Being Older in Sober Living

I am what one could call a chronic relapser.  I first started trying to get sober in 2003 back in Canton Ohio.  I’ve made about every mistake one can make on my path to sobriety.  In the beginning, I knew that I wanted to stop drinking and using drugs but I wasn’t ready to put the work into it.  In Ohio, most of the people in AA were way older than me. I was around 23 at the time and these people were easily over 40. There wasn’t a lot of people my age trying to get sober and I felt like maybe I was too young to stop drinking.  I separated myself from them and had a hard time relating. I was focusing on the differences rather than the similarities. Drugs and alcohol were tearing my life apart but I also felt like there was a lot of “good times” that I was missing out on.  My drinking progressed to pills and then eventually heroin. To make matters worse I had a 4 -year- old daughter that I wasn’t showing up for and I couldn’t hold down a job. This would start a 14- year cycle of sobriety, treatment and relapse repeatedly.  The worst times of my life were still to come. It’s hard to put into words just how worthless I felt being addicted to drugs. I hated what I was doing to myself, my family and my friends. I wanted to stop and just live a normal life but I couldn’t and the years were starting to slowly slip away.    

      There were times that I put together some spotty sobriety and was sober continuously sober from 2011-2014.  I was working in treatment in west Hollywood and thought that I had finally had this thing beat. I was wrong and relapsed again.  This time I stayed out for a few years I ended up losing everything. My job, my car and my apartment. Most of all I was losing the support of my family.  After years of having their hopes raised and then crushed again they were starting to lose hope that I would ever get this thing. I couldn’t blame them.

    I came into The Last House sober living in July of 2017 and I was in bad shape.  I walked in with a little bag which had 2 pairs of jeans, one sock and two T-shirts.  That’s all I had left. I didn’t even really want to get sober again but I knew that I couldn’t keep living the way that I was.  I knew my life wouldn’t last long and if it did it would be a sad, lonely and painful one. The first thing I noticed was how much younger everyone was than me.  When I got back I had this feeling that life had passed me by. My friends all had jobs, careers and families and I was in sober living again trying to put my life together.  Here I was pushing 40 years old and i felt out of place. When I first started to try, and get sober in 2003 I felt too young. Now, these years had passed and I was feeling too old!!  I realized quickly that this was my disease and it was trying to do anything it could to separate me from these guys so I could build a case to go get loaded again. Good thing I didn’t stay in that mind set for very long!   Being at The Last House, I had plenty of opportunities to share my experience and all the mistakes that I have made in hopes that maybe these guys would hear something and in turn, not make the same ones. This state of mind helped me get out of myself and my head and turn things around.  Being one of the oldest guys in the house I became both an example of what can happen if you don’t get sober for a long time and someone for people to turn to for advice or guidance. I finally had something to offer! Something real and valuable. For the first time in a long time I felt useful.

     I am grateful for the experience that I’ve had this time around and with this house and the guys here.  I have built a lot of solid, long lasting relationships with them and I know that they have my back just like they know I have theirs.  There is never a perfect age to get sober. For some reason, I just couldn’t do it when I was younger. I’m not sure why. All I know is that it didn’t happen.  It is happening now and all those experiences were necessary for me to be where I am. I have learned over the last year how to connect with people and find common ground no matter how old they are. There is a bond that forms when one is around people who have a common past and common goals for the future, a brotherhood, and I have found that here.  

-Mike J.

Tags: No tags

Comments are closed.