Vance Johnson, Former NFL Pro, Father, Sober Coach, and Many Share and Reach Out To Him…

Vance Johnson, Former NFL Pro, Father, Sober Coach, and Many Share and Reach Out To Him…

Hello, Friends, Readers, Denver Fans, and New Visitors,

Well, we have gotten Vance over his writer’s block… And is why I have not posted in awhile. Today I wanted to share a little about Vance, the man today. WE also wanted to share some of the messages he receives on Facebook almost every day of those he has helped from addiction, looking for help, or maybe a parent whose child is an addict and is just looking for some support or guidance on how to help their loved one. Sharing these are powerful and helps others have a little more understanding of HOW Addictions are killing our loved ones and ravaging our communities.

And with all the coaching, speaking around the country, and events Vance attends, he is seeing this First Hand. It is some of why he does what he is doing. GOD truly had a calling, a faith-driven purpose for his life years ago when he was laying in a hospital bed in a coma for 26 days in the Rock Bottom of his own addiction.

Having Triumphed in his own recovery is how he can now help so many from this EPIDEMIC. Here now is some of those messages he receives.

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We wanted to share this from Vance’s inbox message on Facebook as he received this from a young lady who calls herself Anonymous. HE, of course, knows who she is so we won’t be sharing her name, but her message is POWERFUL…

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The Message From Anonymous:

 

Three weeks ago, after 2 amazing years of sobriety, I was found barely alive in my car. I’ve been thinking about writing this every day since then for you to share Mr. Johnson. My name is anonymous.

I must remain anonymous to preserve my family’s privacy. What you think of me, is not their fault. I’m 27 years old. The mother of 3 young boys. The fiancé of a hard-working, loving man. The daughter of 2 wonderful, supportive parents. The granddaughter of 2 amazing grandparents who I look up to every day. My days are built around my children. I wake up before them, get clothes ready, make their breakfast, clothe them, send them off to school and preschool programs. I kiss their boo-boos and tuck them in every night with a hug and kiss. We sit on the floor and play, cuddle and watch movies, make crazy art projects. I have wonderful friends. We go to playgrounds and out for ice cream.

My fiancé and I make a point to love each other every day. I love spending time with my family and hosting holidays at our home. I anticipate the change of the seasons and find so much joy in the change they bring. I love to write and to get lost in my books. I am so many things, understand. I am also a heroin addict.

Behind every move, I make there is an uneasiness within my family. I’ve spent years clean to fall back at the feet of my demons. Gained back years of trust to lose it all in one day. I fight every day to be a better person. To be honest with every word that I speak, to walk past your purse without even thinking about what’s in there. I know where and how to get high, but I don’t. I chose to live every day, but that wasn’t always the case. I’ve wrecked cars, stole, created my own list of various criminal charges.

I’ve disappointed everyone in my family. My name is anonymous…to protect myself from what you might think of me if you knew. I sit next to you at public functions. Volunteer next to you. My well-behaved, well-mannered children play next to yours. I stand in front of you at the grocery store. I hold the door for you with a smile. If I told you I was a heroin addict, you probably wouldn’t believe me. But there are millions of people out there who look just like me, sitting next to you. Think about this the next time you are feeling hateful towards addicts because we’re people who have just as much to offer. Narcan saved my life and allowed me to have another chance to do things right.

My name is anonymous because I’m still waiting for the world to open their hearts and stop looking down on me.

Annonymous…


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One More Share:

VANCE: Last night I had a call that has emotionally put me behind bars. Once again I know first hand how the people I’m called to help feel when making decisions regarding issues that keep the family in bondage to addiction, every day. This hits home and cuts to the heart.

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There is on occasion when moms and dad’s ask me what options they have when their adult children face jail or even death because of the poor decisions they’re making. Whether he/she is using drugs, selling, lying, stealing, cheating or hanging around a crowd that will eventually take them down. There is TUFF love… I generally ask moms and dads to choose the middle of the road when it comes to free themselves from their adult child’s poor choices. One of many is a home, but no money, and when they need help show them the way with conditions. 


Not protecting them from their choices I think is good practice, because they have been protected for a long long time, you may still be currently supporting them. Reassuring yourself that this lifestyle is their choice, also helps you feel less guilty about cutting down or cutting off financial support. We should replace nagging and yelling with clear communication.

Be confident about your boundaries and be able to say “no” when you’re feeling manipulated. Be done with enabling but still ready to help.

