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Reuben Tries to Shed the Shame He Carries From His Addiction


Reuben remembers having his first drink when he was just 9 years old. “I was at a party—it was my dad and his friends. And someone handed me a beer,” he said. In high school, Reuben started drinking a bit more, and when he turned 21, it turned into most weekends. Now 27, Reuben is addressing his addiction.

“It just progressed more and more,” Reuben said. “I was a closet drinker. I never drank in public, but I always drank all day. It was a way for me to calm my nerves, get me away from reality for a while.

I think I just built a tolerance. I just wanted more and more and more.”

Reuben landed himself in the hospital twice with acute pancreatitis. And at the end of last year, his drinking started infiltrating his work life as a dietary cook at a hospital. “I started drinking on the job, and eventually, I lost that job. I became very detached from my family. I pulled myself away. I didn’t want them to see me drinking like that.”

Reuben carries a lot of shame with him. “Drinking just brings out these demons in me,” he said. “I’m just a whole different person. I did some things to my family and my girlfriend, who I’ve known for 10 years, that when I look back on them now, I just put my head down. I have a lot of regret. I just don’t want to be that person anymore.”

A major wake-up call came when Reuben crashed into a parked car. “I don’t even remember hitting it,” he said. “It could have easily been a pedestrian crossing the street. God has given me so many chances. It really humbled me.” He entered the mission soon after, and is now four months into the Life Recovery Program. “So far it’s been helping,” Reuben said. “It’s not going to be an overnight thing. I’m still ashamed. I let my drinking take control of my life, and I really regret that. I’m just trying to get my life together.”

During his first bible study at the mission, the men were told to open to Matthew. “I didn’t even know what to do,” he said. “I’ve never opened a bible. I was a little embarrassed. It’s just new for me. I’ve mostly been a ‘crisis Christian.’ When something bad was happening I’d go to God and ask him to help me, like, ‘Dear God, don’t let this cop pull me over. Don’t let them see the bottle in my car.’”

Reuben said he’s learning more every day. “I’m opening up to it more,” he said. “I see now the divine intervention in my life. I know there is something going on upstairs. And I’m grateful for it.”

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