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A Veteran’s Journey to Recovery

Growing up in El Sobrante, CA, Glenn describes his childhood as happy and loving, surrounded by his parents, siblings, and friends. No one in his immediate circle suffered from addiction. In fact, as a pharmacist, Glenn’s father even instilled the risks of chemical dependency in Glenn from a young age.
Read Glenn’s Story - A Veteran’s Journey to Recovery
At 19, seeking travel and freedom, Glenn joined the US Army, and was stationed overseas in Germany. “They’re not that great at giving you things to do, especially overseas.” says Glenn, reminiscing about his time on base. “Maybe you’ve got a bowling alley or a movie theater, but they only change the movie about every 3 weeks, and you can only bowl so many frames.”

Throughout his youth, Glenn had maintained a quiet infatuation with Hollywood’s glamourous portrayal of alcoholism, and amid the humdrum routine of base life, Cocktail Hour at the NCO Club became a source of much needed entertainment.

By the time of his honorable discharge, Glenn’s relationship with alcohol had become firmly engrained. In the 90’s, he began abusing methamphetamine as well, in a vicious up and down cycle that eventually culminated in his desire to seek professional help.

Glenn’s initial attempts at treatment were marked by relapse and unstable housing. His photo eventually ended up in a front-page article on Homelessness and Substance Abuse in the Napa Valley Register. This was a big wake-up call for Glenn who, with the help of the Redwood Gospel Mission, was able to get sober and back into the workforce.

When selecting his new career path, Glenn felt inspired to give back to the people who had tried to help him in his own recovery, and, after completing his 3rd step, he became a certified SUD counselor.

For the next 19 years, Glenn went onto help countess people at several different SUD programs; however, throughout this time he was plagued by persistent back pain from his time in the military. Seeking to avoid opiates, Glenn tried Kratom to ease the pain, but quickly found that to be addictive as well. With his Kratom use rapidly increasing, Glenn found himself experiencing intense anxiety and even thoughts of suicide.

The only thing that would ease him enough to sleep was wine. Realizing the risks, Glenn reached out to the VA for help. They were able to assist him in getting off Kratom, but the process had left him overconfident about his ability to handle alcohol.

“I was able to have a glass or two to help me sleep, but I didn’t crave it after that. I thought maybe I wasn’t an alcoholic – maybe I just had a problem with drugs”, he recalls.

Unfortunately, this quickly lead back to daily drinking and Glenn was confronted with the reality that, to be an effective counselor, he had to own up to his addiction. Wanting to do right by his patients, he shared his struggles with his supervisor and sought help.

Over the next two years, Glenn underwent multiple detox and residential stays at several Bay Area programs, even visiting some of them multiple times. He reports that, no matter how much he got from a program, he would always relapse immediately after dischage. It was hard for him to pinpoint the exact reason why, but he had an innate sense that something about his thought process and commitment was off.

By the end of 2023, Glenn was again facing the looming threat of homelessness, having relapsed out of his current SLE. He reached out to Pura Vida again, after having attended our detox program multiple times. “I remember Jose telling me, ‘I’m going to give you another chance, bud’ and thank God he did, because that’s what saved my life,” says Glenn.

“Something shifted there at Pura Vida. I realized I needed to immerse myself in the recovery community. Being there, I got to see other people who I’d been in treatment with, people who were doing the same as me. I got to be around staff who were really pulling for me.”

Glenn threw himself into his recovery. “Instead of doing 90 meetings in 90 days, I probably did something like 180!”

6 months on, and Glenn is still happily sober. He is a vibrant and engaged member of Santa Rosa’s recovery community and looking forward to restarting his career as an SUD counselor once he’s accumulated a bit more sober time. The staff and clients at Pura Vida all look forward to seeing Glenn at various meetings and recovery events around town.

Regarding his take-aways from Pura Vida, Glenn cites how our philosophy of rediscovering fun and joy in recovery shaped his outlook, “I found that, for me, addiction wasn’t so much about past trauma or anything like that. I just did it because it felt good – until, of course, it didn’t, but then I couldn’t stop. Since then, I’ve found that life really provides a number of healthy things that feel just as good. You can get those same feelings from life, being around the right people and having fun.”

When asked about his advice to others seeking recovery, particularly his fellow Veterans, Glenn says, “It’s really all about connections. Start building relationships as early as you can, but it has to be with solid people. It’s easy to isolate and be lonely. Misery loves company, so when you’re lonely and miserable, it’s easy to find other lonely miserable people. It can be tricky to find healthy, happy people to be around but that’s what’s important. Get involved with a 12-step or recovery community whenever you can.”

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