I remember my first day after prison like it was yesterday. I was so excited to get back out into society, to replace my old addictions with healthier new ones. I had just received a new job opportunity selling perfume and really believed I was able to lead a normal life again.

After years of abusing drugs and lying to my loved ones, you would figure that I was ready for a change. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that the path to recovery is not smooth & paved. It’s a rough and rocky gravel road with twists and turns at every corner.

At first, I was quite successful with my new sales job. I was grinding hard, learning all of the subtleties of making the sale while earning some solid money in the process. I soon became obsessed with success, so much so that it led to a relapse. The stress and pressure I was placing on myself by setting unrealistic standards led to my downfall. I realized quickly that replacing one addiction with another was not the solution for my sobriety. I determined that I would need to make dramatic changes in my life, truly earn my sobriety, and surround myself with positive habits and people in order to survive my addictions. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you how I did it in hopes that my story can help you with your own addiction struggles.

Flashback to the year 1993. I am 5 years old and making the move from Bogota, Colombia to sunny Southern California with my family. I was born in Bogota, but my parents decided to uproot our family and move to California due to the violence and uncertainty present in Colombia at the time. A world of opportunity had been opened for my brother and me, and I am eternally grateful to my parents.

Growing up in a Colombian family provided a near perfect childhood. The concept of family is extremely important to us, and we always enjoy getting together and spending time with one another. Family gatherings are a way of life. I can clearly remember Aguardiente, the alcoholic beverage of choice in Colombia, being a mainstay at these family gatherings. One night when I was 8 years old, I decided to sneak a few sips of some of the clear liquid that I always saw the adults enjoying at our gatherings. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the taste, but I certainly enjoyed the feeling the alcohol provided. I had officially taken my first step towards addiction.

A few years later, I decided to try Marijuana. I was 14 years at the time. It was certainly a case of peer pressure getting the best of me. From there, I abused alcohol and Marijuana throughout my adolescence until the age of 18, when I discovered cocaine and meth. The path towards the darkness of addiction continued as I began selling drugs to keep up with my habits. I was eventually arrested at the age of 23 on drug charges. I received two and a half years of jail time.

That jail time was a crucial turning point in my life. The boredom of confinement led me to serendipitously start attending alcoholics anonymous meetings. Before long, I was receiving real inspiration from other people’s stories at the meetings and had nearly bought into the process for recovery. Unfortunately for me, it took bouncing in and out of rehab for a few years to finally realize that it was up to me to make the changes and decisions necessary to get sober.

As I mentioned earlier, after my stints in prison, detox process and rehab, I tried to replace my substance addiction with work addiction. This led to a harsh relapse that was almost too large of a burden for me to bear. It was one of the toughest periods of my life. Luckily, I never gave up on going to AA and NA meetings. My sponsor was there for me during my time of need. He inspired me to pursue a passion versus an obsession and convinced me to take a class at the local college. The class was Introduction to Website Development, and it changed my life forever. I became extremely passionate about learning how to design websites. I locked myself away for hours on end, studying and researching my new passion.

After my research and discovery phase, I eventually decided to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors with my new interests. Hard work and determination have provided me with immense success with my business and with my sobriety. I have been sober for over nine years and currently own a successful digital marketing agency that allows me to work on something I am passionate about every single day. One thing that was a constant in my recovery story was always going to meetings and trusting the process. Every up and down have provided me with valuable lessons and reminders about what it takes to commit to recovery. I have been extremely lucky with regards to my sponsors, family, and friends being there for me when I needed them the most. Recovery doesn’t have to be a battle fought on your own.

I hope my story has inspired you to stay positive and take steps towards sobriety. Have you ever had a sponsor that changed your life for the better? Did you find my story inspiring? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts!