I never felt comfortable in my own skin as a kid and that discomfort ultimately led to my substance use. The first time I drank and smoked weed, it immediately relieved my pain. Within a matter of months, I was drinking whiskey out of my backpack at school and constantly under the influence. Naturally, my grades plummeted and I ended up dropping out of high school my senior year.

By this time, my parents knew I had a problem and had me mandated to a treatment center. I was 18 years old at the time. For the next three years, I was forced into multiple recovery programs where I’d stay sober for a few months and then start using again. I just wasn’t ready.

When I was 21, I finally surrendered and accepted I needed help. On October 25, 2005, I arrived at Healing Transitions and stayed for 16 months. While there, the staff spent countless hours teaching me about myself and the character defects and personality traits we carry as alcoholics. Then I’d have 90 other guys in recovery sitting in a circle pointing my character defects out to me, so I was forced to look at them. That peer-based structure was amazing, beautiful and different than anything else I’d ever experienced.

After I silver chipped, I moved into an Emmaus House, and my life was amazing. I completed my GED and applied to NC State’s engineering school. However, when I was turned down because of my criminal background, it sent me into a downward spiral and I relapsed. Over the next few years, I struggled to stay sober. Although my recovery was inconsistent, the one constant throughout it all was being contacted by people from Healing Transitions. That connection is what kept the seed of hope alive for me. And after a really rough six months, I came back to Healing Transitions to work the program again. The day I pulled back onto campus. I could feel the weight of the world falling off my shoulders and chillbumps ran up and down my body. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget and something I still feel every time I’m on campus. I truly believe God has His hands in this place, working to help those who are here.

I’ve been sober ever since and met my wife in the program. Today, we have an amazing marriage and two beautiful children. I reapplied to NC State, was accepted and am currently a junior in the engineering program doing research at a cancer immunotherapy lab. I’ve started looking into graduate and medical schools as the next step of my career, and I’m so excited for what’s to come.

To this day, I keep all the things that were taught to me at Healing Transitions in the back of my mind to help me when I come across obstacles in life. Although it took me many times of stumbling to get where I am today, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Recovery is a beautiful thing and it looks different for everyone. I love my life today and am so grateful for the support of Healing Transitions.