“I drank 8 days a week.” Creighton Park joins us from Deer Hollow Recovery to share lots of the “one liners” he has learned in recovery. He is learning to “Put back into the stream of life instead of taking from it.” He tells his story of treatment, failures, starting on a graveyard shift and working his way up to an operations manager, and the importance of the twelve step program at Alcoholics Anonymous. 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 (illuminatebilling.com). 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): i drank eight days a week creighton park joins us from deer hollow recovery to share lots of the one-liners he has learned in recovery he is learning to put back into the stream of life instead of taking from it he tells his story of treatment failures starting on a graveyard shift and working his way up to an operations manager and the importance of the 12-step program at alcoholics anonymous enjoy today we are so excited to talk to creighton park creighton is an outpatient operations manager at deer hollow recovery and wellness centers creighton uses his life experience to help people through similar situations sobriety can be a tricky thing to navigate and he hasn't done it perfectly but he has been able to put some days together and and may in turn be able to help the next person attempting to find some hope in life and i love that creighton the way you just put it out there authentically and and this is the way life is thanks and thanks for being with us today yeah thanks for having me um i'm wondering maybe if you just start off giving a little background you know how did you how did you get into the substance abuse industry and and maybe what brought you to dear holo yeah um let's see i'll try to keep this short-winded um so i went through a treatment center and um in 2015 to 2016 and i always looked up to the house managers there um guys that had some time and and uh came from similar situations as me um and so they required an x amount of time you know in sobriety to work there and and you know i was attending their alumni meetings that they had every week and talked to the house manager and he you know said we've got an opening and so i worked graveyards um over the weekend because i had another full-time job just to kind of see what it was like and and see if i could potentially be that guy um that i looked up to while i was in treatment and um you know fast forward a couple more years i had left the graveyard shift um thankfully and um i was working in warehousing and i had a friend reach out to me who uh worked at the outpatient for that rehab center um hadn't spoken to him for a while and it just kind of landed in my lap and he said your name came across our table and we would love we would love for you to come interview and so yeah july of 2019 um i left my job of three and a half years in warehousing um and took the dive into you know the recovery field and loved it um didn't feel like i was clocking in every day you know just kind of showing up and talking with with some dudes and and really just sharing my experience of of how i've been able to string a few days together at that time and um it ended up like november of 2019 they that treatment center closed their facility that i was working at so i had this moment and it was probably lasted about a week where i was just so mad that i had left my secure job that had the benefits and the good pay and was reliable like i wasn't afraid of losing my job um you know to find myself unemployed and thank god that that happened because it did lead me to dear hollow and i so i started in deer hollow in december of 2019 and have loved every good and challenging minute of it um i i love just showing up and and using my life experience as a part of my my means to survive i think it's a pretty unique opportunity that not many people are afforded um and creating that's i think that's kind of it's interesting how life kind of throws those balls at us those curveballs that end up being better than we could have ever imagined although it's terrifying in the moment so i love that you share that um so you're at dear hollow you've been there for several years and and they've been growing pretty significantly can you talk a little bit about that growth yeah so um so well it's funny i'm gonna i'm gonna touch back on on kind of those curve balls because i started in december and then you know that following march covet hit and found our you know dear hollow had to had to suspend services for a little while and i found myself unemployed again after four months and um you know was again kind of reflecting back on that that decision to leave the the industry that i've been in for so long and actually got a job offer from them wanting me to come back and you know i sat with that for a minute and just thought like this is i don't want to do that like my heart is not in warehousing you know it's just it was not the most enjoyable jobs um and i love what i do now and and so fast forward through covid and and dear hollow trying to acclimate to the world you know in this this new pandemic world that we've that we've lived through in and so we started doing telehealth services you know and uh you know they brought us brought us all back and and so to watch us grow from you know it's a unique year to look back at is is because we were our our clientele we had we had a bigger population when i first started and then covet and then it's kind of trickled back and we're trying to uh you know navigate everything right now and we're starting to see that that occupancy level grow um you know with with our iop and our php programs and and um you know i know residential is is has no shortage you know they're they're doing they're doing good things up there and