A Story of Addiction and Recovery

Ben Emerling is a content writer who works at Metro Detroit area. And he spares those time by playing pickup basketball, dancing, and snowboarding. He devotes his entire life for helping people achieve sobriety. Ben currently works for www.monarchshores.com

What was it like?

How does a person go from a happy and joyful child to an isolated and miserable jerk with no morals or respect for others? A bad drug addiction!!! I grew up in a very normal setting. My parents went through a divorce when I was two years old but it never affected me emotionally. They worked together and did the best they could. I have amazing siblings that always supported me, but still I turned into bad behavior. Getting in trouble was fun and it gave me a rush. I had started feeling cold and powerful when I misbehaved with others.

When I was around 12 years old, ding-dong ditching, shooting off illegal fireworks and stealing from others were my favorite activities, and me and my friends rarely got caught for our stupid, mischievous activities. We even made Molotov cocktails and blow things up with them. It didn’t take long before I discovered the power of drugs and alcohol.

For some reason, I was born with no fear in my mind. I lived for adrenaline rushes, anything that made me feel better. So when I tried alcohol for the first time in my life, I was instantly attracted to the feeling of being intoxicated. The first drinking experience I had was disgusting and horrible, but it was a monumental part of my life. When we were in 7th grade, there was a different Bar or Bat Mitzvah party every weekend. Alcohol was a main attraction for our parents, and quickly became one for mine and my friends, too. My first drink was a disgusting concoction, composed of- hard liquor, wine, beer and a mixed drink. It was the perfect mixture of pure nausea, but endless amounts of fun.

After that first drink, I got even smarter than before. It made more sense to steal half drank glasses from the tables of adults, and drink them one-by-one. Getting drunk on the weekends became an almost our regular activity. I tried weed for the first time that year, too, and the high from marijuana was much more enjoyable. The first time I smoked weed was a spiritual experience in itself. Weed even tasted much better than alcohol, I didn’t get sick and I wasn’t as out of control. Music sounded better, food tasted great, and everything was hilarious.

Now I was off to the races. I finally found something that put me at ease but it was only the start of a steep decline into addiction. As high school went on, partying was my first, second and third highest priority. I stopped playing all sports teams and dedicated all my spare time to getting high or drunk. I started stealing money from my parents, grandparents, siblings and even friends to get my fix. What’s a clear sign of deteriorating mental health? Yelling at the ones closest to you.Fist fighting.Isolating. Feeling like nothing matters, feeling hopeless.

It feels like all the above. When I was sober I was a nightmare to be around, and when I was high I was virtually a zombie or maniac. Nothing mattered to me. After growing concern, my parents decided to find help with drug abuse for me. I was forced into rehab multiple times and relapsed every time.

Hitting rock bottom

A drug addict’s bottom is when they stop digging. However, I truly hit a hard bottom but then continued to use. I strategically chose a college that was notorious for partying, a school where not many people from my high school attended. So it was the perfect opportunity to live how I wanted. The first month was everything I ever wanted. Crazy parties every night, women, and ultimate freedom. Attending classes? That was nothing but a joke to me.

Now I started dealing with drugs and ripping and running with the bad kids on campus. It was a dream come true. Until I broke the golden rule, “never get high on your own supply.” I started abusing all of the drugs I was selling and quickly lost my clientele. I was dealing with notoriously bad drug dealers and it wasn’t long before I owned them all money. My addiction was now getting out of control. At this point, I would have done anything for my drugs.

October 19th 2009 was the darkest day of my life. I prescribed with Adderall, a strong amphetamine. My psychiatrist was a close family friend and easily manipulated. I had him send me over a 90-day script of the strongest pills on the market. I nearly went through all 90 in less than a week. I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I ran out of Xanax to calm me down. 144 hours flew by, and I was wide-awake and amped up for all of them. My brain and body finally hit breaking point. In a full-blown drug induced psychosis, I was running rampant through campus. It wasn’t long before I ended up in the hospital.

It was a psychiatric hospital where I spent the longest eight days of my life. I was literally insane. I spoke to people that made up in my mind, saw things that were not there and on top of all  I was going through withdrawal. I had the cold sweats all time, and couldn’t stop obsessing about drugs. It was a living hell.


I knew I needed help with my drug abuse from that psych unit of the hospital. I willingly decided on getting treatment and I was truly ready to change. I spent eight whole months in rehab. Even though I relapsed a few times, I was slowly recovering. I was introduced to AA, a program that later on saved my life. In rehab, I learned about the importance of mental health. The single most important thing that I grasped onto was hope. I had hope. I knew my life would turn around as long as I kept following directions.

When I got back from treatment, I immersed myself in the AA community. I was horrified of going back to where I was. They say if you continue to use you will end up in jails, institutions or dead.  I already had been in a couple of institutions; I was dead on the inside. A small white kid from the suburbs stood no chance being incarcerated.

I chose the spiritual solution, which was AA. I got a sponsor, went to meetings every day (sometimes twice a day) and worked the 12-steps. Incredibly, my life was rapidly getting better. I was displaying positive mental health at this point. My work productivity increased, I was learning new ways on how to cope with stress, and I was realizing my full potential while helping others. After a short while, people noticed a new glow on me. I was happy. I wasn’t the kid everyone avoided.

What is it like today?

Today, I am a normal 25-year-old. I am coming up on seven years of sobriety. After completely losing touch with reality, the most important thing in my life today is my mental health. I am emotionally stable and generally happy. The definition of insanity (according to AA) is the doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. The definition of sanity is peace of mind. Today, I have a deep understanding of what that means. Today, I have peace of mind. The thrill I got from drugs and alcohol has been replaced with giving open talks and helping other young men stay sober.

Getting sober at a young age felt impossible at first. Addicts are filled with fear and that’s why they use.  I feared everything and everyone. What was I going to do on my 21st birthday? How was I ever going to attend a wedding or any event that serves alcohol? Are people going to accept me for who I am? And many, many more countless fears was constantly on my mind. However, living by a one day at a time philosophy saved my life. As long as I stayed sober, anything was possible.

Throughout my almost seven years of sobriety, I have accomplished more than I had ever dreamed. I graduated college, spent a year abroad, attended music festivals, moved out of my parent’s house, and am currently working a stable 9-5 job. The relationships I have in my life are the most important thing to me. I no longer think about materialistic items. I do not obsess over drinking or using drugs and every day that I wake up sober is a blessing. I shouldn’t be alive today. Based off past events, as long as I practice positive mental health, my life will only continue to get better. And it will be the same for you too.