Story of Recovery – Tommy Green

Of all the wake-up calls Tommy Green experienced while suffering with substance use disorder, seeing a TV commercial for addiction treatment on Christmas Day finally started him on the road to recovery.

“I truly believe at that moment it was God reaching out to tell me to ask for help,” Green said of that day in 2015.

He started abusing substances around age 12. One reason why was to mask his pain of being an abuse victim by people he knew well.

“Early on that was something I was continuously running from – the fear that other people would know something’s wrong with me and that I hurt on the inside,” Green said. “Drugs and alcohol helped me push away that pain. It took a long time for me to figure out that (the abuse) wasn’t something I could’ve prevented.”

But he also engaged in risky behavior because Green thought that’s what it took to make friends.

“Lo and behold, the friends I made used drugs and drank,” he said. “I fit in with that crowd though because, as my dad has always said, misery loves company.”

This began a years-long odyssey in which Green short-circuited a college baseball scholarship, experimented with progressively harder drugs and barely kept his life together because of an increasing inability to keep his use under control.

“I had myself fooled,” Green said, noting he had eventually graduated college and was maintaining a full-time job even with his drug use. “I thought I don’t have a problem, I just don’t want to do this every day. I’ll just be a weekend warrior. But deep down I knew it was just going to get worse.”

It did. By late 2015 Green had moved back home because he could no longer support himself and his addiction at the same time financially. And yet his relationship with his family was nothing but constant confrontation. That and needing to use just to stave off withdrawal symptoms was leaving Green physically and emotionally exhausted.

“It was getting unmanageable,” he said. “I was tired of having two jobs, of lying to people and constantly covering my tracks, of always being afraid.”

After finally admitting he needed help that Christmas, Green checked in at Fairbanks and stayed 15 days, followed by three months at Fairbanks’ La Verna Lodge for Men. There’s a banner hanging in the gym at Fairbanks that reads “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Green still remembers sitting on the gym floor, feeling miserable and not having enough energy to even stand, but looking at that banner and deciding he would give his treatment a try.

“I changed everything, and everything changed,” he said.

Green now shares a house with two other young men who are also in recovery. He finds more meaning in his job beyond just a paycheck now. And he’s repaired relationships within his family, even being asked to be godfather to his brother’s son.

“I feel like I have the trust of people again,” Green said. “I’ve created a whole new community of people around myself.”

Many in recovery will tell you the real work begins after you leave treatment. Green admits that upon leaving the La Verna Lodge for Men he had doubts about being able to remain substance-free. He took numerous steps to ensure his success: getting a sponsor, attending meetings, filling his free time with hobbies and spiritually uplifting activities and surrounding himself with others who are proactive in maintaining their recovery.

Green encourages others who are on the same journey to give their sobriety time, be open-minded and follow the advice of others who’ve successfully beat substance abuse. If you do, your life will change for the better.

“I’ve seen it happen for too many people to believe otherwise,” Green said. “For people who truly want recovery, if they try they will succeed.”