Ian Young’s default program is set on ‘jolly.’ He is relentlessly jolly. Which is a pretty good place for an ex-crack and heroin addict and alcoholic. it’s pretty bloody amazing when you consider he should be dead now and it is nothing short of a miracle that he is not only alive and well, but also very jolly. Ian now runs his own business in the UK and has just published a book “It’s not about me – Confessions of a Recovered Outlaw Addict from Living Hell to Living Big” based on his experiences getting clean and sober.
1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
I was 29 when I finally got clean, but over the course of the three previous years I grew steadily worse as my values and principles went out the window and I turned to increasingly petty crime just attempting to keep myself feeling relatively normal. Sadly I failed and spent most of the time in a state of withdrawal, experiencing less and less actual nirvana and more and more antagonistic minutes / hours / days / months and finally years of discomfort, unable to keep myself sufficiently medicated on heroin, cocaine and booze.
I was injecting cocaine and heroin, and smoking crack whenever I could afford it. Alcohol was a permanent source of attempted comfort.
But what really hurt the most was how I was treating people. I hated the way I manipulated, cheated and stole from those who I knew cared about me. I twisted things to make them feel guilty in order to get money from them. I just hated the person I became. I could no longer live with myself.
I no longer tolerated myself. I wanted out. But I didn’t know how to get out. I never knew of anyone who had got clean or sober. I had heard of one person who it was rumored had joined NA, but no one had seen her in years. And she wasn’t really that bad, was she? I was much more damaged than she was. I needed some sort of serious change that I simply wasn’t prepared to make. I couldn’t say good-bye to my life. I’d dedicated my life to this counter-culture I’d helped design and build. I was part of my own destiny and living my own dream. But I knew I’d lost the dream and gone too far. My crack and smack habit weren’t part of the dream. But would my pride allow me to change?
2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?’
I was naked, and injecting cocaine late one Saturday night towards the end of November in 2000. I has high and pacing around manically tidying up and rearranging little items, such as pens, folders, syringes, and I began writing.
I don’t know why I began writing and I have even less of an idea why I began with the words “Dear God…” but I did.
It was odd, but I wrote a letter to God without ever recognizing a belief in God or any sort of supreme being, being a hard core, argumentative atheist who would defend the true nature of the planet Mother Earth, but never consider the truth of a God in existence. And yet here I was, very high, writing a letter to God, appealing for help. Admitting I was helpless and hopeless and telling God that I was going to stop and if only God could see fit to help me rebuild my life once I’d stopped? Please?
The fundamental difference between this plea and previous attempts to cry out for help was the reversed order of things. Instead of demanding help and then promising to get clean, here I was stating my intention to stop and change, and asking only for the grace of God to step in and help my life once I had held up my side of the deal.
I made a deal with God and I went first!
I began my final cold turkey cluck a about a month later.
3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Well my first 80 or so days were spent in a rehab, in a clandestine relationship, doing my best to understand what was being asked of me in the future in order to remain clean and sober, but knowing deep down that I had that “one more hit” syndrome going through my head.
I knew that I was going to see if it worked again. I had to! I had held together a love affair with heroin and cocaine for too long to believe it possible for them to leave me just yet. I wasn’t sure if I was truly done for good. After all I only really wanted to stop injecting. I did still want to keep getting high. Didn’t I?
And so, towards the end of 15 weeks of rehab I did indeed use again, and found myself being resuscitated by paramedics. I came too with a deep sense of shame, guilt and remorse.
But the very next day I got help and thus begun my genuine sobriety. I’ve been sober since March 16th 2001.
The first 30 days were like living in a completely new sense of freedom. I dedicated myself to this new way of life and began to immerse myself in everything recovery could offer me, I knew this time was permanent sobriety. I just knew!
4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
Blimey, far too many to mention.
I got married and remained faithful and dedicated to her.
I’ve become a homeowner.
I’ve written my first book.
I’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice in 12 months. More trips are planned.
I’ve travelled across North America many, many times.
I’ve made wonderful life long sober friends and made amends to 90% of the people from my past, never shying away whenever they reveal themselves to me through supposed coincidence.
I’ve maintained my space of being of service and contribution to the greater community.
I’ve built two rehabs from the ground up and moved on at the right time (God’s time).
My businesses are all serve other people in some way. I believe I’m an Entrepreneur on a mission from God, and my mission is to improve the quality of other people’s lives.
Yes, I’ve mixed Business and Spirituality and I love the way things are panning out for me.
I’ve build my own relationship with God as I understand Her and so long as I do my best to live my life according to Her will, She keeps me feeling happy, joyous and free. My default emotion is usually Jolly and for that I am very grateful.
5) If you could go back in time to you when you were dinking/using what would you tell yourself?
Everything’s gonna turn out just fine, so go for it.
Keep the faith and don’t trample on your values.
Integrity is a difficult reputation to maintain, but it’s worth it.
6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
That I’m free to do whatever I want, all of the time, so long as it doesn’t harm myself or others. I’ve not changed too many of my lifestyle and cultural values and morals. I still stand by anarchy and peace as a way for the world to get along fine with one another and keep the wheels turning.
Unfortunately my utopia will never materialize whilst there’s still people not managing their lives above the poverty level. Crime will always prevail when it comes down to life and death. We will go to any lengths to support ourselves and our family. That’s human nature. So we must live in an abundant world for utopia to exist. We do live in a utopia, but everything starting becoming unbalanced once man began selling food to other men.
I’ve learnt we’ve just got to keep our side of the street clean, and don’t’ try to solve the worlds problems any longer.
I let go of the fighting.
7) What are your favourite recovery slogans?
Keep coming back until you know why we keep coming back.
8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Recovery Rocks, because I let it! The only thing stopping you from rocking your own recovery is YOU! Get out of your own way and feel the freedom.