Sober at 20

Last Updated on March 27, 2019

stories addiction recovery


Gabe grew up in McKinney, Texas and was raised in a very conservative home. He was homeschooled up until high school and always felt like he was at odds with the beliefs and ideas he was taught at home. He and his mother also had a strained relationship and he sensed a power struggle among the adults in his family. He tried to deal with the tension at home but began to rebel as a result.

Gabe started experimenting with alcohol at a young age, frequently stealing his parent’s liquor and wine at home. He felt like nothing he did would ever be good enough for his mom, so instead, he sought the approval of his peers by abusing drugs and alcohol.

Gabe By the time Gabe was 16, he had already been to detox and rehab, but he wasn’t ready to hear that he was an addict. His parents tried to protect him by enrolling him in a sober school where he would be closely monitored and drug tested, but he still managed to manipulate the system.

As a junior in high school, Gabe had spent some time in a juvenile detention center and was cheating his way through life. He would manipulate, lie, steal, and do whatever it took to continue using drugs and alcohol. As his substance abuse intensified, his relationship with his mom and other family members continued to deteriorate.

Shortly after his experience in juvie, Gabe hit a new low and began injecting drugs. He only lasted a few days before he found himself broke and homeless. Once again, he enrolled in treatment, but not for the right reasons.

“I told myself, ‘Hey, maybe if I just call my mom and go to one of those 30-day treatment centers, she’ll let me back in the house,’” he says.

After completing treatment for the second time, Gabe enrolled in a sober living program at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes. It was his first time living on his own and he still wasn’t ready to face the reality of his addiction.

“I was into all sorts of trouble,” he says. “I started finding little things to do to get around the drug testing, like kratom and kava. I barely made it two months there before I got an apartment with two friends. I made it three months there, but every single day I used heroin and cocaine.”

As Gabe’s addiction continued to spiral out of control, the tattered remains of his relationship with his parents were destroyed and any semblance of recovery in his life was shattered. He overdrew his bank account, got arrested, stole things, and overall, his personal life was in complete disarray.

He was in pain and agony every single day, but he wanted to change. He enrolled in treatment for the third time and although it was a nice hiatus from the chaos, he didn’t receive the tools he needed to succeed in recovery. He got sober again and enlisted in the army, with the hopes that it would help him finally turn things around.

While in the army, Gabe fell heavily into meth abuse and ended up spending three months in a Georgia prison cell. Despite his best intentions, his addiction had caught up with him again and he was back to using full-time.

“Before I failed a drug test and got kicked out of the army, I had stopped using everything over Christmas break,” he says. “I was about to get on a bus. Everything was loaded up and ready to go but I had some stuff on me. I knew if I used it, it would be the end of my military career. It was almost like a third-person experience. It just happened. Spiritually and emotionally, it was the worst thing because I realized I couldn’t stop.”

Soon after, Gabe was kicked out of the army. He made it four days at home before he overdosed and was back in the hospital. After nearly a dozen overdose-related trips to the hospital, he finally came to the realization that if he didn’t change, he was going to die.

Like all the times before, Gabe enrolled in treatment. He completed detox at Briarwood Detox Center and a 90-day rehab program at Nova Recovery Center. However, this time was different. He desperately wanted to change and he was done manipulating his way through life. This time he worked the 12-steps with genuine intention and accepted the advice and instruction of others. Looking back, he says he is sure he would be dead right now if he hadn’t made a change.

At 20 years young, Gabe is finally sober and still working the 12 steps. He has a solid job, enjoys playing the guitar in his free time, and is busy sponsoring other men in recovery.

“I’ve been sober for 11 months now,” he says. “I have a solid routine and everything in my life is very disciplined, consistent, and safe. I am a lot more responsible all the way around, which is a nice change of pace.”


If you’re struggling like Gabe was, it’s not too late to get help. Nova Recovery Center provides comprehensive long-term drug rehab to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms of addiction. Call (512) 605-2955 today to speak with a Nova admissions representative and begin your own journey to recovery.

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