I have been very fortunate to know Devin since October 2012! We became friends very quickly, and I am quite thankful for my friendship with Devin! We have been blessed to be a part of a group called Young People in Recovery (YPR). Devin was actually one of the founding members of YPR when it was just a couple young people getting together in New Jersey to see what they could do to help maximize resources for this disenfranchised group. Devin is so full of vigor and love. He carries ambition and compassion in all he does. He helps others every step of the way, and I am so grateful he was able to sit down with me and answer some questions for his Heroes story.
I’ve been on my recovery journey since I was 20 years old. I just turned 29 this past April. The biggest positive change in my life since starting on this path to recovery has been how finding God has allowed me to see beyond my own personal limitations in life, dream big and sit back and watch as I achieve those dreams while putting one foot in front of the other. When I am living life actively in recovery, my dreams become reality. I’m not just staying abstinent; I’m changing who I am. I’m identifying negative thought patterns and learning to change them so that I stop existing in a vicious cycle where I am constantly reacting to feelings that I don’t want to feel.
This time around (I have been in and out of active recovery since I was 20), my recovery was a life or death situation. God intervened in my life when I was arrested in November 2013. The problem is that I live with a chronic disease that tells me that I don’t have a chronic disease. This creates a huge internal battle when I am not consistently working on maintaining a balance of mind, body and spirit. I have always needed recovery. Even before I picked up alcohol at the age of 18, my endless search to find an external solution to my inside problem kept me from ever reaching the potential I was always told I had.
The turning point came in December while I was in treatment. I relapsed in August 2013 and went into treatment for the fourth time in my life in November 2013. For the first 30 days of treatment, I was angry and incredibly hurt. I was actively engaged in running from the shame and guilt I felt about having been arrested in November.
My turning point happened when I went to church. Honestly I went to church because I heard they made awesome bagels. That first day I went, I had a moment of clarity and realized that my resistance to facing my shame and guilt head on was what would literally kill me. That day I had what I call a spiritual awaking. The moment I moved just a slight bit back towards God, He was given the opportunity to rush back into my life. That moment is the type of moment I believe all people deserve to have, the chance to understand that God never left you, you simply moved away from God. I live with the chronic disease of addiction, and if I am not surrounding myself with a positive community of people, consistently working on myself, giving of service to others, staying in touch with a mentor or sponsor and actively implementing spiritual principles in my life, I am more likely to live miserably and be closer to death than I ever want to be again. I am most proud of the fact that my desire to live a fulfilling life today is stronger than my desire to die.
The largest struggle I face today is consistently remembering that perfection is unattainable because it isn’t real, and my pursuit of perfection is yet another manifestation of my addiction. Searching for external validation for an internal dilemma keeps me sick, and unless I actively engage in my recovery process, I will not see any real or lasting change. Living a self-fulfilling prophecy based on my own self-destruction is not a necessity today. Today I can manifest my own path with the guidance of a power greater than myself. I have a community that supports me, and I am putting one foot in front of the other.
In recovery I had the opportunity to work with the Office of the National Drug Control Policy to help show that recovery support services interconnect with the United States National Drug Control Strategy. I was also afforded the opportunity to complete my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work while in recovery. My involvement with founding and running Young People in Recovery as their first executive director is a source of pride for me as well. Today I’m particularly proud of my insistence that I define myself by how I live rather than what I do.
The recovery “saying” that rings the most true to me on a daily basis is: “Don’t stop until the miracle happens.” It has been the best advice I ever received, hands down. I find it imperative to let people know that until they begin to deal with the shame and guilt that surrounds and supports the negative beliefs they have about themselves, their joy and freedom will be limited unnecessarily.
My name is Devin. I’m a person in recovery from drugs and alcohol since November 2013. Recovery has given me the opportunity to be a better son, brother, friend, family member and member of my community.