Where My Life Changed

*Richard's Story

Man attending an addiction recovery meeting

I had my first drunken blackout when I was 10 years old. And though I hadn’t started drinking daily at that point, it set the tone for much of my later life.

About the same time, I was also introduced to prescription narcotics: my sister had a prescription for pain medication that I stole so I could get high and forget about my life. Illegal narcotics came on the scene somewhere in my twenties—it was the cool thing to do and made me feel accepted.

I spent most of my adult life switching between drinking and drugging. That way, nobody would find out that I had a problem with either. But those vices led to others.

When I was using, I attempted to satisfy my cravings by turning toward other excitements. I found myself caught in a web of extramarital affairs, pornography use, a thirst for power and prestige, and the need to amass lavish possessions. But nothing worked for long.

It wasn’t until my third marriage ended that I began to entertain the possibility that I might be the problem. I had persisted in doing the same thing over and over again for years. I always hoped that something would change, that this time would be different, but it never was.

So I decided to stop.

I took two years off from dating, as an experiment, just to see what would happen. I discontinued my drug abuse and, for the most part, got my drinking under control.

Near the end of that two years, I met a woman who piqued my interest. Eventually we started dating, and our relationship led me to the point where I was willing to give up drinking. But I couldn’t—I had come to the point where I could no longer live with alcohol, nor could I live without it.

One night, she asked me if I would go to a recovery meeting with her. That meeting that night is where my life changed forever.

That evening, one of the participants told her story—but it was mine too. I knew, for the first time, that I wasn’t alone; I wasn’t crazy. I was an addict, but there was hope.

I spent five years in recovery before becoming a member of the Church. Heavenly Father brought me to recovery, and recovery brought me back to Heavenly Father.

This year I celebrate eleven years of recovery, ten years of marriage, and five years of being sealed in the temple. I attend at least three meetings weekly: one that I facilitate and the others to help me continue in my recovery process. Hope still abounds.

*Name has been changed.