What is happiness? I have asked myself that question literally thousands of times throughout my life and more often than not I never really had a realistic answer.
If I had to answer that question 3 years ago I would have said that happiness was a bag of heroin and a fresh syringe.
If I had to answer that question 5 years ago I would have said that happiness was a bag of cocaine and a handful of pain killers.
If I had to answer that question 10 years ago I would have said that happiness was a bottle of whiskey and a bag or marijuana.
I never really saw that all those things that I considered to make me happy were actually destructive and harmful ideas and actions that only made me miserable and kept me imprisoned in a dark and lonely existence. The things that I thought made me happy were temporal and frivolous, none of them were fulfilling or kept me happy for longer than a few hours if I was lucky.
I started using alcohol and drugs at a young age. I was young and naive and I believed that my life was boring and unfulfilled and that I needed to experience the world in a new and different way. I believed that the zest my life was missing could be appeased through drinking alcohol, smoking weed, or taking my parents prescription medicines. I would take something to alter my reality and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. At the time I believed that taking drugs gave me a new perspective on life. I thought it took the edge off and made me way more mysterious and interesting. Like I said, I was young and naive and I really couldn’t see the wrongs on my ways.
My recreational use became habitual use which ultimately became abuse and addiction. My use of mind altering substances quickly became a crutch for me to lean on when I felt uncomfortable. If I felt lonely, I’d get high. If I felt bored, I’d get high. If I felt ashamed, I’d get high. On and on it went until I couldn’t do anything without being under the influence of something. Every emotion I felt justified the use of drugs. Every situation I had to deal with justified the use of drugs. Before I knew it the only reality I knew was that of being high or drunk. It didn’t take long before my substance abuse began to affect every aspect of my life. My grades at school started slipping, I was getting in trouble with every authority figure imaginable, I was fighting with my family and I couldn’t tell the truth about anything if my life depended on it. To make it even worse I saw what I was doing to my life. I saw the damage that the drugs and alcohol had done to my life and the people around me and even then I did nothing about it. Like a true addict, I used my misery as more justification to get high and drunk. This went on for years to come. It was like watching a sad movie about a good kid with lots of potential who wasted it all on his selfish desire to use drugs and in the process destroys everything.
But this movie that was my life did not end with a funeral and dreary music playing over the end credits. However, it did come close to that. In the middle of 2010 I overdosed twice in one week from shooting heroin. After the first overdose I thought I had hit my “rock bottom” and swore I’d never use again. Five days later I was in the hospital again from another overdose. At that point in time, my family did for me that which I could not do for myself – they got me help. After a week of being in the hospital my family drove me to southern California and I was admitted into the Narconon Fresh Start program at Sunshine Summit Lodge.
I had been to rehab several times before and at the time I thought I was going to do the old 30 day program, say all the right things to show everyone how much better I was and then go back to my old ways and just “be more careful”. I was dead wrong. My first few days in the program really opened my eyes as to what I had done to my life and why I had done it. I saw that there was so much work that needed to be done on myself and the way I chose to live my life. I saw that my problems with drugs and alcohol simply boiled down to the fact that I was uncomfortable with myself. I used because I couldn’t confront my problems, my life, or myself. Once I realized that drugs and alcohol were a symptom of my problem and that my problem was with myself I was able to take the necessary steps to truly address my addiction and fix my life.
The days turned into weeks while I was at Sunshine Summit Lodge and every day I saw myself making progress and making changes. After going through the New Life Detoxification Program I felt so many changes in my body and my mind. I could think a lot clearer and I didn’t have anymore cravings to use. I continued with the program and I was able to change the way I made decisions. Instead of making selfish and impulsive decisions, I saw how much more conducive it was to look at all aspects of my life and think about how any decision would affect my life and based upon that make only the responsible and survival-orientated choices. I saw that I could live a better life simply by making rational decisions that were free from any type of justification that would normally throw me into a tailspin.
After about 3 months I completed the program and began my new life. I had a fresh start on life and it was like I was looking at the world with a new set of eyes and a sound sense of judgement. I began applying everything that I had learned at Sunshine Summit Lodge on a daily basis and with each day I saw my life improving and felt myself actually being happy.
If I was asked what is happiness today I could tell you exactly. Happiness if being free from the use of drugs and alcohol. Happiness is having a loving and supportive relationship with every person in my family. Happiness is looking at my newborn son and experiencing the world with him. Happiness is reading a good book, listening to my favorite music, watching an interesting movie, laughing with friends, saving money, having a place to call home, spending holidays with loved ones, etc, etc. I could go on and on answering the question of what is happiness because today I have my life back and it is a life that is worth living. Without my experience of going through the program at Sunshine Summit Lodge I can honestly say that I would have never been able to find happiness in my life much less make it a reality. I am forever indebted to the Narconon program and the kind people of Sunshine Summit Lodge.