My name is Ryan Grose and I was born into this disease. Substance abuse runs in my family. My grandfather died of it, and my father lives with it as well. As anyone who’s a child of an addict knows, it can really affect you. For me, my family’s issues with addiction affected my self esteem. Growing up, I always wanted to be accepted by everyone, but no matter what happened I could never find that feeling I so madly searched for.
I was picked on and bullied in school. I was sexually abused at a young age. My experiences all taught me that I was worthless, and I believed that message. At 17, I joined the Army in an attempt to run away from myself. I soon had an unlimited supply of beer, but it wasn’t enough. I drank and drank. My drinking affected more than just my body. I couldn’t fulfill my duties. I failed at everything, it seemed, and the only thing that made me feel okay was another bottle of beer. I went and saw and did some horrible things in the military that have never left me. Sometimes they resurface in dreams and events.
When I received a “Med Board” or medical retirement in 2010, all hell broke loose. I no longer had the structure of the military and I was free to drink as much as I wanted.
I soon found myself homeless and unwanted. Suicide became a constant thought. I was in and out of hospitals and institutions. I bounced around the country trying to get a fresh start, but that didn’t work, either. Everywhere I went, I found myself.
After seven treatment centers and numerous hospital stays, I landed in Florida where I now reside. In my short time in sobriety, I have begun to work through my underlying problems, I have gone to therapy, and I worked the 12 Steps with a sponsor. This worked for me. Although my experience is not unique, veterans are a distinct, vulnerable population. We share specific experiences that civilians don’t, which is why we have a special bond: we can help each other in ways that others might not be able to.
Now that I’m sober, I have the chance to give back to my community of veterans and I do that on a daily basis through my nonprofit organization. We are aimed at helping veterans achieve the recovery they deserve. We have begun the process of opening a residential house solely for veterans in recovery.
The greatest high I feel today is a result of helping my brothers and sisters in arms. If you’re a veteran and you’re struggling, I want to help you and if you let me, I will. You can find me on Facebook and I’ll always be there to lend my hand to those that want help. I’m available to talk any day, at any time. It’s only by giving back that I’m able to hold on to my recovery today.