Episode #23 - A Recovery Story with Eric MataJan 20, 2022
Episode 23 - Eric Mata Podcast
[00:00:00] Welcome to the chronic hope Institute podcast. The only podcast designed for the families of those who are struggling with addiction and codependency. If addiction has rocked your household and you don't know where to turn, to get support, then this podcast was built for you. Our host has written the book on how families can navigate the scary world of addiction, chronic hope parenting, the addicted child, and chronic.
Families and addiction can both be found on Amazon today. We invite you to connect with us on Facebook, as well as subscribing to the chronic hope Institute podcast on YouTube, Spotify, apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Now, here is your host author, therapist, and CEO of the chronic hope Institute.
This is Kevin Peterson. Uh, the founder of the chronic hope Institute. We are the only [00:02:00] podcast, uh, designed for families that are struggling with addiction and recovery and, and happy new year to you all.
We, uh, we have a super special treat today. We have, uh, my friend, Eric Mata. Uh, joining us from Ohio, he's going to tell us more about it, and he's going to share his journey of recovery with us and, and without any further ado.
Eric Mata: Good morning. It's good morning for you as good afternoon. For me, I've been up since about six o'clock this morning, dealing with screaming kids all day long.
So it may be good morning to Kevin, but it's probably good afternoon and the rest of us. But, uh, thanks, Kevin. I I'm excited to be here. Um, you know, long story short, I've been clean since February 23rd, 2010. I got clean when I was 12. 34. I feel like an old man now I got wife and three kids and, you know, recovery recovery has opened up so many doors in my life that I really.
Could talk about 50 different things and it all, [00:03:00] everything ties back to recovery, you know, um, like most other people who struggle with addiction, I started using very young, 14, 15 years old. Um, back then it was fun. It used to be fun to go to the bowling alley with my friends and drink and smoke weed.
And. Uh, not knowing anything about addiction or the progression of addiction, you know, it starts one thing leads to another, you know what I'm saying? Kevin, you experienced that one thing leads.
Kevin Petersen: Yeah. Well, a friend of mine, uh, in LA. You know, um, weed is not the gateway drug beer is the gateway drug. You know, it all starts with beer, you know?
Eric Mata: I mean it, for me, it, it, you know, you can take a look at how it starts or where it comes from or what the problems are, but you know what I'm saying? And at the end of the day, You know, only thing that really matters is what are you going to do about your problem? You know, and I think that for, for your audience of people, they it's, it's very obvious.
The problem is drinking drugs, pills, dope, heroin, meth, [00:04:00] whatever the problem may be. But the real, the real focus, you know, in my opinion, needs to be on the solution.
Kevin Petersen: Absolutely. Couldn't agree with you more. Um, I, I totally, I know exactly where you're going with that. And, and I think for me, uh, what I've always found is a little bit of qualification always makes me feel like the person that's talking, I can understand where they're coming from, but I know exactly what you're saying.
I was just telling somebody this the other day, actually, they're like, how do I know if I'm in a good meeting? And I said, well, generally the good meetings focus on the. You know, they don't, they don't focus on the problem. And if you're at a situation, whether it's a meeting for a codependency or a meeting for addiction, if you're in a position where all in a meeting where all they're doing is talking about the drama, the crisis, the chaos, and what this person is doing, that's not a solution meeting, you know?
And so, but do tell us a little bit about what got you to your that's that jumping [00:05:00] off point.
Eric Mata: That's a good question because you know, a lot of people, you know, we experienced very similar consequences. The. It gets mad at us. They kick us out, right? We lose our job. We wreck our car, we blow all of our money.
We steal from people we love. And a lot of people would think, well, shouldn't that be enough to help him get clean? Shouldn't that be enough to make you want to change? And you know, a logical person would say, well, of course, that should be enough to make a change. But man, I, I wish I could tell you. I stole from my grandma one time and I decided that decided I'm never going to use.
You know, it was, um, it definitely wasn't the case for me. And it wasn't the case for a lot of other people I've met, you know, I was, uh, what it took for me to get clean was several. When I say several and be honest, three failed attempts at inpatient treatment, I, I overdosed and almost died. I overdosed on, um, uh, methadone and Xanax combination.
Uh, back then, that was my deputy. You know, I like, I didn't, I didn't just like to take one substance. I wanted a few because I wanted to be all the [00:06:00] way gone. You know, that was, that was my goal for the day. So, um, I spent a lot of, I didn't spend a lot of time, but I was in and out of juvenile. Um, ha always on probation, always looking at, going to court, Kate, you know, cases, several different things.
Uh, but what it took for me in the end is I, I, it was funny because like I turned my is new year's day. So I remember being in jail when I was 17, right around Thanksgiving time. So my motto was, they can't hold me in here forever. I'm to be 18. There ain't nothing they can do. And, um, and that was my thought process.
I was like, I don't really care how long you keep me. You can't hold me past 18. So I ended up getting out of the, getting out of juvenile jail right before Thanksgiving, when I turned 70. Didn't stop using didn't even want to stop using, but, and then after I turned 18, about a week after I turned 18, I had caught another charge as an adult.
And I went to the county jail for the first time where it was first. I was the biggest dude in the juvenile [00:07:00] jail. I was the oldest cat in there, and now it's like, whoa, this isn't and you just look around, right. I remember being 18 fresh. I mean, just turned 18 being in jail, looking at all these other cats.
40 50, 60 years old, who just looked like they've been in there their whole life. And I thought, good God, this is, this is not what I want. You know, but even, even that right there was enough to get me clean. Like I gotta at 18 and continue to use. Long story short. At the end of my addiction, I was, I was shooting up heroin and meth.
Um, I was using anything I could get my hands on and I ended up catching a, uh, a felony charge as an adult. And like, it was, there was real consequences for that. You know, it was either, I thought I was going to go to prison for that. And, you know, Kevin, I remember being in the county jail, like withdrawing being dope, sick, and then, you know, telling myself like, just feeling relief.
Like I was withdrawn, I was dope sick, but I felt relief for the fact that [00:08:00] man, if this is what it takes in, like, let's get it rolling. Like let's, let's do it, you know? But, um, Of course got out, continue to use again, you know, you, you know the story
Kevin Petersen: well, that's, I mean, that is our story. That's the story of addiction, right?
