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020 - Drew Wilson from Steps Recovery

“It is a family disease.”

Drew Wilson is striving to help families and individuals find the path to recovery. If he’s not at Steps Recovery, you might find him at Alcoholics Anonymous or a junior high school helping teachers scare kids straight, or rather, letting them know there are resources available in their times of need. Regardless of where he is, he’s practicing his integrity or fostering connections in programs like sober softball. Enjoy.

The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates. They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.

Transcript (no grammar): it is a family disease drew wilson is striving to help families and individuals find the path to recovery if he's not at stepp's recovery you might find him at alcoholics anonymous or a junior high school helping teachers scare kids straight or rather letting them know there are resources available in their times of need regardless of where he is he's practicing his integrity or fostering connections in programs like sober softball enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond the self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i asked the dumb questions i fill in the gaps we are so excited today to have drew wilson drew is from stepp's recovery he's been there for quite a few years and makes a big difference in the industry i know steps has got a pretty big footprint in the substance abuse and mental health recovery industry and in our neck of the woods anyway um and so drew thanks for being here yeah thanks for having me um i know we've been sitting here chit-chatting a little bit about some of the different things that you've been doing but uh my question to you is you've been with steps for several years now is that what you dreamt about doing when you were young definitely not you know uh before before i got into addiction you know because i i didn't drink or do drugs all through high school anything like that you know i grew up in a religious home and and so i didn't start using until my mid-20s when i got prescribed by a doctor you know after a health thing and um you know soon discovered that it solved not only the the physical pain but some of the other stuff that was going on in my life as well uh so i had zero knowledge of this world of addiction addiction recovery i i knew what i'd seen on tv and movies just like most of the population you know and uh and so that never crossed my mind ever you know and i was a guy that grew up thinking that i didn't really have any talents you know because i i thought of talent in the traditional sense of good at sports good at music you know um can sew really well you know and you know later in life i found out you know you know my mom i remember would tell me talent goes beyond things that you can do physically you know it's the ability to have empathy for someone naturally the ability to uh connect with people you know is it's a talent um and it took me a long time to realize that and accept that and and use that to my advantage and it turns out you know this industry is perfect for it that i do have that ability to empathize and have compassion for someone and and connect with them and and help them find hope you know that seems like um what's an interesting thing to call a talent you don't usually hear people maybe you don't hear people say you know i've got this talent i can empathize with people but yeah but i think it is it's i mean i think you can learn to do it but i think when when it comes naturally and easily it is it is a talent and a real powerful one at that yeah yeah because a lot of people you know there's people that find it really hard to do you know and it's sometimes it does take practice you know whereas my brother-in-law naturally good at sports doesn't take much practice you know where other things that i'm i'm good at he might have to practice that i like that too because we all come you know individually and with a little bit different twist and shape and size and and to be able to identify that just because we're different from you know the next guy on the street we still bring something to the table that's really incredible yeah i like that that your mom brought that up yeah she's uh she's a good one and so you got into substance use prescription drugs for just pain and where'd that take you after that so uh i i'm the kind of the addict that it escalates pretty quickly you know i uh we've all probably heard the parallel of jekyll and hyde you know where uh and that's really what it was for me um i i can i can look back on my life and see those behaviors the attic behaviors long before i put a substance in my body um but you know and i was always a pretty good kid i i was a liar and a manipulator from a pretty early age but but overall i was a pretty good kid you know and it took that identity away from me completely you know i went from uh just getting prescriptions from a doctor you know quickly to doctor shopping finding way more ways to support my habit um and before i knew it i was i was committing burglaries you know i i was a naive uh you know lds kid from california and had no idea where to find a drug dealer you know so my only thought or my only way of supporting my habit was first stealing painkillers from houses i was already invited into you know friends and family finding an excuse to go to the bathroom go through the medicine cabinet whatever uh and then pretty quickly graduated to homes i was not invited into you know uh which we also call burglary um and um and you know you know the science behind it in the the prefrontal cortex shutting off and the midbrain kicking in and uh and when i first heard that you know i first saw a pleasure in woven i was like