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Client Testimonial : When I walked into Recovery First for the first time

When I walked into Recovery First for the first time, I was broken. When I left 42
days later, I was hopeful. I truly planned on staying clean and becoming the woman the
staff showed me that I could be.

The shame I felt when I relapsed was worse than I could have ever imagined; I
didn’t feel ashamed, I felt shameful. I believed that I let down everyone who had worked
so hard to help me. Those feelings kept me high for over a month, until in desperation I
reached out for help. I was too embarrassed to call anyone who might know me, so I
called the hotline and left a message. Within minutes Chris called me back, with his only
concern being my safety. Hours later, I walked back into Detox with my head bowed,
grateful that it was nighttime so I didn’t have to explain myself to everyone. I felt like a
complete failure and I just didn’t know how I was going to explain myself.

The next morning the first person I saw was Paul. I expected disappointment and
anger but I was greeted with a hug instead. Shira and Paul spent an entire morning sitting
in a room with me trying to explain that if I wanted to live, I needed to go to long term
treatment. I was resistant to the idea, to say the least.

Later that afternoon, alone in my room, I got to thinking…why would two
directors spend their entire morning talking to me? What was their motive? It took me a
long time to realize that their reason was that they care about me and their motive was
saving my life. They easily could have just sent me back to the residential program, got
paid by my insurance, and called it a day. However, they were not willing to do that
because they knew that I needed more help. They weren’t at all concerned with making a
profit; they honestly and sincerely wanted to do what was best for me as an individual.

The Recovery First staff loved me when I could not love myself and now they were
determined to save my life when I was willing to throw it away. I realized that since I did
not have my best interests at heart, maybe it was time to listen to someone who did. The
minute I showed the willingness, everyone was eager to help me. I realize now that there
is no shame in coming back, in fact the shame is not returning at all.

Over the next few days Chris worked diligently to find me the best possible place
to go for long term treatment. He made numerous phone calls, talked to a ton of different
people, all for the sole purpose of helping me.

Today I am getting ready to leave Recovery First. I am very nervous but also
excited. I am confident in my decision to continue treatment because I am finally
listening to those who know what is best for me. The Recovery First team has developed
this plan for me, and because I fully trust them I am going to go forward and put my
heart and soul into my treatment and my recovery.

Before coming back into Detox, I felt like I had no purpose in my life. I was
merely existing, not truly living. However after watching people like Shira, Paul and
Chris over this past week, seeing the passion that they have for what they do, I realize
that I want to be exactly like them. This isn’t just a job for them; they are truly saving
people’s lives. Someday I want to do for someone else what they have done for me. That
is my goal and the purpose that I am going to strive for.

Thank you for saving my life.

{Clients name withheld}

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

A Clients Poem: Why Do We?

Why Do We?

Why do we live in the past
And only dream of the future

Why do we hate the past
And fear the future

Why do we repeat our past
Instead of inventing our future

Why do we forget our past
Instead of thinking of our future

Why do we embellish our past
And tell of our great plans for our future

Why do we avoid the past
And dismiss our future

Why do we let our past ruin our lives
And think the future will do the same

Why do we give our past power over us
And let our future remain silent

Why do we do all these things
When all we need to do is live for today






About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

I am leaving Recovery First Residential Treatment

Today, I am leaving Recovery First residential treatment. I have been here for 36 days and I am proud to say that I successfully completed the program! This is my 14th treatment center in the last two years and the only one I’ve successfully completed.

When I came here, I was completely broken; all I knew was that I didn’t want to live the way I was living anymore. At first, I really didn’t want to be here at all. I felt that I knew everything that treatment could teach me, I didn’t think there was any more I could be taught. I couldn’t have been more wrong. No matter how many treatments you have been through, whether this be your first or your 20th, please remain teachable. That was extremely important for me.

For my whole first week I promised myself every morning that I would stay for another 24 hours. I just made myself a promise that I wouldn’t AMA that day. Just one day at a time is how I made it through my first ten days here. Then something happened…I began to enjoy myself. I was happy for the first time in a long time. I felt safe here and that was huge for me because prior to coming here I lived a life of chaos and misery where I was constantly unsafe. Remember that attitude is everything, especially while in treatment. One of the best things I did was remain positive. I did that by hanging out with positive people when I felt down.

It is okay to struggle, but when you are, surround yourself with people who can bring you up, not tear you down. When you are having a bad day, remember where you were before coming into treatment and I promise you that you will realize that your worst day in treatment is still a thousand times better than any day on the streets. Reach out to the staff and your peers and they will help you through your negative feelings. Use the resources you have available to you and learn all that you can while you are here at Recovery First.

