I’m Saul, and I have been continuously abstinent from alcohol and other drugs since January 17, 2007.

As a kid I was happy, engaged and very sociable. I was also eager to impress adults and my peers. As I grew older, I didn’t respond well to the vicissitudes of life: each new change felt like something done to me. As I became more disengaged and confused, I looked earnestly for distractions and solutions. Drugs worked on both fronts. They gave me a buffer I felt like I had lost in adolescence. Pain, sadness, fear were still there, but they no longer inhibited me. Pursuing that buffer came at tremendous cost. Accompanied by two siblings on a similar path, my family was rocked and torn apart. I dropped out of high school and compounded my investment in poor choices.

Life carried me along and I skidded in and out of sobriety several times. Pauses in my using got me into college and good fortune saw me through graduation, albeit with some hiccups and hepatitis C.

I used anything and everything I could find, but opiates – whether heroin, morphine, or its synthetic analogues – gave me the greatest balance between peace and consciousness. My last overdose came from a doubled methadone dose as I waited for a bed in a hospital treatment center. I count my sobriety date from ten days later.

This new path has been immensely gratifying. I’ve forged fast and immutable friendships. My partnership with my spouse is more sophisticated, challenging and rewarding than any relationship before my sobriety. My work has seen me, and my sobriety, travel to some very interesting places to associate with some very different people. Major professional reversals, financial uncertainty and the deaths of friends and a sibling have done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for recovery. The life I now lead would be impossible without abstinence from substances, the support of throngs of people, and a resolute commitment to embrace the world before me. I have not found any situation that would be improved with a drink or a drug. Not one. I’m just a single person on this journey, but there are countless like me, and I’m grateful to know some of them.