oh yeah you know like that's totally what happened to me you know and it's it's something that's it doesn't make it excusable but it's explainable you know well you talk like everybody knows this and and i think if you're in the industry maybe maybe most of the people in the industry know but i still think there's a a huge i think there's still i we've made a lot of progress but i think there's this gap between really understanding this is an illness yeah darn nabit this is an illness this is not a choice at the point where the addiction is taken over right because that prefrontal cortex has shut down it's not thinking that's that executive part of your brain it just stops making those executive decisions and the drug becomes more important than your relationships more important than eating and having a place to live and you just don't care about anything but the drug yeah and you know it's hard because when i explain that to people i don't want it to feel like i'm giving this person an out like they don't have to take accountability and and you know own up to their issues and that's why you say it's ex it's it's explainable but not excusable you know um there is this level of you know it's an illness uh some level of choice was taken away from them you know but uh but you know i still gotta i still gotta deal with it it's my it's my decision to deal with it and and uh face it and overcome it and make amends you know and make things right yeah which which is important that accountability piece is important you may need some help right you may need some help to to stop using but then you do you get more choices back as you do that healing process yeah which yeah absolutely but it's my favorite one of my favorite parts of my job is talking with the families especially ones that are new to this you know and and offering them this information and helping them understand and uh and giving them some hope you know that their their child or their brother or sister or whatever is is still in there you know we just got to do some healing and that stuff will start coming back you know you'll start seeing the light come on and that's the best part right is getting a person in the door two weeks later you see them again and you know their countenance is back and the lights back on and so it's it's exciting stuff but that phrase you use is also kind of a good source for that hope right like if you're in the shame cycle right if you're a burglar right so now you're 25 years old you're breaking into houses or whatever looking back on what did my mom and dad teach me where did i learn this none of this is something that you were taught right this is all something you're going to internalize that now turns into i'm a bad person i'm not redeemable i can't get out of this type of thing and when you start to learn there's an explanation for this right this isn't because i'm an evil person right i have a problem and guess what there's millions and millions and millions of other people who have this exact same problem so it doesn't give you the excuse like you said but it does help you be able to say okay there's a way out right like there's there's a path and and this is a human thing right this isn't part of a unbroken thing this is the human experience and helps you to be able to understand that i think that parts yeah and that that's good for the parents to hear too because i know my parents had this sense of failure what did we do wrong you know and and you know maybe you know they took a look at some stuff and of course you know we we picked it apart and there was some things that that maybe led to the the way i think and the way i perceive things but ultimately they were good parents you know they didn't do anything wrong they they beat themselves up for a long time you know we raised this kid that became a heroin addict and a criminal but but i tell him now is he also raised a young man that was able to overcome all that stuff you know that had that strength so you said once you started to get addicted then you realized these are this was something that you had seen in the past even though there was no substance yeah yeah once i started what were the ways that you had seen that um you know once i started getting that education um and and realized that it wasn't really a drug and alcohol problem it was a meat problem you know i started looking at that stuff like i uh i i became a liar at a pretty young age and for a few reasons that i can that i can pinpoint i was kind of teased you know seventh eighth grade i i grew really fast by the time i was in eighth grade i was like six feet six one you know and and when you grow that fast all of a sudden you have all this extra mass you become a little uncoordinated you don't know how to operate your body all of a sudden and so like um you know it didn't translate to great athleticism you know and that was something that i felt was important to my dad that's what i perceived was that he had a son that was good at sports you know and and my friends were good at sports and and i got teased you know and and developed these negative self beliefs about myself you know i'm not good enough i'm stupid i'm bad at sports um and so i started uh lying right to make myself look better sound better be cooler than i actually was you know because i i couldn't stand the thought of of not being welcome into that cool crowd that i was in at that age you know and so started making things up about myself two you know um you know again not to put place any blame on my parents but um at that age i i thought when i told the truth to my parents i felt like i got the same kind of punishment as if as if they just caught me lying so my thought was i might as well lie and have a chance at getting away with it you know so it's dinged if you do digged