Submitted by: Jamie Thompson
I started using and drinking when I was 13. I didn’t think I had a problem for many years, despite a DWI, possession charges, and hitting a “moving tree” with my car. I didn’t realize how far things had gone until my best friends told me that they couldn’t go out with me unless I kept my cool. That was a defining moment. I knew something was wrong, so I stopped for a couple of months, but then went right back to it.
I am from Laredo, Texas, near the border, and drinking and using drugs is kind of the social norm there so I decided not to get help. There was a bar there that would serve anyone alcohol as long as you were able to reach over the bar. Life in such a small town made it harder to keep my mind off drinking and using.
There were a few times that I tried to get sober by going to 12-Step meetings in Laredo, but there wasn’t a good recovery community there. Then, in 2012, I was “volun-told” to go to meetings after I got my second DWI six months after I began living in Austin. I took that as the opportunity to find the help that I wanted. I was able to slow things down while I attended DWI probation and was forced to keep a breathalyzer in my vehicle for 18 months.
I have now been sober since October 2, 2012 by the grace of God and the people in the drug court. I knew that I would make a good change when my probation judge revealed to me that he is in recovery with 23 years sober. He shared his story and spoke of the 12-Steps and how I could be a better father, son, person, and employee if I worked the program. I was 29 and I didn’t want to go into my thirties as someone who was held down by drugs and alcohol for the rest of my life.
I started going to meetings and kept quiet for a while. Within three or four months, I started to notice little blessings as I relaxed into the program. I made a commitment to myself that I would work the program for eight months when I graduated from the drug court. I gave it 200%– I worked the steps and did things that were out of the norm for myself. I started to notice more and more blessings and before long, I graduated. I succeeded by going through the support of my counselor, probation officer, judge, and fellow peers that had all gone through the same thing as I was.
When I graduated in 2013, I was selling shoes, and now I work as a peer recovery coach at a non-profit organization. I work with women and men in recovery from drugs and alcohol. I can share my story of strength and hope there. The organization has a lot of resources to help individuals as they leave jails, treatment centers, and the streets.
I let my clients know I have been in their shoes by sharing my several arrests and car accidents that I barely survived. I let them know it is going to be tough but if they come meet with me and the other recovery coaches week-to-week, and month-to-month, they can start to build their life back. I have been there for over three years and I have seen many lives changed.
I was excited to be a part of the Austin Heroes in Recovery 6K because I used to be an avid runner. Now that I am the person who I used to be before I started using and drinking, people ask me what I do on the weekends. This time, I told them I will be running a 6K and they ask me, “Why a 6k, and not a five or a 10K?” I explained that it is because of that extra distance people in recovery must go every day.