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Returning Back to School


“Hi. My name is Bob and I’m an alcoholic.

As part of my journey of recovery I’ve been saying these words for over 20 years now (… but who’s counting, right?).

I grew up in a drinking culture. There wasn’t a lot of drunkenness, but there was always a lot of drinking. As an adult, I worked 25 years in a business that was steeped in a hard drinking tradition—the NFL. I was a high functioning drunk and fortunately had a relatively high bottom. After several failed attempts to control my drinking, my body finally had enough and blackouts began to occur ever more frequently, even after moderate amounts of alcohol. I entered rehab in January 1991.

Early in sobriety I was shocked to discover that most of my life was built around drinking. Sure, I knew that I used booze to celebrate wins and drown losses—and that would have to change. I also recognized that most business functions and all my social functions had plenty of alcohol available—and that would be a challenge. But what alarmed me the most was the realization that drinking was so pervasive in my life that I didn’t even know how to grill a hamburger without a beer in my hand. I must say that getting sober was the hardest thing I’ve ever done—but I have never regretted it for a moment.

After about a year, I lost my compulsion to drink. I continued to do well in my job and, being a curious fellow, became interested in the psychology of recovery—why do those silly sayings like “One day at a time” and “Take it easy” seem to work? This led to me pursuing a master’s in psychology in 1994. In 1996, however, my world was rocked. I was arbitrarily fired from my job of 20 years. Over the next several years my marriage of 30 years, which had become increasingly dysfunctional, ended in divorce. The 12-Steps and the “Rooms” sustained me as I entered my personal “dark night of the soul” for the next five years. But, because the 12 Steps taught me how to fearlessly self-examine, during this difficult time I was able to decide and define who I am today.

I can honestly say that the promise of the 12 Steps that in sobriety your life will exceed your wildest dreams has proven true for me—and I have always had very bold dreams! I now teach psychology at a small health sciences college in Virginia. I am both liked and respected by my colleagues and appreciated by my students. I am married (ten years) to a most wonderful woman who is not only my wife, but also my partner, my colleague, my lover, and my best friend. I live in constant gratitude for my life—especially my sobriety. While I cannot imagine life could be even better, I hold open the space knowing that it can!

Finally, I hope information and understanding obtained from this Registry can help more of the “sick and suffering” to recover so that they may, like me, thrive and flourish in sobriety.”


“When I was drowned in addiction I never thought that someday I would write about it; someday that I would have successfully passed through it. Here goes my story since the first day I used narcotics until I revived from addiction:

I always loved musical arts, and hated cigarettes and even the people who smoked them. I remember when I went to university in order to continue my education in another city, and it was the beginning of addiction for me, although I did not know how addiction begins.

The first time I smoked a joint it made me feel happy and I was doing everything with a joy; it was a great feeling. Watching movies and listening to music became my hobbies. After some time my friends suggested taking Tramadol pills in order to study more sufficiently. The result was amazing; my scores went high, I could learn in a better way, and I could do load of studying in a short period.

When I came back to Tehran I was addicted to these pills, there I felt addiction for the first time; I couldn’t sleep, or do my things, I couldn’t even speak properly. I waited and waited for about 3 months but these symptoms didn’t go away, so I started taking pills again.

After a while one of my friends introduced crack to me. “It is better than pills with a better feeling,” he said.

For lack of my knowledge I started taking crack, and after a while I was using crack and pills.

I don’t remember when I started using meth but I remember it became serious when I went abroad in order to continue my education (Malaysia). There was no crack in Malaysia but they had Heroin and Meth, so I combined these two and started taking both together. After a while symptoms appeared, it was messy.

I was in middle of darkness without even knowing it, I was losing my authority over my body. I couldn’t sleep without the drugs say so, I couldn’t attend my classes without the drugs say so, I couldn’t do anything without the drugs say so.

I came back to Iran with a heavy usage of narcotics (5 grams of heroin and 1 gram of crystal meth). I was helpless; eventually I became disappointed with living and was waiting to die. What is the point of living when I can’t even speak, I said.

Days passed pointless, I felt like dying, and then in middle of darkness I saw a sparkle of light, Congress 60.

They explained their method (DST), which sounded logical to me. I started my journey and I was called a traveler; it was amazing. Nobody was calling me addicted, even my family was using this term, and I felt alive once more.

My treatment took about 13 months, but at last I was out of addiction’s darkness and I was walking in the righteous path. Today sometimes I even forget that I was addicted once, and believe it or not a life without narcotics is possible and full of joy.”


