Shatterproof // James Cardamone // February 22, 2018

Today, I am one year sober from drugs and alcohol. I’m writing this post with the hope that it will help at least one person out there.

For those closest to me, it was no secret that I had struggled for years, and by the end of my run I was broken— spiritually, mentally, physically, and financially. I saw the pain I was causing my family, and most importantly my girlfriend, and I simply couldn’t do it anymore. The burden of carrying all the guilt and shame became unbearable. Everything I did was self-serving and done in vain. I treated people poorly and sabotaged relationships. As long as I was boosting my own ego, that’s all that mattered to me. I hated the person I had become.

For me, drugs and alcohol were just a symptom of a much larger problem. Like many others, I used them as a crutch, as a way to escape reality. Drinking allowed me to become a different person, and I overcompensated for my vast insecurities and fears. What do people think of me? Am I good enough? Am I successful enough? Am I smart enough? I hated dealing with the problems that everyday life brings. When things got difficult, I’d hit the eject button. It was that simple.

Life is endlessly complex and so many people struggle with addiction. Unfortunately, the stigma around alcoholism and addiction still exists. I know many people in recovery who are scared to be open and honest about their journey. But I firmly believe that being open and honest is the key to maintaining long term recovery. Not only does it create accountability all around you, but it opens you up to a whole new world of deeper conversations and more meaningful relationships—and at the end of the day, that’s what matters the most. These new found connections have helped me stay sober.

Over this past year I’ve done things that I would have never done if I was still drinking and using. I was a guest on a podcast, I went on a retreat in Montana with 30 strangers, I read 11 books, I got accepted to grad school, I picked up boxing, I started golfing competitively again. Being sober is allowing me to discover who I really am and the person I want to become. I used to search for these answers at the bottom of a bottle or in a line of cocaine. I don’t have to anymore. You wouldn’t believe how freeing that is.

Of course there have been bumps along the way, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. It has been, hands down, the most fulfilling year of my entire life. I’m beyond grateful for my sobriety, and the support I’ve received from my family and friends has been absolutely incredible.

For those struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a whole new life waiting for you on the other side. I promise.