Hi Everyone! My name is Ben Geigus. I am excited to be working with Melissa Johnson as the Assistant Alumni Coordinator here at The Shores Treatment and Recovery. As an alumnus myself, I thought this would be a good time to share my story with the rest of The Shores’ community.
My First Drink and What Followed
I am 24 years old, and I’m from Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Throughout childhood, I always felt a little different. I never had too many friends, and I always acted out in school. I felt left out, both in school and outside of school. And this feeling followed me into the end of my 8th grade year. That was the first time I took a drink or tried a drug.
I was at my cousin’s wedding and had a couple of beers. I finally felt accepted without having to hear it from anyone else. A warm blanket of great feelings overcame me. I had never felt that way before. It was an experience that I never wanted to end.
Like many teenagers, I kept drinking here and there throughout high school. I also found myself smoking weed for the first time with a couple of my buddies, and I fell in love with that just like I had with alcohol. At the time, I mostly did it on the weekends and never thought it was a problem. But things got worse after graduation.
My Opioid Addiction
I tried a Percocet for the first time, and I loved it even more than the booze or the weed. I would take prescription painkillers every day before going to class at a local community college. It made me feel like I could pay attention better and be more social. After taking the pills for about two weeks straight, I stopped for one day and felt something I had never felt before: I could not sleep.
At first, I wondered why I was having trouble sleeping. But then I realized I was going through opiate withdrawal from not having the pills. In order to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, I thought it would be smart to continue taking Percocet every day. I loved the feeling so much that I never wanted it to go away.
Eventually, I became so attached to the effects of the pain medication that I started stealing from my parents. I had spent all of my money just so I could have a short numbing feeling. Around this time is when the crazy whirlwind of being in and out of addiction treatment began.
My Heroin Use
In a short period of time I started using Heroin every day. I would sit there and think how my life had come to this. I would sit in the bathroom shooting up and then cry and wonder what was wrong with me. I hated myself and hated who I had become. Every single bridge with my friends and family had been burned. My life was terrible.
A Turning Point
Up until this point, I had not taken anything seriously in treatment. Eventually, I came to a place where I was so hopeless and desperate that knew I had to change, or I was going to die. When I finally came down to Florida I started looking at life a lot differently. I won’t lie, though, I still wasn’t super serious. But I was starting to change.
I bounced around for a little while and relapsed a few more times until I suddenly had an overwhelming feeling. It was so strong that it occupied my mind in a way nothing else had before. To me, this was God, because right after I had that feeling I entered treatment for the last time.
I came to the Shores Treatment Center on February 29, 2016. The next day, March 1, 2016, is my sobriety date. Little did I know I was about to experience a life I could never have imagined possible for myself. The Shores was an awesome place for me. My counselor Virginia was amazing! I connected with her on a whole new level. I started to finally talk about things I never talked to anyone about before. It freed me from the bondage of self and gave me a wonderful start to a beautiful life.
I completed treatment here and immediately took off with my recovery. I started making connections with people in AA and now have a home group that meets every Thursday night. I immediately got a sponsor and started going through the 12 steps. I also got involved in a weekly step study, which I made coffee for. I picked up a coffee commitment at another group on Friday night as well—anything that someone asked me to do, I did it.
I stopped fighting everything in recovery and, instead, got involved. I eventually became the house manager of my halfway. Soon after that, I was managing four houses. I put my best effort into everything I did, which is something I could never do before. All of these things led me to where I am today.
Using My Experience to Help Others in Recovery
Now, I help other alcoholics and take them through the steps just like my sponsor did (and continues to do) for me. In early January, I began working for The Shores Treatment and Recovery, starting out as a tech and working up to the Assistant Alumni Coordinator. I came back to The Shores to work because it is different from any other treatment center I have been to. The people here are like a family. They believed in me when I could not believe in myself, and they still believe in me every day.
Staff members at The Shores treat everyone who comes through their doors like family. “Let us love you until you can love yourself,” they said to me. And that’s exactly what they did. I can honestly say that I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. Being connected and helping others is what I believe in the most. Those are the two things that keep me going every single day.
I am looking forward to being connected with each alumni member of The Shores Treatment and Recovery. I cannot wait to start planning great events and making the alumni community stronger than it has ever been. If you have questions or suggestions regarding our alumni program, please do not hesitate to contact me on our Facebook Alumni page. God Bless each and every one of you!