Our adult children are struggling with life, unable to cope with everyday challenges. Many return home from rehab lost and confused in some cases. Can’t hang out with old friends, relationships or even work because they don’t know who they are anymore, not recognizing that they haven’t developed the necessary emotional tools to succeed as an adult in the world of work and relationships. What can you do as a parent?

Many facilities that offer treatment don’t care what happens to them when they leave. No exit plan or resources for ongoing treatment. So do your homework guys. Recently I’ve seen young men that are in transition/halfway homes after being released from jail with no resources for staying clean or accountable, outside of “if you screw up, back to jail or prison”.


YES, this one is personal, so loving all of you who face this with me today. I’m looking in the mirror tonight myself, asking “did I do enough”!

And there is sobriety in that!
www.vanceInspires.com

 


***Yes, Vance is more than just a man in Recovery***

If you or a loved one needs help from addiction? Please visit his website Vance Inspires …  “As a certified sober coach, escort, and intervention I am able to offer multiple options getting your love-one the care they need”…Vance

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A Special Message From ~ “The Addicts Mom” Who Advocates Tirelessly About Her Son & Helping Other Moms…

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AUGUST 31st 2017 IS “Fed Up” Day of Remembrance ~ TAM Hero

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“Another TAM Hero – The Core Centers of Recovery for helped Darrell N Michelle Jaskulski son Kyle achieve recovery. We are so grateful to Stuart Goffman and his wonderful staff at the Core for their outstanding treatment.”


Voices of The Addict’s Mom

When Treatment Works By Michelle Jaskulski


“I want to share with everyone the story of my son Kyle, and his recent experience with treatment. We are very hopeful that he is truly on the road to life-long recovery.”

The week after Easter, my 24-year-old son, Kyle, after four years of struggling with opioids, heroin, and other drugs, finally was willing to accept help in the form of inpatient substance abuse treatment. I called every facility in our state of Wisconsin looking for help, but there were so many obstacles, including lack of appropriate insurance coverage, too much down payment money required, or a month long wait-list. To further complicate matters, Kyle was on probation.

Because TAM Founder, Barbara Theodosiou, has openly “Shared Without Shame” for ten years, she and TAM are very well-known in South Florida, and across the nation. Stuart Goffman of The Core Centers in Fort Lauderdale was touched by Barbara’s tragic story of Daniel and how some of the people in the treatment industry had taken advantage of Daniel during his many attempts at recovery. Stuart wanted to establish a relationship with TAM. I felt relieved when Barbara and Stuart and I spoke on the phone about bringing Kyle to The Core. Stuart was very attentive to not only Kyle’s needs, but to mine as the mother of an addicted child.

The staff at The Core was very helpful and welcoming. Kyle was homesick because we are a close family and he was very far from home! In addition, this was his first attempt at inpatient treatment. The staff practice client-centered methods of treatment and they worked with Kyle to help him adjust to his new environment. The staff encouraged open communication with our son, so Kyle and his counselor called us once a week to go over his progress and his plans. With each call, we could tell he was getting better, stronger and more determined to recover. He had to learn to be independent and cope with his struggles, by developing life skills. Through group tasks, the young people learned to cooperate with each other and became Kyle’s second family.

When it was time for Kyle to come home, the staff helped Kyle with a smooth transition. Members of the staff also wrote letters of support to Kyle’s probation officer, who at the time wanted to revoke him for leaving the state.  Ultimately, Kyle did not get revoked and has been back home with us since the beginning of July. He has continued to work his recovery, going to a weekly group, and he has found a full-time job. He is not only paying off his restitution, he is working out at the gym each day.

I am really proud of the efforts and progress my son has made over the last several months. I’ve asked him what he thinks are the reasons for his success, and he attributes it to the community-like atmosphere and care that The Core offers as a small center. I want to thank everyone at the center for helping Kyle begin his life again, with hopes for a successful future.   ~Michelle Jaskulski


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Stuart Goffman, CFO and a Co-Founder of The Core Centers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, feel’s very fortunate that in his youth, he “never had any connection to the recovery world.” When Stuart moved to Florida, however, a good friend became a serious alcoholic and Stuart was both was saddened and amazed at his choices and behavior. Stuart tried to help his friend through tough love, encouragement and positive solutions.

However, according to Stuart, “I didn’t understand that addiction is a disease, and tough love doesn’t always work.”