if you don't you know uh so yeah i i became a pretty masterful liar you know and a chameleon at a young age and and little things throughout uh those teenage years i remember stealing a 50 bill from my my friend's house when his parents were out of town and left money for them you know and just little things like that you know little behaviors that that popped up that i can look back and be like oh yeah it's been there a while well you said you didn't have any talents those are some pretty sweet talents right right yeah just gotta hone them in the right way and if you hold them in the right way but it's interesting to me that i see you know i work with people that are recovering from addiction or mental health or whatever and and i'm always blown away at just how um how high functioning how incredibly talented they really are most of the time they're probably some of the highest functioning people out there and and it's like it's like they have to have this as kind of a you know a handicap keep them from over running the rest of us right because they're incredible people but i don't think they can see it just like you talked about it's it's remarkable um in my experience with you know we haven't got to this yet but with going to jail in prison super talented people in there you know they come up with these amazing ways to sneak drugs in or get away with things or they're really great artists and i'm like these are super talented smart people like and if only they they could uh use it for good yeah so well it's and they then do right look at look at what you're doing yeah it is possible yeah for sure i've seen a lot of success stories well you talk you've talked about families and being able to give them hope and help them understand the dynamics of addiction and and how that's you know how you can help their loved one you know get recovery but so often there are families out there that this is new to them they don't really know they you know they weren't taught how to handle these kinds of problems what's there to help people help families help people prepare or be more knowledgeable about mental illness and addiction so there's plenty of resources the the trick is willingness you know um and uh the the motivation to to seek it out you know obviously there's al anon we all know about where you can go it's you know uh family members love the ones of alcoholics it's a support group like aaa and there's there's groups everywhere you know where they can get together there's plenty of books uh to read uh about setting boundaries you know helping your loved ones get through this um you know i know a lot of treatment centers have family support groups family night where they they uh they welcome them and have them as part of the group and i think it's it really comes down to uh it's a family disease you know it's a lot of the times affects the family as much if not more you know i know i probably took several years off my parents lives you know um and so it all just comes down to uh where's the willingness and where's uh their willingness to to check and see if they have any accountability if there's anything they could do or could have done or could change you know to help their loved one are they enabling them are they um you know are they kind of a hindrance in their recovery um and it's hard to do you know it's my my parents bailed me out of jail the first two times you know before they realized wait we got to leave them there you know um they wanted to protect me so much from experiencing uh difficult emotions and difficult times uh that they didn't realize um they were just kind of compounding it you know and it's as long as i had that safety net you know as long as i always had a way out there was no motivation for me to recover you know so it's when people first started setting boundaries and telling me no and that's why i started getting better well and again i'll come back to you said you know there's al-anon and there's you know a stuff and there's all of this stuff but i think i was probably well into my 30s before i knew alan even existed i mean i knew there was a a but i really had no clue what that looked like right and so i suspect there's still a lot of people out there that don't realize there's some really great resources that they can take advantage of for free and be preemptive to whatever's going to come into their life because i don't know of anyone that escapes um being touched in one way or another by substance abuse and mental illness right and so i think what you said the willingness or the the ability to go i you know i don't know what i don't know let's go see if i can learn something yeah yeah i think i think that's the key is are you willing to recognize that that maybe you need to do some work as well so being in prison you know you met a lot of people in prison it sounded like what was that experience like for you and how did that change things so uh prison uh was interesting i did three and a half years in state prison down in gunnison uh my and my first seven and a half months was actually in the utah county jail i was awaiting sentencing and fighting charges and all that you know and and then so i i was still like using drugs even in there you know uh people find ways to get things in uh i i my first seven months when i was in the county jail i would use some stuff when i could get it and then my first few months in prison i was using you know so even after that you know even after all that getting pulled away from my daughter in my life and the rest of my family my freedom it wasn't enough for whatever reason i was still just trying to um to self-medicate and and not feel you know and and then i had an experience in there where it wasn't anything like crazy drastic you know other than i just uh you know broke some