Jim Haggerty Shares His Personal Addiction Recovery Story
Hi, I’m Jim Haggerty, welcome to my blog! This is my first post so I thought I would give you some background about myself and why I started this blog.
I am just your average guy, living life a day at a time, blessed beyond belief. I have been married for 35 years and we have 2 beautiful daughters as well as our handsome Golden Retriever “Riley”. I grew up in the Northeastern Pennsylvania town that Billy Joel sings about in one of his famous songs. We all grew up, all 4 children, in a small Cape Cod house on the East side of town with 1 bathroom and 3 bedrooms. It was cozy, close and we had a blast. My parents were good people, went to church and worked hard their whole lives. I am the oldest child.
Enter Addiction Treatment
In 1995 I found myself sitting in a substance abuse inpatient treatment facility in upstate NY looking around in a fog wondering how my life, how God, lead me to this place and why my life was such a mess. On the outside people might have thought I had many things going for me but inside I was empty, filled with guilt and shame while completely hopeless. I had thought of suicide and just didn’t have the desire to really move on with my life. I had no real idea what was going on. Not really. Sure, I drank and I used some drugs… but never thought about how that would mix with the cocktail of prescription drugs my physician and psychiatrist had me on for everything you could imagine.
That day as I sat around looking at my fellow patients, I said if I could end up in this place, in this hopeless situation it could really happen to anyone. I felt comforted by the fact that the treatment professionals didn’t judge me, that my fellow patients seemed to like me and were actually willing to talk with me. Some even asked ME for advice. One night during that 42 day stay someone came into speak at night and through tears told all of us of his “story”. That night for some reason my life began to change. I felt a little lighter and somehow knew the light at the end of the tunnel was not a freight train heading right towards me. It was a glimmer of hope.
I completed treatment, most of which was done in a complete haze from the extended detox. I think what got me through was my sheer willingness to finish something and get back home, get back something of who I thought I once was. I worked the steps with a few sponsors, went to meetings, restructured my support group and circle of local friends into a group of guys and women that were ALWAYS there for me and I am ALWAYS there for them. I started to slowly enjoy life again, wanting to get up in the morning and live life. I began to share more and slowly became more comfortable with the person who I really was underneath all the drugs and alcohol.
Recovery is a Lifelong Journey
In my travels along the back country roads of Central New York I met so many good people, many who are friends even to this day. But, most important of all, I was given so many opportunities to give back and show gratitude for all that had slowly been restored inside of me. I ended up working in the substance abuse field for 25 years, always looking back to that moment in treatment when I said to myself “if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone”. Now, at the time, I didn’t realize what I had was a disease, a mental illness of sorts that hijacked my brain and drove me down paths that I would not have “normally” chosen. That said the journey of recovery began back in 1995 when Doug B. came to speak at the treatment center I was attending.
My years of sobriety has been a journey, with many ups and downs, low self-esteem and great achievements…. In fact, it still is. Recovery is not just about not drinking or using mind- and mood-altering drugs, it’s about so much more.
Even in sobriety, in my journey of recovery I have made mistakes. Each day can be a struggle, life can be a struggle. I can get overwhelmed easily. I have made decisions that might have not been the best for me, my sobriety and my family. Today though, I can promptly admit when I am wrong, make amends and move forward with my life. I look at the mistakes as constant reminders that my disease is still always there, lurking, waiting for a character defect to exploit. A therapist friend of mine calls these moments an AFGO, “Another F***** Growth Opportunity”. Today I embrace this as just another part of the journey, and that God is looking to point out the opportunities.
Some days the same old thing, self-will and/or ego get out of control. Poor decisions and just overall moods that fluctuate. Some days I can be all over the place. I have come to believe that there is that power greater than myself and for me to have conscious contact, I need to be conscious or present. I need to maintain the best I can a sense of awareness…
Awareness of everything, the moment, the challenge, the racing mind. Some days recovery feels more like a ride than a journey.
I hope that all of my experiences have taught me something and that by sharing my life’s struggles and triumphs I might be able to continue to help others with a similar “dis-ease”, like I have.
Welcome to my ongoing journey… Join me as we continue our path to sobriety and balance. Subscribe to my blog and connect with me on social media. Thanks for reading. Stay strong.