"Sanity in New Jersey" with Sean Egan

November 06, 2022 Joe Van Wie / Sean Egan Season 2 Episode 38
"Sanity in New Jersey" with Sean Egan
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Sean Egan is the Outreach Coordinator at Excel Treatment Centers in New Jersey
Sean recently became Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS). Being an Excel alumni, Sean brings a level of understanding and compassion to each person he works with by utilizing his own experience of the challenges a person seeking recovery can face. He is passionate about helping each person obtain and achieve a lasting strong recovery mindset. Whether it be holding clients accountable or working with a client through times of doubt in their recovery, Sean is there to support each person through the process.

Sean drops by to discuss what brought about his Recovery and draw to the field of addiction treatment.

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Joe Van Wie  0:01  
Hello and thanks for listening to another episode of all better. I'm your host, Joe van wie eight. If you like what you hear and you listen to us on Apple podcasts, please take a minute, hop over there and give us a review today. Today's guest is Sean Egan, Sean Egan is community outreach or Excel Treatment Center in New Jersey. Sean recently became a certified peer recovery specialist. He's also an Excel alumni. John brings a level of understanding and compassion to each person he works with by utilizing his own experiences in this role. We get to talk to Sean today and talk about life before addiction. What addiction looks like, and what produced his recovery. Let's meet Sean. Well, Sean, Sean's in studio, Sean Egan. Thanks for coming in.

Sean Eagen  1:02  
Thanks for having me.

Joe Van Wie  1:03  
Sean is visiting today from Jersey but he's a Scranton native. And I think we're gonna take the first half of this podcast summarize how we know each other. And what was life growing up in the ridge in Greenridge? Shawn, how would you describe your childhood?

Sean Eagen  1:24  
Hmm. I would be really well. I mean, we had I had a great childhood. I didn't want for anything. Gray family came from Green ridge. So pretty night, tight knit community here. Still talk to the same friends that I had 40 years ago now. Sometimes, you know, we're not as close as he used to be. But it's like time never stopped when I see them.

Joe Van Wie  1:52  
Will tell him never stop since just doesn't stop here.

Sean Eagen  1:57  
And I mean, growing up here in Irish Catholic family in Greenridge. There was a like I said, I didn't want for anything. And I come I'm the oldest of four kids. So I was the first one out the gates. So if something was being done, it was me that was doing it first in the family,

Joe Van Wie  2:21  
of being bold, of being bald in bold and naughty have anything? Or where do you fall in the mix of your siblings? Like have? I'm the oldest? You're the oldest? I'm the oldest. Yeah, that's yeah. So prior to drinking, and that's kind of a rite of passage here in Scranton, and being Irish. And it's, you know, sewn deeply into our culture. What was your kind of understanding of what alcohol was? Or what it did for people?

Sean Eagen  2:56  
I knew it loosens you up? You adults did it. And you they were laughing and having a good time. It gave me the impression that when people drank it was time to relax. good times roll. Little did I know what it held in store for me. Yeah. But that's the impression I got that family reunions are, you know, walking through Greenridge. On the weekends, people generally were having a good time in their backyards knock off as part of

Joe Van Wie  3:26  
it. And it didn't look immediately dangerous or destructive, kind of from those memories, right?

Sean Eagen  3:33  
Not at all.

Joe Van Wie  3:35  
What? One, when was the first time you drank?

Sean Eagen  3:39  
I mean, I probably had a sip of beer at a family reunion. But the first time I've actually gotten drunk. I was, say 1414.

Joe Van Wie  3:46  
Yeah. And was that kind of standard from that that class that you were in? That seems like an average age back 90 grade? Yeah. Yeah, that was what was that experience? Like?

Sean Eagen  4:00  
It was completely life changing. You being intoxicated for the first time? I was like, I want to feel this way. Yeah. All the time. Why I was comfortable. Like,

Joe Van Wie  4:16  
I talked to people. And this is it's a common thread. We you know, this is we've had this conversation before, but I try to always you can't note it enough how substantial that is. It's not just being drawn. It's something else was relieved. Right.