Is that the addiction, uh, you know, is always going to be waiting for you. And by the way, if you're watching, if you just joined us, if you're watching us, we have Eric Mata, who's sharing his story of recovery with us. And if you have questions or comments or, you know, both Eric and I, uh, he hasn't gotten there yet, but both Eric and I are licensed mental health professions.
And if you have questions about addiction, codependency, family, individual, we're happy to sort of throw you some thoughts and ideas on that as well. Um, and I really appreciate you sharing sort of the, what it was like portion, right? Is that this is where it took me. This is what happened, you know, I'm in jail.
I'm going to the big boy jail. Uh, it's. Uh, what I'm hearing is it never got better, [00:09:00] you know? Cause I remember when I was back then using in that timeframe, I was just like, you know, the, the big one's going to hit tomorrow and everything's going to be great. You know? I mean, I'm, I'm going to, I'm going to be massive, you know, and everything's going to be fantastic and everything's going to change tomorrow.
You know, and, and, and I don't know if you've ever felt that way. Uh, but that's, but for me it just kept getting worse and worse and worse, you know,
Eric Mata: it is like back then. I didn't want to change, you know, like I felt like my purpose in life was to get. You know, all my friends got high. My FA I got high with mom, dad, my sisters, my aunts, my, I mean, my, like my, my grandmother, right.
My grant, I got I with everybody, you know? So I, that was my identity. I was a drug addict. I dropped out of high school. Never could keep operating thing like that. And I just, I literally, and I know this really sounds bad to say, and they say, oh, poor you for feeling like that. I felt like [00:10:00] my purpose in life was to be.
You know, so my, my, uh, my actions aligned with that, you know what I'm saying? And that's what, and it's not because I felt like I was wrong or I was some devil child or something like that. I just, that's where I found fun. You know, like I didn't, you know, I like, I used to like to play sports when I was a kid and stuff like that, but nothing compared to getting high for me, it was just where I found, like I fit in best, you know, with that crowd of people.
But, you know, very quickly as, as my addiction progressed, Action progressed as well. So in the beginning, when we were all drinking booze and smoking weed together, it's a whole different ball game from when you and all your friends are shooting dope, stealing from each other line and manipulate anything.
I mean, that's, you get to a place where you're like, ah, this just isn't fun anymore. Like, I don't enjoy waking up. Having to find something to steal, to sell, to lie, to cheat, to manipulate so that I can get well. Right. And I know that we could dive down that whole dope [00:11:00] sickness getting well, you know, topic in itself right there, but eventually Kevin, this is what got me clean.
Right. So I remember, I I'll never forget, like, so when I. When I caught the felony charge, I had a year in prison suspended. Right. So pretty much the judge gave me. I was like, I'm an addict. I need help. You know what I'm saying? Like it was very obvious. I was, I was, I was an addict. So the only requirements for my probation was to get a job, get my GED and two.
Um, I think I had a year of probation. Right. So get a job, get my GED and not pay off my little bit of fines or whatever I had. So, you know, I skated through that entire year of probation, the probation officer never drug tested me. He never checked up on anything. So he was doing his job, right. I guess, because I imagine he probably had 40 or 50 other knuckleheads.
He was managing on his caseload too. But I remember in the end, right in the end of my, uh, when my year was about to be. I always had a different story every month. I'd say, well, I'm about to start this GED class next week. Or I got this job interview coming up real soon. So what [00:12:00] I was trying to do is justify why don't lock me up right now, because I'm about to start doing just like you said tomorrow, I'm going to start doing something really good.
Yeah. So anyway, at the end of that probation, since the, my probation officer drug tested me. And he was this little short, old guy. He was like 75 years. He was like, he was an old man. Right. He was probably older than that, but he drug tested me and, um, and I, and I tested positive for literally everything he had on his drug test.
I mean, I was, I was literally using every. Yeah, not, you know, today, they, the, I'm assuming the, whoever mixes all these substances together and then people will take something, not knowing they're taking five different types of drugs, but back then, like I was literally taking this, that, this, that, I mean, literally everything I could get my hands on.
So anyway, this little old dude looks at me. He says, Eric, you go to back to treatment and you do everything they tell you to do when you're going to prison. So. You know, and by this point, this was my second time going back to treatment. Cause [00:13:00] I'd went to treatment before. I knew I needed help. Uh, my first time I went to treatment, I think this is a good story for parents right here.
Right. So, you know, in my situation like I was used and so were all of my friends, my dad used to refer to us as me and my knucklehead friends. So that's for the story will be me and my knucklehead friends. So I was using with me and all my knucklehead friends. And it's like, all of us continued to catch cases around the same time catch charges.
And you know, so it was. And we knew the get out of jail free card or the, or the way to avoid, you know, doing was good, was to go to treatment. That was the cop-out most times let's go to treatment. So we all knew like, Hey, we can just go to treatment. So my first time in treatment, I went to, I went and it just so happened that about four or five of my knucklehead friends were all in there at the same time.
So it was me four or five of my friends and about half other, half a dozen other people that we didn't know. Right. And I, and I always used to share like, in our hearts, in [00:14:00] my heart, like I really wanted to get, but up here in this rat bastard here, like I did not know how right. I had never witnessed anybody get clean and stay clean.
Right. I didn't think that it was possible because I had never seen it. You know what I'm saying? Like, if you've never seen something done, if you've never seen anybody overcome an obstacle in their life, why would you have any, any thought process like it's even possible? You know? So, yeah.
Kevin Petersen: Um, no, I absolutely, man, I totally, I, I, I can complete, I didn't have the same level of consequences that you did, but I remember that mentality of just.
You know, this is never gonna end, you know, and it just, I'm just going to, it's just going to keep getting worse and worse and worse. And, and then, you know, but I, I mean, I, I knew about the 12 step recovery world and we used to make fun of it. You know, it was a joke, you know, those guys are losers. They're, you know, sit around [00:15:00] smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, and church basements.
They have no lives, it's awful, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know? And, uh, and so we, we had in our minds, we were like, I always thought, I mean, I have to tell you, I look back at myself and I'm like, intellectually, I knew something was wrong. I knew that I, that this was not a normal way of life, but I just, I couldn't, I couldn't figure out, I couldn't figure out my way out, you know, that's really what it comes
Eric Mata: down to.
