Matt: What’s up, everybody? This is Matt with Project Unbroken. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about the fact that I do not consider myself a drug addict. I’ve been off of heroin for about 10 years now. One of the major factors in me getting off of heroin in the first place was the fact that I didn’t want to consider myself a drug addict for the rest of my life. I’ll rewind a little bit. I’m sure if you’ve seen any of our videos in the past, you have a brief understanding of what Greg and I went through. Basically, substance abuse led up to heroin. That was kind of when stuff really got bad for Greg and for myself. It ended up ruining our friendship. We were best friends for years and we had to part ways because of it. It brought a lot of negativity into my life for a lot of different reasons. You can look back on some of our older videos to find out more about that.
I ended up going to an in-patient rehab center. Right off the bat, I was rubbed the wrong way because everybody in there was telling me what I did essentially scarred me for life. At least that’s how I was taking it. Because I found myself with a substance abuse problem, I looked at it like, “Yes, I need help to get out of this. I’m motivated to get myself out of this with that help, but I’m changing my life. I want to go back to being a normal member of society and living an awesome life.” I was really motivated and excited to turn over a new leaf and take a new direction. I ended up butting heads with some of the people at this rehab facility because I told them, even at that point, I don’t consider myself a drug addict. I know this can go against a lot of conventional wisdom as far as recovery is concerned, but I was dead set that I knew what I wanted and I was willing to make the changes that I needed to make in order to move in that direction. And I did.
I’ve been sober ever since leaving that rehab facility. I left before my time was up there, so to speak. I ended up walking home miles and miles and miles. It took hours, but I didn’t have a cell phone. I was not able to contact anyone to pick me up and rightfully so. I’m sure that a lot of people, obviously, want to get out of rehab, so they can go use again, but I knew the direction I wanted to go in and there was nothing that was going to stop me. I think, for myself, and this, I think, falls in line with a lot of very basic psychology, you are what you think you are. I talk about this in some of my other videos. At least for me. I’m just giving you my experience. For me, I wasn’t going to get very far if I kept looking at myself or referring to myself as a drug addict or as a heroin addict or as an alcoholic. I found that when I was doing that, I kept being that. I kept behaving like a heroin addict or like a drug addict.
When I reached that point in the rehab center where I said, “I’m not going to be that person anymore. I’m not going to use heroin anymore. I’m not going to use drugs anymore,” that forced accountability on myself for me to not behave like a drug addict or like an alcoholic or a heroin addict or whatever you want to call it. I had to act like a normal, functioning member of society. That’s who I became. When I met new people or started a new job or whatever, I didn’t want to have that lingering over me. It served me really well. For me, personally, hanging onto the label of being a heroin addict or being a drug addict, served absolutely no purpose at all. In my mind, I said, “This is who you want to be. This is how you’re going to act. These are the things that you’re going to stop doing in order to move in that direction,” and here I am. Now, I’m getting married here in about two weeks, I have a beautiful daughter, I have a successful business. I live day to day in a way that really makes me happy. I have freedom to come and go as I please, I find fulfillment from the work that I do, helping people get in shape and find a better level of health in their life.
None of that came from me thinking of myself or referring to myself as a drug addict or a heroin addict. I see a lot of times people in recovery are … It seems like they almost come up to a roadblock or a plateau where they’re unable to find true joy in their lives and I think a big part of that is because they’re still looking at themselves as if they are scarred from what they went through months or years ago. You’re not the person you were yesterday or last week or last year or 10 years ago. You’re not that person. If you want to make a change or you want to be somebody different, if you start right now, that’s who you are and you just stay on that path and that’s who you will be and that’s who you will become. You can’t live in the past or linger on ways that you used to behave or things that you used to do. It’s not you anymore. It doesn’t have to be you anymore. You can move forward and change all of that starting right now.
I see, a lot of times … Meetings, for instance, are great for a lot of people. Also, a lot of times, I think people will go in there and sulk in the misery of the way that they used to live or their regret and things that they have done in the past. I don’t feel that, for me, personally, that would have done me any good. I left the past behind and it was strictly moving forward. That’s still the way that I live my life now. Moving forward step by step and still moving in a direction of the person that I want to become. It’s a constant work in progress and that’s how, I think, you need to look at your life when it comes to recovery or when it comes to just being a better person in general. Don’t worry about what you did in the past, don’t worry about things that are haunting you from back in the day. If you need to make amends, I completely understand that, if you need to make apologies to people, I understand that as well. I think that’s very healthy stuff to do.
You need to get that stuff settled up, whatever you need to straighten out, straighten it out, leave it behind you, and start moving forward. Living in the past can be detrimental to us, not only finding recovery, but finding joy afterwards. I think that a big part of that is shedding the labels, shedding the stigma. We always talk about the stigma of addiction. A lot of times, the stigma is self-induced. Let that stuff go. Move forward. Again, this is what worked for me. If somebody’s finding positive results in whatever they’re doing, by all means, do it. But guess what? The traditional way of doing the 12 steps and the meetings and, “I’m a heroin addict, but I’ve been clean for five years,” it’s not working for a lot of people. If it’s not working for you, you might want to think about letting go of the past and just taking on a new identity, starting with a clean slate, and moving forward.
Anyways, thanks for watching, guys. That’s just a little bit of my opinion and a little bit of my experiences with finding success with recovery and then afterwards, moving forward. If you have any questions or comments, you know I’d like to hear them. I know this is a controversial subject. Hit us up in the comments section. Check out our website, projectunbroken.com. We have lots of videos out there talking about different conversations about addiction, recovery, all sorts of stuff. Again, thanks for watching and I look forward to talking to you guys soon. Take care.