Sean Eagen  4:31  
The hole that I had felt inside me. I can't describe it. It's like just a part of that part of me that was missing. It fulfilled that part. Temporarily. Yeah. I didn't feel that I was missing anything. butthole

Joe Van Wie  4:49  
Yeah. And before that, that experience in your life, was there any conditions that you felt you may have had that were disciplinary? From add ADHD may be prone to, you know, melancholy depression or something. Was any of that going on prior to that experience of drinking a 14?

Sean Eagen  5:11  
Yes. When I was seven years old diagnosed with the ad, HD Yeah. And we went down to Hershey for, let's say three days. My parents and I got tested over that three day period. I remember a little bit of it, I mean, it all kind of meshes together. But they came up with their diagnosis, and back then it was kind of not diagnosed. It was one of the first diagnosis is,

Joe Van Wie  5:43  
yeah, the trend kind of really rose up late 80s, early 90s. Yeah. And do you have memories of, you know, add, and then ad HD? Very kind of the same. Two different descriptions of Attention Deficit Disorder? Was there hyperactivity involved in it? You know,

Sean Eagen  6:06  
it's funny you asked that, because I didn't feel so. Yeah, I asked my mother not too long ago. She said, Yeah, you were you're hyper. There are moments you were hyper? Or sure you had it. To what degree you are hyper at times, you know, is debatable, go up and down.

Joe Van Wie  6:22  
And you couldn't focus attention. You know,

Sean Eagen  6:26  
now, I was put on medication immediately, at a young age.

Joe Van Wie  6:31  
So, f 14, did you still feel and identify yourself as someone who would add now for the next seven years? Did it seem like a description that you'd had of yourself, or

Sean Eagen  6:42  
I knew there was a problem with school. I knew I had a problem with getting what was on the board, into my notebook. And then from the notebook, up to here to the brain. And I there was a missing component that it wasn't that wasn't happening. And I wasn't able to listen to a teacher take notes at the same time and be present. There's just too much going on.

Joe Van Wie  7:10  
There is because school wasn't that for me. And I think, you know, we've identified with this schools, the social structure that's in the classroom, not the chalkboard. I think people would add, feel the storm in the sea of structure that's happening, where do I fall in the pack? On what to ignore all of this buzz buzzing going on in my background, and now pay attention to content through a sea of 30? Kids I'm now competing with to find out where I fall in this back. I think people will add, don't have you know, that spotlight? Consciousness? So it's described in consciousness versus lantern, I am just I have noise, every channel is going? Yeah. It's not that it has nothing to do with intellect, per se, what I'm describing that form of A, but I felt that noise go down when I've experienced my first bus, like, substantial, but I didn't feel just drunk. I felt

Sean Eagen  8:13  
clarity. Absolutely. The volume was just toned down a little bit of everything else.

Joe Van Wie  8:19  
Yeah, just felt. I found a medication that works and, you know, was never presented as a medication. No. I don't think we hear people talk about that enough. That's hard to have in a short conversation of the like, you know, the cliches you can hear well, it's addiction. And I think the people I relate to the most that are in recovery have found their addiction solved. was the first attempt at solving a deeper problem.

Sean Eagen  8:48  
Agree? Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  8:51  
So your addiction took off? From 14? Very much. So how would you describe it? How would you summarize 14 to 1814?

Sean Eagen  9:01  
Well, 14 to 17 was fairly manageable. There wasn't complete unmanageability out the gates. I got in trouble. But it was It wasn't like I was a daily drinker. I was able to put it aside until the weekend. And not every weekend. And as I went through eighth grade, into high school, the drinking became more prevalent as I got to high school than it was. That's what you do at the weekend. When I hit 17, that all changed. Drugs were brought into the picture ARD Yeah, cocaine, you know, and once I had alcohol and that drug together unmanageability came immediately. It wasn't a week later. It was right then and there. Yeah. I found I had problems that I wasn't. I felt like I had adult problems at a young age that I had no business having. I didn't understand what I was getting into, you know,

Joe Van Wie  10:13  
was zero separation at that point. Did you have friends that weren't addicts and alcoholics? Absolutely. Absolutely. What did those relationships look like after cocaine?