So, so needless to say, like my first attempt at treatment, I was like, I want to do this. I'm going to try, I'm going to, I'm going to, you know what I'm going to give. You know, my counselor was like, try transitional housing. Don't go back to the same environment you live with before, because that makes a lot of sense.
Why would you go to treatment and then get clean and then get back out and go back to the same place you were using before? Like that's sounds like a recipe for failure right there. And she was absolutely right. So, uh, And I'll share this because I think that a lot of people don't really understand the disease of addiction or they don't understand.
They don't understand what, [00:16:00] like, when an addict says, I have a trigger, I have a craving. Something told me to use like a lot of people will say, that's BS, you're lying. You wanted to get high. So, you know, I remember this is when I was, I was getting in touch with the disease and what it really was. I remember being in treatment for the first time.
Right. And, um, you know, I was on the Suboxone maintenance plan. I was on the wean you off while you're in there. You know, the thought of actually coming off the Suboxone while I was in treatment was 10 times worse than actually doing it. And for anyone who's ever come off Suboxone, you know, that's very hard to do.
Thankfully. I was only on it for about 21 days while I was in treatment. This is the first time. Actually getting cleaned. So anyways, I remember waking up and it was like the last, uh, you know, it was the first day without I was in treatment where I was actually supposed to take nothing. You know, I had no more medication.
The medication was done, they tapered me off. And I remember we wa we, we was watching the news that morning when I was in treatment and I'm here. Like I live in Springfield, that's very close to Dayton and [00:17:00] they, I remember them having it on the news they showed, you know, like on the news where they show the.
Uh, shots of like traffic and stuff like that. Like, so in Springfield and Dayton, there's this I 70, 75 interchange, right. It's I guess it's kinda like a big deal. Cause it's where 70 and 75 cross. I remember when I was in treatment that on, on TV while I was in treatment. And uh, and like, just by seeing that right, just by my eyeballs and my disease, seeing that I hundred 75 interchange, because that's the road I used to travel every day when I got.
Right. So I would, I would take that highway. That was part of the process. That was part of the ritual for getting high, was driving to date and copping dope, getting high and driving home. So when I saw that 70, 75 interchange, it set something off in my mind and I was like, I'm getting high today. Right.
And I was in treatment. I would weaned off Suboxone. And I, I mean, I could tell you exact vivid details that whole entire day, but I got high when I was in treatment the first time. And needless to say, got [00:18:00] out and continue to use, you know, once. So anyway. Yeah. How, how, how long we've been talking now because they're like, well, I thought he was gonna talk about what helped him get clean.
Kevin Petersen: I think it's good to get a cemented foundation, but I totally get what you're saying. And we got a comment from Amy Parker saying preach, uh, what a great stone in methods, your hope Amy, is that a friend?
Eric Mata: Yup. Yup. She is a peer record, a peer recovery support specialist here in the Springfield Dayton area too.
So, uh, what's up Amy? Good to see you. Glad I, I figured you'd tune in, so thanks for the comment there, but anyway, Kevin, so check this out. Right? So after getting out of treatment, so you got to take, let's take a look at, like, let's say I'm a family member, right. And I'm going to take, take a look at the facts.
Okay. Eric's been. And failed. Been to jail, looking at, going to prison. He's overdosed. He doesn't have a job. He doesn't have any education. He dropped out of high school. Right. He has nobody in his life. Who's a positive influence. Like what. [00:19:00] What chance do I really have, you know what I'm saying? Like, what chance does somebody like that really have basically zero?
You know? So anyway, I get out of treatment, right? And I was out of treatment from that first, from the period of the first time to the second time there was about four or five month gap. Right. And that was the bitter ends for me. It was a cold long December, 2009 winter. I mean, I remember it legit sleeping outside.
I remember being so hung, like literally skin and bones. Cause I was so hot and like I had family, my family they'd love me, but they're like, dude, we love you, but you can't come here. No. Like my grandpa was like, leave, you have to go, you know? And like, and I knew if, if he would've just let me ride it out on the couch, you know what I'm saying?
And let grandma keep cooking breakfast and lunch and dinner for me every day. Why would I have had to change? You know what I'm saying? I would've have no consequences, but anyway, a few months later, after that first attempt to treatment, I went back to that same treatment center again, right. It was the same treatment center, the [00:20:00] same counselors, the same case managers, the same treatment plan, the same facility.
The only thing that was different was I did not go with any of my knucklehead friends that second time around, which I think was very beneficial for me. Right. I don't really have any, I don't have any scientific data that proves that, Hey, if he goes to treatment with people, he knows he's more likely to use or, you know, I don't have anything to support that I can just share.
That's my experience. When I went to treatment that second time, I didn't know that. And here's the hit, right? Here's the hit they used. They still do treatment that second time they, they took us to like NAA meetings and AA meetings that were outside of the treatment center, which I encourage, I highly, that's what got me.
That's what kept me clean. So they took us to meetings. And I remember going to one of my first meetings after I got back into treatment again, and I saw a guy right. That I had went to treatment with six months prior to that. And this dude was still. I get goosebumps, like [00:21:00] even share that with you, because that was the first time in my life.
I had ever personally known somebody and see, here's the thing. Like I was a heroin addict. This dude was a crack head. So it was like back then, you know, but I'm comparing, well, I'm not a crack yet. I wouldn't, you know what I'm saying? So it's like, I remember telling myself. Dammit. If this crackhead can stay clean, I have to be able to stay clean.
Like, and I'm telling you what, that was the first time in my life. I ever had hope that I to possibly stay clean by seeing this old dude who was in, he was living in transitional housing. You know what I'm saying? He had been clean like six months, like he was doing the thing and I'm, I'm telling you what that was.
That was it. That's what it took right there for me to actually finally believe, you know, so from the time I started using it 14 to the time I got clean at 22, I'm talking about eight years of denial. Right? Justification, rationalization, all that stuff that comes with addiction that I didn't even know was addiction to get me to that place where [00:22:00] I was like, wow, Maybe I too can stay clean.
Kevin Petersen: and I love what you said earlier, you know, your, your grandpa said, that's it, we're done, you know, you're out. And, and then, and that, and then that put you into a place where you had to seek you sought treatment again. And then, you know, and then probably in the process of your treatment, you saw someone that was actually doing it that you could connect with.
I've actually had a very similar experience in that. Uh, when I first got sober in Los Angeles, you know, I was running around doing all this thing. And I remember at a Sunday night meeting seeing a girl that I had gone to college with named Alison coming across the room with this big smile on her face.