i hope that our outpatient facility can you know be at least you know one percent of what residential has going you know where that would be a success in my book and and so to see the growth over this last year has been really unique and i don't i don't know that anybody's been through that right with this pandemic so um it's been cool to see us ramp back up and start to grow and kind of change the way we do programming well and you mentioned covet covet's throwing a curveball at all of us i think you know something we've never experienced before and had to figure out how to how to adapt to it um and i've seen a lot of facilities that have had coveted outbreaks and had to shut down or not quite know how to um address the needs you know that that the health department wanted and so they've kind of stalled at a time when there was more of a need for substance abuse treatment than ever before and so it's good to hear that we've kind of got our feet back under us and able to help those people yeah yeah i'm glad that that we at least had our telehealth services available i mean in in end of may of last year so about a year ago we started those and and really were able to kind of help people remotely as best as we could um you know and then start bringing them back in person and making sure that we're following all the guidelines and you know knock on wood we i don't think we've had an outbreak at either facility and so that's speaks volumes to our executive director and how how worried she is with the germs and all that and and um you know it's really done wonders for us as as a facility being able to stay open consistently and you know keep helping those people out there very cool i'm um i'm wondering as you talk about the curve balls that have come your way and you know being let go several times that's enough to drive anyone back to their drug of choice um how do you know in your own journey and maybe talk about that a little bit what's your journey and and what change that allow you to maintain sobriety during those hard times yeah so i mean a quick rundown of of my journey um you know i'm a native utahn i was born and raised in utah county um from a single parent home my parents divorced when i was three and a perk of working in dual diagnosis um facility where you know we have the substance abuse and trauma is i recognize now which i didn't you know just a few years ago was that was a very traumatic experience for me um you know my first memory of my dad and this is to no fault of him or my mom but we're them upstairs um sitting across from each other and my mom is bawling and my dad is you know sitting there talking to her and i'm curious if that was the conversation that they had that that was the divorce or you know um something to deal with that but so growing up it was just me and my older brother and my mom and she worked as a as a school teacher for she retired after 35 years not too long ago and she provided the best that she could for us and um you know as i got older uh i don't know that anybody ever said this to me but my i felt that my brother was always you know on a pedestal above me and i was always trying to um you know get to that level i never felt like i fit in anywhere um you know going to church wasn't my thing but you know like the hard edged kids at school weren't my thing and so i would just kind of float around and try to fit in where i could um and then you know i had the opportunity to to drink when i was 16 almost 17 um you know and hear this a lot is you know this the sun rose in my belly like i've i felt like i belonged in that moment for the first time in my life and so i wanted that as much as possible um still trying to hide it from my mom right and her religious views and kids in school because i didn't want them thinking you know anything bad about me and so talking to my party friends on the weekends don't don't say this to anybody at school and trying to show face and keep keep my reputation alive and um you know it started out just every other weekend and moved quickly to every weekend and by the time i graduated high school um i was crushing pain pills in the bathroom on the back of my ipod they still had ipods back then and you know that that took me i don't know how i graduated high school i don't know how you know i kept things under wrap for so long now looking back at it but that summer after i graduated i i was siphoning money from my mom's bank account and that lasted three months and i was stealing the bank statements out of the mail so that she wouldn't find them and um up until that point she had a lot of trust in me so she would leave her purse out and it wasn't a big deal and so i would swipe her card and uh it finally caught up to me and i lied about it you know i said i spent it on food and lagoon right and i'm still trying to hold on to that that control and i got kicked out um was living with my cousin and his older brother and their wife and their dad so there was five of us in a two-bedroom apartment i'm sleeping on the floor miserable but not willing to stop and so i get a phone call from my mom and she says you know you have an ultimatum i'm going to press charges or you're going to go to treatment and as an 18 year old it's like well obviously i don't want a record so let's go to treatment i ended up at by choice uh odyssey house and i don't know why i chose odyssey house because back then it was like a two-year program average graduation time so yeah i ended up there and one thing that i know different from them from odyssey house when i was there and and from the treatment experience i had in 2015 was i don't know that i was given a solution for when i got out of treatment i was fast tracked through odyssey house i completed them that program in nine months