Through his experiences with his friend, Stuart learned about addiction, recovery, and sobriety. He decided to found The Core Centers to treat clients the way he would want to be treated. Stuart hired an expert staff that practice patient-centered treatment in a family-like atmosphere. His staff is committed to helping each and every individual in their care achieve success in their recovery in order that they may have an opportunity to live a productive, happy future…..


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Please also visit and become a supporter by signing up for ” The Addicts Mom Website for helpful resources and her story!

AND THIS MY Recovery Friends is how treatment, recovery, and aftercare should work!!   “Sometimes it takes a village.”

Catherine 🙂  

 

TRUMP Leaves The Drug Epidemic Flat! An Important Message From My Friends From “Facing Addiction.”

I felt compelled to share this newsletter sent from my good friends at Facing Addiction. I happened to watch the news conference that Michael King is referring to by Trump’s representatives and it was a JOKE. The same rhetoric and BULL S _ _ T being tossed to Americans about what they plan will do about the raging drug addiction epidemic happening in our country.

Meanwhile, more and more deaths and overdoses occur every day. And even though I don’t LIKE the President we have and don’t support him or his agenda’s, I will sign this because The Opioid Epidemic IS NOW A STATE of EMERGENCY in all communities throughout the United States of America. So I ask all who read and visit? Please visit Facing Addiction Blue Links Below and add your name. If not for your kids? For the sake of a friend or neighbors child.

THIS NEEDS TO STOP and STOP NOW MR. PRESIDENT!

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Dear Author, Catherine Lyon…

Yesterday, the President of the United States suggested there would be a big announcement related to the ongoing opioid crisis. But what he said was more of the same – continuing the same, tired rhetoric, without any of the bold action this issue demands and that he promised on the campaign trail.

President Trump even suggested going back to a simple, 1980’s-style message “Just Say No,” and telling young people alcohol and other drugs are bad is the best path forward. That didn’t work then and it will not work now. We need real solutions.

Addiction is Not A Crime

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price, stated that, despite the recommendations of their own Commission on the Opioid Crisis, it was not necessary to declare addiction a national emergency. “We believe that, at this point, that the resources that we need, or the focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency, although all things are on the table for the President,” Price said.

Not necessary to declare an emergency? Mr. President, and Secretary Price, with all due respect – if you don’t see this issue as an emergency, you haven’t been paying attention to the recommendations of your OWN Presidential Appointed Commission! Or every major newspaper, TV news program, and radio news program in the country.

Friends, let’s force the administration to pay attention.

Let’s come together as we have so many times before. Please, add your name with thousands of others in support of President Trump acting on his Commission’s recommendation to declare a national emergency. Once you do, please pass the letter on to your networks via your social media pages or email. Let’s make our voices so loud and clear that they can’t possibly ignore us. Let’s be a bold and powerful constituency of consequence on this life and death matter.

I hope you’ll add your name by clicking here and showing them just how wrong they are.

Warm regards,
Michael King
Director of Outreach & Engagement

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Welcome Recovery Guest Author Christine Hill and ‘Relationships In Recovery.’

Welcome Recovery Guest Author Christine Hill and ‘Relationships In Recovery.’

Rebuilding Family Relationships in Recovery
By Christine Hill

Addiction recovery can be a trying experience that will test a person’s willpower, but it it is also an incredibly fulfilling experience that builds us up as people. During addiction, many people have lost so much, whether it be their jobs, children, or family. Addiction thrives on the alienation that is created when these ties are severed. An important part of addiction recovery is rebuilding these bridges and regaining the connectedness that makes us whole. However, this isn’t always easy. Addiction frequently leads people to do things that hurt the people they love, and this can make it a tricky experience to build these relationships back up. However, it is certainly possible if you take the lessons of recovery seriously. Here are some tips on how to rebuild family relationships in recovery…

 

Ask for forgiveness and Amends

 

Addiction is a behavioral disease that operates by cutting you off from those who care about you. This alienation is what has allowed addiction to thrive and claim the lives of so many people in this generation. However, while addiction is a behavioral disease that is often out of an addict’s control, the actions that they take because of that addiction still hurt and affect their family, and this isn’t something that can just be simply forgotten. Just because an addict is in recovery and doing well, it doesn’t always mitigate what has happened. Always ask for forgiveness with the utmost sincerity, but don’t assume that they will always offer it, immediately.

