Back in the 80's, Medellín, Colombia was considered the most dangerous city in the world. Back then it was a city of violent episodes every single day. For this reason, in 1986, my parents made the decision to move to California in order to provide my siblings and me a more promising future. They were always working hard, even though we were young, my sister and I always understood that our plight was a different one as immigrants.
I was a happy kid and my parents were responsible parents and great providers. I was always curious and always wanted to act grown up. I would go into my dad's car and pretend I was driving or wanted to answer the phone whenever my aunt took me to the her office, just like she did while doing her job.
I remember when I was 9 years old at a family friend’s 40th birthday party, it was a typical latino party: cooking, socializing, dancing, laughing and drinking. All part of our culture, as a matter of fact Colombia is continuously ranked among the top “happiest countries worldwide.” And if you have any Colombian friends you should know that no party is ever complete without beer, rum or that anise-flavored drink called Aguardiente.
I remember that particular party pretty well because it was the first time I ever got drunk. That night, while the adults were distracted I went into the kitchen and managed to sneak some aguardiente “fire water” into a cup. I remember thinking it tasted terrible, but I kept drinking it.
I felt free of insecurities, loose and relaxed, resulting in me dancing salsa all night with my sister and cousins. I had realized that alcohol made me a better version of myself, someone fun and without insecurities, so I drank whenever I got the chance.
At the age of 14 an older friend introduced me to marijuana. I knew it was wrong to be doing drugs. But I didn't care. I wanted to be like the older guys, so I tried it and fell in love with it.
At 19, I was introduced to meth at a party and so began the downward spiral.
At 23 I was incarcerated in Idaho on drug charges for two years.
I won't share what happened between meth and going to prison because there is no need to share my war stories. So let's just move on to the important part of THIS story, and that is my recovery journey.
AA and NA
At the beginning of my jail sentence I spent most of my time in a cell reading. In order to get out of my cell I started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I couldn't care less about what people were sharing, I didn't want to be there, but I bared with it because it beat being stuck in a cell all day.
After about a month of attending meetings a fellow inmate told the story of how he hit rock bottom. He had been a successful businessman, but during the real estate crash he lost a lot of money, got depressed, and started to abuse drugs and alcohol. One night after a party, he was involved in a car accident while under the influence. It was heartbreaking to hear how his life spun out of control and his family broke apart. What really resonated with me was what he said next. He told us that he had always known that he had a drug and alcohol problem, but not until he became sober and started to work on himself did he realize that he had an anger management issue as well. He concluded that “rage spawns from anger, anger spawns from hurt, hurt spawns from getting your feelings hurt.”
I then realized I didn't have control over my drinking and drug consumption. I was already in jail and the next thing would probably be death if I kept going down that road. I understood that I had a drinking problem, a drug problem, a personality problem...a life problem.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Andy Smith