Alumni Success Stories

2016 Graduate Achievement Awardee

I woke up still sitting in my car. I had passed out there.  Through bloodshot eyes I looked at myself in the mirror; my face was drawn and skinny. I was about a hundred and fifty pounds. The face looking back at me in the mirror wasn’t mine. I could see my childhood face looking back at me saying “why are you killing me?”

As I look back on my life there were always signs that I had the addictive personality, but I never thought I’d end up like this. An adopted child, product of the middle sixties and seventies I learned when I was young you weren’t cool unless you took a drag off that cigarette or a hit off that bottle to fit in.

   I managed to get to high school and college all the while still partying with my friends and going to concerts trying to pretend everything was ok.  There were times especially in college when I dried out for periods of time thinking that I was fine and things went better!  I graduated college on the President’s List. But I drank to celebrate my wins and drank more to cry in my shame when I failed.  

In 1993 I was working in New York as a printing broker when I narrowly escaped the First World Trade Center bombing. I left eight minutes before the bomb went off. A few months after the World Trade Center bombing they found a defect in my heart that almost killed me and once again I was spared. But I didn’t see it that way and drank and used even more to escape the pain and fear.

 I became a retirement planning expert with a mutual fund firm and had accumulated a good deal of money. After 9/11, I really fell apart.  Over the next few years I lost interest in my work, my family and anything else that was once important to me and sunk deeper into my disease. I did things I normally would never do because I was no longer in control. My disease had overcome me.

Back in the 80’s my father had worked with a gentleman named Fred for the State Department of Health. They became close friends and both were very involved in helping others recover.    So there I am years later very sick, homeless, living in a car and my father called his friend Fred who ran a wonderful place called the Freedom House where people learned how to live with their disease of addiction. My father called in a favor and got me a bed.

So now we go back to the beginning of the story. It was on March 25, 2006 when I woke up in the car and threw everything I had out the window and surrendered.  Days later, still barely able to stand or put anything together in my mucus head, I arrived at Freedom House where my path to recovery began.

They taught me many things there about how to be considerate of other people, how to love myself, how to get honest.  I had to take responsibility for my actions and pay for my fines. They led me to Alcoholics Anonymous so I could learn how stay sober. It was the single most difficult and painful journey I have ever been on and also the most worthwhile.  

In March of next year I will celebrate 10 years of continuous sobriety and it has been the best 10 years of my life. I sponsor several guys and help them stay sober while they help me stay sober.  I’ve met a wonderful woman who I have been with for nearly eight years.  I got my family back.  I made amends with my father and we speak often. I have a mother who is happy to have her son back.  I have repaired my credit, and made amends to those that I hurt. I finally learned how to love myself. I never need to feel that awful loneliness any more.  I bought a house and I have never been so happy about being part of my community and my life.  My name is Chris and I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic. I learned to live one day at a time. 

– Chris H.              

2015 Graduate Achievement Awardee

My struggle with alcohol and drugs began when I was a teenager and lasted approximately 15 years. When I was a kid growing up, I wanted to be many things, alcohol and drug addict was not on the list. I started experimenting with alcohol and drugs to escape and get out of myself. I had no idea my choices then were setting off a chain reaction that would affect the rest of my life. There came a day when my use crossed an imaginary line into full fledge addiction and I had no idea how I got there. Looking back there were many signs along the way that should have told me I was making the wrong choices in life. I was unwilling to look at the fact that the problems in my life were directly linked to my alcohol and drug addiction. My life spiraled out of control for many years as I was in denial of my addiction.

The darkest depth of my disease came in the summer of 2008, I had lost my job, family, and nearly my life. I was hopeless and helpless. I was on the verge of eviction, no food, running hot water or electricity. My only desire was to drown my pain and sorrow into the next bottle. It was only through the grace of God that I was able to make it through these toughest of times. I was not in denial anymore and looking for a way out from this fatal disease. I was able to admit I was powerless and my life had become unmanageable. Faith in a higher power and that God had a plan for me was enough hope to continue to fight and seek sobriety.

God placed me on the door steps of Freedom House in November of 2008. I was so thankful for a roof over my head, with running water, electric and food in the fridge. Freedom House presented a program of not only recovery, but was also able to teach me the basic living skills that I had lost due to my addiction. I graduated Freedom House in July of 2009, and have continued my journey of recovery. Since graduating, I have accomplished many things including restoration of my driving privilege, became a registered voter, have rebuilt my credit, and was awarded a scholarship through the New Jersey Prevention Network to become a certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC), just to name a few. I have recently completed the coursework for certification, passed the written test, and just completed my oral exam a couple weeks ago. I continue to work at Freedom House as a Counselor Intern, working with individuals seeking sobriety and basic living skills needed to live an alcohol and drug free life.

– Will T.