This is My Story

Chris Hardegree

By Chris Hardegree

I’m an alcoholic and my name is Chris. My sobriety date is May 8, 2005. I have been employed at Summer House since November 2005 as a Behavioral Health Tech. I never saw any hope when I was using drugs and alcohol, but, I am here today to tell you, “There is Hope.” All you need is a desire to stop drinking and/or using. I really don’t need to tell an alcoholic or an addict what it is like when you have reached your end. There is just an inherent feeling that if I could just stop breathing and cease living, everything would just be okay. That is how I felt the last days of my using, except, I had already ceased living and was only existing. I had pushed away those closest to me. I had alienated myself from those that loved me. I had become an empty shell of a human. I loathed what I had become. One day, help was offered to me and I accepted. It seems that those countless prayers asking “God, help me” had come true in the form of an intervention. That is when my recovery from alcohol and drug addiction began.

I was born into a great family. I am the youngest child of seven. I had a “normal” childhood. We were not rich, but, my parents worked hard to raise us. We had everything that we needed and a lot of what we wanted. Most importantly, we had love. So, where did things go wrong? I really can’t tell you. I just know that I never felt secure with myself. I had low self-esteem and never felt like I fit in. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. That is what I remember as a child, teen ager, young adult. It wasn’t until I started drinking and using drugs that I felt that feeling. That feeling I had waited my whole life to feel. For many years I used “successfully.” Then, it stopped working. I would go for the next few years just using to “not feel,” to be “numb” to everything around me.

The intervention occurred and I entered into a drug and alcohol treatment center. I was scheduled to be there for 30 days. During the first few weeks I had put on weight, began to feel better, and said that they were going to have to kick me out because I really was enjoying being a client. Due to my thinking that certain rules didn’t apply to me, the treatment center did ask me to leave early. I left there with resentment and within 30 minutes I was drinking. I drank for about a 24 hour period and I had this rushing feeling overcome me. I knew I couldn’t drink anymore. I remembered what I had heard during treatment, “go to meetings.” That night I went to my first 12 step meeting after leaving treatment. I was welcomed and when the meeting was finished I was given a list of names of the men that were at the meeting along with their phone numbers. Then I was told to “come back.” I continued going the meetings, a lot of meetings. I took the suggestions of the members, got a sponsor, and began working the steps. My life began to change. I began to feel comfortable with me and being who I was. I had self-esteem. I completed working the steps and began practicing them in my life. Things really began to change for me. For once in my life I was genuinely happy.

Through divine intervention I landed a job here at Summer House. I wasn’t looking for a job in recovery, it just happened. And I couldn’t be happier. I had worked in construction my whole life until I began working here. There was a big difference in the way that I felt when I woke up in the morning. Instead of having to go to work, I got to go to work. I had a purpose. I could make a difference. I still feel that way today, 11 years later. Being a behavioral health tech requires performing a wide variety of job functions; from being the first contact a patient has when entering detox during intake to taking out the trash and stocking the refrigerator. Taking vital signs every four hours and answering the telephone. Sometimes it may be as simple as just listening to a patient that needs to talk, or sharing my experience, strength, and hope. No job is too big or too small. The most important is to make the patient feel comfortable and to treat them with dignity and never look down on them. Every patient deserves the opportunity to get clean and sober while being treated like a human. They are somebody’s son, daughter, mother, father, husband, wife, etc. I treat them as one of my family members.

The reality of this disease is that it will kill you. I have had contact with many people that have died as a result of this disease. My own sister is one of those people. We alcoholics and addicts are not bad people, we are sick. However, with proper treatment, recovery from this disease is possible and each addict or alcoholic deserves that opportunity. If you or a family member wants that opportunity, I am here to help as are my coworkers. We will work harder for your recovery than you will.

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