Like many of us who have dealt with drugs and alcohol, our stories are long and complicated and it’s difficult to put into a few short paragraphs, but here goes…
I started smoking pot when I was in third grade and that quickly lead to drinking. By the time I was in high school I was doing so many different drugs I can’t remember what and when or where. I went to my first inpatient treatment program around seventeen but did not stay sober, but somehow managed to graduate high school. I thought the service might help and spent 10-years in the Navy and was honorably discharged, all the while drinking and doing whatever, whenever and wherever.
Two years later I enlisted in the Fire Department and stayed sober my first year as a recruit but soon wound up, like so many of us, thinking we were in control, are invincible and better than anyone around us. I picked back up, started drinking and using again, had problems at work and was even sent on a break in their Employee Assistance Program (EAP), only to stay sober a few months and eventually relapsing and picking back up.
That led to a total blackout…I was found one late night lifeless (Yes, I was clinically “dead”) under a dark, freezing cold freight train bridge, only to be brought back to life in the nick-of-time by Paramedics. Somehow I was alive but mentally, spiritually and physically handicapped for months on end. I could not count the change in my pocket, balance my checkbook, even walk. I was so bad I literally had to learn everything all over again…how to think, how to walk, just be alive. I could not feed myself, dress myself…just totally f’d up! I thought my career was over, my life, everything.
Today, through my God’s grace and will…and because of my family, fellow first-responders, friends and my lifelong support group, I am a 12-year veteran/11-years sober Firefighter, I still have my children and family, my friends. I enjoy my job, fishing, hunting, cycling, and yes, my Philadelphia Eagles!
But more and most importantly, I am over ten-years sober! Without my sobriety, I would not have any of it, or anyone. I would not be alive.
I don’t play with my life any longer. I don’t do drugs or drink alcohol. You don’t have to either!
Robert G, Firefighter