 

Demonstrate real change
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Usually, addiction is a disease that operates in cycles. Before getting a professionals help that can assist in reaching lasting recovery, many addicts have tried to get better on their own to no avail. During this time, family members may have felt hurt by the constant push and pull of actions that were taken and promises that were broken. Because of this, it’s important to show how this time is different. Before worrying too much about repairing these relationships, focus on rebuilding yourself and making the changes that you need to make, so that you can demonstrate that this change is real and lasting.

 

Take family therapy

 

Most addiction treatment centers have a family therapy program. This is usually one of the most powerful programs that rehabs and treatment providers have to offer. Being able to speak honestly and openly with your family members, and have them speak openly and honestly to you in a setting that is devoid of judgment and mediated by a trained counselor, enables the possibility of communication that might have otherwise never happened. Talk to your family about joining you in the family therapy program, and make the most of the experiences that you have there. Here is an informative article about what to expect from family therapy.

 

Understand if they need time

 

People get hurt in the throes of addiction. That is the nature of how it operates. Pain and harm are the defaults that addiction goes back to. Because of this, some family members may need time to get over what has happened. This isn’t because they don’t love you, but because they need to protect themselves against the possibility of another heartbreak. Understand that this time is important, and focus on doing right by you. Eventually, this bridge will mend itself, and you may find that the relationship can grow even stronger than it once was.

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Listen and show empathy

 

When communicating with your family members, always take the time to listen to how they feel. Trying to get out from under the hold of addiction is a confusing experience, but they are also dealing with a great deal of confusion. Sometimes, families blame themselves for another family member getting caught up in addiction. Allow them to work through these feelings. It is unproductive to only talk about yourself and your feelings without taking the time to understand how your actions have affected them. This may hurt and be a difficult process, but it is an important one, nonetheless. Family therapy is a great setting to explore this process, but it’s important to keep it up in all your interactions.

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About The Author:

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

Addiction and Recovery News and Reads Around The Web…

Hello, Recovery Friends and Welcome New Friends!


This past week I have had some interesting email newsletters from some of my favorite recovery websites and magazines. Now I am a big FAN of helping others who write informative and interesting articles about many issues of addiction, mental health and more. And I happen to read two articles I feel need to be shared here on my blog as they are very important issues. The first hit me because one of the underlying issues of WHY I had turned to gambling was to “cope and escape” from my hurtful pain and my past childhood trauma. As we learn to do the “inner work” of our recovery, many us find many issues and roots to our addictions.

The second article is about an actor I enjoyed watching the TV Series; “True Blood” and is a warning to those recovering from alcoholism that if you have other health problems, you need to work with your doctor and be honest with them of all that is going with you or you CAN have complications. That is what happened to 39-year-old, Actor, Nelsan Ellis as you will read. We need to learn to take care of our health as we most likely neglected it for a long period of time within our addiction. It is always sad to lose someone so young and vibrant. I hope you enjoy reading these and learn a little something from them…
( Articles Courtesy of “The Fix Mag” and website: SoberRecovery” )
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By Victoria Kim 07/11/17

The beloved actor’s family issued a statement about his battle with addiction as “a cautionary tale” to help others.

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Actor Nelsan Ellis died of heart failure over the weekend after attempting to quit alcohol on his own and heart failure complications.

Rather than shy away from the impact that years of substance use had on the actor, instead his family shared the details surrounding his death…

“Nelsan has suffered from drug and alcohol abuse for years,” the actor’s manager said on behalf of the family.

“After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.

On the morning of Saturday, July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. Nelsan was a gentle, generous and kind soul…Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

The 39-year-old hailed from Illinois and was a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School. He was known for playing the lovable Lafayette Reynolds on True Blood and Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biopic Get on Up, as well as his roles in The SoloistThe Help, and The Butler.

The symptoms/severity of alcohol withdrawal varies by person but can be fatal for some. Symptoms can range from mild insomnia to delirium tremens (DTs) and even death.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include elevated blood pressure, excessive sweating and shaking, irritability, anxiety, agitation, seizures, and hallucinations.

In severe cases, individuals may experience delirium tremens (DTs), characterized by disorientation, severe agitation, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and fever. DTs may last up to 3 or 4 days, according to Dr. Richard Saitz in “Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal,” a paper published on the website of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

According to Saitz, “about 5% of patients who experience DTs die from metabolic or cardiovascular complications, trauma or infections.”