and went back home to the same house uh the same friends the same job and within a few weeks was was getting loaded again uh and and that went from percocets to oxycontin and very quickly moved into heroin and um thought that i could find different ways to solve my problem um so i got married hey she'll fix it right if i get married she's gonna make everything right um that was not the case i was withdrawing on on my honeymoon um you know was was in saint george and convinced her like well vegas that i have a better chance in vegas we drove to vegas and you know long story short was just so sick that we came home early and tried the geographical change like hey if i move um i'll get better and so we moved and i wasn't doing heroin every day but i was drinking eight days a week um so finally i get back and i get a bunch of legal trouble um in the year of 2015 i got divorced um and of that year 11 months were spent in jail or or a treatment center um and and so that that led me to treatment um july 26th of 2015 i got arrested and uh wasn't anything new to me i'd been in jail before and for some reason i had this little moment of clarity thinking somebody somewhere knows something that i don't um i i don't want to do this anymore but i don't know how to stop so i called my mom uh she actually had a restraining order against me at the time called her from jail right um hadn't spoken to her for a couple of years and i don't know why she answered the phone but she answered the phone and she took my call and in in some way or another i asked her for some help and uh you know over that i was so i sentenced another four months over those four months she went to bat for me and tried to try to get me insurance and try to find me you know a treatment center uh but actually it was july 23rd that i got arrested july 26th is my sobriety date so that'll tell you that i'm completely powerful over any substance if it's available so the last time that i used i used in a county jail um with a guy i'd never met and um didn't see him for the rest of my stay in jail so i got out of jail and i went straight to the treatment center and guess who's sitting in the front room in that treatment center the guy i got loaded with for the last time crazy thing about it is he's still sober today and he's one of my best friends um we've got a little group of us that we talk every day we send texts to each other and and uh every year we go back to the trees we pick up our chip and we share that story and we you know get it get all the guys that are in house to laugh and try to relate to them but so i end up at that treatment center and uh they introduced me to the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous and i don't know that there's much about that treatment center today that keeps me sober uh but what keeps me sober there are the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous which is you know the program that i'm engaged in and so to round it back to your initial question like what is it that allows me to to navigate some of those tough situations 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous have have given me a solution to my problem today and i recognize that i'm the problem the way that i think the way that i interact with life like that's the problem when i'm not engaged in my own recovery so i've got to do that every day you know i think um i think the story you share which is really interesting is not i mean it's not incredibly unique i mean so you hear so many talk about this trauma of divorce and and how that changes their you know their perspective and how they feel about themselves and they don't quite fit in and and it's an interesting that we hear this story over and over again but it becomes still really difficult to go back and identify those people that are feeling that in high school and trying to you know intercept there so you know i mean i guess telling the story over and over again may give us you know get us to a better place we talked to a guy here not too long ago that that that's what he does he goes in and he tells his stories in high school and he tries to help them understand that there's help and there's places that they can go to get that help and i think that's powerful um you said something that i thought was a little bit interesting the sun rose in my belly that first drink that you took and the question that i asked myself is that's a pretty euphoric feeling do you replace that now or how do you you know how do you think about that kind of feeling now um i think that feeling for me now is further and farther between um and i'm okay with that because i think i enjoy it more um you know when when i'm drinking or when i'm drugging i'm chasing that euphoric feeling and i'm never getting to where i think it is um today i think rather than those those high mountain tops and those low valleys of my emotions and life it's more just kind of rounded hills um with you know the the sprinkle of you know euphoric uh feeling was like watching my four-year-old boy graduate preschool right like as silly as that sounds like i gotta show up for him and and watch him get his little diploma bag and like sing the songs and you know his teachers reading what he loves about preschool and and was able to be there sober and present was able to share space with his mother who is married and has you know her own family and and hasn't always been a great relationship and i was able to to be there and and not worry about any of the [ __ ] right just just be there and recognize that and so i think that they are further and farther between but i don't know that that's a bad thing for myself well and it replaces that because what a proud moment to be sober and to be able to really take um take in that whole