‘Everything in my life was crumbling and I COULD NOT STOP until physically stopped.’: Man shares how he achieved long-lasting sobriety after addiction journey

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Disclaimer: This story contains details of active addiction which may be upsetting to some.

“My mom forcefully tells me to get in the car, that we are going on a drive. My mind is racing. Back to rehab? Turning me into jail? Where are we going? The drive feels like an eternity. We finally pull into a trailer park and my mom parks the car. ‘Do you see this place?’ she asks. ‘With the path you’re on and decisions you are making, this is where you’re going to end up. And that’s if you’re lucky,’ she chokes out, tears rolling down her face…

Starting Young

The first time I had a drink was around ten to eleven; I asked my mother if I could try her wine. Most kids are disgusted by the taste of alcohol the first time they try it… I loved it. By thirteen to fourteen, I was getting high and drunk on a regular basis on whatever I could get my hands on. At this young age, I would regularly resort to huffing paint and drinking stolen over-the-counter cough syrup when I couldn’t get my hands on weed, booze, or prescription pills.

I was put in handcuffs for the first time at fourteen, when I stole my own mother’s bike. I was constantly ditching school, facing truancy charges at fifteen years old. I was hanging out, getting high and drunk with the homeless, and running away from home on a regular basis — occasionally sleeping on park and bus station benches. I was stealing cash out of my parents’ wallets and taking anything of value of theirs to trade for drugs or cash. After getting caught with prescription pills in my backpack and showing up positive for cocaine on a drug test, my parents didn’t know what to do with me anymore. So, at the young age of fifteen years old, I was sent away to a wilderness treatment center.

Drug addict drinking a bottle of alcohol
Courtesy of Terin Devote Noonan

Over the next year, I was in and out of wilderness treatment. Ending up in a sober living home, I was eventually kicked out for relapsing. So, I dropped out of high school and moved out on my own at sixteen years old. I did everything I needed to do to eat, pay rent, and survive. I worked hard, but I used drugs even harder. The older I got, the harder the drugs got and the heavier my drinking got.

A Toxic Relationship

I met a girl at seventeen. It was ‘love at first sight’ and we moved in together within a week of meeting each other. She drank and got high like I did; she was also bipolar, clinically diagnosed and unmedicated. It didn’t take long for our relationship to become insanely toxic and dysfunctional. Our relationship had a pull, a passion, a ‘I need you to breathe’ feeling to it. Like the drugs, she had a grip on my heart, my life, my emotions, my everything. I worshiped her and despised her at the same time. She would hit me, yell at me, and tell me how much she hated me. We would drink, do some lines, and get high just to fall in love all over again every night.

We would fight so we could feel something. We would break up just to make up. I would yell at her to get out of my life, delete my number, and never talk to me again, just to end up blowing up her phone and begging for her back. We would lie to each other constantly, always apologizing and saying it would never happen again. She would swing and beat on me while I called her psycho, just encouraging her to swing harder. We would call each other Bonnie and Clyde, but the way we poisoned each other, the truth was it was more like Romeo and Juliet.

Life In Active Addiction

When I drank alcohol, I was guaranteed to drink until I blacked out. There was no question about it, and there was no amount of alcohol that was too much. I didn’t get the spins anymore. I never threw up. I just blacked out and continued to drink. Every morning I woke up with the shakes, needing to consume alcohol to make them go away, repeating the blackout drinking cycle on a daily basis.

I continued sleeping random places, getting arrested every few months, and hustling up money for booze, coke, and pills by middle manning drug deals. Finally, I sat in jail for two weeks, sobering up enough to decide it was time to check myself into rehab. I had lost everything in my life; I literally had nothing left to lose. I completed my fourth inpatient rehab, 90 days, then went onto a sober living home. I got to ten months sober, then relapsed yet again. My life spiraled out of control faster in the next 30 days than ever before.

