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  • Writer's pictureJacob Hardt

Seven of the best years of my life, seven years sober

Updated: Jun 9, 2022


(Art by Jacob, Oil on Wood 2017)

Seven years ago today, I was dodging the Feds, selling meth, and essentially dead inside. I lived a violent, angry life in dangerous oblivion where nothing and nobody could get close enough to touch me and make my pain real. I shot Heroin and meth into my jugular five, six, and seven times a day. Even though I thought I felt nothing, I was so deep in an endless sadness that it saturated every piece of my soul, unimaginable emptiness. I was aware the police were trying to catch up with me and owed upwards of 20K for drug deals that went bad. I always knew either I would get killed or caught by the Feds. I honestly didn't care which. Fortunately, a cocktail of law enforcement agencies decided it was time, and federal agents took me into custody.

I felt relief when I was arrested, and though I had some tough times ahead, I knew I had been saved from the grip of oblivion. Against all odds, I lived and knew I would be ok. On the trip from a New Jersey jail to Federal Prison, I cracked jokes in my typical smart-ass fashion. Finally, one of the Homeland Security agents, Susan, looked back at me and said, "Do you realize you are in a lot of trouble here?" To which I replied, "yes... but I'm alive."

From that moment on, in the back seat of that SUV, my life has been on a steady, if not rapid, climb day after day to a life I never dreamed possible. Somehow all the years and years of desperation and survival, the endless struggle to feel safe in my own body and break free from so much abuse, violence, and death, came to a turning point. Everything I had struggled to learn and understand just fell into place. Everything clicked and made sense. Like it had been waiting all these years for this moment in time.

The most challenging parts of the past seven years have been when I challenged myself to do things I wasn't sure I could do. Learning to become a Recovery Coach and running Interventions stressed me out and took more courage and caused more fear than going to prison. But, after walking through it and learning to trust my instinct and experience, I am doing the work I am meant to do, and I'm good at it. I get to work with people daily who are somewhere along the road between what they describe in AA as "pitiful incomprehensible demoralization" and hope. I see people lost on the same streets I trudged for years and years. I am grateful to The Center and the opportunities they have given me over the few years to create this new Recovery Coach position in their outpatient programs. I am the first of many future Certified Peer Recovery Advocates, bridging the gap between treatment and everyday challenges for our clients. I work with the most extraordinary people.

As it turns out, those skills I used to get people to do crazy shit they didn't know they wanted to do on the streets, like give me their money and drugs, play out well as an Interventionist. Honestly, I am grateful to Brad Lamm for taking a chance on me several years ago. I was so scared until I got into the room with a family and realized it felt natural and all I had to do was be myself; that was enough. To be me was enough; I could help people and their loved ones start the road to recovery.

I have started my own business, "Evolve Intervention and Recovery Services LLC," which is beginning to gain traction. I am grateful to Brad and Adam Banks for helping me connect to NYC and generate business. I am still meeting more people and have found my place in New york.

I still have quirks; I keep to myself and like spending time with just a few people. It still takes me a long time to let people in, but as I said, they are the best people on the planet. I do my best to be a good friend and try to help people, and I love my life and hope I am making a difference. If I can use all the painful things of my life to help people, it seems worth the hard roads I traveled to get here.

Thank you for seven years sober today.

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