experience you know and of your son and and all that was happening there that's a cool thing right that's that's deep you feel that deeply so i love that you can replace that you know synthetic feeling with something even better yeah yeah it's it's certainly more healthy like you said right but the other thing is that the studies are showing that now like some of the the dopamine and some of that type of um transaction in your body however that works is almost as strong when you're looking back at that memory right so it's not only is it a natural high but it's a sustainable one right like that's a building block now for life that you get to kind of hang on to and cherish with you know your son moving forward as opposed to the previous you know unrealistic overdose high that is fleeting comes and goes and is gone right which is super cool one of the other things that you mentioned was that when you went into treatment you really looked up to that house manager what were the things about them you know that stuck out to you and why was that attractive yeah so i think you know it was it was an all-male facility and and these these house managers would run some of our therapeutic community groups at night and um would be in the office and we could go in and talk to him and um i actually knew one of the house managers from high school i knew his little sister and i knew a little bit about him and and he drove me one day i was i was maybe he'd been there two weeks and he drove me to see my probation officer in american fork and just talking to him on that car ride and listening to him share his experience of jails and institutions and homelessness to see him now like showing up for a job right and like being consistent and sober you know like those were all things that i just couldn't conceive so the physical sobriety was like yeah i want that i don't know if i can get that but the mannerisms the way that they carried themselves their characteristics their traits you know kind of like those outward morals that i felt from them was like yeah i really like that like that's attractive to me but i don't know if i'm capable of doing that you know so i just i just faked it right like treatment was easy for me i'd been institutionalized the whole year so it was like i can follow rules and not get kicked out like i cannot smoke cigarettes when we go on wreck therapy and i cannot like do these things so that i can stay here because my alternative was the park like sleeping on the bench but that took hold in me and i don't know if it was by the time i got out of treatment um but very soon after it was was this is this is achievable i can have what all of these guys have said they have and and the common variable there was they were working 12 steps so i started to work the 12 steps which you don't do 12 steps at a time that's right right you know it's one step at a time and that first one is one that you know you got to fight your way through and then not till you through that one then start to digest the second one right so it's kind of like you said it's it's that's it's cool that you had um him as a kind of a mentor and someone to look up to but it's kind of just the way everything is in life right whether it's sobriety or your career or being a parent or whatever you kind of just show up and make an attempt at it that's the first that's the first step right and then the more the more you're not good at it eventually you kind of just find your rhythm and yeah that's good that's funny my sponsor um i have i have this playlist if you will an internal playlist um that just replays in my mind every single day of one one-liners that he's told me um and he's always telling me suit up and show up that's all you have to do um and and that one-liner as much as i hate it sometimes has saved my ass so many days you know there's many days where i don't want to pick up the phone when when a sponsor calls or there's plenty of days when i don't want to go to a meeting or meet with my sponsor and then i hear that and damn it you know i gotta show up i gotta go so it's funny how my mind works like i want i want all the results that this program that the program i'm involved in has to offer but a lot of the times i don't know if i want to do all of the work you know i kind of want to skirt around and take the easier way and maybe clip a corner and and then say okay give me all these good results but that's not how it works i've come to find out well it's not an easy journey either that's a tough journey to be on and i think about other people that i've seen go through the 12 steps and they'll they'll bomb through it and just go yeah i done did it you know in a couple of months and it's like yeah you didn't do it do it again and i don't know if that's if that's your journey or not if you had to do it three or four or five times or how that looks so yeah i think so i had two experiences prior to treatment with 12-step meetings and both times i showed up loaded um so i was just at a point where i was kind of willing to just go with the suggestions when i got to treatment i don't know that i got to treatment like wanting long-term sobriety um i almost wanted to like partake in heroin like a gentleman if you will like do it if i could and not burn and cause the chaos that i was doing but you know i had a therapist tell me when i was when i was in treatment you know stack the deck in your favor you know is is aftercare going to keep you sober no um is is uh aaa going to keep you sober maybe is is engaging with the fellowship going to keep you sober maybe as is the 12th step you know all these different things so i'm trying to stack it in my favor so that i have some success and one of those suggestions was finding a sponsor and i found a sponsor and and we