Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches in Florida offers patients state-of-the-art residential alcohol and drug treatment with the highest REAL success rates for addiction recovery.
I started taking pain medication to stay out on the field, to medicate the injuries that I was having, to be the best athlete I could be, to provide for my family. I justified it so many ways. Injuries were the reason I started taking medication, but then after I crossed that line of addiction, they became an excuse to keep taking the medication. When I retired and took that addiction to that phase of my life, that’s when everything went completely out of control.
I was taking up to 600 pills a month. I just couldn’t stop taking them. I couldn’t imagine getting out of bed in the morning and not taking a handful of pills every day. I was so sick, I was so scared, I was so broken that I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I needed to do something. It was such a dark place to be and I’d lost all hope. I needed a miracle.
When I crawled in that door at the detox that day, my life changed that very day. I didn’t know how they were going to help me, I didn’t even know why they would want to help me, but I was ready to do whatever I needed to do. It was easy to turn over control of my life to them, because I had lost control so many years ago. On September 22, 2009, I began to live again.
As a former offensive lineman in the NFL, I battled some of the biggest, meanest guys that ever played the game. But nothing was harder or more rewarding than that first step into detox at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches.
There were always times, it seems like, in college, early adulthood, early career that I was always that one that had one too many and that became part of my persona. It was funny for a while, but it began to really become an issue and a problem when those types of activities became more important than work or more important than my children, my family.
When it really began to take control of who I was my personality started to change, my work ethic started to change and that’s when I knew that it was out of control. The kids knew that I had a problem. I tried to make light of it for myself, denial. I tried to talk myself into believing that somehow what I was doing was okay. However, by the grace of God, finding out, figuring out that what I was doing was not okay and i was not being a good parent saved my life. Thank God it happened when it did. I wish it had happened earlier.
I had two DUI’s. I went to jail and woke up and realized that something had to happen, something had to give. I had to decide whether I wanted to live or die and I decided that I wanted to live. Finally, I had a moment of clarity when I had hit bottom and realized that something had to be done because of all of these excuses that I had been making.
I found hope at the Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches with the wonderful facilities, the wonderful counselors and the people that worked there that were always so kind and generous. It’s exactly what I needed.
The first time I had a drink, I was 23 years old. I was drafted by the Denver Broncos, and it was a way to kind of escape from reality and the stress of life. I started, after the loss of my son, to just really go downhill. I was about 46, 47 years old. I lived a reckless lifestyle. I just remember looking in the mirror one day and asking God to help me.
As a young athlete, you’re treated very special and you get to do just about anything you want to do in life. Things come free and things come easy. So winning was everything to me. And reaching that goal of being a professional athlete meant the world to me. I was willing to sacrifice and do everything that it took in the small steps in order to be the best athlete I could be.
What’s really cool about that is that’s where I’m at in this recovery. It’s one step at a time. It’s preparing myself every day to fight against this addiction that is always going to have its grip and always be close and always be just a handful away or a depression away or a broken relationship away. It’s always going to be there for you. And so that’s why every day I look forward to experiencing in sobriety the emotions that you go through when in the past you always used.
And that’s the scary part about it. And that’s why you know that that addictive behavior is always going to be a part of your life. But you’re free from it because you start getting these tools when you go to rehab. That if you just use them the same way you did as a child and a young athlete and work at it every day, then you can reach that goal. And my goal is to stay sober for the rest of my life.
I am the youngest of three. I have two older sisters, both 10 and 14 years older and both addicts, and I remember seeing the disease of addiction in my family from a young age. I remember I was about five years old, I was writing a thing are drugs good or bad, check yes or no, to my sister. Like my family was the kind of family that everything looks really good on the outside, but it’s really messed up on the inside, but nobody talks about anything.
I grew up in the upper middle class, big house, vacations every summer to Florida, private school, everything. I had a really nice life, but insanity was always present due to my sisters addictions. I had a good family, good background, really no reason to do what I did with my life other than now I know that I have the disease of addiction.
My husband separated from me when my daughter was 18 months. After that, I moved down to Florida and I began partying. I began going out on the weekends and began doing more and more drugs and I really believed that people liked me better when I was drinking or using. That made me feel like I was somebody, that made me feel like I was needed. To me, addiction is like reading a book and you know that the ending is really bad and you can’t put that book down. You know where it’s leading you. You’ve already been to jail, you’ve already been to institutions and you can’t stop. You don’t care.
I got arrested and I got sentenced to drug court in Palm Beach County. I remember I wrote down no matter where I’m going, I’m going to do this no matter what. I had that desperation, that gift of desperation where you’re willing to do whatever you have to do because you don’t want to live that life anymore. You can change, no matter what. There is hope, no matter what. No matter what you’re going through or circumstances or your family history, your relationship history that with just a little bit of willingness, if you say that you want your recovery this much more than you want to get high or drink, you can do this.
I never thought that I had hope that I would get clean because I been trying for many years. I got clean at 39 and I can honestly say I’ve been trying since 23. There were many nights that I went to bed that I didn’t think that I was going to wake up. My addictive behavior started very young. I grew up in the Bronx, New York, and I grew up in a building where my cousins were on a different floor, I lived on one floor and my grandmother lived on a different floor.