Sean Eagen  10:24  
mediately suffered? Yeah, there's a you couldn't understand. You know, I was, I'd like to think, at least I didn't know, if they were doing it. Yeah. I was hanging out with older kids, you know, older guys that were, they were out of high school. And I was still Junior. So, my friends were still, you know, they were smoking weed or drinking on the weekends going to concerts, what I had done before. But once that cocaine came into the picture, and my drinking escalated with it, you know, I started hanging out with different people. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  11:04  
What? How would you now know, looking back? Describe the effect cocaine had on Yeah, like, I don't mean the high or the party. And there's the immediate effect that it helps manage drinking, and could go on longer, which we both enjoyed drinking. Was there a distinct effect, that the cocaine that it was worth that would, it would produce for you, that is worth the risk of stigma? Maybe alienation at school? What is that profound effect cocaine does for a person, like yourself,

Sean Eagen  11:41  
it was just being numb to all the insecurities. It wasn't me numb, I just didn't care.

Joe Van Wie  11:50  
You feel a little more at ease.

Sean Eagen  11:52  
I felt comfortable in my own skin, provided I could manage the right level of alcohol and cocaine together, like a chemist, and I could just be good, comfortable. And I didn't care what you thought it may or what the girl thought of me. You know, I had what I needed already.

Joe Van Wie  12:12  
It's like a shortcut to the self esteem. And for me using cocaine was it's a shortcut to self esteem. I mean, it's an illusion. And it's really anchored in an ego or a fantasy. But it's just not that two, I felt it brought order. I never did amphetamines or took Ritalin myself. When I did cocaine, the order it brought to my head, or the order I thought I was experiencing was worth the social consequences that you could experience using cocaine.

Sean Eagen  12:45  
Oh, yeah. For me, cocaine seemed like a horrible hard drug growing up. You heard about I heard about it when I was in my early teens, you know, through the campaigns they had in school

Joe Van Wie  12:58  
kind of was right. Remind me Bice was awesome, too. I mean,

Sean Eagen  13:04  
like, those are hard drugs.

Joe Van Wie  13:05  
We're talking about a drug that built a major metropolitan city.

Sean Eagen  13:10  
We're having the ADHD Ritalin in the picture. And that's what they put me on. I started taking that and then abusing that to do schoolwork. I was more proficient, I was able to cram. Yeah, retain information. For a short period, not long but short period to take a test. And once I ran out of real one, all I needed was for someone to say and I was abusing the Ritalin. Yeah. You know, first orally, then of course, crashing the mop. I heard cocaine was just a stronger form. And it didn't seem that bad anymore. It didn't have that. That danger to you. Yeah. So

Joe Van Wie  13:59  
so we grew up, you know, in a simple similar culture. We're Catholic Irish Scranton, and no pot. Point. Did you ever look at yourself your consciousness as something separate that you're experiencing and like your internal life? How would you describe the experience of the outside world where we live in Scranton, your social circle versus your head? In that period without drugs? What did that feel like? without drugs without Ritalin without cocaine or alcohol? So you, you were cornered for a couple of days if you had a scenario. What what is your mind like? That you can remember at 17 without any kind of effect happening from cocaine alcohol pot? What does it feel like?

Sean Eagen  14:44  
Oh, I was a rock. I was a mess. completely insecure. I couldn't get the noise. If this makes sense to stop. I just couldn't do that. I had so many different voices of people telling me what to do when where I should be and when I shouldn't be there, what schools to look at what life should look. And I'm thinking, This is too much. This is just, I need this to shut off. Can somebody just shut this noise off? And that's a lot going on. Mentally,

Joe Van Wie  15:24  
oh, it's exhausting. It's voices do you live in multiple lives? Every voice is you're exhausted. You can't even experience the life that's happening. There's like two of them going on. i That's my experience. And you're Yeah. What did the first intervention on this look like? Because it started young. Like what it is? How did that unfold? And what year was it?

Sean Eagen  15:45  
Okay, so it was 1997. And it was my first day of summer. After junior year, going into senior year, I woke up, I had a man that was probably, I don't know, 4850 years old sitting in my room. You might know him, but. And he was a member of the program. And my father knew him. I was coming to from the night before around noon. And I had this strange Minute Man in my bedroom. And he said, Shawn, you know, this is my name, and I'm here to talk to you about and there was a bottle of peach snobs on the floor, half drank, which I meant to put back it was my parents. I just, I think I just gave up. Yeah. So there was an obvious problem. And he said, you have two options. And those options are, you can be homeless, or you're gonna go to Clearbrook extinction. And that was after he told me his story. I wasn't really interested. It was literally the first day of summer.

