When someone says the words “a hopeless place,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s a dark room with no one to love or hold onto. Maybe it’s in one of the many war-torn parts of the world. Either way, it’s a depressing place.

For me, the hopeless place was at the end of a meth pipe in a crack house. It was rock bottom, and not in the rock ‘n’ roll sense. Days melted together between highs. The brief moments of clarity usually occurred when I would get a quick bite to eat, enough to give me energy until the next fix.

This might sound familiar to some readers. Well, it’s quite common among individuals with depression and anxiety, like me. But that’s not where it all started. It started with my need to fit in.

I was born in Colombia in 1981. And if you’ve been keeping up with any of the dozen drug and mafia series available on Netflix, you’ll know that it was one of the most dangerous places to live in that era. Car bombs, kidnappings and broad-daylight murders were the hard truths of life. This was at a time when even leaving to get some groceries could’ve been the last time you’d see your family.

Drinking at 9 years old

drunk with bottle
My parents decided to get out, and by 1985 we were living in Florida, the Sunshine State. The move was a step towards establishing a better life for my family. Now, if you know Colombians or have Colombian friends, you’ll recognize a few common characteristics they have.

They love to get together and let loose, dance and drink the night away. One of the famous national drinks always handed out at family gatherings is called Aguardiente. That name roughly translates to “fire water” and it most certainly heats up the dance floor.

At one party, I remember seeing the way the anise-flavoured drink seemed to relax everyone. I was nine years old at the time, and the curiosity to try alcohol had already kicked in. Against my better judgment, I snuck away with a small bottle and started drinking. I wanted to be an adult, having fun like the rest of them. Eventually, the effects of getting drunk kicked in, and I ended up getting scolded by one of my cousins, while promising to never do that again.

Jail time and getting clean

Padlocked gateThe truth is that I really liked the way it had made me feel, so my drunken adventures had only begun.

I continued to drink and then started smoking pot at 14. This, of course, led to experimentation with pretty much every drug under the sun, from Ketamine to mushrooms and meth. By 22, I had been thrown in jail on drug-related charges. I then spent the next two years getting through drug and alcohol detox. Those were some of the toughest times of my entire life.

I started praying and reading the Bible. It was filled with relatable stories. The messages were beautiful.

Prison had introduced me to the concept of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). At first, they were a means of escaping my cell for a few hours, but at some point, I started opening up.

Bestowing faith in God in order for Him to help me was a big part of the program. And if you’re familiar with the 12-step program, you’ll know that God plays a big part in it. People in the program spoke with such faith and trust in Him that it got me interested as well. I started praying and reading the Bible. It was filled with relatable stories. The messages were beautiful.

Upon my release, I was fuelled with the energy to get my life back on track. Immediately, I got myself a job selling cheap perfumes. Through channeling my energy away from drugs and into my work, I became good at it—so good that I soon was promoted and had my own corner office, training new hires. Things were looking up, which tends to be the time when they all come crashing down.

Relapse and recovery

hands breaking out of handcuffsAnd come down they did. I focused so much on my work that I became a different type of  –holic: a workaholic. I placed so much emphasis on my job that it created stress and anxiety for me. This time, however, it wasn’t because I didn’t fit in. It was due to my work schedule. Then came the relapse.

It hit me like a tidal wave. A tidal wave of booze and drugs. Though my will was lost, my faith remained. My mother found me praying one night, sobbing with an empty bottle in my hands. We decided it was time for me to check into a rehab clinic.

Getting over drug addiction once was tough, but it was tougher the second time.

Regardless, I kept my faith strong the entire time. I never stopped praying and believing in God, and He never left my side. After my second recovery, I moved back to Colombia and started on my new path as a business owner and entrepreneur. I’ve been sober for 10 years now, and I’ve learned to find happiness in the little things. I exercise a lot, practice mindfulness and have a genuine passion for basketball.

God’s presence is still with me, always making sure I’m not tempted to have another drink. I’ve often pondered the question of whether or not I would’ve discovered the grace of God if it weren’t for my addiction. In the end, I learned to accept my past and keep moving forward with Him by my side.

How has God helped you get out of your hopeless place? Please share your story in the Comments.

Andy was born in Bogota, Colombia, but was raised in Los Angeles, California. He’s a recovering addict/alcoholic with nine years of sobriety under his belt. He spends his time helping others with their recovery and growing his online business. He is also an entrepreneur, the proud owner of Red Door Studios.

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