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A New Game Plan: The Path to Lasting Recovery at A Reprieve for Men

Reese first fell in love with sports at five years old. He quickly found that he had some talent and natural athleticism, increasing his passion even more. As he grew older and transitioned to high school, he focused on basketball and football. In his sophomore year of high school, Reese had a beautiful girlfriend and was surrounded by others who looked up to him. He was the star quarterback of his football team and had already received scholarship offers from several D1 universities. Reese looked like he was on top of the world, living the best life imaginable. However, family and friends quickly discovered that he had hidden a dark secret that made him feel hollow.

Growing Up

Reese’s school life was everything a kid could want. He was one of the popular kids, excelling in athletics as well. However, the friends he had only felt superficial to him. “Throughout my youth, I was well-liked. I knew how to fit in anywhere,” Reese said. He constructed his life around other people’s opinions and tried to be the person they wanted him to be. He tried appeasing so many different social groups that he lost sight of who he was.

Reese’s drug use began in the form of marijuana while he was in the 7th grade. “I had a big fear of drugs growing up,” he explained. “However, when I smoked weed for the first time, I realized that I felt good while I was high.”

As Reese moved from middle school to high school, he continued to experiment with more drugs and alcohol to recapture that feeling. “My coaches, parents, teachers, and counselor all saw something was wrong and tried to help, but I refused to listen to them,” he stated. So, Reese continued through school as if watching his life from an outsider’s view, making fake friends and using drugs and alcohol to escape his feelings.

The Consequences of Addiction 

Reese’s addiction worsened during his senior year of high school. “My senior year, I became all these things that I never wanted to be,” he said. Anxiety and insecurity began to rule his life, and his only escape was drugs and alcohol. His abuse of substances became a daily routine and the center point of his life. Nothing else mattered to Reese except the drive to escape his negative feelings.

Reese completed his senior year of high school in this fashion before committing to Western Kentucky with a full athletic scholarship. As he and his longtime girlfriend moved to different universities, he became more controlling and desperate to hold onto his one other source of happiness. It wasn’t long before his girlfriend broke up with him, unable to stand the constant manipulation. “She was literally everything I had to my name. If I didn’t have her, I couldn’t be happy,” Reese explained. He began to use harder drugs to deal with the pain of losing her. There was no longer joy to be found in anything in his life. Even the sports he once loved were now nothing more than a tool to receive a college degree. 

Reese’s time in college did not mark a fresh start for him. Within three weeks, he was arrested for public intoxication and was called in to see his new coach. “I told my coach I would work as hard as I need to,” Reese explained. “I knew exactly what I needed to say to get out of the situation.” Even though he escaped any punishment momentarily, the excuses only worked briefly before he was cut from the team. “What are people going to think of me,” Reese asked himself. He did not care about being cut other than knowing that people in his hometown, friends, and family would think negatively of him.

Steeling his resolve, Reese returned home, spending most of his time in his room, hiding from his feelings with Xanax and alcohol. More time passed, and he moved on to heroin. “It got to a point where I wasn’t using to get high. I was using to survive,” Reese stated. Heroin and Xanax became necessary to avoid the severe withdrawals he would experience. No matter how hard he tried to stop, he could not stay sober for more than a few days at a time. Even a near overdose that put him in a coma for three days could not stop his addiction. 

Another year passed, and Reese was living with his dad, working the night shift and using heroin nearly daily. “I couldn’t imagine myself with or without drugs,” Reese said. One day, with this thought in mind, he contemplated ending everything. 

Instead of taking his own life, he reached out for help for the first time since he began using in the 7th grade. Reese’s mom answered his call, instantly working on getting him into the ECP program at Bradford’s Warrior Campus.

Rocky Road to Recovery 

Reese spent a short time at the Warrior campus before A Reprieve for Men was brought to his attention. “Reprieve looked like an amazing place and felt like a place for me, but it was a huge commitment,” he explained. Doubt filled his mind as he thought about failing just as he had failed his college team. “All the RAs and older residents seemed happy, and I wanted that for myself,” Reese reflected. But still, lingering doubt and insecurities made him think he didn’t have what it takes to live like all the people at The Reprieve. His mother and the staff at Warrior were able to convince him to give it a shot. 

Once at The Reprieve, it wasn’t long before Reese began to pick up old habits of manipulating people. “I was not putting in the work,” he explained. “I was looking at the people around me and doing the bare minimum to get by.” He treated recovery like a game he was set on winning. “I felt cool being mischievous while fooling everyone around me,” Reese said. To him, that was winning the game. Another aspect of the game was using without getting caught. However, it wasn’t long before his lies and behavior came to light.

One day, Reese was getting high with his roommate when they were caught. He was honest about his use for the first time at A Reprieve for Men and was sent back to the primary house. “This whole time, I thought I was making things easy on me,” he explained. “I found out I was doing more work because I had to keep starting over every time I was caught.” Unfortunately, Reese found out his old roommate passed away after being referred out of The Reprieve. When hearing the news, he felt guilty, feeling like he could have done something to prevent this. At that moment, he decided to commit to a life of sobriety and stop all the lies and manipulation. “For the first time, I started putting actions behind my words, and they no longer felt so empty.” 

Hope for the Future

After putting in the effort, Reese immediately began to see results from working the 12 Steps. It wasn’t long before he found himself as a leader of The Reprieve with no insecurities holding him back. “I can lay my head down at night and be okay for the first time in a long time,” Reese said. He could focus on the little victories in life, not the negatives. At the end of the day, he felt satisfied rather than lost and afraid. It was something that he could never even dream of achieving amid his addiction.

A few months after graduating from The Reprieve, Reese was offered a position as an RA there. It was a dream position for him as he got to work directly with people facing many of the same fights he faced. “I get to have meaningful conversations and bring a positive influence to the guys,” Reese said. He found joy in helping others and working within the community that helped him establish his sobriety.

“It is the little things you may not seem as important that add up quickly,” Reese shared what helped him get sober. “Addiction is so good at its job that it slowly sucks you in without you noticing.” He encourages everyone to do everything they are told because the program is in place for a reason. Now, four years sober, Reese had some powerful advice for anyone trying to find recovery. “There are people who have been through what you are going through and are here to help,” He said. “Addiction is not a game you can win. Be honest and willing early on, even if you don’t want to. These things will become easier as you do them. Even if things are scary, they can be incredible opportunities that help you grow.”