It started on December 4, 1996. I got clean at the VA Hospital Murfreesboro, TN. I was 39 years old at the time. I had been using various substances for a period of 25 years. I was age 14 when I took my first drink of alcohol along with cigarettes. I used many different substances from that point on. I was addicted. I did not know what a journey that had begun. I used and found ways and means to get more. I lied, stole, and committed petty crimes to support my habit.
I came from a dysfunctional family system that rarely ever expressed feelings of love and compassion. I became an overachiever who always underachieved. I was emotionally inhibited because of being physically abused by my mother on a regular basis. I became detached from all my feelings, and my addiction grew and accelerated. My father was an alcoholic who worked hard but was emotionally detached. I graduated high school in 1975 and promptly joined the US Army. I served for almost 2 years. My father, my best friend, died while I was in basic training. I flew home one day, went to a funeral the next day, and flew back to Fort Polk Louisiana the day after. I was discharged after suffering from a nervous breakdown and became an honorably discharged disabled compensated veteran.
I went to Knoxville business college and earned an Associates Degree in computer programming. I was enrolled at the University of TN to study to become a teacher, after working as a substitute for a couple of years. In the meantime, I was notified of being selected to join the United States Postal Service as a Letter Carrier, foregoing the opportunity to go to college. I worked at USPS for approx. 10 years and retired in 1996 on disability separation. This came about because of having an accident in my postal vehicle. I was impaired because of using the night before work.
I went to treatment shortly thereafter and have been clean for the past 21 years from all mood altering chemicals. I started working in A & D treatment in 1998 and have been working in the field of addiction services since then. I am presently a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, National Certified Addiction Counselor, Substance Abuse Professional Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and a Registered Addiction Specialist based in Knoxville TN. I have come full circle from being addicted, whose life was unmanageable to one fully involved in the helping professions of mental health services. I believe my path was chosen not by me but by a power greater than myself. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve. Thanks to the God of my understanding for creating a path for me to contribute to the betterment of society.