Joe Van Wie  16:57  
That's an intense morning. Yeah, homelessness, or Yeah, that was old school. For sure.

Sean Eagen  17:03  
As a mom, I'm like, where are my parents? Why is there a man in my room? And how do I find

Joe Van Wie  17:09  
out he was just, you know, a schizophrenic that wandered in your house. Gotcha. Go, Yeah, where's? Where's the cereal? Here? I was like, I got some maniac in your house. Two options. First thing in the morning. That was

Sean Eagen  17:28  
the gist of what he was saying. And I my first inclination was like, Are my parents buying this? Because they weren't there. So I didn't have any gauge. And he wanted me to answer. And when I thought of being homeless at the age of 1718 Well, that doesn't sound too appealing. At summer, you want to do it a week when the weather's like, you know, I think we're gonna go into like pretzel park tonight. I don't know.

Joe Van Wie  17:55  
I'm gonna bring it a tad or Bronco. Bring in 10. Yeah. Try this for a night. We'll see what you got, mister. Yeah.

Sean Eagen  18:02  
So I was in a car two hours later, to

Joe Van Wie  18:06  
Shini. Wow, that's intense.

Sean Eagen  18:08  
And that was my first treatment.

Joe Van Wie  18:11  
Do do you have anything to draw from? Did any other friends experience this at the time? Did you know of stories where this scenario was thrown at someone.

Sean Eagen  18:22  
I knew I had a cousin. And I knew he was able to get better. I didn't know how I didn't know. I just knew there was an issue. And then there wasn't out of our my group of friends or group of friends. I didn't really know or have experience in it. So I felt like I was alone. You know, when I came back, especially, I felt like the odd man out.

Joe Van Wie  18:47  
So one of the most celebrated summers of an individual's life in America is that summer and you start yours by going to an adolescent treatment center. I would What do you remember from that? What what stayed with you that may have attracted you, or left you with the understanding that there is some recovery here or there's something attractive here if the if it

Sean Eagen  19:15  
did happen? No. It didn't seem attractive. I was just too young to understand it. I didn't understand what was being offered. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want freedom from addiction. I didn't believe I really I thought it was a phase that I just got in a little too deep. You know, I won't let it happen again. broke the rules. Yeah, I'm just this is not I'm going through something. It's I'm not one of these people need to go to church basement, the rest of my life. And I was wrong. I had it. I had addiction. It wasn't alcohol. I am an alcoholic, and an addict but I just wasn't buying what you're selling, and it's hard to at that age. I mean, I got out the Fourth of July bill, let me out. And, you know, went to one of our friend's house two hours later, and it was, it just continued. I started drinking again that day.

Joe Van Wie  20:16  
You're a patriot, you gotta celebrate freedom.

Sean Eagen  20:19  
I had no idea. Really, what I was giving up 28 days didn't seem like a big deal to me. I'm like, okay, great. I, you know, this isn't standard

Joe Van Wie  20:30  
28 days. And that's a full day, if no one else is scheduled for rehab, especially shinny, or the adolescent senator that was there. I mean, you're up at seven. You have breakfast with 28, they might have house, maybe even up to 42 people could be there, it was 28 or 42 days. You have a full programming Monday through Sunday of groups, lectures, content, videos at those times, individual sessions, group sessions. All kinds of behavioral modifications, like a sprinkling of behavioral modification, cognitive therapy work groups. You spent 20 days there not knowing any of it and you lasted two hours, two hours. So that would be of a lay persons effect the investments 28 days, right? Why do you think it was? What happened in the two hours of leaving there? Do you can you remember those?

Sean Eagen  21:33  
The we had to drive home that's about an hour. Ritalin was given back to me because I wasn't exactly honest with everybody about that. And there was no real education on my parents. I mean, my parents came down were part of it, but I just wanted to get home and for me to say, hey, I want to get on my friend's house. It was just that easy. Okay. We trust you know, they hoped I was I learned something they had no idea. I was just yessing. Everybody that that? I wanted it to be normal.

Joe Van Wie  22:10  
Yeah, man. What do you think about it, those 20 days, I'm trying to I'm just, I'm having recall now just listening to you, I think thought about what I was missing. And my, my pack my fret. You think about them the whole time there. And no one's experiencing this. I'm here.