One should never detox from alcohol alone. A person going through withdrawal should be monitored by a medical professional.

– The Fix

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THREE STEPS to HEAL FROM Emotional Abuse
By Dominica Applegate Jul 11, 2017 – Sober Recovery

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Emotional abuse is a tragic occurrence that can turn even the happiest person into a sad and hopeless shadow. Sadly, it happens more often than we think. It can be anything from psychological abuse, which can cause anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, to physical abuse, which can be experienced anytime during childhood or adulthood. After going through any traumatic event, it can be very difficult to cope with the unresolved wounds alone. Some people turn to drinking and drugging for temporary relief from the painful feelings, but that simply masks a much larger problem that needs to be contended with.

To help you start the process of healing, here are 3 pivotal steps you’ll have to take in order to properly deal with emotional distress.

1. Recognize the Root Issues

When you’re dealing with emotions that include depression, intense anger, high anxiety and extreme fear, it is important to get to the root issue of the matter and take steps to address it. Many times, those who’ve experienced abuse in their childhood have difficulty associating their current pain and substance abuse with old childhood wounds. Thus, it may benefit them to reach out for help via counseling12-Step groups or a rehab facility, which can help them recognize, process and put these deep rooted issues to rest.

2. Take Responsibility

Many of us have gone through something traumatic in life, and the negative emotions that come along with these experiences are understandable. However, there needs to be a point in time for the person going through these hard feelings to start taking responsibility for their own healing. The process of mending themselves from the inside begins when one makes the conscious decision that they are done being locked in their own prison cell of negative emotions.

3. Facilitate Emotional Healing

There are various therapy treatments for emotional abuse. If you’re dealing with emotional and substance abuse issues, you’ll have to tackle your addiction first. Being under the influence will just make it harder to heal old wounds.

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Once addiction recovery measures are in place, you can then look into some of the most popular modes of therapy that may help in your recovery:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy is known for its cognitive aspects of dealing with trauma as it targets your thoughts and feelings about past experiences. Its goal is to eliminate the negative emotions you have and replace them with a positive mindset.
  • Somatic Therapy: For a more holistic approach, it may be important to undergo therapy that contends with the physiological effects of trauma. Somatic therapy works by helping your body recognize and release the pent-up energy that has accumulated since the trauma occurred. Unlike CBT, it’s not so much about one’s cognitive responses but instead, how the body (the nervous system, in particular) dealt with the trauma. This type of therapy allows the body to heal itself by facilitating a physiological release of blocked energy so you can feel physically freed.
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): This is a psychological acupressure technique recognized to help trauma survivors disassociate from old wounds so they can heal. Also known as “Tapping,” EFT involves literally tapping on certain locations in the body while repeating a positive affirmation out loud. It is currently used by many therapists in the world and is continually gaining more popularity.

Sometimes, trauma can take a real hit on your emotional well-being and affect your entire life, leaving some of us in the depths of addiction in search for a temporary relief. The therapy options mentioned above are just a few of the many avenues you can explore in order to heal from emotional abuse. Although it’s easier said than done, the one true way out of the situation and into emotional freedom comes with the decision to ask for help—and there are plenty of professionals available to walk you through it.

– Sober Recovery

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“Shared and Presented By Recovery Starts Here!”  ~  Author, Catherine Lyon

 

Congrats To My Co-Writing Partner For Making The Front Cover & Featured Article At “In Recovery Magazine!”

Congrats To My Co-Writing Partner For Making The Front Cover & Featured Article At “In Recovery Magazine!”

 

“This week’s blog post of me and Vance’s co-writing of his Memoir is a Tribute to HIM since he made the July Front Cover of  “In Recovery Magazine”!!”

Yes, I did resign from the In Recovery Magazine in March in order to have more freedom to work on recovery projects and to co-write with Vance. It is where Vance and I originally met when I reached out to him to see if he’d like to do an article. Then our Cheif Editor at the time, Janet Hopkins decided she wanted to have him as a cover feature instead! And that was that. So in Honor of his issue just releasing, and Janet doing such a great job writing about Vance and his incredible recovery journey, we wanted to share it with all of YOU. It will be a condensed “taste” of what’s to come in his memoir.

 

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In Recovery Magazine Article

Lost and Found


My name is Vance Johnson, and I am an alcoholic.