Drug addict sitting and zoned out
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

The way I react to alcohol, when the first drink hits my lips, something happens to my brain; a switch is flipped in me which I can’t explain. I want more, more, and more, and nothing in my life will stop me from consuming more. It’s the only thing I think about — how I’m going to stay drunk and get high next. Everything in my life can be crumbling around me, relationships getting destroyed, and I WILL NOT STOP until I am physically stopped… usually meaning a few cops, handcuffs, and a jail cell. And as usual, my relapse ended me up in Glenwood County Jail.

Drug addict holding a mug shot board
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

A Pivoting Moment

I stepped out of Glenwood County Jail with nothing but a few loose one dollar bills and three cigarettes in my pant pockets; missing a shoe, blood splattered down the front of my ripped white t-shirt, and zero memory of my arrest. Getting released back into the world, broke with no place to live. Taking my decisions hour by hour, minute by minute. The obsession of the mind took over every bit of my being. The non-stop mental battle began to keep me from picking up the first drink or drug again.

Leading into this moment, my relapse was filled with drunken blackouts, bottomless bottles of vodka and rum, motel rooms, and sleepless benders with dilated pupils. All the chaotic events strung together led me to this rock bottom that left me mentally and spiritually broken like never before. This rock bottom had me swearing myself off as a lost cause; destined to be a drunken, drug addict, jailbird for the rest of my miserable life. So, in that moment, I faced the biggest decision of my life. Either go back to the lifestyle, with no guarantee of ever making it back out alive, or fight for my life with everything I had. I had to fight.

Man holding up a sign stating 'drugs don't love you'
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan
Recovering drug addict in black hoodie outside building
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

My Reason Not To Relapse

At eight years sober, I had an urge to drink, a feeling I had not felt in years. The addiction demons inside me were awakened, the obsession of the mind I knew all too well came back full force. I was terrified. My heart never wanted to drink again, but my mind was giving me every reason to pick up. Lost in a mind trying to destroy me, I went to the only place I knew I was safe, my last resort to calm my urges.

She had been asleep for a few hours. I stood by her crib and stared at the greatest gift I had ever been given in my life, my beautiful baby girl. As I looked at her, tears flooded out of me uncontrollably. I couldn’t drink — if not for me in that moment, for her. She needs her father sober; that is the only way she will get the father she deserves. All this time, I have been doing everything it takes so my daughter will never see me high. I wasn’t going to stop now, that wasn’t an option. She will probably never know this, but that night she saved me from picking up and using… She saved my life.

Recovered drug addict lying on bed kissing his daughter's forehead
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan
Recovered drug addict sitting outside with his daughter
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

I have been sober since June 24th, 2010. My life now still isn’t perfect but it is an absolute blessing. I’ve achieved all the things in my life I once never thought was possible. I used to not be able to hold a job. Now I have a career I enjoy and thrive in. I used to be so selfish and self-centered. Now I am blessed to live out my dream of owning sober living homes, giving back to a group of people I hold so close to my heart. I used to be homeless, living a chaotic life. Now I’m a homeowner and productive member of society. And even with all the other successes in my life, my greatest achievement in sobriety is, and always will be, my daughter.”

Recovered drug addict with his daughter and mother
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan
Recovered drug addict sitting with his daughter and holding a sign saying '12 Years Clean and Sober'
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Terin DeVoto Noonan of Fort Collins, Colorado. You can follow his recovery journey on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more from Terin:

‘How did I end up here?!’ I awoke in jail to the sound of a cell door slamming, no idea what happened the night before.’: Man beats life-long addiction, says ‘as long as you’re still breathing’ there’s hope for recovery

‘Get in the car,’ my mom forcefully tells me. My mind is racing. Turning me into jail? Where are we going? The drive feels like an eternity.’ She parks. ‘Do you see this place?,’ she chokes out.’

‘How the hell did I end up here again? One of my fingernails was completely ripped off, I could taste blood in my mouth and fear took over my entire body.’

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