One Simple Choice to Change

Justin JFeatured, Mission Weekly

Making the decision to enter Smith Lodge over twenty years ago changed the course of my life – and it continues to influence my life today.

A little over twenty years ago, I stepped into the modest hallway of Smith Lodge, a transitional housing program of Missions Inc., and I began the difficult journey that would lead me to the full life I now lead. A life that is brimming with happiness, people who love me, a wife and two children and a steady job that provides me with great satisfaction. I am challenged every day to keep this life, and I begin each day by acknowledging that there is one simple choice that keeps me on the sober side of recovery. I know that if I don’t pay attention, relapse can happen at the blink of an eye. And, because addiction is a progressive disease, should I ever make that choice to pick up again, I will fall very quickly back to the life of which I shed at the doorstep of Smith Lodge over twenty years ago. 

I was a stubborn man in recovery, resisting the advice of people who knew better than I the cunningness of my disease. It took many attempts before I was willing or able to “turn my life over” and I hurt many people in my addiction, people I had professed to love dearly, but who I had hurt nonetheless, so focused on chasing my next high that I couldn’t even consider the lasting damage I was doing.

Now, twenty years later, twelve steps taken over and over – and over again, finally listening to the people and professionals whose only interest in me was to see me succeed in my recovery, most of those people have forgiven me. I am a lucky man to have been given a second chance. Well, who am I kidding, with most of my family and friends it was the thirtieth chance. But, it was given, and it has lasted.

All because I had the courage to walk through the doors at Smith Lodge and ask for help in changing my life. 

Missions Inc. has many programs that assist people in their recovery, particularly people like me who had nowhere else to go. They also provide services to people in domestic violence situations. I will forever be grateful that these services exist. Without them I am afraid to think what my life would be like right now – if I even were to have had a life, so destructive was my use.

I want to thank Missions Inc. and especially everyone at Smith Lodge, including the former program manager, Sue J., for being at the starting point of my recovery journey, and for continuing to be there for the hundreds of people served every year.  There really aren’t other programs quite like this, so thank you for your commitment to helping those who would otherwise have no one. 

I urge anyone reading this to please visit the Missions Inc website to learn about how you can support these programs. It isn’t hyperbole to say that what they do is life saving. 

I know they saved mine. 

Justin J. is a former resident of Smith Lodge and a frequent contributor to the Mission Weekly Blog. Justin volunteers his time with his AA home group to bring AA meetings to the Missions Inc. Judy Retterath Withdrawal Management Center. He also currently sponsors three former Missions Inc. residents in Narcotics Anonymous. Justin believes that he can only keep his sobriety by bringing the message of recovery to others.