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Dying to Live: One Man’s Journey to Recovery

Three times. That’s how many times Clyde died over the last two months of his addiction. Three times.

The first time Clyde was in his car, just blocks from his heroin dealer. Fortunately, a cop had stumbled along, saw Clyde slumped against the steering wheel, and broke the car window with his flashlight. Fortunate too that the officer had been equipped with Narcan and was able to bring Clyde back to life.

The second time Clyde died he was in the bathroom at a McDonald’s on the highway just outside of his hometown. Clyde’s dealer was dry, so he had to drive one town over to buy his morning wake-up. It wasn’t that far really. Four miles or so. But it was too far to wait to get straight. Clyde awoke on the greasy linoleum floor of the fast food restaurant’s men’s room with a squad of first responders hovering over his body. Again, Narcan brought Clyde back to life.

The third time Clyde died it was Christmas. Clyde remembered the frosted snow on the medicine cabinet mirror. And he remembered it matching the snow outside the bathroom window. Clyde also remembered the mistletoe hanging over the head of the first responder who’d administered the Narcan that once again brought him back to life. He remembered thinking “I could kiss you for this.” It was almost funny.

The look on Clyde’s grandfather’s face wasn’t funny though. And neither were the worried eyes of his grandmother. Yep. You guessed it. The third time Clyde died he was at his grandparents’ house. In their bathroom. Amid the lace curtains and scented soaps and lavender soap dish. Beneath that frosted mirror. Right by the window that looked out over the well-kept yard covered in chalk white snow.

Later that Christmas night, in the hospital emergency room, Clyde’s parents and grandparents surrounded his bed and gave him his gift. It was an ultimatum:

“You either get addiction treatment or you get out of our lives completely. We’re sick and tired of watching you die.”

Turns out Clyde was sick and tired too. Sick and tired of chasing drugs, losing jobs, and alienating friends. Sick and tired of betraying every member of his family, over and over, again and again. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, as they say.

Mostly though, Clyde was sick and tired of dying. Not just from the overdoses (though there was that). But sick and tired of the slow, incremental death that comes from addiction. Forget the high drama. Clyde really died a little every day, in every way. And pretty soon there’d be nothing left even to live for.

“Yes, please,” said Clyde. “I want treatment. I need treatment.”

Clyde’s family turned to the internet for help. It was a process of education, as well as elimination. They read about how people, places and things can be hazardous to recovery. So no addiction treatment center close to home. They read about how girls can lure a vulnerable man back into drinking and drugging (and vice versa). So no co-ed addiction treatment center for them. They read how the 12-Step program provides a blueprint for sobriety, as well as for living a full and sober life. So no addiction treatment center that didn’t play by the Big Book.

Finally, Clyde’s family read that recovery comes best from those who’ve been there and done that. Men who have developed empathy and compassion and strength from their experience. Men who’ve traveled down that deepest and darkest of roads and have seen their way clear. So no addiction treatment center whose staff wasn’t themselves in recovery.

Clyde’s family confronted him with all this newfound knowledge. They weighed the pros and the cons of each aspect of their recovery research right before his very eyes. They were assured. And they were convincing.

Clyde’s family also had their minds made up. They’d found a facility that met all their criteria and then some. And by the time they’d laid it all out, Clyde had his mind made up too.

“Can you please send me to Recovery Boot Camp?”

“Why Clyde,” said the family, finally able to smile. “We thought you’d never ask.”

Clyde’s been at Recovery Boot Camp for nine months now. He completed all three phases of Basic Training and has become a trusted and respected RBC alumni. He’s found a reputable job, an outlet for his energy and a cadre of close sober friends. And Clyde’s been happier than he’s been in a good long while. Too long a while.

Clyde’s also discovered something in himself he thought he’d lost for good. Character.

When RBC asked Clyde why he wanted to share his story with the world, his reason was quick and matter-of-fact:

“I don’t want other men to have to die three times just to be able to live.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

  • Recovery Boot Camp is a men's addiction treatment facility in Delray Beach, FL. RBC is deeply rooted in the 12 step fellowship, creating a sense of community and accountability.

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