Sean Eagen  22:27  
Like, why am I here? My friends are up there. And they're having a good time. And I just got a little out of hand, you know, but I remember I got my mother bailed me a picture of my prom picture that I had just went to, like a month before. Maybe less. And I'm like, how am I in this picture? Having a good time? Like, looks like I'm so normal? Am I in here? Yeah. How am I? How did this happen? You know,

Joe Van Wie  22:59  
so you go to hang out with a friend for an hour. What I tried to understand is, you know, it's not insane what you do when you're drunk or drinking, we know that. I don't think a lot of a lot of people have that understanding. It's what happens in the sober mind what what is essentially not have drugs or alcohol. This is what I need relief from this, why sobriety so hard to see it. In that hour, you were able to make a decision that it would be safe to drink, or you could control it, or you didn't give a shit. Like, how would you describe it?

Sean Eagen  23:34  
Well, it wasn't even something that I fought. I thought, okay, drugs or the issue of drinking is not. I didn't remotely, I heard it for other people. Or for me, I didn't have the experience behind me or the drinking career behind me to prove otherwise. I just didn't feel that powerlessness that other people might have felt, not to say they didn't at that age, I learned that I would feel it. And even when I did feel if it was still hard to get over. There's a difference between recognizing that I'm powerless and actually taking action to prevent me from doing it again. And that would be years from that first trip to Clearbrook.

Joe Van Wie  24:23  
And that started. We have so we've kind of similar paths of getting treatment around the same age. Yeah, in the same experience, it's it's hard to break the fact that I'm different than other people that could do it. But as I get older, I mean, there's a lot of variables at play socio economics, with addiction or without addiction, right, that gives people different variables to how their addictions could have go. Yeah. The effect was so profound to prior conditions. It's still worked and nothing else has replaced it. Not yet. Want to de rehab? Not these chats I'm not making the connection because this medicine still works. Alcohol Drug. So I just like always put that under a microscope. Because, you know, if I don't talk, me and myself, you don't talk long enough, you forget what the problem is. She's like, Oh, it's just, I just need to be sober. Oh, my mind needs a whole different perspective.

Sean Eagen  25:28  
My mind is my worst enemy. Someone once told me. I don't need to worry about someone that was mad at me or something. And he said, I don't need to worry about you know, getting back at you. I'll just let you be you. Nice to say, and he said, Yeah, you're you're your own worst enemy. And this man did not like me. And he couldn't have said something more true. Because that's exactly what happened. I was the cockiest of cocky people. And at the same time, the most insecure little soul in the world, wrapped into one. And that can change on a dime. You know, and

Joe Van Wie  26:15  
so we've met just, you were 18?

Sean Eagen  26:20  
i Yeah, I was 18.

Joe Van Wie  26:23  
Was that out of Clearbrook? Or was it that

Sean Eagen  26:26  
you were my contact was your contact my.

Joe Van Wie  26:29  
Hello. So I called you a maniac. Yeah. There's another maniac to help you out.

Sean Eagen  26:37  
Yeah, sober. He's your age. And you were able to, you know, do well for him. Not sure how long but it was known that you were doing well.

Joe Van Wie  26:47  
Yeah. I had a couple of prolonged period of sobriety there. I've had three like, yeah, like 16 to 2012 or so. And then 24 It gets

Sean Eagen  27:00  
over again. So in my mind that made you like, if it doesn't work, I'll call Joe. He's mister sober. He's Mr. sober. He's the he's the guy. You know?

Joe Van Wie  27:11  
Yeah, that's when I've first connected with you. But so that doesn't produce sobriety. But it produces a start of, you know, there's an emergency brake on here are for you. If things ever become like they were described in that rehab, the athlete kind of went left lingered with you. It was

Sean Eagen  27:32  
a lot of unmanageability parents not knowing not knowing what to do with their son, let's get them into treatment. And I was in treatment again, that October, I got out the Fourth of July. By October, I was taken out of Scranton prep. And I went to Bishop O'Hara for I don't know, a month. And the next thing smoking out to Minnesota. The Hazel Hazelden for the most of the senior year. Wow, in treatments, that's intense. And you know, same thing. Wanted to be normal, went through the motions that you go through out there. That treatment was more in depth treatment. I realized, Okay. Um, now, a little bit after that, you know, a couple months, I'm starting to see I'm a lot like some of these guys, they're, they're there for the same reasons. And I know there's a problem. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  28:44  
What would you describe the next 10 years going on from there? Like? Yeah, like so this ends, you know, your senior year is ending that year Minnesota at Hazelton, world renowned treatment facility at that point for you to dive three decades. Now you are at really at the top of the food chain of getting help. This is where help, this is really good help.

