Ian’s Sobriety Anniversary

This month we wanted to spotlight and celebrate Ian McLean. Ian McLean is an alumni of our program and has served as a Program Facilitator at the Transitional Living house at Green Hill Recovery. On March 14th, 2022, he will be celebrating his 2 year sobriety anniversary. We sat down with Ian to learn more about his recovery journey and what this anniversary means to him.

You’re coming up on your 2 year anniversary of sobriety. What feelings and emotions come up for you when you think about reaching this milestone?

As I get closer to the day that I got sober, lots of thoughts run through my mind. I often just reminisce on what it was like 2 years ago today and how much I have changed. Once I was able to stay abstinent from substances, I had the opportunity to change the man I was. The transformation into being the best version of myself I possibly can be is often what occupies my mind.

What has your journey looked like over the last 2 years?
Everything about my life has changed over the past two years. I now have a relationship with my family that I can be proud of. I can be present and available in their lives today. When I was using drugs, I had lost my values and beliefs. I cared about nothing and no one, even myself. I now have values and beliefs that govern my thoughts and decisions. Those values and beliefs help me to be a good man who is compassionate and helpful to others, all while investing in myself. That was never the case in my active addiction. Above all, I have found peace and serenity in my life. People say that drug use is a solution to an addict’s problem, this is true in my story. Ever since I can remember, I never felt content or comfortable in my own skin. This played a role in why I began to use drugs in the first place. Through these past 2 years I have been able to work on myself to break through the problems with my thinking to reach serenity in my life. The feeling of peace and contentment is indescribable.

I don’t just say this because of my work at Green Hill, but Green hill has changed my life. Without Green Hill I truly believe I would be dead, and I say that with firm conviction. Everything I have in my life, Green Hill either directly or indirectly helped me to get. Things in my life such as my amazing roommate, to two different jobs, and life skills like doing laundry; Green Hill helped me to get. My involvement at Green Hill has changed over the past 2 years. Now instead of Green Hill helping me to manage my life, they help provide a space where I can get fulfillment and purpose from helping another young man who is where I was. Words can’t describe the enjoyment and fulfillment I receive from my work at Green Hill.

My work at Green Hill both in the program and as an employee has led me to many new opportunities in my life but also in my career. With Green Hill’s help I advanced my career with a new job as the Program Coordinator/Lead Recovery Coach at Wake Monarch Academy. Wake Monarch Academy is a high school in Raleigh for teenagers who are struggling with substance use, and is a community partner of Green Hill. I am excited to have been given the opportunity to work closely with the students to help them sustain recovery from substances. The fulfillment I get from working in the substance use field is indescribable. The longer I stay sober, the more the path I am supposed to take in life seems to reveal itself. I firmly believe that working in the substance use field is the path that I am supposed to be on, and I am looking forward to growing in my new role at Wake Monarch Academy.

Before you got sober, did you ever think your life could be the way it is now?
There is a saying amongst people in recovery that goes “If we had tried to predict what life would look like once we got sober, we would have sold ourselves short.” That saying has been true in my life. There are so many things I do now that I wouldn’t have dreamed of or would have been able to do when I was in active addiction. While in sobriety, I have grown into a man. When I was using substances, I was a child.

The biggest thing that I have now in sobriety is that when I wake up each day, I always have a choice. I have a choice to be happy, content, and free today. When I was in active addiction, I had no freedom to choose. I relied on a substance to bring me happiness, but it was temporary and hollow. I say this with full confidence: I make my own happiness now.

If you could speak to someone contemplating recovery, what would you say to them? What advice would you give?

I can only speak from my personal experience in addiction. When I was in active addiction, I felt like I was in hell. I was a shell of a human being. I had no goals or things I was doing with my life. I was hopeless and often thought that being dead would be better than being alive. It felt like I was trapped and couldn’t move, as if I was in a box. I thought that I was going to die miserable, all alone, from an overdose. I truly thought that there was no way to change my life. I say all that to illustrate that if I can recover from a hopeless state of mind and stay abstinent from drugs, then anyone can.

If I had one piece of advice to someone contemplating recovery, it would be to find some solid friends that are in recovery and stick with them. When I was early in my recovery, I needed to have fun, but more importantly, I needed to redefine “fun” and learn how to have fun while sober. My friends helped me to have fun and enjoy myself in a positive way. The reason that this is so important is because if you’re not having fun in sobriety, then what is the point? If you’re miserable and not having fun in sobriety, then eventually you will feel the urge to return to using drugs. Another reason this is such a key part of recovery is that once you find happiness in sobriety, it becomes a lot easier to put in the work to stay sober. Sobriety isn’t always easy, but it is beyond worth it. Make some solid friends, go have some fun, and don’t stop searching until you find it!