And I was just, I mean, I think I was like 60, 90 days sober, you know, just clinging to the chair, like, oh please, God don't let me die. You know? And she walked up to me and gave me a big hug and I was like, oh my God, I can't believe you're here. She's like, yeah, I've been sober five. And then I, you know, immediately was like, oh, thank God.
Eric Mata: there's it. See what happens is like, you know, just like I shared with you before, [00:23:00] like I felt like I belonged in the streets. I felt like I belonged using drugs when I felt like I belonged as a person in recovery. That's when I started to stay clean. When I identified as a recovering addict, when I say, hello, my name is Eric.
I'm an addict. I got 30 days clean and I don't know how to live with or without drugs. Like the freedom that comes along with that, uh, combined with right. A fellowship of people who know me. Right. Who knows the thing that I, that I suffer from that is a huge secret, you know, because you take a look at the facts here, like, okay.
So once I got clean, I went to transitional housing, which I incurred. Woman dog, cat chicken, squirrel, whatever you are. If you get out of treatment and you have the option to go to transitional. I would highly suggest it because I think that you need to experience what it's like to do something different.
Right? You may be able to go back to mommy or daddy's a grandma's house. So, you know what I'm saying? In my case, I live with my sister most of the time. So [00:24:00] it's like, I never had my own. I never like, you know, a lot of people say, well, I want to get clean so I can get everything back that I thought that I lost.
I was like, I was 22. I didn't have any. Right. Nothing. So I, wasn't not trying to get back stuff. So, you know, like after I got out, I lived in, I lived in a halfway house, transitional. I loved it. Kevin, I'm talking like the guys I was in there with, we kicked it, we went to meetings. We used to like cook dinners together.
And I remember telling him, I was like, you're gonna have to throw me out of here. I was like, I ain't never leave him. That was what I told him. I said, I will never leave. Right. I felt safe there. I felt like I belonged there. You know what I'm saying? Like that was the foundation that at the same time, don't, don't get it wrong.
Like I completed outpatient treat. I got a sponsor. I went to narcotics anonymous. I went to alcohol. I went to, I went to any meeting I get to, you know, but I got a sponsor. I worked the 12 steps. You know what I'm saying? Like, I, I literally worked with the 12 steps with a sponsor. Yep. I got a home group. I went to meetings, faithfully.
I had, I [00:25:00] was the, you know, I had a service position at my house. It was, they suggested that I do. I knew my, my thinking or my way of doing things was, was corrupt. So I knew that as long as I didn't do what I thought was a good idea, I was going to win. So
Kevin Petersen: I, man, I'm telling you you're preaching to the choir and I love it.
Cause I, I, I, I mean, I, my experience was very, I mean, I didn't have the legal consequences. I was 27 and, and, but I had, you know, all bridges. You know, there was, there was nowhere else to go. And I just immersed myself in the culture in Los Angeles of alcoholics anonymous. I mean, I was going to a meeting at lunch, in a meeting at night because I had nothing else to do, you know, nobody else was hanging out with Kevin, you know, and yeah.
And like you said, I found my. Yeah. You know, and we'd go to the meeting, we go to coffee, we go to ice cream, we'd go to the movies. Somebody was moving, we all had to show up. And I mean, there was constant stuff going on and it created that community. [00:26:00] You know, that w which, like you said, I felt like I belonged, you know, and.
We've got some more folks commenting. We've got bill Duff and Douggie for Llano and saying hi and telling us that they really dig what we're having when we're chatting about here, which is
Eric Mata: people there.
Kevin Petersen: Yeah. Awesome. That's great. I think that's awesome. Um, and you know, one of the things that Amy Parker puts in, she goes recovery housing should be part of the continuum.
I agree, Amy and Amy, I want you to download both of my books for [email protected] Cause I talk about that. I talk about how the continuum of care is more than just a quickie 28 days in treatment that the statistics actually show. And especially for the stuff you're talking about, Eric, you know, the, the, the heavier drugs, you know, the benzos, the opiates, it takes 18 months to 24 months for the brain to carry.
Yep. You know? And so you got to stay in a semi contained environment with their people that are holding you accountable to keep you rocking.
Eric Mata: Let me share this as well [00:27:00] too. Cause I think this is a very good valid point. So back when I got clean in 2010, right? So Kevin, you live in Florida, right? So I, you know, and I'm sure the laws are, I'm sure that this stuff is different in every state, but back in 2010 in Ohio for a single white male with no CA I'm sorry, a single male with no kids income, right.
To get insurance. Wasn't. Right. It was not happening back then. So when I went to treatment, like I didn't have insurance, my family didn't have 20 GS sitting around to pay for me to go to treatment. So it's a different, it was it's still. So like, you gotta think, you gotta think about, so the, the, the argument was, well, everybody needs transitional housing, which I think would be great, but the real, the real determining factor in that is who's going to pay.
Right. You got someone who's going to pay for it. Now, all of a sudden this transitional housing and every, you know, bells and whistles, you need to help to get people to stay clean. But back then I didn't have treatments. So I was, I was literally the mental health and recovery board of Clark Greene, and Madison counties literally paid for my treatment [00:28:00] back in 2010.
When I didn't have insurance, I didn't have an income. My family didn't have the ways and means to support me. I mean, they were the ones that paid for the treatment, you know, and I'm sure there was some. Oh, in con in conjunction with other grants and stuff like that. And then, so the transitional house that I went to after I got out of treatment, the mental health and recovery board also paid for the first month of me staying there.
The rule was get a job, pay rent, or you have to leave right. Let's let's moving forward. So it's like, hooray. He got clean. Congratulations. Like you don't understand the problems that someone faces once they get clean. Right. If you think, if you think, oh, if he would just get clean, everything would be magically.
Okay. Because that's going to open up so many other problems. For example, I had like, literally Kevin, like when I had it's funny. So when I first got out of treatment, I remember I would go apply for jobs. And back then in 2010, [00:29:00] you filled out paper applications. So I would literally go. And the only thing I could put on an application was my.
Right. And the rest of it was blank. I didn't have any work history. I didn't have a high school diploma. I didn't have any references. I couldn't even remember the address to the halfway house I was staying at. I didn't know there was a phone there. So like literally when I was applying for jobs, the only thing I could put on there was my name.
