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Tanner’s Story: A Second Chance

stories addiction recovery

Tanner Walker grew up in Houston, Texas in a loving household with two hardworking parents. Most of his friends in his neighborhood were three to four years older than him and many dabbled in drugs and alcohol. Since his friends were into drugs, Tanner was too. He started using at the young age of 11 and never looked back.

When he was 12, Tanner experienced some trauma that had a severe impact on his mental health. He was very angry, hated himself, and didn’t understand life. His drinking and drugging quickly transitioned from casual use to a habit, and thoughts of using became all-consuming. Drugs and alcohol weren’t just fun anymore; Tanner was using them to escape.

“No matter what I was doing, I was always thinking about it,” he says. “Life started revolving around my next high.”

From getting into trouble, going to jail, and getting kicked out of school, Tanner’s substance abuse cast a dark shadow on his life. As he grew into a young adult and started his career in the tech industry, his addiction was still right there beside him. Despite his struggle, he fiercely protected his image by hiding his drug use from friends and family. But underneath it all, he had lost himself to addiction.

Tanner’s life consisted of going to work, heading to the bars, using, and waking up to do it all over again. He made more than enough money to easily rent an apartment or buy a home for himself, but instead, he chose to live in his car so he had more money for drugs. In the midst of it all, he had a daughter with a woman he didn’t know and he wasn’t the father he had always wanted to be.

“I was a pretty big loner. I had a couple of friends but would only hang out with them if drinking was involved,” he says. “I was getting high at work a lot and I drank through the morning up until I went to bed. If I was with people, we would be drinking and it would be okay, but then I would need to leave to go get high.”

Eventually, Tanner lost his job due to his drug abuse. Isolated and depressed, he couldn’t even remember a time when his life didn’t revolve around drugs or alcohol. He wanted to end his life but after multiple suicide attempts and overdoses, fate seemed to have more in store for him.

Enough is Enough

It was Christmas Day of 2018 when Tanner finally decided that enough was enough. He was back home visiting his parents and had hit an all-time low on Christmas Eve. He wanted to get sober more than ever before but previous failures, severe depression, and overwhelming feelings of hopelessness were dragging him down.

“I wanted to get sober so bad but had proven that it just wasn’t going to happen for me,” he says. “In my mind, I was just too far gone and I could never be sober.”

Strangely enough, that night Tanner reconnected with a friend who had faced her own struggle with addiction. She encouraged him and told him that recovery was possible for him. After losing more than a decade of his life to addiction, Tanner woke up on Christmas Day and told his mom that he was finally ready to get help.

A Second Chance At Life

For Tanner, going to rehab was a saving grace. His initial plan had never been to go to rehab, but within a matter of days in detox, he was already trying to persuade other patients to trade their medications for cigarettes so he could get high. It was clear that Tanner needed something more if he was going to stay sober.

After having a long conversation with a member of the staff at Briarwood Detox Center, Tanner was given a second chance at life with a full-ride scholarship to residential rehab at Nova Recovery Center. He was overwhelmed by feelings of gratefulness and eagerly accepted the opportunity to continue his treatment.

Although he was terrified and intimidated when he first got to rehab, it didn’t take him long to settle in. Just three weeks into treatment, Tanner was more than just confident in his ability to stay sober; he was sure that he could do it on his own. This was the longest he had been sober in fifteen years so what could possibly stop him now? Despite his confidence, Tanner’s addiction ran deeper than he knew.

During his treatment program, the staff at Nova had to take Tanner to the dentist to have some work done. The whole way there he felt so proud because he hadn’t used anything in weeks. He was absolutely certain that he could stay sober on his own.

“They left me alone at the dentist’s office for like two whole minutes and I was already searching through the cabinets looking for painkillers,” he says. “That was when I realized if I didn’t really try to learn what they were teaching me in rehab, I was going to die.”

After his eye-opening experience at the dentist, Tanner decided he was going to do anything it took to stay sober. He even earned the nickname “Mr. Recovery” for his efforts. In the end, rehab for Tanner was much more than just learning how to stay sober. He was also able to get help for his mental health issues, work through his childhood trauma with EMDR therapy, and fully adopt the principles found in the Big Book.

Today, Tanner is not just completely sober; he is also happy, successful, and thankful. He’s engaged, has healthy relationships with his family and daughter, and is preparing to pursue his master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.

“My life now is fantastic. I’m not going to say there aren’t hard days because there absolutely are. Some days I’m extremely depressed, but I’m able to deal with those days,” he says. “I lived day to day for so long but now I have plans for the future for the first time in my life.”

After a lifetime of being weighed down by alcohol and drug abuse, Tanner finally broke free from his addiction and created a life that he could be proud of. The process wasn’t easy, but he learned a few important life lessons along the way.

“If somebody tells you something that makes you angry or uncomfortable, it means you need to take a look at it,” he says. “It means there’s some truth to it whether you want to admit it or not. Listen, take every suggestion and run with it, and don’t think you know any better.”

If you’re struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, you can recover just like Tanner did. Call (512) 605-2955 today to learn more about your treatment options.

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