When you ask little kids: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You will probably never hear the answer “happy.” You will most likely hear kids say the president, a firefighter, or a police officer. However, fast forward a few years and their minds are likely to change.

Our society forces pressure on us to find a successful career. But success isn’t calculated by how much money we make or what car we drive. Of course, having money is awesome, and I have never seen anyone not happy on a jet ski, but life is all about balance and being happy and content.

My story of happiness is different than most.

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Growing up, I was generally a delightful kid who could always be found smiling. However, I sought happiness in a different kind of way. Getting in trouble, stealing, and running a muck was my idea of a good time. As a teenager, I found happiness from drugs and alcohol. Being under the influence felt good. It made me feel at ease and happy for the first time. I sought the feeling that drugs gave me and tried various substances when others stopped working effectively. These methods were the perfect solutions to my problem–the problem being myself.

It was a long, painful road to sobriety, but at nineteen I hit rock bottom. I was miserable when I was sober and even more sad when I was using. The drugs stopped working even if I double or tripled my dosage. I knew I had to do something about it but was too afraid of a life lived without a vice. To cope with every situation, I ran to drugs or alcohol. Whether the condition of my life was bad, good, or great, I turned to drugs. But I knew I couldn’t live like this anymore. After an emotional meltdown, I admitted myself into a luxury drug rehab center, and it was there where I learned how to live without drugs and alcohol.

I always thought to ask for help meant I was weak. However, I soon found that seeking help was a sign of strength. There were many times in my life where I thought I could get sober without any help. I found it impossible and nothing is worse than breaking promises to yourself. When I was finally ready to accept the fact that I couldn’t get and stay sober by myself, I sought treatment. The initial steps I took before treatment were as followed:

• Realized I needed help and I couldn’t live like this anymore.
• Called someone I trusted to help me find the right drug rehab.
• Took direction for the first time in my life.
• Avoided socializing with anyone who used drugs or drank alcohol.

In the rehab center, I experienced genuine happiness for the first time in a very long time. I laughed more in the one month of treatment than in over five years of using drugs. After all, laughing is the best medicine right? When I got home, I joined Alcoholics Anonymous where I found friends in my same situation. I slowly started recovering from this disease of addiction, and my life was finally coming together.

Life goes on and just because I am sober does not mean everything is hunky dory, so I learned to live on different terms. Since I have been sober, people have died in my life, I have been through bad break-ups, and there have been other traumatic events happen. I handle situations differently now. To numb myself from pain, I used to get intoxicated to the point of oblivion. Now I have I have other vices such as calling my friends, exercising, or helping someone new in his/her sobriety.

Today, I know the true meaning of happiness. My family members trust me again; my friends are supportive, and I have genuine relationships. How did I achieve this level of happiness and contentment? I help others whenever I can and never say “no” to someone in need. Community service of any kind is the secret to a happy life. There is always someone who can use your help. Being humble enough to step outside of yourself and helping is up to you.

I am grateful that I can use my experience of getting and staying sober to spread a message of hope. There is no greater feeling in the world than helping someone who is struggling.


Ben Emerling is a content writer based in Metro Detroit. Blogger by day and avid sports enthusiast by night, Ben uses his creative writing skills to help others achieve sobriety at www.monarchshores.com. Having previously interned for 12up, Ben dedicates himself to health, wellness, team sports, and living sober. Check out his sports articles, and say hi on Facebook.


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