JJ’s Story

What was it like?

All fabulous and fun gay guys drink like I do. Or at least that’s what I told myself. When I came out at 21, I told my friends they could find me at the nearest gay bar. Little did I know that for the next 15 years, that’s exactly where I was, around the clock. From one city gayborhood to the next, my drinking went from weekend brownouts to drinking around the clock, day after day, year after year. To keep myself from blacking out and becoming a complete embarrasment, I turned to drugs as a way to control and manage my alcohol intake. Jobs came and went after college, but my drinking was consistent. Eventually I would stumble into the nearest watering hole at 8 am begging for a drink, or buying enough to stay at home and lock myself indoors. Until the day came I had no more indoors to rely on. Homeless on the streets of Portland, I became a troll of my disease, begging and stealing any chance I could to keep the one thing I thought gay men needed to be fabulous.

What happened?

To get myself off the streets, I once more turned to my parents in Alaska for help. They always bailed me out of scrapes. This is the last time, they told me. To show I was serious, I checked into Alaska Addiction Rehabilitation Services, Inc. in 2006 and there I stayed for 9 months. I was introduced to a 12-step program that saved my life. I found people just like me. Gay, straight, male, female — sober people. These people became my rock and my guide through a new life I knew I wanted but had no clue how to keep.

What is life like now?

Today I’m still sober and taking others through the same 12-step program that got me sober. I had a few slips over the years, but happily enjoying over 5 years of sobriety now. That same treatment center that saved my life and took me off the street is now my employer. I am their director of marketing and development. I get to tell other client’s success stories in the hopes that someone still suffering might get help for themself.