Focus on your recovery; do not get caught up in the gossip and childishness that occurs in treatment. It will be there, but you don’t have to be part of it. Groups can be redundant, but it is important to stay in group and practice self-discipline because you never know what message you might miss when you walk out.

The staff here is absolutely wonderful; they are the main reason that I stayed here an was able to complete this program. They kept me safe when I didn’t know how to. They cared for me when I wasn’t able to. Most importantly, they loved me when I couldn’t love myself. Listen to them; they truly do care about you, do yourself a favor and let them help you. Complete this program; don’t sell yourself short by leaving early.

Lay the foundation for your recovery here and go on to be the person you are meant to be, you are worth it!


{Clients Name Withheld}

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

But You Don’t Understand, I Am Injured

Client TestimonialI am an addict and my name is Chuck {Real Name Withheld}. When I came to Recovery First, I was 46 years old.  I had been married for 23 years and had two beautiful teenage daughters.  I had a great house, cars, etc. From the outside, everything looked perfect. On the inside, however, my addiction had taken over my life.  Just a week before Christmas 2008, my youngest daughter called the police because I mentioned a gun (while I had my hands in my pocket in the shape of a gun) totally convinced I had a gun!  The next thing I know I had a visit from my local SWAT team and NO, I did not invite them to my house. They proceeded to take me to the hospital and then to jail. I don’t remember much of what happened or had taken place… All I knew was that I did not like where I was. Just before the New Year, my wife and sponsor came to the jail to see me. At that time, I had to ask my wife if the charges against me were actually true. I then had to ask for help. She searched for a recovery program and that is how I found Recovery First.

In January 2009 , I was released from jail and someone from Recovery First picked me up directly from the jail parking lot. After stopping and having the first real cup of coffee in over two weeks, he dropped me off at RES. There I went straight up to Animal House but due to my injuries, I did not stay there very long. That same morning while lying in bed with my head spinning, another caring employee moved me to A1 and then took me to my first group. This is where I shared, “they don’t understand, I am injured”. I proceeded to let everyone know that I had rods, pins, screws and a cage in my lower back and that I needed ALL the meds that the pain doctors had prescribed to me. I learned in group and with the help of my counselor, that I did not NEED the drugs but that I WANTED them. By doing the work in the two workbooks provide to me, I learned that it was my addiction that was telling me what I wanted but NOT necessarily what I needed.

With having my back injury, I had to work closely with the Nurse. I had to admit to her all the drugs that I had been taking for my injury. She was able to help me understand again, that this is what I wanted and not what I needed. She set up a program to help me gain weight and how to manage my pain with non-narcotic pain meds. For this, I am forever grateful.

During my stay, it was not all fun and games. I was the oldest guy there, so I thought I was the boss. I ended up getting into a confrontation with another client. I had one week to go and was still ready to kick someone’s ass. One of the Techs helped me realize that it was not the client that was the issue but it was my disease. Through her actions, I stayed in the program.

Many of the employees helped me feel a sense of calmness with their words of encouragement. They talked to me with such kindness and compassion. Even though they had no idea what my journey was to bring me, they made me feel as if I could do anything.

There were many life altering things that occurred while I was at Recovery First. One of those life altering experiences that has burned into my soul was  a kid I met  there, Steve {Real Name Withheld}. He went through the program with me. When he got out of the program, he went back to Jersey to get his stuff to move here to live his sober life with all his sober support.  While in NJ, he found dope in his safe – used it – and DIED.  That’s how I learned about impulse control. Still think about him today.

Today, four and a half years later and still clean, I am very involved in the Recovery Community. I attend at least 5 meetings a week and I LIVE the 12 steps even subconsciously!  I am still married and my daughters are still beautiful.  They are just a little older now.   My youngest  saved my life by calling the cops on me that day.  I am retired but have a full time job volunteering in the Recovery Community.  I am living a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Thank you to Recovery First, for showing me another way of life!

