Recently, Lakeview Alumni alumni Matt, sat down in the men’s dining room at The Star of Lakeview to share his experience with addiction and his story of recovery. In this testimonial, he gives us insight into what life was like before his time at Lakeview Health and details which factors and events led him to seek substance abuse treatment at our facility. Matt also offers his advice to people struggling with addiction and anyone that might be considering seeking treatment at a drug and alcohol rehab. Read some of the memorable quotes from the testimonial below and watch the video to see all of Matt’s story of recovery. “I was, you know, burning all the bridges with my family, with friends. I was stealing things… pawning anything I could. I couldn’t keep a dollar in my bank account, you know… I was always calling out of work. It was like… um… the absence of serenity.” “The other day, I stopped to wish my friend a happy birthday– he was like my best friend… and it was at a cemetery. He didn’t see 26.” “The therapists at Lakeview Health were really good and they helped me to start to deal with some of those emotions because I didn’t know how to. I would just shut down. I couldn’t express to you in a healthy manner how I felt because I would just get angry and then not talk to you.”
My name is Matt Ward. I’m from Syracuse, New York, it’s upstate, but I’ve lived in Florida for about 12 years now. I couldn’t tell the truth at all. Like you know, normally when you lie there’s a motive behind lying. But I was just lying to lie. And I would start believing my own lies. You know, some people would call that insanity, and that’s pretty much what it was. I was you know, burning all the bridges with my family, with friends, I was stealing things, pawning anything I could. I couldn’t keep a dollar in my bank account. Always calling out of work. So it was like the absence of serenity. I think just the pain got great enough where you know, my family was distancing themselves from me, and we had always been you know, like a really close tight-knit family. And so you know, seeing that separation happen it was kind of like I just like, snapped out of it for a second. Because you know, when you’re in active addiction you really, you don’t have a moral code or anything like that. I think it was for me, I was just like backed in a corner and I was just like, “This is no way, no way to live.” I mean it’s just, it’s a death sentence essentially is what it is. It’s not, there’s no quality of life there, you know. And you know, suicide was starting to look really good and I had attempted it before and so you know, I wanted to live. I wanted to live like normal people. I’m super blessed in the aspect of my mom like works with addicts and alcoholics and so she’s in the addiction field. And so I know a lot of people, their families don’t understand like, “Why are you doing this?” And they think it’s like a will power thing and you know, “You were such a good kid, what happened to you?” But my mom you know, she understands it because she studied it. And my father was actually an addict, and alcoholic. And so she understood it 100%. So she immediately started calling treatment centers and everything. So she heard really good things you know about this one. So I got on the phone, I remember I spoke with this guy, Mike. And I was talking with him and so eventually I just got in. Like I think it was like a few days later. One would be like the organization and like structure routine. Cause normal people, like they wake up and they make their bed and you know, they go about their day and they have like a structure. Where when I was using, there was no structure whatsoever. It wasn’t “I’m going to do this and this.” There was no planning. So they helped me with the planning aspect. Also, one of the huge things was to deal with my emotions, or even to recognize them. Because you know, when you’re in active addiction, I mean I started drinking when I was like 15. And so emotionally I was stunted, and the therapists here were really really good. And they helped me to like, start to deal with some of those emotions. Because I didn’t know how to, I would just shut down. I couldn’t express to you in a healthy manner, how I felt, because I would just get angry and then not talk to you. That’s pretty much it, or I would just walk away. I wouldn’t even want to deal with it. And so, it was really tough, but it was good to finally deal with some of the things that I hadn’t dealt with for my entire life. You know, they’ve just always been at the back of my mind. And so, like I said, it wasn’t easy, but they definitely helped me with that and I think that’s a lifelong thing is to learn how to deal with. You know, everyone loses it once in a while, but you know now I think they kind of nurtured like that seed. And now it’s starting to grow to where I can actually tell people how I feel. Probably repairing the relationships that I once had. And I think in recovery you really realize what’s valuable in life. Because you know, I was one of those people where I didn’t realize the value of it until I didn’t have it. You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. And so now I have much more of like an appreciation for those things with my relationship with my family and my friends. And so, I think I’m most proud of sticking with the basics. Because I think that’s really important, the basic things that they teach you initially. That’s like building a foundation, you know a house is only as good as its foundation. So I think I’m most proud of just sticking with that. Cause I had always been the type of person to you know, “Let me try this thing for a little bit.” And then give it up. And then try this one thing for a little bit and then give it up. And I knew I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to this time, because my life was really actually depending on it. That it’s not going to be as scary as I thought it was. I was super super nervous coming in. First of all, I kind of felt like the new kid on the block. And all this emotional stuff is happening and you know, you’re in this like daze. One of the cool things that I noticed is like three days after I had been here, I felt like I knew the people, like the patients for like a really long time. I think it’s cause we share like these core struggles and we can relate on like a different level. And it’s something that I had never, like a camraderie that I had never experienced before. So I wish someone had told me, like it’s not going to be as bad as you think. And I think I went into it with the right mindset. So I think that helped out a lot. You know I wish someone had told me that at times it is tough. It’s not always easy. I wish everything was as easy as it would be in my mind. But some days are tough, but I have like the tools and the people to help me through life. And I think people that use these tools, they can have a happier and healthier life than most people. It all boils down to dealing with my emotions and dealing with whatever life throws at me. You know, if someone had told me that it might have made me feel a little more calm, cause I just didn’t know what to expect. This was my first shot at this so I had no experience in this, in this whatsoever. It was just kind of rolling with the punches I guess. Well for someone that’s struggling, I would advise them to seek help you know, immediately because you never know when it’s going to be too late. And I was one of those people that was always like, I didn’t realize it until it was too late. Like the other day I stopped to wish my friend a happy birthday, he was like my best friend all right, and it was at a cemetery. And he didn’t see 26. And so, you know it’s little things like that that hit you how serious this disease is. I mean it’s life threatening. But what I would tell someone that’s coming into treatment is, to do it for yourself, because this is one time in life where it’s okay to be selfish. You need to do this for you, you can’t do it for a husband, a wife, a friend, you know your family to get your family off your back. And I get that, but it’s in my opinion, it’s just not going to stick as much. You need to do this for you because your life depends on it. You know if you go, you always have another relapse in you, but you don’t always have another recovery. And so I think people need to really be aware of that. And you know, if you go back out, you might last years or you might last a day. You know you just don’t know. And so you just need to do it for you. Because you want to live the life, not a death sentence and everyone’s life is valuable. Whether they see it or not. Because I’ve been in the mindset where you don’t think your life is worth anything, but it is, it is.