rules in there got some uh sanctions put on me and some consequences and for whatever reason that was the straw that broke the camel's back you know where just the the switch flipped and i'd had enough and uh and i decided to get to work you know um one of the sanctions that i got put on and i was in a i was in a program called the hope program in gunnison and i was a i was a senior mentor in the program uh where you know you get paid like 42 cents an hour you know it's like 86 bucks a month which is kind of big bucks in prison i was balling [Music] but uh you know i got in trouble within that program and you know they took that position away from me and then they put me on something called rrg stood for a remedial reform group and um it's for 60 days i had to get up at 5 30 in the morning and clean for three hours a day within the section to do five pages of journaling they took away my tv my cd player my visits my yard time phone calls uh commissary you know all that got taken away from me um and i'm a huge san francisco giants fan and they were in the world series at that time so my tv getting taken away yeah that was that was rough and that was enough you know i was like all right i'm missing the giants i gotta change you know i'm just teasing that wasn't like the whole reason but um but something clicked at that moment and and i decided to start taking advantage of some of the resources that i had during that 60-day period i i didn't have access to any classes but i did have access to books you know and and that's when i picked up some books some good books that's my mindset started changing i read man search for meaning which changed my life you know there's this guy that's in a concentration camp in world war ii and he's choosing to have a positive attitude and choosing to make it count for something if he did survive it you know and he's getting beaten every day and starved in his family's you know god knows where and um and he's choosing his attitude and i was like well if he can do that there i can do that here you know so i had two and a half years left and and i started adopting that attitude like okay i can choose my attitude every day they can take all this stuff from me but i can choose to be happy you know and and i started recognizing um ways that i could change my behavior i it clicked all of a sudden that behavioral changes and learning new behaviors is just like learning anything else whether it's the piano or golf or whatever you know when you when you learn to play the piano right you start out with something small like mary had a little lamb and uh and you practice every day and you try newer songs harder songs and you get better and better and better um and no matter how much you practice you still suck sometimes right and and so what i realize is it's the same thing for gaining integrity you know i was out on the yard one day and i had a candy wrapper and i was gonna throw it on the ground and then i had the thought you know and the definition we've all heard of integrity um if i was with other people would i do this and the answer was no so why am i gonna do it when i'm by myself um and so i realized at that moment like this is a moment for me to practice and start with something small you know and then and then i looked for other moments you know i lied to my mom on the phone okay it's too late can't take it back but i called her and told her the truth you know and started practicing these little moments my cellmate said i could have a piece of his candy so i actually took one and not two even though i want to you know and so i started practicing these little moments and was getting better and better and better and like i said some days i still sucked at it some days i still do you know even even with years of sobriety i don't have perfect honesty and integrity and that's okay i just keep practicing and do better the next day um so anyway a funny thing started happening i started kind of like myself you know for the first time in my life i started feeling confident about who i was and i loved his little self-love and and had some of the happiest days of my life up until that point even though i was in prison you know because i i loved who i was you know and prison is not a popular place to get better and what i mean by that is it's like crabs in a barrel right they want to drag you down you know they don't like people um getting better because then they have to look inward you know um and they start feeling bad about themselves so you know i was made fun of drew you're doing too much you're taking too many classes like i'm not in the section playing cards and working out you know i'm taking classes i'm reading books uh you know and doing whatever i could to better myself for for two and a half years you know and and it wasn't fun you know it was it was a difficult thing to do and that's why i kind of take offense maybe not offense isn't the right word but um when people try and say time within the prison doesn't count towards your towards your sobriety time um but that was where my best work was done that was where my hardest work was done and uh and it's not easy it's not easy to change behavior in prison because very few people there uh want to support that you don't have anybody to model those behaviors right nobody's there to say come on andrew we'll do it together you're going to write your own yeah and there was a few people i found some like-minded people and and and several of those guys are still part of my life today and are doing well you know and you know and not to boast or or to say you know i told you so type attitude but most of those guys are not most but a lot of those guys that made fun of me i've since gotten to treatment you know and whether it's steps or somewhere else you know and they reach out