"I got clean on September 25, 2001, after a long, painful addiction that led me to the point of complete and utter despair. When I made the decision to get clean, I had 2 options-use until I die or get clean. My employer had intervened on me, and, in a moment of clarity, I chose to live. I have not had to use a mind-altering substance since that day.
My recovery journey has been full of twists and turns. I stayed at that job for exactly 2 more years before I made the decision to leave and go back to school. I had started college years before, but my addiction got in the way and I went from a 4.0 student to writing a term paper in crayon and, when questioned by my professor, leaving my education in the rearview window out of a sense of overwhelming shame. I knew at 2 years clean that I needed to complete what I started, and I did. I wound up working for our local hospital for the next 10 years. The longest job I had held prior to that was the one where I used for the first 18 months of my employment and that I quit on my 2-year clean date. I never thought I would be capable of suiting up and showing up every day, on time and ready to work! I learned a lot about myself during that time.
Eventually, that job ended due to outsourcing. I would probably still be there had it not, but I am now grateful that it did. After a couple of years of more schooling (a certificate program mostly for fun) I took a job at a company that was just starting out. They hired me as a peer specialist, working with justice involved individuals with behavioral health issues. I have been at that job for 4 weeks short of 5 years now. I was instrumental in getting the program up and running, and we now have a very strong team and a great name in our community. I absolutely love what I do. I have found the perfect way to help others who are going through difficulties I can completely relate to. I get to see that hope come alive in their eyes when they realize that there really is hope. The lie is dead-we DO recover!"


“I blended several substances. Mainly cocaine, alcohol, food, and tobacco. After periods of clean time from cocaine and alcohol I’d go back to drinking and smoking. I found it necessary to address my eating disorder to stay clean. I had to address my tobacco addiction to stay clean. I have had to address my personality disorders too. There is no hiding for me. I have had to also address my honest feelings about God since the 12 step programs worked for me but I did not believe in God. There is no pretending for me. I have to be honest with what I really think and to be honest I have had to think about what I actually believe. I don’t like religion period and I don’t really believe there is a God. So I had to admit that and be true to myself. I have had a lot of therapy and still see someone twice a week. I have depersonalization disorder pretty badly. But I am in recovery from all the addictions that were killing me one day at a time. I know I walk a razors edge as do all seriously addicted people. I have been clean from cocaine and alcohol 21 of the past 25 years. The times I added these addictions back with my other ones, I almost died many times. I am free of tobacco 6 years, and eating addictively, and no sugar, no flour, for 3 years continuously now. I have not used cocaine for at least 15 years and haven’t had a drink in nearly 10. Life is difficult. Good luck to you all.”


"Guilty pleasures at a young age seemed like innocent fun, as long as my parents didn't know. It started with cigarettes with friends, at the age of 12, not knowing how to inhale and being laughed at until my friends taught me how to inhale properly. Then came the alcohol, stealing some at night and replacing what I stole with water. A friend told me we could get high by spraying axe into a sock and huffing it. Next came weed, always smelling it in my home and at one point finding some. I crushed a can, poked holes in it and put the bud on top without even breaking it up.

My youth was full of daily delinquency. At 15 I found myself in a mental hospital, that same month I was involved in a car accident as a passenger. The driver introduced me to huffing Dust Off. We were huffing the can on the way to my house, and both passed out. We hit a tree going 60mph, I wasn't wearing a seatbelt, I was badly injured. That was the day I learned I was allergic to Morphine. Recovery took a few months and of course during those months I was taking a lot of prescription pain medicine. As soon as my cast came off and I was able to hang out with friends, I was then introduced to Meth.

Over the next few years I did meth occasionally, drank often, smoked every day, and also took a lot of ecstasy. Fast forward to 18, cut back on my drinking, quit smoking cigarettes, just smoked weed. Life was good. Fast forward again to 24, this is where I feel my addiction truly began, as I was then introduced to Roxies. It was love at first sight, couldn't get enough. Blew through my last settlement check from my car wreck and spent 80% on roxies. Ended up quitting a good job and found myself in horrible withdrawals. As soon as I recovered, I dumped my boyfriend and moved out. I found myself with an old friend, that first night I got high on meth, the next day came Heroin. For the next six years I was using meth and heroin every single day, we were selling to keep up with our habit, we were shoplifting regularly from every store within a 40 mile radius. Late night trips to Fulton Industrial, riding with a car full of people shooting up while we are on the interstate. Now throughout my addiction, I never once used a needle , I simply smoked and snorted. So I was not typically as high as everyone else. Which made me the responsible one; However, it made me feel like an outcast to be surrounded by all my friends shooting up and I just have my straw.

