Substance Recovery: Mike's Story
My name is Mike Urpani, and I am a 41-year-old male who has been in recovery since June 8, 2018.
I was formerly addicted to drugs. I had grown up experimenting with drugs in my 20s and always dabbled with them, here and there. But from 2015 to June 2018, I went through a pretty severe drug addiction. I was at a place in my life where I was overwhelmed. Work was overwhelming, and I had a girlfriend who had serious medical conditions—no matter what we tried, she could just not get healthy. And that was when we started dabbling with drugs again.
At first it seemed to help her…but things escalated quickly and I soon found myself doing drugs I never thought I’d do. Towards the end of my 3-year drug spree, things got WAY out of control. I was having problems at work, I saw the terrible negative impact it was having on my girlfriend, and I also kept having near-death experiences.
The sad part was I didn’t even care. I no longer loved myself enough to care. The only thing I cared about was my parents finding me dead. After thinking about that, I remember praying and asking God to give me a chance to turn my life around.
Soon after that prayer my girlfriend had a near-death experience as well, and it scared me to the point that I was finished with drugs. I didn’t care what I had to do but I was really finished this time. And this was the first step of my recovery: hitting rock bottom.
I was so desperate to get sober I went to a 30-day rehab. While there, I started a 12-step AA program. I really felt like the 12-step program was a key part of my recovery. For me personally, many of the steps were easy because I already knew and loved God.
But the part that I found surprisingly helpful were the AA meetings.
Normally I would never go to any kind of meeting, mainly because I am very introverted and meeting new people is like going to the dentist for me. But being at the facility, I didn’t have a choice, and it allowed me to open up myself and also hear others.
Group therapy is powerful medicine. Every day when we had meetings there was always something that someone would say that would make sense to me and help me. “Recovery is one day at a time.” “If you want to get sober then your recovery has to be the most important thing.” “Recovery is just doing the next right thing.” These are some of the phrases that stuck with me and helped me to see light.
When I got back home I immediately started going to AA meetings even though the social part was so hard for me. I made myself do it because I knew that it would help.
I soon found myself a sponsor as well. For me, my sponsor was a God-send. He was the first person I met whose story was so like mine. He gave me so much hope because I could now see that if he did it then I could do it.
And finally when it was time, I started looking for a place to serve. In the 12-step program, service is a huge part of recovery. My sponsor really encouraged me to find something I could do every week. So being a member at Chase Oaks, I asked around to see what kind of service work I could do. Someone told me about the Harbor Program.
The Harbor is a support group program for teens who may have various difficulties in their lives. When they told me about the program I instantly knew, deep inside, that this was where God wanted me.
Being so thankful for my sobriety, I thought, “What a great way for me to give back and help others not make the same mistakes as me.” And for those who were headed in that direction I could give them real-life experiences and tell them that there are better ways to live life.
This school year is my third year helping in the program! I feel as though this program gives my life purpose and is the most important thing I do in my life. I love working with the kids and being a part of what God is doing in their lives. I love seeing lives changed for the better.
So as far as my recovery goes today, I still believe it is just one day at a time and that it is only by God’s grace that I am still sober. I am very thankful for my sobriety and could never see myself going back, but I am smart enough to know anyone can relapse. That’s why it’s so important to give back and keep your sobriety.
For more information about the Harbor and other Care groups, look here. For a list of some local community resources supporting addiction recovery, including AA, look here.