The disease of addiction has a way of stripping away the most beautiful, tender, unique, and meaningful parts of a person’s life and the lives of those who love them. The journey through addiction can be dark, depressing, and damaging. Regrettably, some people’s paths continue to wind until they are eventually cut short. Yet, we cannot forget that for so many, recovery is possible and lives of all affected can be restored. It is important for people in recovery to be able to share honestly and openly about their experiences and to believe that the good, the bad, and the ugly of their stories can be used to help someone else. Whether we are sharing or listening, both actions stand to break down the stigma of addiction and bridge the gap to community connections. Gateway is proud and appreciative of Michael Rambin’s willingness to share a piece of his story. *Please note that content may be triggering to some readers.
Looking back, how did your journey towards using substances begin and where did it take you?
I was grounded from ages 12-18. I didn’t get that many opportunities to experience my adolescent years. I kind of went “all out” when I was able to move out of my dad’s house and away from my abusive step mother.
After high school I joined the Navy as an engineman. I ended up going to the brig for 3 years and then was discharged. When I came home, I got a job as a framing carpenter, got an apartment with my highschool sweetheart, and started a family.
Mostly, I just smoked marijuana and drank until I was about 24 and I tried “speed” for the first time, at work with some buddies. It seemed to help me stay focused and work quicker. I didn’t use daily, and I never suspected that what I was doing would have such a negative impact on my future.
I went from the occasional “line” to the needle by the time I was 26. By age 28 I was a full fledged IV drug addict. My children’s mother did what she thought was best for our boys and did not allow me to see them.
I was headed down a path of destruction as I went from meth, to cocaine, and back to meth. Manufacturing meth became my primary job. On November 12, 2002 I was shot in the abdomen. The bullet hit my liver, and my gallbladder and right kidney were destroyed. I was in the hospital for 6 weeks. Lucky to be alive, I was released from the hospital to my dad’s house on December 31st, 2002.
When I went back to Oklahoma in March 2003 to have the bullet removed, I surrounded myself with “ old friends” and ended up going to prison. I served 26 months on a five year sentence and moved back to Texas.
I started playing music with my brothers, and we formed The Rambin Brothers Band. It felt great to play music and be clean and sober for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. I also met a nice woman, got married, and we had a baby. This was my second chance at a family.
However, we threw all that away when we started using meth together. (Thankfully, my ex-wife is sober now and has come a long way.) Our eventual divorce was hard on me, and I continued to use meth even more to hide the hurt I was dealing with. However, it only made it worse in the long run.
Did you experience a “rock bottom”?
I lost my dad to cancer in 2017. I lost my youngest brother and the guitar player for our band in 2018, to alcoholism. He was 33 and had pretty much drank himself to death.
I ended up back on the needle, looking for any way possible to not deal with the loss of my brother. I found myself back in jail twice in 6 months and on the news for following someone I thought was my wife. I was so confused, and the drugs weren’t helping matters at all. I still fight the guilt of watching Ronnie drink himself to death and not trying to help him, but I didn’t feel like I was in any position to tell someone else what they should be doing with their life.
What was your turning point? Who or what helped you?
In June of 2019, I decided that I wanted to quit and just stopped using. I relied on my own self-control and some professional help in my corner. I made it three and a half years. At the end December of 2022, I had had a huge trigger surface that I wasn’t prepared for. I used for about two weeks then went back to Gateway.
My current wife has also been a huge help to me by never giving up and setting boundaries. Also, my ex-wife and sons have been a huge supporting factor in my recovery.
What internal/external challenges do you face on your recovery journey?
My health issues are a huge internal challenge. I’ve had both knees and one shoulder replaced. I have had cancer in my thyroid, two cervical fusions, and various other surgeries. These issues keep me from working, can bring up feelings of inadequacy as a man, and even cause depression.
What does your life look like today?
Today my life looks so much better. I still attend Gateway for group and individual counseling. These things have been key to my recovery. I get to play in the band with my two oldest sons and restore the relationship we lost due to my addiction. I also get to explore new talents like painting and serve in my community. I would like to continue sharing my story with anyone that may have interest. I have no desire to ever go back to that lifestyle again.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with those reading this article?
What works for me may not work for you. I would suggest to anyone that struggles with addiction or other mental health issues to reach out to someone, whether Gateway, NA or AA, etc., a school counselor, etc. Recovery is possible for anyone. Don’t give up! You’re worth it!!
If you or someone you know would like support on their recovery journey, do not hesitate to reach out us at 273-1170 x0 or send us a message through our facebook page: Gateway to Prevention and Recovery, Inc.