Sean Eagen  29:11  
This is the best that you can get done. And my counselor was a great counselor. Great. And I had no idea. The presence of the man that was sitting in front of me. All I wanted to do was go home and graduate. And that wasn't happening weren't allowing that. Because the fear of relapse. And he said I want you to read this pamphlet, said okay, it's called King Baby. And I lied and said, I read it when I saw him next. And he said, What do you think of the path? I said, I don't think the guy knows what he's talking about when he whoever wrote this out that day. He goes, Yeah, I wrote it. I am Tom Cunningham. You're my counselor. And so it was safe to say that we disagreed on a lot I. Yeah, yeah, I knew there was a problem that I just wasn't willing to quite give up.

Joe Van Wie  30:13  
Yeah, it's from that pamphlet, the Connie King Baby A very popular. Yeah. That was kind of the tone for early stabilization was you got to disease of entitlement. lol for sure. And it really there's a self centeredness that attaches to someone who has that kind of pain and addiction, I think feels like a more agency if I'm self centered, and arrogant, then having to grovel and not know how desperate My situation is. It's like counter will and it just keeps making the problem worse. And so I'm wondering why am I not connected or feel shame with people I love? I can't get out of that loop. I'm like, man, it's

Sean Eagen  31:01  
I don't see that I'm separating myself from everybody else. I put myself I make myself a victim. But I'm not seeing that I'm the one that's doing it. Yeah. And it would continue to be a theme for the next 20 years. Man No in and out in and out. Victim I'm not a victim. Remotely a lie?

Joe Van Wie  31:27  
Yeah, there's a duality of who's who's in charge of my head fate. Me My causing this alcoholism separate? Is it something happening to me? Is it me? Am I addiction I you, you can get lost in until that dualities really confronted the steps could produce this some people I have other agents to do that. I don't have a clear answer of how my life's proceeding. It's like, is this what is this? It's like a film?

Sean Eagen  32:01  
It is in which voice is the one that's talking? Can I differentiate between the alcoholism one in the real Shawn? And not like schizophrenia away? But

Joe Van Wie  32:13  
But how else? It's yeah, not in the terms. But how else do you describe it?

Sean Eagen  32:18  
That's the best way that I can put it and to tell people that is what's going on? was hard to do. Because I didn't know what that help would entail. If I was honest, so or if you really

Joe Van Wie  32:32  
describe, you know, the addictions of our type. Honestly, you might scare yourself that it's a bigger problem

Sean Eagen  32:40  
i and I did, I sat up at Mar worth one time. And my counselor said you so badly want to not be an alcoholic, that you're you're looking into all these other things? Because that's how bad you're just an alcoholic? Like, that's the problem. Get out of your mind. Did you not believe that? I thought there had to be a lot more going on. And then, you know, looking at it who wouldn't be acting that way? With a bottle of Zamboanga in their bloodstream? Yeah, my judgments off. But I just I felt something else was wrong. And there might have been small things like, you know, there was depression, there was anxiety. Sure. But I wasn't doing anything to help with that, you know, while you're drinking. Maybe that was the help that you didn't want that helped to go away. Right. I was self medicating. And that was the best I could do. It was an immediate answer to a problem I had done that made me extremely uncomfortable. It worked. But at what cost?

Joe Van Wie  33:51  
Now, that's a 20 year story we're describing from Minnesota, your next 20 years. Is there as a lateral life happening in your head where this will end one day? That you'll choose it?

