‘When I entered rehab, I was 124 pounds—the smallest I had been since middle school.’: Man celebrates one year of sobriety after rehab

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“I was checking out at Dollar General one night a few months back, having stopped for cigarettes and whatever else, when the cashier noticed a lanyard hanging from my pocket, printed with the name and logo for the treatment center I work for. Kindly, she asked if I worked there, and I told her yes.

‘Sad what they go through. Do any of them ever get any better?’

‘Sure,’ I smiled. ‘Some do.’

Arriving at Rehab

I entered treatment for drug and alcohol addiction on February 1st, 2021. It was a freezing, gray Monday, for my third stint in rehab. As high as I was, shockingly, I can still remember the moment I was greeted by one of the peer mentors, who asked, ‘How are you, man?’ I told him I was fine. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t fine. I wasn’t okay. Not even close.

I was 124 pounds—the smallest I had been since middle school. I had $37 in my wallet—a minuscule amount for someone once used to working long hours of manual labor for very decent pay. I had in my possession 5 outfits of clothing; that’s what Admissions had advised me to bring, which was perfect because that’s about all I had that would reasonably still fit. I was placed in a room with 2 other new intakes and given several pages worth of assessments, having been instructed to fill them out as staff searched my belongings.

man taking photo in mirror
Courtesy of Luther Clay Lewis

They were ‘fill-in-the-bubble’ assessments, and I struggled to read the questions, much less fully comprehend them. It must have taken me nearly an hour to finish; the other 2 guys were done long before me. Growing up with a natural love for reading and writing, I penned short stories all through grade school and took Honors English every year of high school. These years later, here I was, barely able to fill in those bubbles. It was the most embarrassing thing in the world for me. I was humiliated and started to cry and fought like hell to hide it.

Later on, the woman conducting my intake would ask, ‘Do your surroundings look strange to you? Do the lights appear brighter than normal?’ No, I lied. But I was in full-blown psychosis. At that point, I had been up for at least 5 days. The things I saw were not strange, they were horrifying—simply put, a reflection of Hell.

In my first meeting with my assigned counselor, he asked me, ‘What do you hope to achieve in your time here?’ Defeatedly, I said: ‘I just want my life back….’ He assured me they could help me, as long as I was willing to help myself.

Offered the privilege of an initial phone call home, I declined. In that moment, there was no one to call. I had dropped in to see my family just the evening before, and with a knot in my throat, couldn’t even muster the courage to look them in the eye and tell them that the next day, I was heading off for rehab—again. For the third time. That things were going to be different this time; they had heard it before. So had I.


Rehab #3 was not my first rodeo…but I was scared to death. More than I had ever been before in my life. I was, in effect, absolutely powerless. And from that bred hope and, ultimately, faith. Early on in treatment, it was told to me: ‘Remember that first day, but don’t live there.’ So, all in all, do any of us ever get any better? The answer is yes. We do. Today, life is very different—a life I never imagined possible. In desperation, I sought to be clean from the drugs. What I found was recovery. Today is MY CHOICE. MY REALITY. Every day is what I make it. They’re not always great, and some are far from it. But it’s the bad days and the struggles that make the good days exceptionally brilliant. In my recovery so far, I have survived issues and trials that I once never thought I could pull through in one piece. And not only have I just survived them but I’ve come out whole on the other side, that much wiser and stronger.

Black and white photo of man smirking
Courtesy of Luther Clay Lewis

These days, I’m getting to know myself again, in ways I never have before. Most days, I even like myself. Haha. I always clung tight to the belief that getting clean and sober would revert me back to that same person I was before the drugs, before the trauma, before the madness. Recovery has taught me that I’ll never be that guy again, before the experience of it all—because I’ve seen the devil inside me. I have a shadow, one I’ve come to accept. It was never about finding what once was or what I could be—but rather who I am, in the here and now. I’ve learned that I’m not a bad person, and I work hard every day to believe that; I was a sick person, and an incredibly hurt person. Still sick, but getting better.

I am somebody. I’m not a junky, nor a statistic. I’m not some sad story. My flaws and downfalls, the mistakes I’ve made—they don’t determine who I am and what I can be. I know I am good enough. I know I am loved. I know the best is yet to come; well on my way to becoming the family crisis interventionist that I one day will be. I have been blessed beyond all measure, and given more grace than I ever could possibly deserve. Nothing short of Divine Intervention. Miracles happen every day—so don’t give up 5 minutes before the miracle happens.

Today, life is good. And I know that I am not alone. Thank you everyone for being here for me like you have and for the continued love and support. Thank you for seeing the good in me, even when I couldn’t see it in myself. I know y’all are my people, real, who want me for nothing more than what I am…because, even still, I maintain about $37 to my name at any given time. The one thing that hasn’t changed this last year! I hope you enjoyed this ‘novella,’ and more so, I hope it reaches someone out there in need of some hope—and a miracle.

My name is Luther, and I am in recovery.”

Man smiling in car
Courtesy of Luther Clay Lewis

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Luther Clay Lewis. You can follow his journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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