This week we wanted to spotlight and celebrate Chandler Huggins. Chandler serves as Green Hill’s Wellness Advisor, and as an Integrative Health Coach at our sister company, AIM: Advaita Integrated Medicine. He is responsible for providing group and individual coaching that addresses wellness through all facets of life including relationships, nutrition, fitness and mindfulness. Chandler works in conjunction with the clinical team to help clients reach their fullest potential. On January 25th, 2022, he will be celebrating his 6 year sobriety anniversary. We sat down with Chandler to learn more about his recovery journey and what this anniversary means to him.
You’re coming up on your 6 year anniversary of sobriety. What feelings and emotions come up for you when you think about reaching this milestone?
They say it’s a journey and it feels like I’ve come a long way, but also have a long way to go and a lot more to do! What emotions come up?
Hope – about the future of my personal recovery as well as helping others with theirs.
Gratitude – for the people who have been open with me and taught me how to live in the present and love myself.
Responsibility – it is my responsibility now to carry the message and show what is possible in recovery by living my life to the fullest.
What has your journey looked like over the last 6 years? How has your role at GHR and AIM played into/affected your journey?
Ha! It has been lots of ups and downs – I now see that life is ups and downs, but in early recovery it is intense. Plus, I feel like I had to re-learn almost everything in life starting at the age of 25. My perceptions about people, society, work and especially myself, were all distorted. Someone told me early on, “The only thing you’ll have to change is everything”. He was spot on!
In Year 1 of sobriety: I had so much energy and anxiety with no way to let it out, so I started running. I ran a marathon in my first year of sobriety and have completed an ultramarathon every year since. Exercise is a crucial piece of mental health for me.
In year 2: I quit my job in finance to switch to a career in wellness then went completely broke and hit another emotional bottom. It was a really tough time for me, but I also learned that everything will always work out if I don’t drink and do the next right thing.
In year 3: I re-discovered my purpose, started a coaching career and found my spot at Green Hill. It’s been a powerful experience and I am very grateful for this opportunity to work with Green Hill/AIM. Truly, the best part is the people – I learn more from my peers here than I could have ever imagined. Addiction is not easy work – their persistence and commitment to keeping a positive attitude helps me stay motivated.
In year 4: COVID and a bad snowboarding accident made me reconsider the fragility of life and how I spend my time. Zoom is neat but there’s no substitute for in-person interactions, deep conversations and meaningful relationships!
In year 5: I experienced a lot of change and growth, and more opportunities to coach and serve others. It is exciting to look back and see how much has happened and know that a lot of the best things were unexpected/ outside of my ‘plan’. I am pumped for the year ahead and to see what challenges life has in store for me.
Before you got sober, did you ever think your life could be the way it is now? Why/why not?
Not really – I assumed I wouldn’t make it to 30 and I had missed all my opportunities in life. When I was drinking, I couldn’t see any opportunity outside of my next drink or my next bet – I had lost the power of choice. That’s the true insanity that I can see clearly now – in the midst of addiction, you can’t imagine life any other way. “This is it, and it always will be”. I felt crazy and did crazy things because I was not living in reality. Now, I see more truth – opportunities are presented to us every moment, and we can choose whether to pursue them.
Also, when I was in active addiction, I needed immediate gratification. How immediate? Literally now, or better yet, yesterday! I thought I should get the bonus the quarter before, because of course I’ll hit my number! Then, I can use it to get what I want and the more of what I want. Essentially, I thought as soon as I committed to something, I should see the payoff. My addict brain wanted the most amount of reward with the least effort. To this day, this mindset still gets me in trouble in recovery – some call it ‘expectations’. For success in recovery: Do not look for immediate gratification. Focus on process over outcome. One day, step, or minute at a time.
So if you are starting your recovery journey – Going through the tough times early on and not using is what makes you able to help another suffering addict in the future. Remember, tough times make strong men! If you are struggling right now and don’t want to use/drink, take a deep breath and call the first person who comes to mind. If you don’t have someone, text or call me: 919-624-7601. We need each other.
Everything has changed, except for the fact I still live in Raleigh. My mindset is now about putting in the work and trusting the outcome will take care of itself. Satisfaction comes from being fully present and committed to what I do in the moment. My fulfillment comes from the depth of relationships in my life and the knowledge I have a purpose and reason for living.
We all have a daily opportunity to make an impact and our choices ripple out to affect others. Choose the right action and make a positive ripple!
If you could speak to someone contemplating recovery, what would you say to them? What advice would you give?
If you are contemplating recovery, then your addiction is probably overwhelming. I would ask you, what is going to happen if you keep doing this for another year or 5 years? How will you feel about yourself in 5 years if your addiction keeps progressing?
My advice: for 3 months, put the same effort into recovery that you put into your addiction. Start with a clean slate – imagine that everything you know has been twisted by your addiction. If you were seeing the truth of reality, your life wouldn’t be falling apart. Ask for help, learn about yourself and your messed-up thinking, find new hobbies and friends and work on building a new life that is free from the mental obsession. You can do it if you work at it daily – it is possible.