Right. Here's a funny story. I always, I used to share people, used to laugh at me about it, but it's the freaking truth. Right? So like back when I first got clean, I lived in a transitional house in like literally three blocks down the road was a little scary. Right. They may have them in, they got little Caesars down in Florida.
Okay, cool. So back then there was, you know, the guy that used to stand out in front. Looking at sign around and stuff like dance around and stuff. I was like, man, that dude has it may look how easy his job is. Like, I want that job. I'm telling you what, Kevin Little Caesars wouldn't even hire me. Right. I used to call them.
I used to call them every day. I said, hello, my name's [00:30:00] Eric. I live right down the street. I'm looking for a job. I'll be there whenever you need me. Uh, they said, okay, we'll pull your application. We'll give you a call back. Right. And I would call these people all the time and I'm telling you, nobody would give me a job.
Right. And the first job that I actually, I actually ended up getting a job, but then I got fired from that job before I even started because they found out I had a felony on my record. I mean, I'm just talking about challenges on top of challenges right there, you know, and of course I eventually got up and, um, you know, so, and here was another good key turning point too, that I think a lot of families.
Don't really consider, right. And even people in early recovery, they don't consider this either. So I had about eight or nine months clean at this time, I was able to get a third shift job. So I was like, I literally had to ride my bicycle from one side of town all the way to the other side. It took me like 30 minutes to ride my bike to work and back.
Third shift. Right. I worked at a mustard factory, so all my clothes smelled like [00:31:00] mustard. All my shoes smelled like mustard. My bedroom smelled like mustard. Like I, I was nine months clean and I hated life because I literally would, would, you know, I would sleep all day. I would work on. I was still able to hit meetings because meetings were top priority for me.
But I was like, man, this sucks. You know what I'm saying? This sucks making seven bucks an hour at a mustard factory working all night long. You know what I'm saying? All I could do basically was pay my rent, buy myself cigarettes. And like, that was it. I didn't have no extra money, you know, $7. Doesn't add up to a whole lot.
I don't care how many times you multiply it. So. I remember I got connected with, uh, with a group of like, it was a nonprofit group and the, and you know, in Springfield where I lived at and they connected me with kind of like a coach or a mentor type person. And, um, and I remember this guy, he sat down with me and he got me straight in my face and he said, Eric, what are your goals?
And I was like, uh, I don't know. You know what I'm saying? No, one's really ever asked me that before. So. He said, okay, well, let's write out some goals together. [00:32:00] And I was like, Hmm. So I remember thinking about it. And I was like, well, I'd love to open a bank account because right now, every time I cash my check, it costs me $4.
Cause I got to go down to the little corner store and cash, my check. So four times four that's 16 bucks a month might not sound like a lot to some people, but I'm telling you what, that's a lot of money when you, when you're making seven bucks an hour. So I was like, I'm gonna open a bank account. And I was like, You know, I want to get health insurance because back then I had been, I had shot dope for like four or five.
I didn't know if I had, you know, like some crazy disease or something. So, you know, I, I just didn't know. I was, I was like, glad to be cleaned in the back of my mind. I was always freaking out like, man, I shot a lot of dope. You know what I'm saying? I don't know what am I putting in my body or something like that.
So I told him, I said, I want to get a bank account. I want to get health insurance. And I want to get my GED because I thought that by getting my GED, that would be the ways and means to me getting a better job. So. And I literally sat down with this guy. I wrote out these goals, he said, okay, take your paycheck, take your ID, [00:33:00] go to the bank and tell them you want to open a bank account.
I was like, that's it? He's like, yeah, that's all you gotta do. So I did it right, black. I shared back then it wasn't in the cards for a single man, even if you made limited income to get health insurance. So that wasn't really, I couldn't achieve that goal at that time without having a good job. And he told me, he said, okay, you want to get your GED call this place.
Talk to this person, schedule your test and pay for the test. I was like, that's it. I was like, I've been running from this GED for four or five years. And all I had to do was call this place, talk to this person, schedule this test and pay 40 bucks. And he's like, yeah, that's it. Uh, just in, like, from that one conversation right there, I had accomplished two out of the, three of the big goals that I had for myself, you know?
So I went and got the bank account. I went and got the GED. And by, by meeting with that man, like something was internalized in my little monkey mind. I said, okay, if I can just identify what I want, right. And then list out the steps that I have to do to get it, and then find somebody who [00:34:00] knows how to do the things that it takes to get it and let them tell me what to do.
I can accomplish anything I want. So, you know, kind of fast forward, you know, to where it says a story about recovery with Eric Matta, from active addiction to successful entrepreneur. Right? So it was like, I, so it was like, after I got, I got my GED and I got a better job I made instead of $7 an hour, I made $9 an hour.
I quickly realized $9 an hour. Isn't going to get it either. I was like, why not? $15 an hour, $12 an hour, something like that. So I was like, I remember probably just like you, I, um, I remembered how much my counselors really helped me out. And I said, you know what? I want to become an alcohol and drug counselor.
So what did I do? I went back up to my alcohol and drug counselor and said, Hey. I want to do what you do. What did you do? And they literally said, I went to college here. I graduated here, I got this licensure and this is how I got the job. So that's what I did. I enrolled in that college. I got that degree.
I got that licensure and I got that job. And you know, it took some years to do that. [00:35:00] So like, it took me, it took me like six years to graduate. I got a bat and social work. Um, so right now I'm a, I'm a licensed social worker, a licensed, I have LCD C3, which is the. In Ohio, it's weird. It's, it's basically a batch.
It's a bachelor's level chemical dependency license. Sure. Um, so I remember, you know, this, you know, and I, I'm not I'm, my wife will tell you I have a very dry sense of humor. So if I try to be funny, I apologize.
So I remember right back when I got my, my teachers used to tell us, they'd say, all right, guys, when you graduate, you'll be lucky to start to find a job making $16 an hour. I'm like, I just went to school for six years and now I'm going to be lucky to find a job making $16 an hour. I was like, this shit ain't gonna work.
No, man, what do I gotta do to make money around here? So I, so what did I do? I started studying people who made money. Right? I started studying entrepreneurs back and I still [00:36:00] do this. I used to watch a ton of YouTube videos. I'd find a guy on YouTube. Who's talking about stuff. He builds stuff on, sell stuff online.