to me on facebook or wherever you know that's pretty awesome yeah and it's okay you know it's okay that they weren't in the same spot as i was you know everyone has their their path and their moment where the switch flips you know and and i have no judgment does that does that kind of um interaction you know you said that you got picked on and bullied a little bit in school and here you are in the prison system getting picked on and bullied a little bit in the prison system was there a difference in those two scenarios were you able to manage it better because of where your head space was i was able to manage it better there was definitely moments where maybe i regressed a little bit because of those past experiences and you know my i guess trauma response you could call it would kick in and i'd want to be cool again you know but for the most part you know because i loved who i was all of a sudden as i was the manager better i was confident in who i was you know and and their opinion didn't matter to me it as much well i wonder how many other you know other people that end up in the same kind of place that you are and end up regressing because of their environment they just they can't quite hold on long enough to overcome the environment i mean that'd be really hard yeah and that's that's why it's so important to you know whether you're in prison or you're in treatment or you're fresh out of treatment or wherever you are to surround yourself with like-minded people you know i always tell clients that come in uh to steps uh you know it's perfectly natural and okay to be friends with the people that you're in treatment with however find also a few people when you get out that have some time you know that have been sober for multiple years that have success um because you're going to become like the people you spend most your time with right you know and that's what i did when i got out is you know i was i was very prepared but i also surrounded myself with other people that had proven success when you like i imagine that you've told some people that like you've got to surround yourself with like-minded people and you just see deer in the headlight what are you talking about a lot of the time you know maybe um a lot of the time i'll also get like oh yeah yeah totally you know where you know they're just kind of it's lip service you know um but you know some people will listen and do it you know uh just depends on where everyone's at individually yeah i went to treatment seven times you know before i started listening to the stuff that i'd heard well i think of these kids in middle school or junior high or whatever and you know and like for my own kids i would say look you can find better friends and they just look at me like mom i can't find better friends what are you talking about and i wonder if it's the same thing right they they don't know that they can go out and choose who they spend time with yeah um you know i think it's probably just natural to spend time with uh whoever it it just feels easy is to be around you know you know especially with you know romantic relationships chasing that you know is that when you get out of treatment or whatever um and you know it's it's a lot harder to go up to someone at a meeting or wherever you are and you know ask them if you can hang out with them you know um it's it's it's not easy but you know who said treatment was who said recovery was you know uh like you said it's these are people you're still hanging out with and so those relationships when you can reach out and find somebody like that it changes everything yeah it does um and i've you know i say this a lot i've never met anyone with a long-term recovery that got there by doing what they want to do you know um a lot of it a lot of it is uh you know you've heard the here's your uh here's your comfort zone you know they can't see what i'm doing on the pocket on the by listening but and then way out here is where the magic happens you know you got to get out of your comfort zone if if you want chances success well and so often when i when i read clinical documentation of people who are in recovery right i'm reading their stories and so often they started using when they were in junior high or high school and it was the people they were hanging out with because it was easy right those are the people who accepted them and said yeah be part of our group here's what we're doing and a way they went so many stories seem like that yeah i think that's that's a common tale um you know i i started later in life i i think that's more rare most people start young and there's it's so hard at that age you know i i was speaking to eighth graders the other day at a you know i spoke at a middle school and um and i just wonder like are they are they hearing anything i'm saying are they gonna because i don't know that i would have at that age you know like like what does this guy know you know because it's hard you it's peer pressure you want to you want your friends to like you you want people to like you and you'll you'll do whatever it takes a lot of the time you know so when they introduce you in front of a middle school or junior high what do they introduce you as i mean obviously it's drew but what what context do they give well i mean when i do that kind of thing that the kids know what's coming up you know and and you know just recently when i went the teacher just said hey this is drew he's here to talk to you about addiction you know we've been talking about a little a little bit about addiction in class and he's here to talk to you about his experiences and i'll usually start with hey do i look like someone that was a former heroin addict in ex-con you know and usually they'll say no you know and that's kind of the point of of my conversation with them is