did we burned through the steps we met every single week um and he gave we got to the fourth step and he said you have two weeks to finish this and if you're not ready in two weeks find somebody else and and that's what i needed was like let's get in it let's find the solution and let's and let's keep moving and so you know fast forward to to i think july so a full year um i had been sober and i was all the way i was through 12 steps and i've been out of treatment for six months um i picked up my year chip i was on vacation california um picked up my year chip you know at a meeting um on the beach in dana point at sunset and it was kind of this another kind of one of those euphoric feelings of okay like this is this is a possible solution for me that sponsor at the time had kind of drifted away from the program um but i was still in touch with him and thought to myself he's a good dude right and he's still sober but he's not doing what i'm doing um and so i knew who his sponsor was and i've been in many meetings where i'd heard him speak and share and it was another one of those there's something about him that i want and i asked him and i've had him i've had him for four and a half years and and we've gone through the steps i think three times so a long-winded answer i i uh feels like every year or so i've got to get back in it i got to get back into the book and and you know really engage and do a thorough one first step second step third step fourth so on and into the end you know what does re needing to redo those look like for you is that a relapse is that just a okay i'm feeling a little hollow this is a way to kind of steroid up a little bit on yeah i think i want to beef up right like something that i've learned in my recovery is if i'm not continually growing that stagnant feeling is pretty toxic for me i want to continue to learn more about me i want to continue to grow you know my program and my spiritual connection with with this higher power that's talked about and um so no it's not a relapse but it's it's i kind of just get an itch um and that itch has thus far forced me back into the book um where i get to identify some of those character defects and i get to work on some new ones that i didn't know had popped up um you know and i get to re-engage this relationship with my higher power and explore different ways on how to connect you know to to that and through what avenues and and uh you know eventually bringing me to the 12th step of hey get your ass in gear and start giving back that's powerful and it's it's um i don't think i think the moral of the story is there's not a wrong way to do the 12 steps but that you've got to keep doing them right you've got to keep adhering to those principles you talked about men in your life it sounded like most of them were men that were these models that you said you know i want what that guy has and i think you use the word morals what what does that look like and how is that transformed in your life yeah so um i have many men in my life today who are involved in sobriety who i look up to um who exemplify characteristics or traits um that i want and so i stick with them right in treatment it was stick with the winners and still try to do that but when i came to treatment i didn't have any standards i had no values or morals you know i was just doing anything to to service myself and so to see guys who had the same story as me who had been through similar experiences who had felt like me and excuse me many at many different points in my life again showing up to work right and being honest and showing up when they say they're gonna show up and and have some compassion and empathy you know um that's stuff that i wanted and and i think by surrounding myself with those guys and engaging in this program those are the most valuable things that i have today um you know you talk about what sobriety and my program has given me it's like yeah it's given me you know first three years my sobriety i didn't have a license um i'd gotten three duis in three months and so the state said yeah it's probably not safe for you to drive so let's take that license from you you know so sobriety has given me that license and it's given me the car in the garage that has my license plates on it and it's registered to me and you know has given me the opportunity to have gainful employment to earn money but the important thing to me that i don't want to lose are are the internal things of you know compassion and empathy and and um reliability and honesty and integrity like those are the things that i cherish most because when i when i start to lose those it's very easy for me to slip back into guilt and shame and self-pity and i know where that stuff leads me um i'm an effect driven person so i like the effects produced by x y and z uh and so this program has given me the effect that i like that's the very cool and i love i love hearing that i mean you can almost see your journey from you know no morals no values no standards to there might be something better out there and and i want to be somebody different than i am and then that hope and then i heard you talk about a few pivotal moments in your life where someone influenced you and you you know got you to think twice about who you wanted to be and where you were going so i think that's a common that's a common thing so i love to hear you share that um as you were talking you know you talked about your last high which was in jail and i'm i'm curious as a mother i think i've heard plenty of mothers say if my if my child's in jail at least i know they're safe and now i'm concerned that perhaps they may not be safe how prevalent is drugs in jail um it depends i've spent uh some time in a few different county jails and extended amounts of time i'll