One Man’s Journey to Sobriety

Gerry Sowards’ substance-abuse issues had brought him to the end of his rope, so far down he that he was planning his suicide. But with newfound faith, a stint in rehab and the help of friends, he’s been sober for three years, and he assures us that anyone in his position can do the same.


Guideposts Video: Inspiring True Stories

Hi, Guideposts. I’m Gerry Sowards. I’ve been clean and sober for three years. Everything started from where I used to work at the cemetery. I was digging graves there. And I actually buried a friend of mine’s daughter, which was a very young girl. She was, maybe, in her mid-20s, maybe a little older.

That one, right there, really touched me. I mean, it’s touching to hear stories of other people that you see die or pass as a direct result of addiction. But it never really hits home ’til it’s somebody that’s dear and close to you.

Even before I went to rehab, I knew that I wanted to change my life. But when I went to rehab, they started to teach me to fit in society, to be normal again. I almost always say it like a computer, they kind of wiped my hard drive clean, and reprogrammed me, and made me new again.

And then that was a big stepping stone for me. But the biggest stepping stone was when I met God. I had a spiritual connection with God and realized how much that God is sparing me. Because when I got clean, the day before I got clean, that’s what happened. I was on a riverbank, homeless. And I was just at the bitter end.

And I asked God for mercy. I got on my knees. And I meant it with my whole heart. And the very next day is when I ran into Sassy, a friend of mine. She was like, “Hey, you’ve already avoided the liquor store this long. Why not go to a meeting with me, an AA meeting? And if you don’t like what they got to say, heck, I’ll buy you a drink.”

So I go to the AA meeting. And they just spoke fire on me. I mean, everything they said just really hit home. And I was, like—man, I was inspired. Their testimonies were inspiring to me.

And then we got done with the meeting. She said, “So, how do you feel now? Do you still want to go have a drink?” And I said no. I was, like, “I’m not sure what to do now.” She was, like, “Well, I’ve got a little experience in recovery. So why don’t you just listen to me?”

And I did the five-day detox. And so I went up there to Pine Crest, did the 28-day. I graduated the program. I got my certificate. I think I was out for two days, and had a job. Because I knew, right from the start, that the idle time…I got in my head a lot. And I’ve always been told, idle time does the devil’s work.

I’ve already been to jail. I’ve already done the institutions. I’ve already hit my rock bottom. So the only thing left for me was death. That was the only thing left. Because if that’s what it took for me to find God, that was the important part to me, you know? Because, in this life, the real blessings come from above.

Don’t think that addiction has to be the end of your story. Because it can be the beginning of your recovery if you allow it to be. And don’t let people tell you you’re less than. Because I’m telling you, I lived on them cold streets, on the river bank, for multiple years. And that wasn’t the end of my story. And if I can do it, if I can give my life to God and change my life, God will give you the confidence you need.

And mainly, do it for yourself. You can choose. You don’t have to be like that. You don’t have to be homeless. And you don’t have to live a life of addiction. You can be normal. You just have to want it with your whole heart. Just give it to God with your whole heart. I’m living proof. Any time you look in the mirror and you think you’re too far gone, just read my story. And it speaks for itself.

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