um it can happen to anybody it doesn't discriminate you know i came from an upper middle class family in california you know raised in the lds church and i became a homeless heroin addict and an ex-con you know and that's the message i want to get across is like this doesn't just happen to a certain population i've seen lawyers doctors nurses people and all these bishoprics you know oh yeah it's it knows no bounds moms and everybody right nobody is you know can escape that addictive pattern once they once they get into it yeah mostly celebrities most of the celebrities yeah i can't even imagine uh being in that lifestyle with uh with addiction you know just the word the celebrities that do recover have immense respect for because it would be that much harder with that much money and that much limelight and pressure so what's that message when you're at those schools what are you you're obviously it can happen to anybody but what are the tools what what do you teach a junior high kid student to protect themselves so they the teacher tells me before i go in be as raw and honest as possible you know the only just you know don't swear excessively but uh but tell them like the nitty gritty they don't really want us to talk much about the recovery part and like how great we're doing now it's they wanted to be more of like a scared straight type thing you know um so you know i'll talk with kids that age i'll talk with them a lot about how much how much their words mean you know and how much um you know we for the four agreements you know being impeccable with your word you know you never know how your words are affecting people um you know and how much uh that could mold someone for the rest of their life you know and and to to be kind and you know to be um compassionate and empathetic and understanding and really difficult at that age you know um you know i'll talk with them about um just the the dangers of addiction in the in the context of you know can sneak up on you it doesn't always come from a place of your friend having some marijuana or some alcohol that they offer you at a party you know it it can be a doctor it can be you know something that you don't expect you know and you know and i'll try and encourage them to talk about or not you know talk with someone that they trust about feelings you know as far as depression or suicidal thoughts or you know things that are going on in their life and just communicating you know that particular teacher you know seems really good with that kind of stuff he's got some students that stop by and talk with them and open up to them and he mentioned that you know of all their guest speakers that they have throughout the year that the the recovering addicts that he has come in is always the most popular and most effective you know uh the last time i did it not this earlier this week but i did it back in november also this a girl came up to me afterwards and talked about how her dad's an alcoholic and she sometimes struggles with suicidal thoughts you know and it was hard because i wanted so bad to just like give this girl my phone number and help her you know but that was not appropriate um but i'll text the teacher every now and again to say hey how's this girl doing you know um and it's but that was encouraging to me that that she felt comfortable to bring it up and talk with someone about it how do you get someone like that help here's a minor who's asking for help but she's a minor how do you get them like what's the course of getting someone like that help that's a tough one that i don't know that i have a great answer to you know i i think again um help has to come you know from the family you know and then being willing to recognize a problem and to get this young lady help you know i think the school counselors and you know clergy whoever can only do so much you know um but just just being here you know just someone that she can talk to you know i think community and that's what i told this young lady is like the communication is huge you know communication and just saying it is so powerful you know and uh and i encourage you to just continue to find people to talk to that she trusts that will help her and and that's going to serve her pretty well um you know but unless you know the parents or whoever is her guardian is is willing to to put in that effort um it's it's really difficult you know it's yeah well it is and i mean even with her suicidal unless you know even then the parents have to be willing to get her help right right but you know especially ones that are sick themselves it's it's probably hard to do because then they have to recognize their own problem you know and address their own problem and that's that's a daunting task for a lot of people but it's incredible that she was willing you know in a place where she could come up and even verbalize that and talk about it because the secrets right the family dynamic is so often we don't talk about this and the fact that she could like you said to be able to verbalize that and and speak those needs and speak her concerns i mean that's that's half the battle and getting help yeah yeah just my hope for her is that you know some of her classmates and peers you know are kind to her and have some empathy and it's hard to put yourself in that spot uh as an eighth grader to to have the ability to put yourself in someone's shoes and find empathy and really have compassion for that individual i remember what that's like so it's it's a difficult place to be that's why i'm such a huge advocate for them teaching stuff like that early on in school you know this is these are the symptoms of depression these are the symptoms of anxiety this that you know uh and just talk about it make it less of a stigma like just have it be just open forum you know um and