You know what I'm saying? I just would watch these people. And I'm like, how do they do this? And, you know, I remember I used to be real obsessed with like motivational speakers and I would hear like, you know, Eric Thomas would get paid 40, 50 grand to go give a talk somewhere. And I'm like, how does he do this?
Like, I like to talk, I'm kind of good at it. Maybe somebody will pay me. So I remember I printed up this little flyer and I was. You know, and I, I just, I was like, I've got experience with addiction and recovery, and I said, I'll be glad to come talk anywhere to anybody about anything, something like that.
And I remember passing this flyer out everywhere, everywhere, and it led to some stuff like I didn't get paid thousands of dollars for it, but it led me to experience. Or did it, how you look at it. So it led me to a lot of experience. So I'm sorry, Kevin, I don't want to get off track there. My, my, no, I think,
Kevin Petersen: I mean, I think you've done a great job talking about what it was like about what happened.
And by the [00:37:00] way, I had a very similar thing. I was actually sober for 16. But I was freaking miserable and I hated my job and I hated what was going on. And I looked at my friends, my two friends in their forties, like I was, and they were both, they changed careers and they were happy. And I was like, what are you, what did you do?
And he's like, I want to be a nurse. So I went back to nursing school. The other guy was a therapist and they both said, you should be at this. So I'm with you entirely there. I had to, I had to do the exact same thing. I had to go find people that had done it before me and say, what did you do? And how did you do this?
You know, let's talk now tell me about you now, but you know, tell me about, I mean, I, the business success is fantastic and obviously we'll talk about. I want to hear about the family. You, you have a wife and children, and how do you go from being a heroin addict in prison or facing prison again, to, you know, living the lifestyle you lead.
Eric Mata: So it's funny because like, you know, I, from like, so I got clean when I was 22 [00:38:00] and I'm 34 now, like from like 22 to 28, 29, like I was in meetings every day I was raw. I was sponsoring working. I was, I was obsessed. Right. So I've got all these stories and I'll say, well, I used to say this. Right. So I got all these stories.
Right. So, yeah, I got this story about, you know, so I was like, so today, like I'm a husband, I got three kids. I got a five-year-old girl. I got a three-year-old old. And a one-year-old boy. And about 30 minutes before this call, right? I was reading a book. I was taking notes for some presentation. I'm about to deliver later today and it's.
And then here comes my middle daughter, right. Paint all over her hands and just her face. And I'm like, oh my God, where'd that come from? So I'm like, I'm freaking out. And I go in the bathroom and she's got hand prints all over the walls, all over the toilet, over the six. So she's got paint everywhere.
Right. So that's what it's like, you know what I'm saying? Like, you just never know what these kids are going to do. But I am very, very, very blessed, but much more than anything I deserve. My wife is amazing. She's wonderful. [00:39:00] Um, I met her when she was 18. She was actually, she hates when I say this, I think so.
I don't know if maybe she was actually, she was, she was just about to graduate high school. Right. So, you know, and I met her, I was 25. She was 18. And I just remember the first time I saw her, I was like, she is. I would love to hang out, kick it, you know, eat dinner, whatever. So I was like, we just started talking, you know what I'm saying?
It's like, and, um, so anyway, like I remember, so a lot of people make a big mistake. Right. And I'll call it a big mistake. Cause that's what I feel like it is. Um, at least it would have been for me if you feel differently. Okay. I agree. So a lot of people make the big mistake. They get clean, they start going to meetings and they hook up with the first person that lays off.
Yeah. So like, and back then in the meetings, they say, don't even get in a relationship for a year getting in relationships, a bad idea. And I was like, I was, I was, uh, I was an open-minded. Say don't do it. I'll try not to do it. So I made it almost a year, but anyways, um, I, uh, [00:40:00] I remember like I, when I first got clean, I had a really bad relationship, right.
Yeah. Yeah. And, um, that relationship ended and I learned a lot from that. I learned what I did not. Right. I learned, and most importantly, I learned what I wanted, you know what I'm saying? And, and, and I shit, you not, Kevin. I remember I've always been a journal listing, you know, say, write it out kind of guy.
So I remember writing out everything that I wanted in a woman, you know? And I'm, I, I beautiful, smart, funny. Um, I didn't want her to have any kids cause I wanted to start a family. You know what? I want to have my own family. I wanted her to have good relationships with her family. I want her to have goals.
I want her to have dreams. And um, and I said, okay, well, if this is the type of woman, what type of man would she be attracted? And I was like, that's it right there, because if you want that kind of girl, but you're not the kind of guy that, that type of girl would be attracted to, she ain't looking at you, she ain't talking to you.
She over there, she's, she's looking for her man. You [00:41:00] know? So I remember, I mean, I was crystal clear. I was so focused. I knew exactly what I wanted. I knew I knew more importantly what I didn't want. You know what I'm saying? I didn't want a bad relationship. I didn't want some girl that all my friends had been with, you know, saying I didn't want no.
Horrible bad reputation that she was running from. Like, I didn't want none of that stuff. So I remember when I saw this little cute 18 year old girl who worked at taco bell, I said, there she is, you know, there she is. And, um, and it, like, it just starts one day at a time, you know what I'm saying? Shoot, you know what I'm saying?
Eight, nine years later with three kids and a life, you know what I'm saying? Married
Kevin Petersen: and, you know, and, and yeah, and I, trust me, I get it. I I'm married to, I'm married to a wonderful woman that I adore. We have three dogs, but you know, similar environment, but not exactly the same, but, but none of that happens without being sober and staying sober.
Eric Mata: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Kevin Petersen: Yeah, [00:42:00] without that we never get to the, we never have this conversation about being successful at work, being educated, having a wonderful person in our lives, having a great family environment, you know, none of that happens without the initial thing of, I got to get sober and I got to stay sober.
That's gotta be number one, you know? And I remember like when I got sober in LA. They would talk about the holy Trinity, you get a, you get your job, you get your car and you get a girlfriend and then you're gone. You leave a, I don't need this anymore. And when I saw those guys cycling in and out, you know, and it was one of those three things, they start making money.
I don't need this anymore. They give they'd fall in love. I don't need this anymore. You know? And then, then they come back in, you know, just a little bit more broken each.
Eric Mata: Yep. And you know, I, I remember being, I remember telling myself, I don't want to be that guy. I don't want to be that guy who gets clean, um, finds a new way to live builds a beautiful life, and then forgets where he comes from [00:43:00] forgets about all those peop forgets about the fellowship that helped save his life.
