Sober in Florida: Real Stories of Recovery
When people think of Florida they may envision sun, sand, Disney World, and alligators. But did you know that there is also a lot of high-quality and ethical addiction treatment in the state? Beyond being a vacation destination, people come to Florida from all over the United States to reclaim their life from the grasp of drug and alcohol addiction. People can and do recover from addiction. And when they find recovery in Florida, many people decide to stay in Florida. Not only for the weather, but also because of the extremely large, vibrant, and supportive recovery community that exists. Through our Sober in Florida campaign, we are excited to highlight just a small fragment of the amazing addiction recovery that is happening throughout the state. Following you will find some inspiring and thoughtful real-life stories from women and men who are in recovery, and claimed their recovery while in Florida. These are personal stories; everyone will have unique experiences on their path to sobriety. These recovery stories may contain behaviors or information about substance use that is triggering. Please use your own discretion.
I had several years sober but because of a series of life changing events I found it difficult to remain so and was stuck in the relapse revolving door. I had never been to rehab before and since I lived in Kentucky I looked in Kentucky and Tennessee, but they either didn’t have a spot or didn’t accept my insurance. Stepping Stones came highly recommended so that’s where I ended up. After rehab, I went back home but in 7 months I decided to move to Jacksonville. I have had the best sobriety in my life with all the support groups and others to help here in Jacksonville.
After a long period of darkness in my life, it only made sense to brighten my life back up in sunny south Florida. The recovery world and support that is available down here is astronomical. Meetings at all times during the day and even late night meetings on the weekends to help with the weekend warrior mentality. Florida’s natural beauty offers many different ways to explore meditation. Whether it’s walking through nature parks, riding an airboat through the Everglades, or playing volleyball on the beach, the beauty here in Florida has helped restore the beauty in me.
November 12, 2013, was the day I hit my first bottom. My husband at the time told me to get out of the house and not come back until I went to detox. He handed me my insurance card and I went to my mom’s house. The first number I called was Stepping Stone Center for Recovery. I surrendered and checked in for 42 days!!! When I got out I was a new person. I plugged into AA and did everything that was suggested to me. That worked for almost a year. But once everything started going good again I got complacent. I stopped using the tools I was taught while in treatment. Eventually, I relapsed and things got bad very quickly. This time around I had no insurance and no money due to my drug use. I lost custody of my children. Thankfully I hit the bottom sufficient enough for me to want to get help and thankfully there were people to help me. I was given so many wonderful programs that I truly believe changed my life!!! I had to work hard, very hard!!! But I did it and I’m happy to say I have been sober since April 2, 2016. I have an amazing job that I love. I got married again in April to the father of the son who was taken away from us by DCF who, by the way, we have custody of again as well as our other kids. We are both sober. The difference now is that I know I cannot put anything ahead of my recovery. I use my tools, I have a sponsor, I work the steps, I do service work, and I go to meetings. We both do. We also both work our own programs. It doesn’t matter where you are! You have to want to get sober. If you don’t, you won’t. Simple as that!!! I grew up in Jacksonville and I went to treatment in Jacksonville and I’m staying sober in Jacksonville.
For me, my recovery took a major turn when I got involved with the young community in Jacksonville. Being a person who always isolated, I felt that the sense of camaraderie was something I needed to continue once I left Lakeview. There are numerous YPG (Young Person Group) meetings throughout the area and there are countless events for me to get plugged into. Although the Young People Groups certainly know how to have fun, what helped me the most was the continuous support and unconditional love I receive and express towards the community. I now have a diverse network of people across, not only Jacksonville but throughout Florida that I can refer to as my extended family.
The girl I was before Lakeview Health, compared to the woman I am currently, are two completely opposite people. A dear friend said it best during my coin out, “You came in here a feeble deer and are leaving a fierce lioness.” That is something I will never forget. I was merely just a lost soul, aimlessly living with absolutely no purpose. In a nutshell, I used for ten years, since I was fourteen years old. I was addicted to drugs, alcohol, and men. I experienced many forms of abuse from every type of relationship in my life. I loved the chaos, I needed the chaos and I could not escape from it. My spiral began almost a year ago. September 29, 2016, I had an ectopic pregnancy, a couple of days after my last overdose from a suicide attempt. At that point, not caring about my life would have been an understatement. It became a game of how far down the rabbit hole I could get. Six months later to the day, I took my first flight and traveled from North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida. My sobriety date is March 29, 2017 – the day that my life became a miracle. Ironically, like every woman addict, I could not stand women. I thought I was going to a co-ed facility. It is quite laughable how intoxicated I was making the phone call to get into treatment that I did not realize I was going to an all women’s facility! Yet, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I was shy, I was angry, I absolutely did not want to be there. After about six days of being at The Rose, I cried, cried some more, and could not stop crying. For once in my life, I was surrounded by an immense amount of love, from women. Some of my best friends are from my time at Lakeview Health. There are not enough words to describe my thanks to the staff for giving me such an amazing experience. They wanted me to succeed in my recovery and truly wanted the best for me. I was given numerous resources for this new journey of mine by the staff. I was open-minded through every group, from trauma therapy to stress management to our nightly meditation. I was guided by every staff member, and in their own unique way, they helped to save me. On the one-year anniversary that started this last spiral, I will have six months clean and sober. The credit goes to Lakeview Health for picking me up from the floor and showing me how to walk again. Through them, I found a sober living program that has become my home for the past three months. The network of recovery in Jacksonville, Florida is beyond incredible! Honestly, I never imagined having a life where I feel I deserve happiness and love. Today, I find myself telling others that, as I share my experience, strength, and hope through this program. I lean on my sponsor and my AA/NA community, work the steps diligently, and go to meetings every single day. The most humbling part of my week is when I go to Lakeview Health on Wednesdays with my sponsor and sponsee sisters for the in-house meeting. I was once one of those ladies sitting and listening to a speaker, patiently waiting all day for that meeting. I always wondered what it was like to be one of the women who came in to speak or sit with the speakers. I wondered what it felt like to be able to be sober for more than a couple of days and to go back into the world after our meeting. Now I know, and the gift of sobriety is so beautiful.
