top of page

Caleb's Story

I started using when I was 15. I was using marijuana and alcohol. From the get go, I realized that I wasn’t using like everyone around me. I sued a lot more of it and a lot more frequently. My parents sort of became aware of it, and I went to treatment at 16 in Great Falls. I was sober for about six months and didn’t accept that I was an addict. I relapsed really hard for nine years, was just partying as much as I could. I started using other drugs. I partied hard from 16 through 25 and life was going nowhere fast.

So I went back to treatment in Portland at 25 and was sober for eight months. I was miserable in my sobriety, just white-knuckling it. So I moved back to Missoula and started using again. My family just kind of put up with it. A lot of times I was working on my own working multiple jobs. I was highly functional. My family knew about it but I was living on my own and there wasn’t anything they could do. My parents are still together. They’ve been married 35 years. My family is full of addicts.

I was in the hospital and was detoxing from alcohol. I don’t know what actually caused it but I lost control of my extremities. My fist was so tight, my thumb was turning black. I was shaking. I think I had a panic attack or something. Losing control of my limbs was my rock bottom. I wanted a different, better life and so I decided I would take treatment more seriously this time.

I was using and drinking a lot and ending up in the hospital detoxing and just dying literally. So the state intervened and I had a case manager/social worker. They introduced me to my therapist who encouraged me to go to treatment at Recovery Center Missoula. I just ended up here in Feb. of 2017 through March of 2017. As soon as I finished up treatment, I moved into Hands of Hope with George and started working the program and attending meetings. I got a job. I got a sponsor. I got my year clean and now I’m working here. Yeah, George is my boss and my landlord.

But what I think is more important is that I worked the program after treatment. I go to meetings, got a sponsor, worked the steps. I definitely credit RCM and Western because they got me the foundation. Now my whole life is recovery basically. My old friends weren’t really my friends. I don’t talk to them. They were just there when I had drugs or money or alcohol. I think I kept one, lifelong friend. All of my friends now are in the program. I have a couple of normy friends who I still talk to. I don’t have time or space for using friends anymore.

I was afraid I wouldn’t have fun again when I was in treatment. One of my own beliefs before I was in treatment was that you’re in charge of your own fun at all times. If you’re not having fun, it’s probably your own fault. So I still have lots of fun. I go to movies, I hike, and I go out to coffee. I plan on camping and floating this summer. I still have a lot of fun in recovery.

I’m open to hang out with anyone as long as they’re not using around me. I just mostly stick with NA people. They relate to me on such a deep level. We have so much in common and can talk about anything. I can go to a meeting and meet new people, but I have a core group of friends that I hang out with and they’re my everything, except for my family.

I did a lot of damage but I’m working a program and I’m no longer doing the damage. I have a sister in Seattle. She’s a normy as far as I can tell and she goes to adult children of alcoholics so she’s working a program too. I have two nephews. One is five and one is two. I worry about them, but they’re too young to know if they’ve got the bug.

I didn’t have any signals before I started using but the second I started using, I knew I was definitely a drug addict. I’m not one of those people that was super in denial. I knew people while in treatment who were in denial. As soon as I started using I knew I had to have this more, constantly, all the time. My family is Southern and my dad is retired Army and my mom is retired children’s pastor so pretty strict upbringing. It was pretty adamant to say no to drugs until, you know, I didn’t. I had friends using in middle school and I was very upset with that until my freshman year in high school. I was just curious. Everyone else was doing it. I was tired of being seen as the goody goody. I was also coming out of the closet at the time as a gay person. I noticed that the kids who party were a little more accepting. I thought I’d go hang out with them because they’d protect me. I was bullied a lot.

My parents found out when I was 16 that I was gay and my mom and I are really close. She told me she’d known since she was 2. My dad was a little shocked but he came around and they’re really supportive. If I have a boyfriend, I bring him home for dinner.

I’ve learned so much in recovery. I’m 28 now. I work nights so my days are kind of crazy. On days I’m not working, I usually hit a meeting. I go to 2-3 a week. I talk to my sponsor several times a week. I do step work using the guide and answer the questions. It varies by whether you’re on NA or AA. I’m going nice and slow. I have friends that are farther along but I’m going slow. They’re all pretty daunting. That’s how you create a new life for yourself by going to meetings. You can stay clean and create a new life for yourself by working the steps. We thought we found something in drugs, but it’s actually in the step work. That’s how you create a new life.

I would like to eventually go back to school as a therapist or social worker or something like that. The blind leading the blind. My therapist says the man with one eye is king of the land of the blind. I have a little bit of insight. Working here has been life changing.  George is the best. George is like a father-figure to me. I call him Uncle George sometimes. If he’s thinking it, he’s saying it. It’s great.

bottom of page