You know, I always said I'm never cause here's the thing. Like my first sponsor, I watched him do that. Right. I watched him get his entire life back together and then stop. You know what I'm saying? I remember telling myself, like, I'll never stop doing that, but there's something happened to, you know what I'm saying?
Like where I got married and then I had one kid and then I had two kids and then I had three kids. It is like, you know, at the same time, I'm like building these businesses and like trying to figure out how to make more money and try to. And be happy and stuff like that. And, you know, to be honest, like I put my, I put my 12 step meeting attendance on the back burner because for me, recovery had evolved in my life and other, and, uh, and this sounds horrible, but like other opportunities started to pop up and like, here's the facts.
We all got 24 hours in a day. Right. Yep. Do you want, do I chose not to be the guy who went to meetings every single day [00:44:00] so that I could become something different, right. Something that I felt like I was in to be, and here's the facts. I fucking love going to meetings. You know what, I'm sorry to get started.
I love it. You know what I'm saying? Like, I love working steps. I love reading literature. I love being around my predecessors. I love seeing the newcomer. You know what I'm saying? Like I love when the guys in treatment come to the meetings and you know, it's going to be a good meeting. I love that stuff.
But at the same time I have a family, right. I have responsibilities to stuff. So if I go spend an hour and a half, two hours, two and a half hours at a meeting, right. That's hour and a half, two hours, two and a half hours that I'm spending away from. Other things in life. So it's the opportunity costs. You do this, you don't have this, you do this, you don't have that.
So here's the thing. It's all going to come full circle though, because trust me, these kids, aren't gonna be painting on the walls forever, sooner or later, they're going to be independent enough to take care of themselves a little bit. And at that time, my ass will be sitting in a meeting every single day, because that's what I truly love to do.
You know what I'm saying? Like that said, I am not confused [00:45:00] about who I am and where I came from, and that helped me get to where I'm at.
Kevin Petersen: I was married before and that came with a two year old and a three and a half year old. And, and before that I was Mr. Bachelor guy going to the gym every day, going to meetings every day, rocking and rolling.
And when that, that the woman that I married, she was like, Hey, look, you know, I got to tell you. Your lifestyle is going to change. If you want to take this any further, you know, and, and it did. And I, I locked it down to one or two. I mean, I, there was a one meaning I went to my home group and then I found a meeting, uh, in Boulder, Colorado that actually had daycare.
So I would say, Hey, I'll take the kids. And, you know, de. But I get what you're saying. You don't gotta be there every single day everyday. I mean, I'm a proponent of never forget where you came from and always stay connected, but sometimes life takes over and, you know, the, what, what used to be like you said 5, 6, 7 a week, turns into one, you know, or whatever it is.
And as long as I, I, my [00:46:00] position is, I mean, I've been sober over 30 years. My position is as long as you stay connected, That's what matters, you know, and, and, you know, there always going to be times when more is asked of you and you have to respond to that, you know, that's the reality of being in a.
Eric Mata: So 30 years in you've switched careers.
Are you happy?
Kevin Petersen: Oh yeah. I couldn't not only am I happy? Uh, you know, I, uh, that first marriage didn't work out. The second marriage is wonderful. And then, uh, we had some life circumstances in 2018 where my wife faced, um, colorectal and kidney cancer and they were pretty brutal. And that forced us to realize we were living in Denver, Colorado then.
And we were like, Is this really where we want to live, you know, is this who we want to be? And we were like, no, it really isn't. So we started shopping around, uh, in 2017, actually, uh, for a place to live and we landed in Jacksonville beach and just fell in love. So, [00:47:00] and then, then she got cancer and that even, you know, the funny moment we always talk about is the day she was diagnosed.
I don't take this the wrong way, but we are never going to move to the beach. I just, I feel like we can't catch a break and her response was, no, this means we're moving. Now. This means because if we're going to face this stuff and she's in recovery also, um, and she's like, if this is the way our lives going to go, we're going to do it on our terms.
So once we got done with her treatment, when we bought a condo out here and we moved here, so I love my recovery. I love my. And I love my marriage. And, and so yeah, the answer to your question is, yeah, I am having. I'm absolutely happy, but I know what gets me there and how, what I got to do to stay there.
Yeah. Good stuff.
Eric Mata: Good stuff. That's what, that's a question. I always like to ask people who are 10, 20, 30 years ahead of me. Cause trust me, I seek out these types of relationships and one of the questions, are you happy? Where do you find fulfillment? You know what I'm saying? Because [00:48:00] for the longest time I was the guy chasing success, you know, and that's what I said.
Gotta have goals. You gotta be working toward your goals and if you don't. You know what I'm saying? That was my mentality. So that's, you know, and what I've learned is that, you know what I'm saying? Like, I can have a goal and I can work hard at it and, and accomplish that goal. But at the end of that goal, am I happy?
Am I fulfilled? You know what I'm saying? And a lot, there's been a lot of things that I've done that at the end. I didn't get the result that I thought I was going to get. You know what I'm saying? So it's weird because like, you know, I always thought if I could just make $15 an hour, $20 an hour, $50 an hour, a hundred dollars an hour, a thousand dollars, you know what I'm saying?
It's like, I've learned, money's not the solution. You know what I'm saying? And it took me, it took me 3, 4, 5 years of chasing and getting to realize that. You know what I'm saying? So, but at the end of the day, like you said, I love the family. I love the crazy kids. You know what I'm saying? Sometimes I want to choke them out, but I'm not going to, I promise they're crazy though.
You know what I'm [00:49:00] saying?
Kevin Petersen: That's kids. That's what kids do. That's you know, that's that's I get it. I totally, I completely understand. Well, I think we've gone through everything there is to talk about today. You know, talking about what it was like, what happened, what it's like now, do you have any parting thoughts or any parting wisdoms or
Eric Mata: man, you know, I, I always, I always share this, right.
So when I got clean people weren't dying. Like they are today. You know what I'm saying? So when I share my experience with you of how my grandpa kicked me out, my family loved me from a distance. God forbid that would have been today. And they would have told me to leave one night and that would have been the last time they ever told me to leave.
You know what I'm saying? And something, right. So it's like, I w I always share that, you know, things have changed in the last and, and things will always change. You know what I'm saying? So I think at the end of the day, I think healthy boundaries are a good thing, but you have to know, you know what I'm saying?
