was an addict and continued living recklessly. Finally, at 24-years old he impregnated a woman whom he had only known casually. “I was in no position to be a parent,” Ben said. “This accident was a result of my bad judgment… but none of this slowed me down. After I made the decision to support her and our child, I tried to curtail my crazy lifestyle; but that was short-lived… I continued living in the false world of my drinking and drug use.”
After managing to stay sober for 24 hours in order to witness and participate in the birth of his daughter, Ben paused for the first time in more than five years and recommitted himself to becoming a positive influence in his daughter’s life. “I stayed sober just to be around my daughter; but once my visitation with her ended I went back to square one. Every attempt I made on my own to get sober failed,” he said.
With his finances and his relationship with his family in shambles, Ben turned to a friend for help last December. “It was the holiday season and I was isolated and on the verge of becoming homeless,” he recalled. “I went to a friend for help and he directed me to Carla Vista Sober Living; this was where my moment of clarity began.”
Enrolling in Carla Vista Sober Living on December 31, 2013… Ben knew he was safe from the lure of the pomp and circumstance that surrounds New Year’s Eve. To start his journey on the road to a happier destiny, he went to a 12-Step Meeting that night and has stayed sober since. Today, the 29-year-old has more than eight months of continuous sobriety.
“What Carla Vista did was to open the door for me to connect with others – my sober living brothers and the men and women in the Fellowship of Recovery,” Ben said. “I no longer feel like I have to escape from myself because I now know that I am not alone. I am grateful for the opportunity that Carla Vista has given me to change my life and become a man who lives today with a purpose. Today I go to meetings and fill my time with helping others, reconnecting with my family, and going to school to get my Bachelor’s degree in business.”