My playbook began at an early age. I began to be involved in sports so I wouldn’t have to be at home. The family dynamic and chaos as I was a kid seemed less when I was winning and was the “little hero.” Sports became everything to me. As I got older it was my saving grace as I’d play and practice from 10 AM to 11 PM; I even had a key to the gym.

I was doing really well, often placing at the top in the state and even the country. I didn’t have a good relationship with my father and feared I might grow up to be like him, as he was part of the dysfunction within our Christian home. But that is another story in all for another day.

In my senior year, at the urging of my coach, I accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona. This gave me the chance to go to college and play sports while staying close to home. The following spring, I won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) long jump competition. I ranked second place in football my senior year and was one of the collegiate athletic conference top receivers. Through high school and college, I never smoked weed, drank or took drugs. Sports were my high.

After graduating in 1984, I went to the Olympic Trials in track and ended up as an alternate. I could have gone to the next Olympics, but instead, I decided to try out for professional football. I wanted to make some money! I entered the 1985 National Football League (NFL) draft and was picked up by the Denver Broncos in the second round. The stress was tremendous.

 

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My first year in the NFL, I started dating a woman. We had been dating for a short time when, after a bad game where I dropped a punt, she told me she was pregnant. On the way to practice with some teammates, we stopped at a liquor store. My friends bought tequila, and I decided to try it. That tequila had lead to daily drinking mixed with the pills I took for anxiety and down a road, I had no idea how to travel down.

My girlfriend and I got married in Vegas. At practice sometime later, I overheard the guys talking about my wife. I ran home screaming and yelling and pushed her into a closet door. She hit her head and fell down unconscious; I thought she was dead. I carried her into the bathroom and splashed water on her face. Even after she came too, I was still angry and began punching the walls, just like my father used to do. Our marriage ended not long after.

By this time, I was getting high and using whatever I could to cope, but I was careful not to get caught. My life was a wreck and getting worse. I’d sober up on my way to the weekend games. Sometimes I’d get pulled over, but I’d offer the cops tickets to the games and managed to skate by without an arrest.

My domestic problems were always related to drugs. Through the years, I was married and divorced several times. I was an absent father to my children. My finances were a mess; I was bouncing checks and falling behind on child support. I also went to jail after crashing into my wife’s car. Through all of this, I was call myself a God believer, but I sure didn’t act like one. Somehow, no one realized I was an addict, including me.

In 1996, a year after my career in football was over, I tried to commit suicide. There I was, driving down a highway, crazy high and hallucinating. By then I was using drugs to manage all the craziness in my head, but it wasn’t working. When I got home, I pulled off all my clothes and lay naked in my garage, paranoid and banging my head on the ground as I cut my wrists. I called my attorney for help and told him I was losing my mind. I was desperate; to this day, I don’t know how I survived.

After wearing out my welcome in Ft. Collins, Colorado, I moved to Grand Junction, leaving my kids with their various moms. In 2007, after my fifth divorce, I remarried and tried to settle down with my new wife and my three now-teenaged sons. Running from my addictions, I scaled down the drinking, opened a couple of businesses and started attending church with my family. Although I had already damaged so many lives, I continued womanizing, smoking weed, full of sin drinking and taking pills.

My oldest son, Vaughn, who would always say, “I want to be like you, Dad,” was attending college in Grand Junction. Having blown the engine in his car, he was working for me to earn money for the repairs. One morning, he decided to take his motorcycle up to Ft. Collins to visit his grandfather.

I had been in the bar drinking Patrón at my restaurant when my ex-wife called me. “I’m broken,” she said. “Our son is dead.” Vaughn had been hit and killed by a drunk driver who had run a stop sign. I fell to my knees. I drank the whole bottle of tequila, then another, and walked through the restaurant and out the front door. My father threatened to kill me because I was acting so crazy, so I threw him on the ground outside the restaurant. Life as I had known it was over. I was never again the same person…

 

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I used to think I would get through it, but now I don’t want to.”

 

I blamed my dad. I blamed myself for not fixing the car that Vaughn should have been driving. Over the following two years, I drank, smoked, took pills and had relations with anyone who wanted to be with me. Slowly, but surely, I was killing myself.

When 2012 rolled around, I was going through yet another divorce and hurting emotionally and physically. My bloodwork was off, so my mom took me to the hospital where I fell into a coma. I remained in an induced coma for 26 days. My pastor prayed over me, my daughter and sister said their goodbyes. No one thought I would make it.