My experience at Lakeview was phenomenal! It was especially helpful in regards to the medical attention as well as overall hospitality from the staff. As far as the recovery community in Florida, there are lots of opportunities to make meetings and find people of all ages and demographics to relate to. Plenty of sober fun and fellowship in Florida if we’re willing to put ourselves out there and are open to new experiences.
Michelle & Bruce
We are husband and wife. We came to Lakeview Health in early March for treatment with issues with alcohol, benzos, and opiates. We received the best care possible, and against what Lakeview thought would be the best for us we chose to go back home to Las Vegas. We resumed our normal life yet our addiction haunted us and we fell into a quick spiral downwards towards destruction. We were desperate and if we didn’t do something now we knew one or both of us were going to die. Having to call Lakeview and tell them that we needed to come back was the hardest call we had to make in our life. We both thought that we would be judged because we didn’t listen to what our therapist said would be the best for us and going to sober living. In treatment, it was hard enough that I didn’t get to see my husband or he didn’t get to see me as much as we wanted. We knew that we had to focus on ourselves but still it was hard. We also knew that Lakeview said the only way we could come back for treatment is if we went to sober living. We didn’t argue because we knew this is what we needed so we can save ourselves. On June 4 we packed our suitcases one more time and leaving Las Vegas and saying goodbye and heading towards Jacksonville, Florida for treatment. We completed treatment and we started our new journey together (with a little bit of separation.) We are in two different houses, but we see each other at IOP and during the week. Sober living is showing a lot of support and love without the chaos of roommates who are all battling addiction. We go to meetings together, we eat dinner together, we do activities together. I know being in sober living is what Bruce and I both need right now because we need to be able to gain the strength so we can once again live together and be strong enough to live by ourselves, to trust ourselves. Being in sober living we all hold each other accountable and if one person were to feel weak we are a community and we’re always there to talk and be there for one another which is extremely important in early sobriety. I can’t stress how important it is to change the people, the places, and things that you hold onto because if you don’t let go and change those you might fail. I’m happy and this is the happiest I’ve been in a very long time. Thank you for listening to our story.
I came to Florida specifically to go to treatment, and I moved here specifically for recovery. I had tried recovery in New Jersey, where I am from, but it just didn’t work for me. The beauty of South Florida (besides the weather!), and especially Delray Beach, is that it is a haven for the recovery community. Everywhere you go down here you’ll find someone that is sober. That being said, any area with a large population of recovering addicts and alcoholics is going to have a lot of still sick addicts and alcoholics as well as people who prey on them. For a sober person with the right mindset, someone who actually wants to recover, you’ll encounter little of the latter types. For the ones that come down here because it’s required or because mom and dad sent them, they’ll probably find the drugs and/or the people who want to take advantage of them. They say it in the rooms all the time, “wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” And it’s absolutely true down here. But the truth is, Florida is full of people willing to lend a helping hand … you just have to let them.
As a young person who has been on the journey of recovery for years, and traveled the country in the process, I can say that Florida’s recovery community is exceptionally strong. It has been there for me through many difficult times in my life. Honestly, it’s helped mold me into the man I am today. Regardless of where the future takes me, my recovery is inextricably linked to the Florida community.
My name is Sean and I am an alcoholic. I have been fighting with that for a long time. But I finally realized that I am an alcoholic and cannot drink or use any drugs. The twelve-step program in Florida I attend and the people in that program has helped me realize this and are helping me move forward each day. I used to think that getting sober would be boring, but since this time and actually working the program I learned I was wrong. I have met some awesome people and can have fun doing just about anything. That’s from being in recovery in Florida and learning how to live differently, and just having a peace of mind and knowing that things will work out. As we said, people can and do recover from addiction in Florida. We are so proud of each and every one of these amazing individuals for the work they have put into their recovery and to see them thriving in life! If you’d like to share your experience, strength, and hope, email [email protected]. You can also share on Instagram – just use #SoberInFlorida and tag @lakeviewhealth.