make it less taboo we'll have a safe place where they can talk about it and and a place where they can and it's hard especially in junior high because they're so they can be so cruel to each other that if you expose yourself you may end up being a target for you know the rest of the year or however long yeah and so it becomes really difficult as a i'm sure as a teacher to try and provide a safe place where they're not going to get backlash from that yeah i just wish that i could help them understand that that time in their life uh at least who thought they were cool and who didn't it's just not going to matter you know you can't tell me yeah i know i know i i really wish that that everyone could understand that you know it's just a blip yeah you know you're you're an adult way longer than you're a kid you know and it doesn't change when you're involved yeah like we still try to be cool in different ways yeah it just changes to your car or your house or your job right yeah well it comes back to what drew said you gotta you've gotta figure out how to love yourself and i i don't know that i've ever taken a class that teaches you the importance of checking in and making sure that you have integrity you know that you are totally honest in all that you do and all of the things that you learned in recovery they don't teach that in school i know you know they don't bring that up i really wish i've always said this that i really wish everyone on earth could go to rehab you know because you learn so much about how to deal with your emotions in life and you know and check in with yourself and i think it could be beneficial for everyone well there's connection there right i mean this is a the one of the huggiest industries i've ever seen in my life right everybody hugs and everybody is checking in with you how you doing drew what's going on in your life today and and no no tell me really drew tell me what's going on in your life right and then they're teaching things and they're they really are there to support and so it's an environment that not everybody gets to live in yeah and that was that took me a long time to get used to it even to this day you know like i've never been a big hugger um my family even though we absolutely love each other we weren't i love you people you know and so now i i hear every day hey love you man that's true here's a hug you know i'm just like and it's still like like okay i'm working on it yeah yeah well it's uncomfortable i i'm staying with you and i don't come from a really touchy feely family but boy there's no question as to whether we love each other yeah don't hug me yeah hug me right i think there's different ways to show love you know like my dad showed me he never once said it you know but but he showed me by showing up he was always there he's every gamer you know just he showed up and i never doubted that he loved me yeah which is which is important for kids to know right again it goes back to those kids is nobody's teaching them how to be okay with who they are and find meaning and purpose in the life that they have yeah so integrity is a pillar for you obviously what are the what are the other things that you know what are the other tools for you that are daily connections huge um you know i i stay pretty involved i still attend to aaa you know i attend the sober softball you know when it's going i i try and stay connected with with other people in recovery um you know honestly what's what's been kind of important for me is um is to have both kind of friends you know um it's you know and some people need you know some people have like only recovery friends and that's okay but but for me it's been important to have uh kind of both sides you know and because i work in recovery you know uh a really difficult thing uh or something i always tell people that are getting into working in recovery is uh that are in recovery i think the cardinal rule is don't let your job become your program you know and because i've done that before before i went to prison i worked at steps once before as a tech down in payson and and i let that job become my program and so when i messed up and lost my job i lost my program and i relapsed you know so um so i i try to separate you know i definitely get some of my recovery from my job and it does help me but i have to have a separate program as well and you know uh friend recovery friends outside of work you know my meeting that i go to uh you know and just do my own thing but it's uh it's difficult uh when your job is recovery and then you have your recovery outside of uh work you know and then it's just like that's your whole life you know like you live and breathe uh recovery talk 24 7 you know and so it's important for me to have other things outside of that you know well and it is because that's a lot of recovery yeah and and there's life outside of recovery right like there's there's a moving on to the next level of of not just being in recovery but and but living you know just wholehearted living yeah yeah not kind of i guess using it as another safety net you know but you know and some people some people need that kind of structure you know maybe the first little while or they're at meetings every day you know but i think people just kind of find their stride in recovery and what works for them and what doesn't and so what do you do outside of recovery that's that's different your your other part uh you know i just have friends that aren't part of that world you know that i'll hang out with and you know i i have some friends that that drink alcohol you know and they they know that i it's not something i want to be a part of and and they don't do it in front of me you know and i just don't engage in that activity you know um and you know my nobody in my family is part of that world