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A Story of Recovery: Dave Kuhn

My name is Dave Kuhn and I’m a person in long-term recovery.  My story started when I was young. I come from a family of nine, and things were pretty chaotic growing up. My parents were drinkers but at the time I never thought about alcohol being a problem. Eventually I started experimenting myself at age 12. When everyone was in bed I’d go downstairs and sneak a few beers. As time went on I found myself at 14 sitting in bars and hanging out with older folks, simply being a part of the crowd. The drinking age was 18 so that gave me the opportunity to really let go.

By age 21 I had had my fill and decided that drinking was not going to work for me. I had quit for about two years, but I eventually went back to it because I did not have any support. I drank from the time I was 23 until about the age of 45. That whole time I was working in construction, and it was a party kind of atmosphere. We would hang out or go to the bar after work and party all night, then get up in the morning and repeat the process. I would get home at 11 at night, still drunk, and have to be up for work at 5am. I knew again that this wasn’t for me. I was resistant to any kind of support meetings at first as I didn’t think I was an alcoholic because I had stopped drinking, but when any struggles came up I didn’t have the support network to get through those things.

During this time I switched to marijuana to help with quitting alcohol, but I found that I ended up just replacing the alcohol. I was smoking just as much as I was drinking and it was affecting my life. This progressed when I had went to the dentist, and was prescribed Vicodin and knew that this was the best feeling I had experienced. It was a big wake up call for me just being around the people I had to deal with, as my addiction had progressed to the point of using crack and heroin. I ended up losing my house and being homeless. My sister was my biggest supporter, and even she had told me that she couldn’t help me anymore. When I realized even my family wouldn’t help me now, I knew I had to make some changes. My sister actually took me to my first treatment.

I was a client at the Engagement center and I looked and saw these people volunteering and thought “I want to come back here and do this.” I started volunteering there for almost a year and a half, and now I work there. I’ve been in recovery now for 9 years (May 10, 2010) and I’ve been with Home of New Vision for 7 years. I never thought I would be here. At one point I was a union carpenter, and now I’m working at the Engagement Center doing intakes, clerical work, and talking to clients about recovery. Who would have ever thought I can do this today? The opportunities are endless, and I really try to communicate that to my clients.

I’ve also been able to travel a lot because of my recovery. I have been to Romania, Bulgaria, Peru, and I just got back from Costa Rica. I’ll be going to Africa in June. It’s been a great experience. Traveling alone has given me great insight into myself and that I can maintain my recovery wherever I go. Sometimes I think of going back to those old behaviors, but I stop when I think of how much recovery has given me.

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