say and and those extended amounts of time um it's not like it's everywhere but your you can find it if you want to find it and obviously you can there's medications that can be abused that are prescribed while you're in jail that produce you know a mind-altering effect um so i wouldn't say it's not like it's not like a black market kind of deal going on but it's there you know and and if you want it you find it you know if if that's what you're searching for you're gonna find some way to make it happen and uh that it's just very telling to me that without a solution even in a lockdown facility i'm gonna go to any length to change how i feel and and i did even after that phone call of i don't want to do this anymore you know it's like i didn't even have a choice it was just autopilot found out that there was some there and hey i need some of that i um i think it's interesting what you've talked about because if you you know it's that drive that that thing that's the most important and prevalent in your mind and that's the thing you're going to go after and if you want it bad enough you're going to get it and it's interesting that that can have a shadow side just as much as it can have a gold side or a positive side to it and so it it seems as though you've taken that drive and you've turned it into creating something that you really do want and it's been a lot of work but you've been able to create that life that is full of values full of morals and that you can be one of those models just like that changed your life excuse me yeah i hope so it still feels like big big shoes to fill right but you know i hope my hope is you know working in the field excuse me and uh you know being active in in recovery is if i can just help one person along the way then it'll be worth it um you know and i think a funny perspective that i've had is the people closest to me benefit more from me being sober and engaged in my own recovery than i do because they're the first ones to feel the brunt of the chaos if i slip up right and so that's also like a factor you know my son had him in sobriety um he's never seen me loaded you know he's never he's never seen me drink and and um you know a day at a time i hope he doesn't have to that's a powerful motivator yeah so creighton what uh what's in your future what are your plans oh well i am a full-time student right now um hopefully going for my master's in social work um i just started college last august so i'm fresh in um and so actually summer semester starts in 10 days or so and and i'm trying to burn through my associates so that i can take maybe a semester off and enjoy a little bit but um yeah i think school in school and then you know i i hope to to continue working in the field and and continue to stay sober and show up for those around me um you know one day at a time i do i i like to plan i'm a planner for the future but also like don't like to over identify with that stuff because then i start coughing resentments that everyone around me and god and this and that and so right now i'm enjoying the break from school um enjoying this this job and and working at dear hollow and and spending time with my son and uh you know trying to just show up in life you know i want to i want to put back into the stream of life rather than take from it like like i did for so long so continue to grow continue to learn um and and however that happens for me um i'm open to it that's pretty exciting that's a great track to you know become a social worker and and be able to help on a different level right and be you know just have those skills and that training to to look underneath but i think what you're doing right here and right now is enough right that you're you're you're being that model for others now and that's pretty incredible i i honor you for that thank you lots of one-liners i've got like 10 from me already today so i've turned into my sponsor damn it those are going into those are going into the bio well i think it's what your goal was so you had what you wanted right yeah that's a that's a good thing yeah that's so awesome creighton thanks for being with us today it's been a pleasure i've loved hearing your story and uh i you know it'd be fun to connect here in another year or so and see where you're at yeah that would be great i appreciate you guys doing what you're doing and and having me on and allowing me to kind of ramble for the last 45 minutes it's not rambling like you know everybody everybody needs to hear a story because it's not only is treatment different for everybody but the the stories that connect with people are different for every person and and everybody's got a process so for sure well you never know when that one person is going to listen and go oh that's just like my story i can relate to this guy so much i gotta talk to creighton and if somebody wants to talk to creighton how do they get a hold of you um i'm not on social media so that makes it a little hard um if i don't you can email me you can find me on linkedin i'm on linkedin i know that's kind of lame but um linkedin find me on linkedin i'm there send me a message i think that's probably the best route i think that it i think that is social media yeah is it i i don't scroll it like i used to with instagram and facebook and tick tock so yeah like uh like you i'm the same well i'm the same way i keep myself pretty limited to that platform because some of those other ones are a bit of a black hole but it's the safer version a little bit that's right a little more professional that's how i'll justify it linkedin's a good spot that's plenty accessible so yeah find me there if you wanna if anybody is interested uh yeah that's where i'm at fantastic thank you thanks for watching all right thanks guys we'll see you