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Recovery First Testimonial

A Recovery First Testimonial –

I grew up as an only child. I always felt as though I was missing something and as though I didn’t fit in. I spent my life trying to be like everybody else, and not knowing who I really was. I believed I was the person that I portrayed myself to be. In my early years in high school I started experimenting with drinking and drugs. I finally felt as though I found the cure to all my problems. I no longer had anxiety when speaking to people and felt as though I was one with everybody else. By the time I was 17 I was using on a daily basis. Opiates were the only thing that made me feel at ease with the complications of life. I always felt as though I didn’t have a problem because I was still “successfully using”. I was engaged to a beautiful woman, traveled a lot including going to the Bahamas and Cancun, paid my bills, took care of my godson every week, was enrolled in college, etc. Other people were telling me and my fiancé that we had a problem, but we were living in a fairy tale, as though everything was alright. And on the outside, everything seemed alright but on the inside I knew what I was doing was slowly killing me.

By the time I was 21 I had already attempted and failed at multiple suboxone maintenance programs and decided that methadone would be the cure for our addictions. However, that just made things even worse. For a year and a half my ex and I were on a methadone clinic and drinking profusely as well as still using opiates from time to time. Towards the end of my methadone maintenance my ex and I split up and I lost everything; my godson, the “love” of my life, and the appearance that everything was ok. I quickly spiraled out of control and ended up in Florida at Recovery First.

I completed treatment but had no intentions on getting clean, so I got out and continued to live that lifestyle that I thought “made me happy”. However, happy was far from what I was. I was lost, scared, and alone.  Drugs were the only thing that made me forget all my emotions and worries. I did the Fort Lauderdale halfway shuffle and moved from place to place trying to “get it together” but the effort was never honestly given. I ended up living in hotels and a crack shack on Sunrise Blvd and decided that what I was doing wasn’t working.

I called Recovery First and asked for help. They came and got me that night and I started on a new journey. I sat and I listened but I still didn’t comprehend that I had to change everything. So after my thirty days I was discharged and was high that night. The next day my halfway caught me getting high and sent me back to Recovery First. I was extremely resentful and angry. Didn’t these people know who I thought I was? So back I was, exactly where I had started a year and a half prior, except after slipping up a few times, something finally clicked. I didn’t know how to live my life successfully without the use of drugs and alcohol. I was visited in my room by multiple staff of Recovery First who told me it was time for me to make a decision. It was time to try something different or it was time to go.

I finally decided to give this recovery thing an honest effort. I was finally honest with myself and with my therapist and started working on changing myself. I stayed in treatment for a total of six months this last time at Recovery First and it saved my life. It most definitely was the best decision I have ever made. I made plenty of mistakes but I also took suggestions. I finally did what was asked of me and I finally started feeling better about myself. I completed treatment and went back to the halfway were I spent my one day free at.

I now have a year clean and am the director of those halfway houses. Things have never been so good. I am working on a career, I get to help people on a daily basis, and I finally feel good about who I am as a person. So as long as I continue to follow suggestions and do the next right thing, I know that there is no stopping me and what I can accomplish. I owe all of my success to the wonderful staff at Recovery First. They honestly loved me until I could love myself, and never gave up on me, even when they had every right to. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help and guidance of Recovery First, and for that I am forever grateful.

A beyond satisfied … {Name Withheld}


About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Hi Everyone, My Name Is…

Hi everyone, my name is {Name Withheld} …I am a thirty one year old “grateful” recovering alcoholic. I put grateful in quotes because that’s how I live day to day…I stay grateful!!!!

I grew up in Massachusetts, I had a great childhood, a great family, dog, bike, etc…I spent my winters skiing in the Mountains and my summer camping there too. As you see I left out school.  I never got into school and school never got into me.  I always wanted to do things my way “my will”.  I had issues with kids in school who didn’t? That wasn’t the root cause of my problems.  I was a happy go lucky pot smoker up until my mother was diagnosed with mental disorders. My family fell apart. The one thing that was always constant in my life was gone. Here’s when the shit really hit the fan. For those who know me I’m sorry for the language it’s in my native tongue (Boston).

Happy go lucky went right out the window, and in flew a breeze of sadness and loneliness I wish upon no one.  Here’s when alcohol and “self will run riot” really kicked into high gear.  I clung on to anything, everything, and everyone I could. Not the brightest of my ideas. Here I became fixed on other people’s lives, their accomplishments, their defeats and I would drink to them.  Always afraid to look at my “self” and what I was doing, most importantly what I wasn’t doing.  I clung on to friends/girlfriends families for dear life only trying to find what I had lost. Keep in mind that I still had a loving supporting father who to this day has been there for me through porter and pilsner (thick and thin). Sorry for the pun but alcohol runs in my veins it always will, the minute I forget that I will return to my “self will riot” or death. See I drank myself into a cesspool of “self” pity, “self”-destruction, I keep putting “self” in quotes because that’s how I ran my life. Me Me Me…

Hotline at Recovery First

Over the course of seventeen years there are plenty of war stories that I can share with you in hopes to have someone new reading this relate to my story but that’s not my style. Relate to this I am a blackout drinker.  Relate? good keep reading…..