Sean Eagen  34:07  
I'm hoping I will. There's times I'm hoping I'll be able to get this. What are the people that I see that seemed to be recovered? Were in recovery? Yeah. Are they doing this

Joe Van Wie  34:19  
limb? Did it get darker though? Did was there a point shot where you were you didn't think when did that start? Maybe I'm not going to get better? Maybe I don't understand this or this is not my problem. My problem is much bigger. Yes. Or I don't have the way. I'm not capable of getting better the way I'm seeing people at least I know. Lead to recovery. When did the hope disappear for you? Yeah, just

Sean Eagen  34:48  
my 30s in my 30s All my friends were you're getting married and having kids and I'd look on Facebook. And I'm thinking you know, I would love To see what that's like, and that's never going to happen for me. It's just, it's a pipe dream. And that self talk was just, it was just horrific. You know, I got off Facebook. And then when I went on when I was on Facebook, all I did was see pictures of that stuff. And it made me really jealous. i Yeah, it's awful

Joe Van Wie  35:27  
when you

Sean Eagen  35:30  
you know, to have other people then say to you, and my father came up into my room one day, this is not too long before I got sober this time. He said something to me, that really bothered me. He said, You just gave up. He came up to my bedroom, I was sitting at my desk with a bottle between my legs and eat stopped by from time to time, I lived alone in this house. That was the house we were up in. And he would stop and see if I was okay. And he would just say you know, you you gave up and that your for some reason that day.

He was right. And it made me angry. Furious, and it stayed with me because I had I just didn't know you could see it.

Joe Van Wie  36:20  
Yeah. When you say angry didn't remain for a while like like an anger that was lasting over run our to our like,

Sean Eagen  36:29  
Ella was a subtle anger that was always there. Yeah, it was always under the surface. And a lot of that period. Two years, I basically stayed in my house drinking, drinking. I tried to have a life at times. But the majority of those two years, at least one year of the two were spent. The only time I left was to get more alcohol. And that was that. Food was delivered. Maybe twice a week from you know, a pizza place wasn't eating the best. They'd be pretty lonely place. What was your go to pizza? Grande pizza? Dunmore we were living in same nightmare. Yeah,

Joe Van Wie  37:18  
I get the large vodka. They had eat it. Yeah, I couldn't in any need for two more days. That grande vodka though that's, I can't eat it today. So I feel like I didn't want to like this is a relaxed.

Sean Eagen  37:34  
And it's a very lonely place to be in a room. And even with the food, it was never eaten. I would take a couple bites. And I'd be good for like four days.

Joe Van Wie  37:45  
How old are you now?

Sean Eagen  37:46  
I'm 43.

Joe Van Wie  37:47  
So you're 43 I've experienced addiction, my 40s That's when I collapse. You're there. It's substantially different than that. The terms that were being offered to me in my, when I was 20 got sober. It's much more lonelier. And the dread that death is, can be eminent and my social relationships don't carry the same value. Friends have children, fam. And my life's on a strange pause. And when my principles of me are meaningless, I'd rather just find whatever pleasure or comfort I could find in the pizza or booze drugs. Yeah,

Sean Eagen  38:32  
I knew better. I was instilled with these morals and values that you just mentioned. And I wasn't living up to them. Not even close.

Joe Van Wie  38:40  
When you say anger, I wanted to go back to that because I don't know if you're like me. You can have an angry impulse but to stay angry. To Schlick keep being angry. You have to manufacture story, like you were saying before voice. Will this the story in your 42nd conjure anger and keep it there? What do you have to keep telling yourself in that addiction? Where the anger might turn into agency of maybe I should just put everything I got to get sober. Like, how would you describe that? Did the anger transition into like a gret regret that motivated you to?

Sean Eagen  39:26  
Yeah, I was ready to just to have it and it was welcomed. And I was getting to the point where it was I would like this to stop either way. Yeah. As welcome. I want to get sober. I really don't think I can. But I need to end. And I think you know what that mean? I do and I was serious. I didn't tell a soul. Nobody. I had cried wolf a couple of times. Sure. Maybe for a year.

Joe Van Wie  40:00  
I know I'm belligerent. And it's it's loneliness to connect with people I really love but I can only connect with them. If I'm telling them I'm getting help, but you don't know if he could get help

Sean Eagen  40:09  
now, and I thought for sure there was medical issues from the amount of drinking, I was doing Sure. I had never been this bad ever. I knew I wasn't eating anymore, really. So I'm thinking, if I get help, they're likely to tell you you're gonna die anyway. Is it? Is it really worth it? Or should I just say you're

Joe Van Wie  40:27  
drunk, maybe you go out hit and a nice three from behind the line while you die? I see. I told you it gets over five weeks later.

