Jake W.’s Story of Addiction Recovery (SOAR)

Last Updated on November 12, 2021

stories addiction recovery

Jake W. was exposed to a lot of substance abuse and partying at a young age. He had his first shot of tequila when he was eight years old, and as a pre-teen, he realized that opiates and benzodiazepines made him feel good. Gradually, he started sneaking them out of the medicine cabinet at home, little by little so no one would notice.

By the time Jake was in college, he was using Xanax, cocaine and drinking alcohol regularly, along with many of his peers. Once he graduated, he moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to pursue a career. 

“I had a lot of life pressures,” he said. “A girl had broken up with me, and I was trying to prove myself to her. With all that pressure and resentment, I started getting prescription Xanax from my doctor.”

Jake easily manipulated his doctor into increasing his dosage. After several weeks of taking large doses of Xanax every day, he realized it probably wasn’t such a good idea and stopped. He started getting sick, and the realization that it was withdrawal really freaked him out, but it wasn’t enough to convince him to stop.

After about two years, he moved back to Austin. He was still misusing Xanax, oxycodone, and other prescription drugs. Although Jake knew all about the dangers of these drugs, he convinced himself that he was being smart about how he took them and hadn’t yet come to terms with the fact that he was addicted.

Living in Austin again, he partied a lot and found a doctor that would prescribe him ridiculous amounts of Adderall and Xanax. He realized the drugs were affecting his life and tried to quit every once in a while. However, he always ended up sick and unable to focus at work within 12 hours, so he was never successful.

Eventually, Jake reached out to a close family member and asked for help. She connected him with a sober friend who recommended a doctor that specializes in addiction. With the doctor’s help, Jake finally kicked his drug habit and maintained his sobriety for about nine months. Then, COVID hit.

At the time, things at work were very stressful, and Jake relapsed. It wasn’t long before he was using benzos again. At the end of 2020, he went to Mexico to party with friends, where he used MDMA, psychedelics, Percocet, Adderall, oxy, and just about anything he could get his hands on. Coming back to the states meant coming off the longest run of consistent drug use he’d ever done.

Once he returned to Austin, Jake found a local dealer and started dealing drugs too. It had been months since he had been clear-headed and sober for more than a day, and he struggled to get by without using. He started taking Percocet daily, which quickly turned into a three-month binge. Looking back, Jake says it affected his behavior more than he initially believed.

“I thought I was chill and calm-mannered,” he says. “Maybe I was to some extent, but during that time, I showed up to my grandmother’s funeral in February completely doped out. I was erratic and argued with some people there for no reason. I was self-centered, cynical, and thought everyone was against me.”

Shortly after the funeral, a family member invited Jake to go on a shamanic retreat. The shaman insisted that he needed to be sober to attend, so Jake paid his deposit for the trip and made up his mind to get off Percocet. He started going through withdrawal shortly after and managed to ride out several days of pure misery. Once the physical symptoms faded and his head cleared, he realized that he had been a completely different person on opioids.

Afraid of what he might become, he reached out to a family friend, who introduced him to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12-Step Program. He started attending meetings but wasn’t quite ready to put in the real work to get sober just yet.

Little by little, he started falling back into old habits and eventually woke up in the hospital in June after overdosing. Jake’s parents didn’t want him living alone in his downtown Austin apartment, so he begrudgingly moved in with them. Although living in a supportive household was good for Jake, his addiction had a tight grip on him, and it wasn’t letting go.

The second he had the chance to go on a business trip to Dallas, he got a Klonopin refill to level out and feel “normal” again. After going out for a beer one night with his co-workers, he returned to his hotel room and booked a flight to Mexico. Deep down, he knew why he was going back, but he convinced himself that he was fine.

Jake planned to stay in Mexico for five days but ended up staying a few weeks instead, completely strung out on drugs. He only returned to Austin after getting kicked out of his hotel. Jake’s parents knew what he was up to despite his lies, so he avoided them for as long as possible. Eventually, he called his mom and confessed that he needed serious help.

A family friend had success at Nova Recovery Center, so he decided to give the program a try, and his experience there was a real wake-up call.

“Previously, I was just dancing around going to meetings but wasn’t working the steps. I just didn’t think the steps were that necessary for me and was naive to it all,” he says. “I thought I understood the purpose of the 12-Step Program, but I didn’t.”

By the time he got to Nova, he had finally realized that he wasn’t able to use lighter drugs or any mind-altering substances without ultimately returning to his full-blown addiction. Although it took years, Jake finally surrendered and admitted defeat. He was ready to do the hard work necessary to get sober for good.

“The program at Nova is a solid boot camp to teach you what the AA program is all about. I learned the ins and outs of it all and went through all 12 Steps while I was there.”

Since leaving Nova, Jake has had the chance to reconnect with his family and spend some quality time with his niece and nephew. He continues to pursue his hobbies of traveling, photography, cooking, and boxing, and he’s also working on establishing men’s sober weekend retreats for other guys in recovery who like to travel too.

When it comes to treatment and recovery, Jake says, “First, do what you need to do to confirm you’re an addict. Once you’re ready, fully surrender to the program. It’s work, but life is a lot better on the other side.”

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