I found Recovery First while swimming in the deep end of desperation. My life was over! I woke up in the ICU with all sorts of tubes and machines surrounding me…This was the END.  I had no more fight left in me. I couldn’t drive this Mack Truck of destruction anymore. I spent three days talking to people in Detox about further treatment. Someone suggested Florida. I was weary at first considering I had lived in Sarasota for three years only to find a much deeper cesspool there. But after considering my other options…Wait what options? Death/Jail. Yea I’m all set… So to the phone I went.  I spent two days trying to get a hold of a treatment center. Anyone who’s been in a Detox that shares three phones between thirty people knows how aggravating it can be trying to get any sort of business done on the phone… I say business because that’s what this is, recovery is my business, it’s a job and every day I go to work…It instills a sense of retirement. Which to me retirement means peace. Peace of mind, body, and soul. Somewhere I feel comfortable with me, for the rest of my life…

 The urgency of this awaiting phone call from somewhere that could help me was overwhelming… The phone rang and I sprung up as it was Christmas morning and I as 5 years old waiting to see what Santa had brought me the night before.  I remember the sense of calm I got when this sweet voice said “Is this Chris?” I replied “Yes did you find me a place” she said “I am the place” CALM, SECURITY, these things I felt.  There was light at the end of the tunnel… We spoke for a while and she spoke with my father who by the grace of god was still in my life and willing to help me. I was on a plane the next day.  I did not know where I was going but that was the last thing on my mind. I was getting help. Funny I came into Recovery First with a surrendering attitude until my disease woke up there.  My disease fought daily for weeks. I apologize to all the staff for having to put up with my disease. It wasn’t until “I” took control of “ME” pushing away my disease to let people help me that I realized how much easier it is to live life than to fight it. I spent over a hundred and twenty days at Recovery First and I do not regret one second of those days.  This program saved my life, the people here took me in with open arms and changed who I was into whom god intended me to be. For anyone reading this who may have just come to Recovery First.  The longer you fight the less help you will allow yourself to get; you may not have the chance to get four months of treatment like I did. It’s your life you have choices…The choices we make define who we are…

In closing I wish all who read this the same sense of serenity and love that this program has given me….

And know that there is light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dark it may be right now, there’s always light…

God bless

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

An Anonymous Alumni Story

Anonymous Alumni Story

I grew up in a loving middle class suburban family.  In my youth, I tried very hard to be liked.  Too hard.  I started smoking pot at 14.  Cigarettes and alcohol soon followed that same year.  I can remember asking people outside the store to buy liquor for me and my friends.  It wasn’t long before I found a gas station in the ghetto that would save me the step and just sell it to me.  My friends and I would drink on weekends at the beach.  Often one of us would drink so much to become violently ill.  Before long, I was drinking at lunch time.  I would go hone and fill my water bottle up with vodka and keep it in my locker.  There was no reason for this; I just wanted to ‘feel better’.  I also started drinking after school on school nights.  I would sneak out my window and go the local night club on Thursdays for ‘rave night’

After high school, I enrolled in community college.  I had no interest in going.  I would go through all the motions…get dressed, pack my books, drive to the school and pass it to go to the beach to get high.  After getting kicked out of school the second year I had to get 3 crappy demeaning part time jobs to pay for an apartment and my drugs of choice.  I used more because I was so unhappy and the cycle of destruction continued.  I was arrested twice. My mom thought I was going to end up dead so she came to my apartment and said I can come home only if I live by their rules. Which meant no outside contact with anyone, give my paycheck straight to them and ONLY go to work.  This lasted for a year and I couldn’t take it.  I left while they were out.  Things settled down for me –relatively speaking.  I got a reception job in a hotel, met a role model in the hotel business and started to do well in the field.  The ‘role model’ introduced me to my next drug of choice-coke. It was recreational at first, sharing what was in the house I lived in, then I had to have my own at parties, then I started using alone and during the day.  More and more was never enough.  I would disappear for days.  I experimented with MDNA, meth, ketamine, GHB.  Those came and went but the coke was ‘my ole friend’ my life was punctuated with what should have been good events that I ruined with usage.  No one around me knew how much and how often I was using.  I was a master at deception.  Getting away with it only made me feel worse, I was suffering alone.  Overwhelming feeling of guilt and shame.  It consumed me.  I could barely sleep. I would steal from close friends, disappear, drive while using, and many other things. I had been warned my relationship would end if I continued.  I didn’t care.  I left my house even after having to beg just to stay there.  I was so blinded; I was willing to sacrifice my home, my relationship for another night of wasteful & selfish behavior. I only wanted more and had stolen money and just needed to meet someone downstairs.  I was locked out, had nowhere to go.