There I was, 50 years old, tied to a hospital bed. I wondered if this was how it was all going to end. As I lay in that bed, I had visions of dark shadows walking in the room as if to take me with them when I passed from this world. They came every day, but they never took me with them. When I was finally released from the hospital, I thought I could go back and work like I did when I was young. I tried this for a while. Things began to turn around again.

One day, I went golfing with some friends and decided I could have a drink. From that moment, everything went downhill fast. I quickly graduated to weed, more alcohol, and pills to help me not drink so much. Before long, I was peeing in glasses and on myself; puking blood; and even drinking from glasses of pee, which I mistook for whiskey in my drunkenness.

In early 2014, I was drunk and driving down the road, crying and screaming to God to help me. I had no money, no kids, no relationships, nothing to leave behind. I reached out to the NFL. They called Randy Grimes, a former center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Randy had turned his life around and was working as an interventionist in North Palm Beach, Florida.

The NFL sent me to treatment. When I got there, I was surrounded by losers. I had assumed I’d be on a beach with other athletes talking about old times. It wasn’t like that.

One day, a voice in my head told me that I was sick, but I could get sober if I accepted the help being offered to me. I began seeing my peers in a different light. As they talked, I listened and began to understand my own underlying issues. I attended church and got into the Scriptures. I walked in His light and understood that I needed to become “sober-minded.”

 


“My journey was not just about becoming sober. I knew that I could not maintain my sobriety if I didn’t continue to learn about the disease and about my own spirit. When I left rehab, I stayed away from 
fame, the Broncos and everything that had destroyed my previous life. I went to meetings and really listened.”

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A treatment program offered me a job for $200 per week and a bus pass. At the same time, the Broncos offered me $2,000 per week to represent them around the country. I called my mother. “I’m not worried,” she said. “You’ll do the right thing.” I did. I got on the plane to Tampa for the $200 per week paycheck.

God gave me my true self back. I found my son Vaughn’s grave and promised him that I would never allow another young man to lose his life like I did.

Today, I speak around the country. I talk about my life, my children, what happened to me, and how things changed for me when I learned about my addiction. I tell people that they can change their lives, too.

Today, I am married, and I love my wife. We have amazing children, a twelve-year-old daughter, and an eight-year-old son. My wife comes first, then all my kids, then my job. God encapsulates all of it. Though sometimes things are tough, I never stop the journey. I attend meetings where there are newcomers. I’m involved in recovery every day – it’s my daily lifestyle.

I hope you will walk with me in this battle to end this addiction Epidemic…

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Today Vance is helping save lives from many addictions through his new venture of  “Vance Inspires”  as a motivational speaker, executive keynote, sober coach and escort, intervention services and more. He is also involved with the premier treatment options and rehabilitation services of  Futures of Palm Beach

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Vance Johnson is a certified sober coach, a sober escort, and interventionist. Off the football field, he is now reaching out throughout America and the world via social media to break the stigma and lead people to sobriety, one family at a time. He is also a speaker at churches, drug courts graduations, and high schools, and has been a guest on national TV shows including Oprah and Dr. OZ. Johnson is a member of the Mercer County Task Force which brings awareness of the pitfalls of addiction to surrounding high schools and town hall meetings in New Jersey through The Vance Project…

Dear Gambling Addiction, ~ It’s My Final Goodbye…Part Two and Forever.

“PART TWO ~ MY FINAL GOODBYE Gambling Addiction”

 

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I still remember the days when you taught me well about trying to control my gambling and you also taught me to be in denial of having a problem, to use blame and entitlement to make me believe that gambling was so much easier than to try and stop and stay in recovery. Your sick so-called  ‘friendship’ was dripping with shame, guilt. You had stripped me of self-worth, confidence, and took much life from me. So much so, I looked at myself in the mirror and only saw an empty shell of a woman that used to be so fun, humorous, loving, vibrant, and beautiful inside and out.

Yes, you taught well. And this time you were even more “cunning and baffling” to me. And when the money was gone,  you made me think it was ok to “Lie, Cheat, Pawn, and Steal from someone as to get rid of all Tom and I worked hard for. You were building an even bigger wedge between my husband and me to the point I was going off the friggin rails emotionally again!

You brought me back to that dark place again. Because you had talked me into thinking I was normal in recovery and didn’t need to take my medications for my mental health. As a matter of fact, things got so out of control again for the second time in 2006, that you made me feel as though it would be best to just “DIE” than face the consequences of this round of poor choices and financial strains.

