July 15, 2011
It was 2006, and from all appearances, 31-year old Seth seemed to have everything. A native of Marion, Indiana, he was married, the father of two young children, and earning a six-figure salary as the vice president of a finance company. “At the time, I liked the work,” he says. “I thought by making as much money as I could it signified having a good job.” And then Seth quit – his job, his wife, his kids, everything. “In June of 2007 I left to go and get sober,” he says.
An accomplished athlete and student, Seth played baseball at Butler University, while earning a business degree, also finishing law school. While at Butler, Seth was in a car accident. Between the painkillers he received and medication he took to ease the panic attacks he’d had since high school, Seth gradually became addicted to the medications. He increasingly isolated himself from his family, spending his days sleeping or locked in his basement. “I was a total non-entity,” he says. “I was miserable to be around, and miserable with myself.”
Then Seth’s parents asked him to dinner to talk. “They knew something was wrong and were asking probing questions about what was bothering me. “When they opened that door, I walked through it,” he says.
The “door” led to Fairbanks.
Seth spent 30 days at Fairbanks before moving into La Verna Lodge Family Program, a 12-step, long-term treatment setting for men created to unite residents and their families in recovery. “I had to get away from my daily habits and also focus on my recovery,” he says. “But I also needed a safe place to manage my anxiety about life, and a place where I could be held accountable to behave in the appropriate way.”
La Verna Lodge gave Seth that opportunity. Each day he met with counselors, attended 12-step meetings, exercised, and performed basic tasks, including getting up on time and doing his laundry. “None of that was optional,” Seth says. “It was analogous to someone who suffered head-trauma and has to relearn everything: For someone like me, I had lost the ability to function in everyday life.”
But Seth learned other important lessons at the lodge. “It helped me learn how to live with other people, and gave me the guidance I needed for a strong recovery program that I could live with for the rest of my life,” he says. Seth says being teamed with another addict, and attending the meetings, were – and are – particularly important to him.
“Working with another addict gives me a chance to see myself,” he says. “The meetings still teach me lessons about being a member of a group, and allowing others to express their opinions, and knowing those opinions are important.” Seth was at Fairbanks and La Verna Lodge from June through August of 2007, and then lived in an apartment for a year before reuniting with his wife and children in 2008.
Seth now serves as a volunteer at Fairbanks, and speaks to male residents every Friday night, encouraging them to continue on with their recovery. He now owns a small contracting company and enjoys the physical labor. And Seth is finally at a greater peace with who he is.
“What was really killing me was that I thought I was the center of the universe, and that things only happened because I made them happen,” he says. “But after coming to Fairbanks, I realized everything kept on happening without me, that I wasn’t the cause for every effect. For somebody who was terminally self-important, that was the biggest lesson I could ever get.”