Dustins’s Story


Hello, my name is Dustin S. and I’m an alcoholic. I have a sobriety date of April 14, 2022. I have a sponsor, a home group, a working knowledge of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and a support group. Most importantly, I have a higher power in my life today who is not me.

My story is quite simple and not unique. I spent most of my childhood in a single-family home with my mother, who did everything she could to give me what I needed and wanted. My father had remarried and had his own family, so I visited mostly on weekends. As a child, I had a lot of feelings of being less than, forgotten, abandoned, and not cared about or important. I held these feelings as truth back then, although I know today it was far from that.

I was always a shy and anxious person, and I still am today. Just wanting to fit in, I hung out with the troublemakers and class clowns, people who made me feel welcome. I had my first drink at the age of 12 with this group of friends and got very sick. I also know that in the moments leading up to the sickness, I felt “free” – free from all those feelings I told you about. And from that point on, it was “what’s next?” And that’s exactly what I went on to find out.

My addiction progressed rapidly, as did the legal troubles.

My addiction progressed rapidly, as did the legal troubles. Within 3 years, I was court-ordered to AA at the age of 15-16. I was introduced to a room of people I thought were out of their minds. I’m a teenage kid who hasn’t even begun to live life yet, how could I be an alcoholic? It just didn’t make sense.

I am now 33 years old and have learned a lot of very hard and costly lessons about addiction in the past 20 years. That juvenile court judge knew back then what I refused to believe. I had a severe problem. My addiction had completely changed my moral compass and who I was as a person. I’ve always known right from wrong, and as my addiction progressed, those “lines” began to diminish. Right and wrong became after thoughts. All that mattered was Dustin getting what he needed to get so he didn’t have to feel. It didn’t matter who I hurt along the way or how anyone else felt about it.

I have visited many jails, treatment centers and even prison throughout my addiction. None of that stopped me. My beautiful children could not stop me. I took anyone or anything in my life for granted. I caused so many years of pain and trauma to everyone around me. It was not until I finally hurt enough people and hurt enough myself that I faced the facts. I finally surrendered to the fact that I am indeed an alcoholic.

In April of 2022 I had finally had enough. I’d caused enough pain for the ones that unconditionally loved me. And I’d given more of myself to my addiction than I had to give. I was completely empty of anything resembling “alive”. Because I’ve had many attempts to get sober in my past, I knew what I needed to do. So, I called Rosary Hall detox and asked if they had a bed.

They had told me to come in the next day, and so I did. I thank my higher power for that little bit of willingness it took to walk through those doors that day and give this thing a shot. Prior to my detox visit it was suggested to me that I needed to go somewhere after detox. I tried to put up a fight but ultimately, I knew they were right.

I could no longer be ignorant of the fact that I absolutely need help. I cannot think nor listen to myself any longer. These people gave me a number and said call this number and they will help you. That number was to the Ed Keating Center. I called, I was told to come in and although my mind told me I did not need to do this, I did. I was full of fear and very anxious.

Although I had been through treatment before, this place was different.

At 7 days sober and still very sick, I walked into the director’s office at the Ed Keating Center and said I need help. Without hesitation, this man said go get your things and get back here. Although I had been through treatment before, this place was different. It was a fresh approach to recovery I had never experienced. One I very much needed.

For me, the Ed Keating Center gave me what I call a real-world approach to recovery. I had never experienced this in other residential treatments before as all of them are considered “lock down” facilities and have no real-world exposure integrated into them. The Ed Keating Center reintroduced me to AA as it was mandatory for us to attend meetings every night. It was also mandatory we obtain a sponsor and highly suggested we start working on steps and building a support group.

Once I got through the initial fight going on in my head that I didn’t need this, I began to listen, and I hit the ground running. I obtained a sponsor; I built an amazing support group of men and women, and I began working steps. I found a home group and that remains the same today. The life I have today is completely the opposite of the darkness I grew accustomed to all those years. AA and the Ed Keating Center taught me how to be responsible. Held me accountable, taught me how to be a friend, a parent, and how to love.

I’m far from a “perfect” AA and I fall short almost daily. But with this program and the people I have in my life today willing to help me, I get to continue to work on becoming better and grow. If you’re an alcoholic or addict out there reading this, I just want you to know that a different way of living is possible. It sounds very cliche but I’m still going to say it. If a mess of a person like me can do this thing, you have a great shot at achieving the same. Thank you to my higher power, thank you to Alcoholics Anonymous and thank you the Ed Keating Center and its staff, I am forever grateful!

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