Tyler Rives

I was born August 21, 1987 and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The son of both parents in the navy, and having a younger sister, I set the highest expectations for myself and strived to be the best role model I could. Alcoholism/addiction runs in my family and witnessing the damage of this disease firsthand made me grow up fearful of becoming what I saw destroying my family. I spent much of my youth and high school years playing soccer, getting involved with the local church, and avoiding any temptation that I thought would lead me down that path. My skills on the soccer field earned me an opportunity to play soccer at the collegiate level. This was it, I knew what I wanted to do: Go to college, play soccer, graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and land a career in physical therapy. It sounded so good in my head, but I failed miserably when it came to the execution. My newly found freedom to do as I pleased, and an urge to fit in and be accepted by my peers took over, and I started drinking with my teammates and staying up late almost every night. Every expectation I set went right out the window. I wasn’t making my morning classes due to staying up late all night and I wasn’t getting much playing time in the games, which led to me dropping out of college and leaning on what I had found  to be the solution to my problems, alcohol. I would continue this charade for a few more years, going to community college and dropping out, and repeating with a technical institute.

I had given up on any hopes of getting a college education, all while watching everyone around me continue to get their degrees and move on and better their lives. I could not deal with the fact that I had not done the same. I knew I was capable of so much more but couldn’t figure out how to get some control over the alcohol. I was able to get a job in the restaurant industry and I still was able to manage my life, or so I thought. It was during this time that my curiosity had gotten the best of me and I was introduced to opiates. Little did I know, I had lit the fire that would burn my life to the ground and scorch every relationship with everyone I cared about. Over the last 5 years, I proceeded to watch myself slowly turn into everything I swore I would never become. Even an overdose was not enough to wake me up and realize that something needed to change. I had met my match, and king heroin was my new ruler. I had finally realized what true powerlessness was, and I was willing to do anything if it meant I didn’t have to continue the road I was going down.

In May of 2017, after five years of complete chaos, I was given the opportunity to come to the Any Length retreat in Texas. It was here that I was introduced to the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous and more importantly, a connection to a power greater than myself. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for being presented a manner of life which enables me to be the best version of myself, provided I constantly work at it. I have a fellowship of people who are willing to hold me accountable and by finding the willingness and open-mindedness to take suggestion, I have been able to slowly get my life back. I now work at the Any Length retreat and get to help carry a message of hope to people just like me. My relationship with a higher power has enabled me to have a life I thought was never going to be attainable and helped me find a purpose,  and for that I will be forever thankful.