At Vertava Health, we see first-hand the heartbreak and pain that addiction causes every day. When one person suffers from addiction, everyone close to them feels the weight of their struggle. However, we also know that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Not every addiction story has to end in tragedy. With an estimated 23.5 million adults living in recovery today, a life of purpose and opportunity is possible after addiction.
Kyron is just one of the many people currently living a fulfilling life in recovery. He’s also the alumni coordinator at our Mississippi campus, Vertava Health Mississippi, formerly Turning Point. Now three years into his recovery journey, Kyron opens up about losing his fiancée, reconnecting with his mom and pushing himself to grow in his recovery.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Kyron and I’m the alumni coordinator at Turning Point.
When I’m not working, I involve myself in the 12 Step recovery program. I love to participate in the meetings in any capacity that I can. I’ve worked as a sponsor and helped around 20 people through the 12 Steps. Other times, I only have time to make the coffee for a meeting, and that’s okay. Whatever I can do, I do.
I also really enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and I’m thinking about going back to school- but that’s still up in the air.
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How did your addiction start?
It started on New Year’s Eve in 1998 when I was seven-years-old.
There were jello shots in the fridge and I had about 12 of them. From that point on, I did everything I could to try and find what was in those jello shots.
How did it progress from there?
As a seven-year-old, I obviously didn’t know what was in the jello shots. However, I heard people saying that there was vodka in them.
So I got really good at watching where my mom stored the alcohol in the house. Then, I learned how to climb everything in the house so I could actually reach all of the liquor. If my mom tried to hide it, I would try even harder to find it- and I usually did.
I would do anything to get my hands on the alcohol.
Unfortunately, my mom was in an extremely abusive marriage when I was younger and I was a byproduct of that. She was also suffering from an alcohol addiction at the time. There was a lot of tumultuous things going on in my childhood, and I definitely turned to substances in order to cope.
Every time something bad happened, it caused me to drink more.
What was your breaking point?
When I was 23 years-old, my fiancée at the time died of a severe asthma attack. Her death caused me to spiral.
I ended up in about 12 different mental institutions and tried to kill myself 39 different times.
There was a moment during all of this that I realized I needed to change my life. I wasn’t even thinking about getting sober at this point. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I needed to do something differently.
So I called my roommate and I asked him to help me out. I had to detox at my house. After that, I gradually started to get sober and things started getting better for me.
What do you think has made your recovery so successful?
The complete understanding that my recovery is the difference between life and death. There is no between for me. I have to remember that if I start drinking again, I will die.
There is still hurt along the way, but I can now grow through the pain instead of reaching for a drink.
What lessons have you learned as you’ve grown through those difficult moments?
I’ve had to learn how to feel all of the painful emotions that I had been numbing with alcohol for all those years in active addiction. Not only that, but then I had learn to cope will all of those emotions without alcohol.
It’s been incredibly difficult, but one thing that keeps me going is my relationship with a higher power. I also surround myself with people that love me- my support group, my girlfriend and especially my mom, who is five years sober.
I’m so lucky to have these people around me that truly support my recovery, and it makes all the difference. They encourage me every day to do the next right thing.
I’ve also learned to accept that I am human, and I will make mistakes. But, I can keep moving forward positively if I learn from them. That’s how I continue you grow.
What sort of things do you do to keep pushing yourself to grow?
I’m challenging myself to pray and meditate three times a day. I got away from my religion during my addiction, so I’m trying to cultivate a relationship with a higher power again.
I’m also looking at going back to school for business law, which would be a huge step for me. It’s been on my mind for a while, I just need to do it.
The world isn’t always going to challenge me, so I have to take the right steps to challenge myself.
What was it like trying to reconnect with your mom after getting sober?
It was…interesting. I knew my mom loved me, but I also knew she had this hesitancy about me.
She was sober long before I was, so for her own sobriety, she had to disconnect with me. My mom told me that she could only be there for me if I was sober- which I understand now. I was at a point where I would only accept her help if it benefited my addiction, and that wasn’t healthy for either of us.
Now that both of us are sober, we have an amazing relationship. Having both struggled with addiction has definitely brought us closed together.
How do you balance your recovery goals with your everyday tasks?
I understand that I will have to make sacrifices in order to prioritize my recovery, so I try to set really clear boundaries with the people in my life.
When I’m busy sponsoring others, people know not to contact me. My girlfriend and I have a specific day of the week set aside just for us to spend time together.
There’s a lot going on, but my recovery remains my top concern.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself in recovery?
That I’m not the person I was before. I can be whoever I want to be, and I have control over who I am.