I experienced my first overdose situation January of 2016. My boyfriend overdosed in my car, he did a shot and tensed up, hands going to his face with tight fists. It was terrifying. We carried him into the living room, called 911, and I proceeded to do CPR just as they directed me too. He survived, and that was the day we started dating. He overdosed a total of 10 times throughout our 6 year relationship. We experienced homelessness, living in the woods, living with people. Living with people that acted insane, having "friends" attempt to burn the house down with me and him in it just because we ran out of drugs to provide and so they thought it would be a great idea to attempt an insurance claim on a house fire. Turning the stove on, placing oven mitts, boxes of macaroni on top, setting the oven to max temp and opening the door. The walls were burning, if it wasn't for a friend who came knocking at the door because the people specifically told him not to go to the house which he found odd, so he came right away. We weren't going to leave our room when they all left and so we didn't know the house was burning as we couldn't smell the smoke or anything.

I caught my first felony while being homeless. By the end of it I had accumulated 12 felonies in 5 different counties, I took the cops on a high speed chase. I was in and out of jail every few months and finally went to prison for 1 year. Going to prison ended my relationship with him, but it wasn't the end of us seeing each other in a sense. We linked up one month after my release from prison. I looked and felt so healthy, until I started using with him. We were staying in different hotels for a month, getting more high each day. The drugs were eating my nose, I had picked at my entire body, I looked horrific. We caught a new felony by the end of the month, the worst charge yet. Luckily we both ended up in Accountability court. Each in a different program. It has changed my life, I have remained sober, driven, responsible, and ever so productive. I just graduated a few weeks ago and now I am enrolled in college. He was about to graduate but unfortunately got kicked out and sent to RSAT. I hope he gets out and finds peace and stays clean. Throughout those six years, I dealt with more than just his overdoses, there were about 30 different situations that I had to personally handle. I handled them calmly and promptly. Nobody died on my watch, but unfortunately friends were dropping dead elsewhere. Because they were alone, or the people they were with just left them to die. I've lost count of the friends that have died, the number is high. Our county has such a high rate of heroin users, and heroin overdoses, yet we do not have a rehab. Surrounding counties do, but we do not. That needs to change."


“My addiction began in 1977 at the age of 14 when I went away to boarding school. In 1980 I was expelled from high school 3 days before graduation for violating the school’s alcohol policy (I still have a notice that was posted on the school bulletin board). In 1980, I enrolled at Temple University. Drinking and other substance use increased, and I was expelled from Temple in the spring of 1983 for academic failure (my cumulative GPA was 1.47). I worked in several different jobs in the next few years, including a family business and several restaurants.

My last “drunk” was on March 17, 1986 (St. Patrick’s Day and the day my grandmother died) and my last drink/drug was on April 12, 1986. On Monday April 14th, 1986 at the age of 23, I entered treatment for addiction. I was an inpatient for 56 days at the Strecker Program of the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and then for at least one year at Strecker’s outpatient program. My first 12-step meeting (NA) was on April 15, and that is the day I celebrate my anniversary.  After living on my own since the age of 14, I moved in with my mother for the first year after leaving the inpatient program. She became very active for a while in Nar-Anon Family Groups.

In the fall of 1986, I went back to school part-time and earned a B.A. in Psychology in 1991 with a 2.70 GPA (3.33 after returning). I had been working as a peer counselor at Temple’s drug and alcohol counseling program and when I graduated they offered me a graduate assistant position. I earned a Master’s degree 14 months later and began working in New Jersey providing substance abuse prevention programs. In 1993 I enrolled in a Doctoral program and in 2001 earned a Ph.D. in Psychoeducational Processes, also from Temple. My dissertation research was on the stress-reducing aspects of 12-step recovery programs. Some highlights of my career have been producing an award-winning video documentary about Navy Ensign John Elliott who was killed by a drunk driver and my involvement in the ongoing effort to protect Atlantic City casino employees from the health effects of second hand smoke.

In February, 2011 the NJ Senate President appointed me to serve as a public member on the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Since 1995, I have been the executive director of Atlantic Prevention Resources (APR), a non-profit addiction treatment and prevention agency. APRs budget was $180,000 in 1995 and last year was about $1,000,000.

Personally, in 1987, I met Julie, and we were married in 1993. In 1995, our first son, Jake was born and in 1999, our second son, Ben was born. Of all of the things in which I have been involved, raising my two boys and my marriage have been by far the most enjoyable and rewarding.

I have great relationships with my parents and siblings today. I am able to be a father and husband. I have coached both of my sons’ baseball teams, served on the board of my synagogue (where I have also sung in the choir and been a religious school teacher) and I am former president of the local education foundation. I have served as a member of various local, county and state organizations. None of this would have been possible without recovery.”

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