Michael's Story

Michael* doesn’t remember much about last Christmas.

“Last Christmas and the holiday season were a blur,” he admits. “I wasn’t sober.” 

Michael had a severe drinking problem that eventually drove him from his home, his children and others he loved.

“I was homeless and living in a park in Grand Rapids,” Michael recalls. “I was in a really bad spot. I’d had a very bad drinking problem for a long time. I wasn’t working because of my alcoholism. I was in and out of the hospital. I had severe health issues because of the drinking.”

Michael says he had a near brush with death and had lost all hope. “When you are on a substance for so long, you don’t function like you are supposed to,” he explains. “Your thoughts don’t function. You are just in survival mode. When you wake up, your number one thought is that I’ve got to get a drink to stop this shaking. Addiction will take everything away from you. You’ll give it away for the addiction.”

The 37-year-old says he had just about given up when the outreach team approached him one day at the park. “They were from Mel Trotter and asked if I’d like to get help,” Michael says. “It was a relief. I told them I’d be there tomorrow. It really wasn’t a decision. They offered help, so I took it.”

You need something to have hope and keep you going. 

After going through detox, Michael says it was amazing to be able to think clearly again. He then joined the Step-Up Recovery program. 

“Being here gives you safety, structure and a routine, which a lot of addicts need. The routine is nice. I know what I’m going to do every day. It gives you time to assess things. It’s also nice to have a community of guys who are going through it with you. It’s a big boost. There’s no giving up now; I have another shot at this!”

Michael says the daily classes and faith aspect of the program make it possible to learn how to live sober. “You need something to have hope and keep you going,” he says. “The program is wonderful.”

Michael is about two months into the six-month program and is excited about the thought of mending fences with his family and eventually spending a Christmas at home with his sons, ages 8 and 3.

“I have children to raise,” he says. “I have a family that has distanced themselves from me. I don’t blame them for doing that. They have to protect themselves. I just don’t want to go back to that. My mom finally sleeps at night now, knowing I’m sober and safe. I’m ready for a change.”

Michael says, “It takes a lot of work, and every day is a struggle. But every day that goes by gets a little easier. Every day that I go to sleep sober is a win for that day. Mel Trotter makes it easier.”

Every night before bed, Michael has a video chat with his sons. He looks forward to reuniting with them. And he is excited to think about a Christmas back home with those he loves. This time, it will be a Christmas he remembers.

*Name and photo have been changed to protect privacy.

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