I always knew that I was okay as long as I didn’t do as much as them. That’s what they always told me. So, I always looked at my addiction that way, but little did I know that once I moved away from them, I was full blown addiction, at its worst. They sheltered me from actually realizing that I had a problem.
My problem was that I didn’t have to work because I went to a lot of doctors in Florida. I had prescriptions. I didn’t have to work to maintain my addiction. So, for years and years and years, I just sat in my room and waited for a doctor’s appointment and that was it. I kept praying. I came to a point that I was hoping that I would walk into a doctor’s office and that I would get arrested. I was praying that day would come. Because my life came to be so minuscule that I wouldn’t leave my room for a week at a time.
If I hadn’t been arrested, I don’t know if divine intervention would have happened in my life because I didn’t listen to anybody. My parents. My sister. They all gave up on me. I didn’t know how I was going to get better. It was going to be death or something else.
I come from a family of alcoholics and I really never understood addiction and alcoholism. So, I think that I was born with this disease, through no fault of my own. There was a hole inside me and I felt really inadequate my whole life. When I found alcohol and drugs, I thought that I had finally found the cure for my feelings and my feeling of emptiness.
When I finally hit the bottom from my 18-year addiction, it was emotional, spiritual, physical and mental. I found myself isolated from the world, like I was in a prison inside my head with no way out. Treatment was able to unlock that prison door for me and I was able to heal and feel and accept myself. I was taught how to love myself. My counselors and therapists loved me until I learned how to love myself.
I feel like with addiction, it’s like don’t talk, don’t tell, and don’t share. Keep all the secrets. That’s why I’m talking about it today. Because I think that there is no shame or guilt in sharing your story, your experience, strength and hope in helping other people. And that’s what I’m here to do – help other people and save other lives because my life was saved.
Now I work for Behavior Health of the Palm Beaches and I like it because it’s a place that I would feel safe in, if I needed to come to treatment. It’s our job to treat patients with dignity and respect and love them until they learn how to love themselves. That’s what I do and that’s who I am.
I had been in and out of treatment from age 16 on. And, I just couldn’t get it. I was so hopeless. I didn’t want to live anymore. My life had become so meaningless. I really had no integrity. I had no goals. I had no hopes. I was just miserable. I couldn’t hold a job. I had no friends. I used everybody in my life and nobody wanted to be around me anymore.
I used until I was 21 years old. At 21, I got clean and I’ve been clean for over four years. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m so grateful for where I’m at. I can remember coming in, I was so hopeless and I didn’t think that I could live without these drugs. And, today, I know that I can.
I think that I just became willing, and I realized that this is just life and death for me. And, if I didn’t get clean now, I was going to end up somewhere that I don’t want to be. So, it was a big decision that I made. And, I remember just feeling like I can do it. And, you know, treatment was the answer.
My life has drastically changed since I have been in recovery. I have built self-esteem. I’m comfortable with myself. You know, no matter where I am, I’m comfortable with myself. And, I have a relationship with God. It has just been really amazing. I’m productive in society and I can be whatever I want. The dreams and the hopes and the goals that I have had growing up, I am fulfilling them.
Since recovery, possibilities have been endless. I went back to school. I started a career that I love to work at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches because I love to help people. And I think one of the hugest things about me being clean is being able to go to certain places and help addicts who are struggling and think that they can’t make it. I’m so grateful for my new life.
I basically started out as a recreational drug user, a weekend warrior if you will. That led into more frequent use and more frequent use. I found myself out of control and basically destroyed my life with drugs and alcohol. I had a good family, good background, really no reason to do what I did with my life other than now I know that I have the disease of addiction.
I thought that I was having the time of my life. It seemed like my life was absorbed with partying and what I thought was having fun. I destroyed a marriage and it really got worse. I had a son that was killed when he was eight years old. That was when my addiction really took off, I became so angry and I just really didn’t care about anything.
I had no scruples, I would lie, cheat and steal. I had no integrity. At 43 years old, I ended up in a homeless shelter. I had no education, no trade and I basically alienated myself from everybody that I cared about and I only cared about myself.
I found this place and people started talking about the 12 steps. I became so desperate I said whatever it takes I’m going to do my best and see what happens and that’s what I did. People that were here before me said just keep going and your life will get better and I have a great life today, I have a wonderful life.
I dedicated myself to helping other people. I took me nine and a half years to finish my education and I’m still constantly learning. One of the things that I am so grateful for is that I’ve been able to rebuild the relationship and regain the trust of my mom because of all of the bad stuff that I went through and all of the bad, horrible stuff that I did, my mom never gave up on me. Every year, I give my mom my sobriety medallion. This year, I just got my 19th medallion, I gave it to her.
I can’t say enough good things about my counselors. They were all terrific.
For me the best part of going to Behavioral Health was the staff. I was treated with dignity and I felt comfortable and safe the whole time I was there. I had lost everything, including my self respect. When I first got here I was on medication for depression. After being reassessed and doing therapy, I no longer need it anymore. I can’t say... Read MoreKatie B.
I’m from the Northeast and somehow I knew I had to get away and coming to Florida sounded like the right thing to do.
I had never gone to a gym before coming to Behavioral Health and now, I love to exercise. Just recently, I bought a set of weights and now I work out every day. It’s just amazing how much better I feel. I’m from the Northeast and somehow I knew I had to get away and coming to Florida sounded like the right thing to do. I needed structure and... Read MoreRon L.
Staten Island, New York
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