In the beginning of 2012, I found myself hopelessly addicted to drugs. My life quickly spiraled out of control: I depleted my life-savings, began stealing from and lying to family and friends, and lost all interest in work, academics, hobbies, and relationships. In 2013, despite several attempts to get sober through Alcoholics Anonymous, I was arrested for possession and given an ultimatum by my family to choose either homelessness or a structured sober-living home called Recovery Ranch. While neither sounded appealing, I chose the Ranch.
What I had expected—endless therapy talk, a revolving door, sloppy living conditions—could not have been further from the truth. From the moment I was greeted by the 60+ guys in the house with a firm handshake, to helping maintain the immaculate living space, to hiking Yosemite and leading a group of 14 to build a home in Costa Rica through Habitat for Humanity, I’ve come to realize the incredible power of this program. The program itself is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, UCLA coach John Wooden’s principals for a successful life, and an emphasis on accountability, brutal honesty, and a commitment to putting our Recovery into action. By pushing ourselves and each other to work hard, live selflessly, and always stay aware and grateful, we work daily to change our character defects and grow into self-sufficient gentlemen.
Over the past 20 months, I have transformed from a delusional, self-pitying wreck into a man I am proud to be. I work 60+ hours a week as a house manager of the Santa Barbara Graduate House, helping other addicts and alcoholics attend school while working and maintaining their recovery. I am also beginning a new branch at the Ranch called Ranch Outreach that connects the enthusiasm and gratitude of the brothers in the house with non-profits doing good work for people in need. My life today is a gift—one that I get to share with guys that struggle with many of the same things I’ve struggled over my last 20 months sober. Opportunities I used to take for granted, work I never wanted to participate in, people I was too selfish to care about—I have a newfound sense of gratitude for my life and for my brothers that have helped me realize it.