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Addiction continues to grip our country in ways we never imagined. Every day there are countless news stories about overdoses, drunk driving incidents, and violence associated with the drug trade.
Then you have the stories of people who are stuck in the quicksand of addiction. And while we hear about the criminal aspect of addiction, we don’t hear the human aspect. We don’t hear about the struggles associated with addiction or how people are finding their way back to a real life through recovery.
Truthful and scary as the news stories are, it’s important to counterbalance the negative with the positive. Those who suffer from addiction are humans, too; humans who need support and strength to help them right their ship. Sometimes the very best way to consider the other side of addiction is to hear the story of a survivor — particularly a survivor who found his way back and now dedicates his life to helping others.
“People with the ability to change lives have the responsibility to change lives.” – Lincoln, proud graduate of addiction treatment
Lincoln came from a family of alcoholics. His father and grandmother, both former alcoholics, helped found AA support groups in their community, and none of his sisters ever suffered from addiction. But Lincoln said he always felt like addiction was patiently waiting in the wings for the day he would arrive. Sadly, that day came.
As a college student, Lincoln found himself caught up in a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol. Unable to manage his studies, he was ejected from school. And after a revolving door of detox programs, he became homeless. In a rehab program associated with a homeless shelter where he was staying, Lincoln found himself talking to a Marine recruiter. With a perfect opportunity to force himself into sobriety, Lincoln immediately enlisted.
However, even though mandatory testing kept Lincoln off drugs, he found himself drinking more and more.
“Once I was in the military, I realized I couldn’t stop drinking,” Lincoln said.
After having neck surgery, Lincoln was prescribed pain medication that he couldn’t stop using, and he kept finding ways to get more. Finally, another visit to rehab prompted by his commanding officer forced Lincoln to quickly wrap up his service. But being out of the military made it easier for Lincoln to return to his former lifestyle.
“The military had kept me sober, so once I was out, I quickly went back to drugs. I was doing heroin, cocaine, pills, weed … anything I could get my hands on,” he said.
As his life began to spiral out of control, Lincoln’s family recognized that he was a danger to himself. Thanks to a Kentucky law, his family was able to commit him to involuntary drug treatment. He didn’t realize it at the time, but Lincoln’s arrival at Treehouse Rehab started the journey of a lifetime.
When he first arrived, Lincoln said he wasn’t convinced rehab would work.
“Nothing had ever worked before — not that I had really tried. But I knew something had to change,” he said. “At the Treehouse, I hit the ground running. I knew if I was going to be there, I wanted to be 100 percent. … I immersed myself in it and went to all of the classes that I could.”
“I showed up at the Treehouse as a Godless, fearless man,” he continued. “While I was there, I connected to a 12-step program and came to find my higher power.”
But Lincoln said he also realized the only way this was all going to work was if he flipped the script.
“I learned I needed a new start. Anyone who knew me would have never imagined that I could do it. I didn’t want to uphold my reputation. I needed to establish a new identity and not conform to what others thought I should or could be.”
And so it began that Lincoln not only found a way back to himself, but he realized he could be a force for change with others suffering from substance abuse.
“I’ve found a God of my understanding and I’m working with other alcoholics and addicts. It’s a passion and joy for me – and that’s what drives my life.
“I regularly attend AA meetings and have nine sponsees. It’s a snowball effect that’s infinite. It’s such a joy in my life that wasn’t there before. It’s a joy I never knew I could find,” Lincoln said. “Being an outlet for people has been my greatest joy in recovery.”
Here’s a man who hit rock bottom but was able to carve out a new life for himself through sobriety. Lincoln is a shining example of someone who found the support and strength needed to pick up the pieces. Let his story be one that can inspire others to do the same.
Written By: Constance Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org