Of course, you are going to say; “those were all my choice’s I made, they were mine alone, but you know you had a hand in ALL OF IT! Your nasty old habits and addicted thinking came back and swooped right in my thoughts again when I learned I was still missing more work in my recovery, and the financial pressures became too much and again I woke up in a mental/addiction crisis center ~ via the hospital a second time.

NO, I didn’t want to take all my medications all at once, but I just didn’t have the courage or strength, after everything I had been through being arrested and being humiliated in the local newspaper because I stole from a friend. The best thing she ever did was press charges. Even though I was feeling I had to start recovery all over again, and even though I wasn’t gambling. I just didn’t have it in me to keep going to court hearings and just all of it!

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But, I did start over again, along with my higher power by my side (God). I remember hearing these whispers in my ear while in the hospital for the second time. They were faint, but I heard them. I know it was that “Power Greater than Myself” telling me that I have too much to do here on earth and was called to fulfill my higher purpose of what God want’s me to do here. He would not let my journey end like with Suicide. Not even a second try! In that moment, I felt something shift and change inside me.

Many may say that’s bullshit, well I’m here today to tell you it’s NOT. I had prayed for years asking “God” to help take away all the ‘Triggers & Urges’ away from me, and that I would do the rest of the work. Well, it is true when they say; “it happens in God’s, time not ours.”  Good things started to happen.

The triggers and urges became less and less as I worked hard in my recovery. It took time, treatment, and a lot of one on one meetings with my addiction counselor, and gamblers anonymous meetings, so many meetings. It took journaling daily to see my growth and my week areas. It took reading a lot of books and so much more. I then worked with a specialist for a year who really saved my life! Soon I was adding up my days, months, and years away from you. Being more of recovery service to others. That is what helped me stay in recovery too! All the while hoping I was hurting YOU as much as you had hurt me through the years of my undying love for you…

So that is my purpose today with this letter old friend. It is my letter of “Closure and Healing.” Just as writing my book was. It is time for me to say a “Final Goodbye” to you forever. It has taken me a long time to make amends with myself, to forgive myself, to love myself again within my recovery and life’s journey. To release the past and old damages of my gambling addiction and the old friendship with you.

Because of you, I’d hurt and lost many people in my life along the way. Yes, we had many good times, but the bad has outweighed the good. I have come to a place in my life and in my recovery to know I’m no longer a victim of what happened to me as a little girl anymore. It was not my fault of all that happened to me. I have learned to process, forgive, let go and let GOD. He alone is the one, my savior that steers the wheel to my heart and this vessel.

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I’m strong enough today to know I was a very sick addict and know it was not all my fault. My past doesn’t define the woman I am today.

I have taken my power back and NO LONGER ALLOW YOU IN MY LIFE! I Walk By Faith and not by Sight Alone.

WHY?

Because all that time you used me. You also used my past and childhood pain and trauma against me in our friendship, and “REAL FRIENDS” don’t do that. Do I have times I wish this could be different? Of course.

I no longer need to think of you anymore. You see, real friends love, care and support you in life. My life today is so happy, fulfilled, and blessed that I’ve been making all my “DREAMS” come true without you. So many blessings and doors have opened for me since I exposed the truth about you in the release of my book. So others can have an inside in-depth look at how ugly you really are. How deadly you can be and how easy you take over.

Now, 10+years it has taken me to write this and part from you forever. I really never thought this day would come for me all those years ago. I can still and always will remember the worst of our times together, as it keeps me from becoming “complacent” in my recovery.

I remember when I could not tell myself I will NEVER GAMBLE AGAIN. I never need step foot in another casino in my lifetime. Every time I did, you made me want to. You’d make me long for you. No, no, not any longer. Today I have the courage and bravery to say NO to you! Many say God doesn’t perform miracles. They use the excuse that they can not believe in something or someone they can not see.

 

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I pray for those people who say or feel this way daily. And for those still stuck and suffering from the insanity of the “cycle” of this addiction.

WHY?

Because “GOD” does perform “Miracles” all around us. You just need to LOOK, Listen, and Hear them!

I AM one of his “Walking Miracles In Recovery.”

So Goodbye Gambling Addiction, I Don’t Need You Anymore!


“Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow ~ I no longer suffering in Silence”

 


Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author/Freelance Writer