Story of Recovery – Finding Hope

Growing up, all Jeremy wanted was to fit in, to be accepted by others.

He tried achieving that by dieting and exercising and trying out for nearly every sport his middle school offered.

“We all have a God-size hole inside of us,” Jeremy said. “We try and stuff more and more in it. If a little bit’s good, more has to be better.”

With sports so competitive by his freshman year, Jeremy was looking for something else to fill the void. An old childhood friend he hadn’t seen in ages reappeared in his life. He offered Jeremy marijuana, which he tried. It made Jeremy feel more comfortable in his own skin and more at ease socially. Within weeks he was also selling it.

“I got really bad fast,” Jeremy said.

Indeed, within a year he was using and selling harder drugs. He was also starting to fail in school. Jeremy remembers coming out of a blackout state in class one day and seeing a copy of a test he just failed in his hand.

“At that moment, I woke up to an empty future,” Jeremy said. “I felt it in the pit of my stomach. No amount of drugs in the world was going to make me feel better.”

But he kept using. It seemed the only way to curb his anxiety. Just one week after that epiphany in class, one of the first people Jeremy ever got high with overdosed and died. She was like a sister to him. Jeremy and his friends took the loss so hard they used drugs before attending her viewing. One of her friends confronted them as they entered the funeral home.

“What are you guys doing?” she asked. “She would not want you here like this.”

Jeremy got to school late the next morning in bad shape. He failed a drug test. Police were called, his car searched. They found scales, lots of cash, drug paraphernalia and an unregistered firearm. Jeremy was in jail at age 17, waived to adult court for possessing a gun. After bonding out, he finally sought treatment. Jeremy spent a month in an out-of-state treatment facility.

Once back home, the next concern was figuring out where Jeremy could finish high school. A counselor recommended Hope Academy, the recovery high school Fairbanks opened that year, in 2006. Jeremy was one of the first students.

“We were crazy and drove a lot of the teachers crazy. But Hope Academy was by far the best thing I could’ve had in my early sobriety,” Jeremy said. “We all wanted recovery, to have purpose, to live for a future. I looked up to my classmates a lot.”

Hope Academy’s first class proved to be a tightknit group.

“We made sure we did everything together,” Jeremy said. “They were my life raft, and I was for them.”

After graduating from Hope Academy in 2007, Jeremy was accepted to Texas Tech, but attended IUPUI to stay close to his recovery community. With degrees in pure mathematics and pre-med, he moved to Los Angeles to study for the seminary. That’s where he met his now wife. After welcoming their first child just over a year ago, Jeremy recently learned he got a promotion through his company and is moving to Baltimore. He’s working on certification to be an actuary.

Jeremy’s journey of self-discovery will always be ongoing, but he takes particular solace in Step 11.

“I’m not only happy in my own skin, but I can help you be happy in yours,” he said. “But there will always be a God-size hole. The only thing that can fill it is something God size. I’m forever grateful there’s a place like Hope Academy and a whole bunch of young folks that I got to grow up with in recovery.”