By Austin Shook
I grew up in Dallas, TX with alcoholism on my dad's side, although I never saw him drink until I was 13 years old. He had a six month relapse when my folks divorced after he had 15 years of sobriety in AA,. He died in 2019 with another 16 years of sobriety, so I saw what it was like to be sober and in recovery. Having that example in my life was a gift. During my childhood I was surrounded by education, music, and lots of opportunities, but looking back our home definitely had what could be described as an intimacy void. As a kid I never quite fit in, changing my groups of friends often. I was kind of a chameleon.
At the age of 12, I took that first hit of weed, began stealing my grandpa‘s Jack Daniels and pain pills, and I had finally found something that made me feel whole. By 14 I had graduated to harder stuff including heroin and methamphetamines. Against my will, I ended up in military school at the age of 17 after years of dropping out of school, running away from home, and using and selling drugs. When I left at 18 I never did meth again but found cocaine. The next 12 years I was in active addiction, until I had an adequate presentation of the 12 steps at the age of 30. I found a higher power and accessed an unsuspected inner resource. I had been spiritually asleep all those years and I began to wake up. I now have the tools to be of service to others thanks to the rooms of AA, CA, DAA, and "many helpful books also". I discovered prayer and meditation improved my conscious contact with God and I grew spiritually through work and self-sacrifice for others. Kundalini Yoga, at the urging of my brother and sister in law, solved my nicotine problem and gave me a daily yoga/meditation practice that I use along with the classic On Awakening morning ritual.
I’m extremely blessed to share this way of life not only with the men and women in my home group and in the Fellowship of the Spirit at large, but also through my career. Professionally, in the treatment field, I began as a case manager at six months sober at a transitional living home, and I'm currently in my position as the Director of four sober living homes in Dallas, Richardson, and Plano TX. Real Deal Sober Living was started many years ago and is one of the best known recovery home companies in Texas. Leading these individuals in their early recovery is beyond my wildest dreams. I was in sober living in Kerrville, TX after 30 days in residential treatment near Waco. Being at a place of total surrender when I arrived, and staying humble is what truly got me this far.
I continue to dive deeper into my own healing and recovery. The ability to show up for my girlfriend of six years who stood by my side through my addiction, and my family who have been beyond supportive, is proof that God is doing for me what I could not do for myself. The healing that came as the result of making amends to my parents and being able to hold my father’s hand as he took his last breath when he died of cancer are just some of the promises that manifested through following the path of this way of life. The most astounding thing is my ability to continue to have so much fun, laugh, and experience joy on a consistent basis. There have been ups and downs, but nothing compared to what cocaine and whiskey brought me. I get to be a part of life without the urge to put poison in my body that will kill me. That power came about from the spiritual awakening that I had as a result of the steps.
Director, Real Deal Sober Living