Prior to my coming to Serenity Lodge, I had had several years of sobriety and participation in AA. Due to some challenging life events, I slowly returned to incorporating drinking back into my lifestyle. What started back out with the occasional few beers escalated extremely quickly into drinking to intoxication, which led to blackouts, which led to daily drinking, then drinking in the morning and all through the day. I truly wanted to stop and had the best intentions to do so. I would go back to AA, and would maintain a week, and even sometimes a month of sobriety, but it wouldn’t last, and I would inevitably find myself drunk again and cursing life’s circumstances.
I knew I needed serious help, and if I continued down the path I was on, it was evident not only to me, but to friends, and family, that I would lose everything, and either be dead or in jail within a short period.
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Finding Serenity Lodge during my final days of intoxication was clear evidence of a Higher Power working in my life. During the phone intake process, I was assured they could provide the help I needed, and would absolutely work with my insurance company, and employer to ensure I was taken care of.
Similar to my first experience in an AA meeting, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what rehab or treatment entailed, but I knew I couldn’t go on the way I was and was willing to do whatever it took to get sober.
From the moment I was picked up at a detox facility from a Serenity staff member, I just knew everything was going to be ok. We had a 2 hour plus ride to Serenity, and I was given comfort and assurance that this program truly cared about its clients, and if I was willing to do the work it would give me the tools to maintain sobriety.
I was somewhat intimidated as I arrived and met all the staff and all the other male clients. That intimidation faded quickly as I was given a tour, met all the staff, and provided things I need to ensure a comfortable experience. What impressed me immediately was the welcoming and caring attitude of all the staff; and that they themselves were all in recovery. They knew the deal and the pain and horrors of alcoholism and addiction. They made it abundantly clear they wanted me to get well and were willing to help in any way to make that happen.
I can honestly say, coming to Serenity was the best and most important decision I had made in life to date.
When I came to Serenity, I was a broken man. I was broken mentally, physically, and spiritually. I was Humpty Dumpty and wondered if I could ever get all the pieces glued back together.
The staff at Serenity worked with me to create an individualized treatment plan based on my life and family history, patterns of alcoholism and addiction, and my personal goals for recovery and sobriety. I was seen weekly by a physician and was monitored closely while I slowly detoxed off of alcohol. I have long struggled with severe depression and anxiety, for which I had been on medication. I was seen by a psychiatrist who specialized in addiction, who modified my medication much to my betterment and again monitored closely. I received individual therapy that really helped me get at some of the root causes of my alcoholism, and who worked intensely with me on issues with which I had been greatly struggling. My Christian faith was always something that was extremely important to me; something I had forsaken in my disease. I was offered the opportunity to attend religious services on Sunday, and I began again to practice my faith and explore in a deeper way how my Higher Power had carried me when I could not carry myself. Prior to my relapse, I had always been in outstanding physical shape. Serenity offered a state-of-the-art fitness facility and part of my treatment plan was vigorous exercise five times a week, which I have continued since leaving the program. The staff worked with my employer to secure a medical leave of absence and more importantly having a job to return to when I completed treatment. There were intense group therapy and workshops geared at helping us to understand our triggers, make us fully aware of the impact and damage our disease had not just done to us, but to those we loved dearly. I was taught coping skills, mental and physical techniques to stave of cravings and defeat those feelings of self-loathing and negativity that had so often pushed me into the bottle. I learned to fully think through and plot out what would happen if I were to relapse again, and the many ways it would impact my life. I think most importantly of all Serenity helped me to discover my individual self-worth and sense of purpose; knowing that I am abundantly loved by my Higher Power and I that I am worth much more than a drink.
Serenity was so much more than a treatment program. It helped me begin to glue to many pieces of my broken life back together. It offered me a much-needed time out from life, so that I, for the first time in my existence, could focus on me, and getting healthy again. The nature and intensity of the program forged deep bonds between many of us participating. We knew we were not alone and could draw on each other’s strengths and experience to help us with our own and individual challenges. I am still in contact with several of the men who I went through the program with. Although we are separated by miles, and even time zones; we share our sobriety milestones and continue to encourage each other to walk the path of sobriety.
My life since leaving Serenity has been anything but easy. I have major issues in my life (most of which were the result of my relapse) including family, health, and finances. But today I don’t drink over it. I have been given the keys to a program of recovery and skills and techniques to cope and deal with life on life’s terms. My sobriety is a precious gift which I truly cherish.
It is difficult to fully convey the depth of my gratitude for the Serenity experience, and for the many gifts, it has given me. I am a different man, then the one who entered the program so many months ago: shaky, angry, scared, lonely, hopeless. I do not know what the future holds, but I know that if I take each day individually, and stay sober for that day, I will continue to grow and evolve, and my life will get better. I thank my Higher Power every day for this tremendous gift.
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