you know and i spent a lot of time with my family and um you know i have a a fiance that actually she is in recovery but but even we work our separate programs you know we we don't go to meetings together we you know she does addict to athlete i do a a um and we keep those things separate because that's another kind of dangerous pitfall i think that uh you know people get trapped in as they they find someone in the rooms of aaa or whatever and and their program is one of the same you know and then the relationship doesn't work out the program falls apart well i can't think of how many times somebody's been in recovery and has ended up getting in a relationship and taking them right back out again for one reason of the other maybe the relationship they're using in the relationship or one of them starts using or or because it doesn't work out and then they go back to you know that that escape that they that worked before yeah yeah uh that's that's the hardest uh thing for us to get through clients heads you know is the relationship thing and you know thank goodness i think the only way i was gonna get through a year of not having a relationship is to be removed from it completely which i wasn't in prison there was no no females there you know so so that was the only way i was going to get an extended period of time just working on myself without a distraction of a romantic relationship you know um and i didn't even dive into one immediately after being released you know i mean i've been out of prison five years and you know just barely you know last year gone to a serious relationship but it sounds like that's um that was not easy to stay out of a relationship um it wasn't i mean don't get me wrong like i dated you know i i you know saw girls here and there you know and um it's um it wasn't easy you know there's i'm not i'm not cured you know i still uh i still get depressed i still have anxiety i still have uh the tendency to make impulse decisions you know and and want a quick fix of you know a romantic relationship that's going to make me feel better you know and and there's been a lot of trial and error i've made a lot of mistakes you know over the last five years since i've been out um you know i've compromised my integrity you know uh and uh but you know the difference is that now i have tools to be able to bounce back and um and and course correct and and just continue working you know like with with the piano you know i just keep practicing and don't give up that's incredible and i'd love to hear how you've put safeties in place both for you and your fiance of how are you guys going to continue in your program and then be able to come together as a couple but your recovery is still almost maybe not the most important but it's vital you have to do that piece too yeah yeah and so we we've both been pretty good with those boundaries of you know making sure we keep things separate and um you know and and also do things sometimes together that are recovery based but uh but our core program you know in our meetings and stuff we we do separately so drew what's what's in the future for you what do you see yourself doing in five or ten years from now you know uh who knows uh you know i i've already you know kind of exceeded the expectations i had for myself you know and i don't say that to brag like i'm just as surprised as anybody but you know i'm the i've been at steps for four and a half years or so and i'm the director of business development and um and up until probably a year ago i was still pretty immature you know like i i think i could have moved up in steps a lot faster but i was i was always just kind of like uh you know i was good at my job and i was just kind of a goofball you know like joked a lot you know and i still do but um and maybe wasn't taken as seriously as as i could have been you know had i um been funny and goofy in the appropriate places uh you know but uh but i you know i i've the last year has has been a big growing uh time for me and and i'm taking more seriously you know and i'm moving up in the company and and now you know i'm looking at some other things you know i i always want to have my toe in the recovery industry on some level whether or not i'll be in this industry until i retire i don't know you know i've thought about my fiance's a real estate agent thought about getting my license and doing some of that stuff together you know and maybe just on the side and you know i i own two homes you know which just blows my mind still um it was just something that i never even considered that i would be able to do i just always had that self-doubt like no no you're not you're not gonna be a homeowner and have a you know career and be this normal guy you know um and that was a big mind-blowing experience for me and a big eye-opener when i realized like i can do things you know like a lot of the times i don't even um i don't even consider the fact that i can do this you know and then and then when i do i realize that actually doing it was way more easier than i had to envision in my head like buying a home was way easier than i thought it was going to be you know uh and you know it's not a lot harder than yeah yeah right i mean i decided i wanted to buy a house i talked with a friend in recovery who i was you know asking him about how he bought a house and all this stuff and he explained it to me and i explained my finances and stuff to him and he's like dude you can do it now like really a month later i had a house wow you know um so so i i still uh i still do that i have this self-doubt or this you know i i can't do this or i can't do that you know like learning an instrument i that's one thing i did in prison as i learned to play guitar or the ukulele you know and

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