s a mentor in the recovery field, the ability to pass on what I learned in my 12-step program to overcome addiction is both amazing and humbling. After everything I’ve been through, I am privileged to guide people to the right treatment and help them through the recovery process until they have reached a safe place. I observe simple spiritual practices like integrity, courage, forgiveness, and love, which, in turn, enable me to work with those who have different or difficult personalities. And through sharing my story, I forge a bond that inspires them to grow into a person of integrity too.
Creativity Through Play
When I first started going to yoga after recovery, I was drawn to the community aspect (that was not unlike my 12-step-program). But in my yoga community, people did not know my history. I was no longer the ‘recovery guy.’ This was both humbling and freeing. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically, it pushed me to keep growing into a more balanced person, someone whose identity was not simply being ‘in recovery,’ but someone who is a father, a mentor, and a friend.
My creative, ‘light-bulb’ moments come from down-times on the yoga mat, or with my amazing 6-year-old daughter. I jump back and forth from my yoga mat or play times and jot things down as they come to mind for my social media platforms or for speaking engagements. My daughter takes the lead on creativity and play and I take care of the adult stuff like safety and taking care of the home. I love encouraging her to try new things and move past her fears. She inspires me to play and relax.
In the years since I've overcome addiction, I have grown a lot. It’s taken some time, but I’ve learned not to take myself too seriously. I am so thankful that my daughter will never have to experience me in my addiction.
A Not-So Perfect Solution
I started smoking weed at the age of 15. By age 16, I was doing hard drugs like cocaine, meth, and psychedelics. I did all the things I said I’d never do. The truth was, when I used drugs, I became comfortable in my own skin, more social, funny and relaxed. Certain drugs made me more talkative (like meth or cocaine). Opiates helped me sleep. I found a drug for every occasion. They seemed like the perfect solution to my insecurities.
When I was 19 years old, I got into some legal trouble and went to my first treatment center. I was one of the youngest people there. The experience gave me a clear view of what my future could be like if I didn’t get my life together and tried to overcome addiction. The problem was, I was too cocky to grab hold of the wisdom that was offered. I didn’t believe I really needed help, and when I got out of treatment, I began to drink and smoke crack, meth, and everything else.
A Fresh Start
By the time I turned 21, I was shooting up every day. My health and life were out of control. The drugs really beat me up, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Depression, anxiety, and feelings of being a failure pushed me to attempt suicide several times. I remember waking up after these events, angry that I didn’t die.
Then, I was arrested and put into a county jail for thirty days facing two felony charges. During that month in jail, I was still taking pills and smoking weed. I was so positive that they were going to put me away for 5 years that I started to prepare myself by doing pushups and trying to get involved with a prison gang. Thankfully, my probation officer convinced the judge to let me into a federal facility for treatment instead. It was the new beginning I needed.
I learned that to overcome addiction you have to surrender. Personally, I had to surrender mindsets I had grown up with. My father stopped drinking when I was ten because he just “manned up.” But, everyone is different. For me, it wasn’t about ‘manning up.’ It was about asking for help.
Asking for help is courageous. For years, I struggled with asking for help because I didn’t actually believe people could get sober and truly overcome addiction. My mentor won me over by vulnerably sharing his own experience. Until he shared, I didn’t think he understood my history or circumstance. But he did understand. And if he could get better, I could too.
Helping Other to Overcome Addiction
In my recovery process, I discovered that it was a self-centered life that made me fall into addiction. My mentor told me that anytime I could ‘get out of myself’ and care about someone else it was a good thing, even more so when it was inconvenient. He gave me the chance to put this into practice when he invited me to share my story at a detox center.
When I shared my story, people received hope and help. This gave me a high in a way drugs never did or could. Sure, there were times it was inconvenient to go share, but I never once regretted it.
After a year of showing up at that center every single Sunday, they offered me a job. My life has never been the same. Today, I continue to share my story with the intention of inspiring others that there is hope for them too. By giving away what I have been given in my 12-step fellowship, I stay sober and encourage others on their journey to sobriety as well.
Taking OneStep Forward
You are only one step away from finding help. Take one of these 5 steps towards freedom Peter recommends:
1. Find a sponsor or a mentor: Peter found a mentor and sponsor helpful early in his recovery. Finding a person you trust to bounce ideas and feelings with will make this journey less lonely and more successful.
2. Build Community: Having a group of friends and people you trust to feel connection and share experiences and life with. Having fellowship gave Peter a sense of belonging and being a part of something bigger. Peter started a campaign and community if you'd like to link up and join the #1000hrsdry community
3. Have physical practice: Early in recovery, Peter was very fond of running and lifting weights, and then discovered yoga. Whatever helps you stay physically active and keeps the endorphins (natural high) going in your brain brings activity to connect with your body.
4. Be of service: The feeling of being able to help someone in any way either be BIG or small. Peter commits to helping others. Sometimes that means mentoring someone and sometimes it's just holding the door for someone. Getting in the habit of selfless acts is of huge importance to Peter. Because once upon a time he felt useless, and today he has a purpose.
5. Read this Book: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)