Alumni Spotlight: James
My name is James (aka Shaky J) and I didn’t start using alcohol or drugs until freshmen year of college. Born and raised in New Jersey, I was big into sports and staying active at all times. This helped to keep me in line and away from drugs and alcohol. After college, I played semi-pro football in Philadelphia. After that, I stopped being active and was at the bar every night hanging out with friends drinking and smoking pot. After landing a very well-paying job, I moved out of my parent’s house and bought my own home with a friend. This is where I started to experiment with pills and other drugs. The pills are what I really got hooked on.
After losing my job due to stealing and getting in trouble with the law, I realized that my everyday life revolved around getting high or drunk. I knew I had a problem and needed help. I then moved to south Florida where I went through a couple of treatment centers, but still wasn’t ready to call it quits. I moved back to New Jersey for a few months and later ended up in Jacksonville. I was without a job and relying on my girlfriend to support me while I drank and used heroin every day. Finally, I was caught on all of my BS, drinking, and using and was checked into a hospital. By the grace of God, I was told by the doctor that I was going to Lakeview Health for medical detox and treatment. To this day, I am so grateful for the decision that doctor made for me.
On April 1, 2016, I arrived at Lakeview completely worn out – all skin and bones – weighing only 170 pounds. I was shaking so bad from withdrawals that I couldn’t even carry my own tray or drink from a cup without it spilling all over the place; that’s when I gave myself the nickname ‘Shaky J. During my time at Lakeview Health I didn’t hold back. Working with the great staff, I was able to open up like I never had before. Not only was I getting help from my counselors, but also from techs, nurses, other clients, doctors, and pretty much any staff member I spoke to. I didn’t miss any groups, even though sometimes I really didn’t feel like going. I really wanted to get it right this time and tried my best in everything that I was asked to do there. I learned so much about myself and how to deal with different emotions that I didn’t know how to handle without numbing myself from reality. I got back into working out within their wellness therapy program and ended up putting on a healthy 30lbs for the 5 weeks I was there. I was given a number of workout programs to continue doing to get myself back into being active again. Being active was something that I always loved doing before getting involved with drugs and alcohol.
After leaving Lakeview Health, the aftercare program lined me up with a wonderful sober living situation that fit me perfectly. They gave me options and allowed me to visit each one to see which worked best for my current situation. Something I really learned at Lakeview was that I needed to surround myself with others who have similar goals in life as me. I developed great relationships with many staff members while there, whom I still stop by when I can to see them. I also attend support groups and alumni events set up by Lakeview where I’ve met many great friends and expanded my network that just keeps expanding with every event that I attend. The more things I put in myself and a drink or drug, the better the chance I have at staying sober. I practice the principles of a 12 step program in all my affairs while working with others and strive to be the best person I can be each and every day. It has taken a lot of time and practice, but I can proudly say that I love who I am today and am very grateful for each and every day that I am blessed with.