Jim is the elected alumni president for Gracepoint-ACTS Drew Park residential recovery. He didn’t campaign. He is honored just the same. He calls it, “staying in touch with my roots.”
“When I first moved out, it was a little nerve-wracking. The group here (Drew Park) is now all new. It’s important for them to see somebody else doing the deal, being happy and living a good life. At our last meeting, a resident said, ‘There’s a lot of hope in this room.’ Hearing that was good for my recovery,” Jim said.
Trained as a heavy equipment mechanic, Jim is back in school learning automotive mechanics. The Army veteran volunteers at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in the spinal cord unit. He spends a few hours each month helping new alums set up housekeeping and routines as they leave Drew Park.
Jim had been sober for 16 years when he began drinking again as he turned 38. His drinking continued for 25 years. In 2011, law enforcement took him to a hospital where his blood alcohol test scored 4.56—a level that could kill.
“I remembered I’d lost my brother two years earlier to chronic alcoholism. I used to think I drank a little,” he said. He could not justify his drinking to himself anymore. Jim went to the VA in Tampa and then Drew Park. “I finally did what people suggested I do. It’s simple. It’s not easy.”
Jim is grateful for every day. He spends time each morning in peaceful meditation or prayer. “I’m not as irritable. The most common characteristic of an addictive personality is defiance—you don’t get over that in 30 days. It’s the long-term process that works,” he said. Having that time given to him at Drew Park made the difference.
Jann Bouchard, LMHC, Drew Park program manager said every Drew Park resident smiles all the time when they get it. “They own it! Many times our residents tell me they thought going to meetings would be enough. At Drew Park, they have the time and freedom to practice being sober. To sponsor. To do the steps.” And, they learn proven ways to cope with their drives once they move on.
“Just wait until you see the resident holiday party. Our alums and the recovery community attend. It’s amazing!”