I had found myself wandering the streets in a zombie like state I walked til my legs cramped.  I knew I couldn’t just walk back in my house and act like nothing had happened, I knew I had crossed the line for the last time. So I went to the roof of my garage and stood on the ledge for 6 hours.  I honestly thought I’d be better off dead.  I was too weak to even follow through.  It was only 6 floors so I wasn’t sure if it would do the job I needed it to do.  I wanted so badly to be caught by someone up there, ANYONE, a security guard, a neighbor, the police, the fireman.  ANYONE?!?  No one came and the sun was high in the sky, so I came down.  I called my mom. I knew she would have the answer, she told me to go to the hospital and tell them where I had been. I was baker acted and sent to a detox.  I thought for sure I would better in there. I was released. I was told to go to a rehab.  I said I’d call, and I did, didn’t get an answer so I figured it wasn’t MY fault I could get help (crazy)

I would always say I would slow down but never hold to it.  Every time was always the last time.  I couldn’t get the smallest foundation to build off of to even try to experience a normal existence, for I had no idea what that was. I fell hard again and found Recovery First.  I was leery at first but I loved hearing stories of people who are just like me.  I was building a foundation of clean time that I would build off of. This gave me hope. I never had any clean time at all to build off of so this is all new.  I came completely honest with myself.  I was prescribed Ativan in detox and was told to surrender them to RFI.  I did but kept 5 for myself. Then like fate a graduate told a relapse story of how she left clean needles ‘just in case’ she used again.  She knew they were there so she relapsed.  I knew those pills I had saved were my next relapse.  I was honest and told Recovery First.  We had a ceremonious flushing down the toilet for those five pills.  It felt great to finally practice honesty. I was leery about going to meetings and getting a sponsor.  Now I find it absolutely necessary. It reminds me daily that this takes work. Talking about it daily keeps it fresh in my mind.  I am starting to relax now.  I was watching a TV show that was showing someone in the morgue.  I had a conscious thought of ‘I’m glad I’m not there’ after that thought, I was surprised.  I had never ‘wanted to be alive until now and it is all thanks to Recovery First.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Recovery First Testimonial

I googled Rehab/Beach. I figured if I was going to go to a treatment center again,22nd one, I wanted to go somewhere nice. I clicked on “Recovery First.” I knew l needed help, but l wasn’t willing to make the call. l emailed Recovery First. Within ten minutes l got a phone call from Davis. Jim stayed on the phone with me for about an hour. He listened to me. He made me feel like l was important. Later that day, August 9th, 2009, l was on a plane leaving my small town in Virginia and heading to detox in Fort Lauderdale, FL. On August 15th, 2009, l stepped onto the campus of Recovery First. l was met with love. From the community, from the tech staff, from the administrators. Love. l started crying as soon as I got there. I knew something in my life was going to be different. Everything that was asked of me, I did. “Do extra writing assignments,” I said “ok.” “Move into Animal House,” I said “ok.” “Go to a halfway house,” I said “ok.” Recovery First showed me the tools I needed to stay clean/sober, it was just up to me to apply them once I left.

I completed the IOP program and became highly involved with service work­ l got a sponsor,worked the steps, and before l knew it, a year had gone by. Every Sunday evening for that first year, I brought a speaker into Recovery First. l had moved out of halfway and into my own place. My life was getting a little better every day. l still didn’t have a driver’s license, and l still wasn’t paying all of my bills, but l was sleeping at night and l wasn’t ashamed of myself when l laid my head down.

Next week I will have 3 years clean/sober. My life is amazing. I now work in the treatment community. Next month I start school for my CAS. I drive a car that I paid for. I’m completely self supporting. I live in a nice two bedroom apartment so my mom has a room of her own when she comesto visit. Last Christmas I took her to my office Christmas party. In April I took my father to Wrestle Mania, and the next night I took my sister to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. When I arrived at Recovery First, no one in my family was speaking to me. Recovery First is where my journey began. I know for certain that I would not be where l am today if I hadn’t that phone call from Jim Davis…

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More