That there is that. [00:50:00] Like there is SAC is in risk and there's always a chance that, that last time you talked to somebody could be the last time, you know? So I don't know what if there's hope in that, or if there's re a smack in the face of reality, but, um, you know, and I'll share this before we get off of your Kevin.
So I was like, you know, I come from a family tree of addiction, moms, dads, sisters, everybody I knew. Right. When I first got, when I got clean, I, you know, I was, uh, I was, I was in college. I had two jobs. I was, you know, doing, I was living the recovery life, but I'm telling you whether it was still a big part of me that was missing because all my family was out there struggling.
And, um, I remember one day, my younger sister, my youngest. She called me, you know? And she had, she had a similar story of, I did try to get clean, tried failed, tried failed, tried failed, tried failed, tried failed, tried failed, tried, failed over and over and over and over. And then one day she called me and she's like, Eric, I'm ready to get clean.
She's like, I'm in Springfield and I need help. And I was like, all right, I'm gonna [00:51:00] come pick you up. I said, and I went and picked her up. I took her ass to a homeless shelter. I said, look, if you're serious, I said, this is where you're going to. You're going to get an assessment. You're going to do treatment.
You're going to do everything that they tell you to do. And if not, there's nothing I can do for you. Right. That was my boundary right there. And, um, and she was a heroin addict. Right. And she was actively withdrawing. And, um, you know, I don't say it's the right thing to do, but I chose to purchase medication on the street and do and do what and do what I felt like I had to do at that time.
You know what I'm saying? Because I felt like it was the right thing to do. Do I suggest you do that? If you've got a loved one, who's struggling. Absolutely not. Right. There was something about her level of desperation and, you know, cause she, I mean, she's one of them homeless, but she, at that time she was one of those homeless people who was sleeping on the streets begging for.
God knowing whatever else she was doing to get high every single day. And when she called me and said she was ready for help, thankfully, I [00:52:00] knew the resources available. I knew about the homeless shelter. I knew about treatment. I knew how treatment worked. I knew who to call. I knew what the waiting times were like.
I knew all that stuff. And, um, I chose to make, I made that decision to get her some to Medicaid. And I, you know, I kept it at my house and gave her a little bits and tiny slivers at a time. But I can tell you she's been clean ever since, you know what I'm saying? And she's been, that's been 5, 6, 7 years.
Something like that. She's been closed years. She owns her own house. She's got two degrees. She got a good job. You know what I'm saying? She's happy. And, uh, I don't see her as much as I'd like to, but she works all the damn time. But, um, you know, that's life, you know what I'm saying? That's life. But, um, you know, and that's why I would say like, I could have told her, no, I said, no, I'm not going to help you.
You got to do this. And she could've went out and died, you know, could have happened.
Kevin Petersen: I totally understand what you're saying. I, and, and I always like, again, the reference back into my books, I always tell people you can set boundaries, but you have to have a solution for [00:53:00] them as well. You can't just slam the door on their face.
You know, you got to say, we're not, you know, this is not accepted. But we have a solution for you. Let us, I mean, we're happy to, like you said, if you're in, I'm in, you know, that's the connection a hundred percent agree with everything. Yeah.
Eric Mata: Uh, another story just because I'm full of them. Uh, another, another person who's very close to me, right then, uh, as has just made a decision to try to get, so they didn't make their own decision.
They, they hit bottom. Right. So there's something about that bottom. And I've really feel like if the family members, if the only thing they know. Is what resources are available when that person hits bottom so that you can present those resources and say, here you are my friend, you are at the lowest point in your life.
I am extending my invitation to help. But this is what help looks like, right? Yeah. Go to treatment. Right. Get sober, go to transitional housing, get a job. Like, [00:54:00] and, and I, I, I, like I said, I own a fricking, uh, substance abuse prevention business. Right. I have licensures, I've done this for years, but when it's somebody so close to you, I sit back and I say, I don't know what to do.
You know what I'm saying? And then I have to reach out to people and say, Here's the situation, what should I do? Right. And they say, well, it sounds like you should probably do blank. I say, great idea. That's what I'm going to do. So it's like, you know, even with all this experience, like I still am not the smartest person I know.
Right. I'm actually the exact opposite. Not very smart. I make bad decisions most of the time and most things I try to do fails, but I know that in a situation when it comes to getting my loved one, I don't care if I think I'm the boss or the, the, the, the one who knows everything. I still need advice from somebody who knows what the heck they're talking about and be humble enough to say, Hey, what do you think?
You know what I'm saying? [00:55:00]
Kevin Petersen: Uh, I do. I totally, I'm absolutely a hundred percent across the board. I think that attitude in general through life is what makes people, you know, that's what hell has helped me is always being able to. I don't know what I'm doing. I need some help. I don't care how educated I am.
I don't care how wealthy I am. I don't care any of that stuff. I need help. You know, I think that's the hardest part of my recovery currently is constantly asking. Yeah, so, all right, man. Well, this has been awesome. Wow. I mean, I feel like we could just go all day, but,
Eric Mata: you know, look, I, I definitely could. So get the, get the book, a plug there, free e-book book.com.
Check it out. I've read about, I've read half of the book. I read, I read enough through and I said, yep. He knows what he's talking about. Hey man, I like the stories that you share. So definitely there's a great resource that somebody could use to get started, to learn what it takes to actually help somebody get clean and sober.[00:56:00]
Kevin Petersen: Okay. Yeah, absolutely. That's why I wrote it. I grew up in, I like you, I grew up in a house of addiction and I developed my own addiction and alcoholism got sober, became a mental health professional. So I really just want to share my experience, strength and hope with folks and see where it takes.
Eric Mata: You're doing a great job on man. Keep it up. Hey brother.
Kevin Petersen: I appreciate all your help
Eric Mata: and support. Cool. All right guys. Thanks for tuning in.
Kevin Petersen: All right, tag. Thanks. Good to see a pal. Talk to you later.
Eric Mata: Bye. Thank you for listening to the chronic hope Institute podcast with your host, Kevin Peterson, please join us again.
Next time we exist to provide support education and hope for families who are struggling with addiction. And co-dependence. Remember to connect with us on Facebook, as well as subscribe to the chronic hope Institute podcast on YouTube, Spotify, apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts. See you again soon.
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