Sean Eagen  40:37  
Nope, nothing magical happened the day I made the call, except for I got sick and tired of living the same day over and over and I got sick and tired. I walked to my house and I was in any pictures, family experiences, and I mean, maybe a few from when I was younger. But there was a lot years you'd find in a living room. And yeah, walls, I would bend to my parents that we have a lake house at the love and like Ariel. Yeah. There are a few but I'm young. But there's a lot more pictures around that I noticed Sean's not in our shot was Minnesota there. California now on another, it's another rehab. And

Joe Van Wie  41:25  
so they put little placards underneath the pictures.

Sean Eagen  41:32  
I think that I just wanted to be a son again. Yeah. And a brother. And so it was gonna happen either way. And I had a decision in my head that this is going to end, we're gonna get help. And I had the guilt that came with, you know, not getting the help of doing what I thought of doing. I couldn't live with, I can do that to my parents and my family. Because my father had stopped me at their house. And I was in the bath and it was not doing well. I never visited them and I visited them this day. And he came into the bathroom and he gave me a hug. And, you know, he had tears in his eyes. And I'm just in there wash my hands. And he came in and he gave me a hug and and he never really get real emotional and said a son should bury his father. Father should never have to bury his son. I'm really worried. You know, and all that stuff in my head. I thought I'm gonna I don't know if it's for me. Some of it is I can't go out this way. So let's give it a shot. Margareth we went. And I never looked back.

Joe Van Wie  42:56  
How long ago was that now?

Sean Eagen  42:58  
That was two and a half years ago. Let me over. You know, I've been in and out of recovery. off and on throughout the years. This is the longest I've had sober ever.

Joe Van Wie  43:10  
I ran into you a year ago. I haven't seen you in a long, long time. And we've always been friendly and know know each other. I was a year sober. And I we've been out of touch. When I saw you I saw a different man when speaking in just the proximity being next to you talking to you. I felt I felt sober. I felt like I could be sober. It was a real. It was a nice experience running into a meeting.

Sean Eagen  43:46  
Yeah, I liked it myself. It's good to see

Joe Van Wie  43:50  
into get sober and have someone I know knows what I'm talking about. And I know what you're talking about. And it's a bond in that sense. How did you land up? I hate to fast forward. What are you doing today? It's been two years and a half years. We're two guys that have been in countless treatment centers. Did you ever work in a treatment center before now? You work there now. I work.

Sean Eagen  44:20  
I work there. Now.

Joe Van Wie  44:21  
How did that happen?

Sean Eagen  44:24  
Excuse me. I did work there before. Yes. Forget it. Yeah, I worked there briefly 10 years prior. And it was probably for about six months. And it was just too early. Yeah. I liked helping people and it's something I never really fully understood. You're really good at. I appreciate that. Thank you. My father told me that would happen one day and I said I thought he was nuts. I wanted I had great dreams and fringer and but I found it filled a Pardon me, when I made a small difference, just a small one in someone's life, for the better for having met me that day, whatever it was a cup of coffee, whatever. And this time I went to sober living in Dover, New Jersey. Having been there before, 10 years prior, before I went to my worth, I called the owner and he said, Can I come back? There's no you shouldn't be going tomorrow Earth and then coming back to this house in Scranton. If I'm going to do this, I want to really, yeah, do it. And he said, Call me from your counselor's office. And we'll talk, I went back there. And I was a resident at a place I worked at briefly before. And it was definitely an experience that Okay, so COVID heads two months later. Um, thank God, I was there, because I was there with a bunch of men and women

over not isolated alone in a house in Scranton, in early recovery. I would have been, I don't want to say I know what would have happened by Sure. It didn't look odd. To not have connected I mean, recovery is connection. And that was taken away. Yeah, per minute, their Zoom is fine. Zoom was fine. I was sneaking out with a you know, once it started popping up, there was a couple meetings that were running underground. And I appreciate the need for it. So that I had, I had the ability to be able to work in a treatment center too. And I think it saved me.

It really did. The way it happened for me is when COVID had everything stopped. And the milestone houses where I went and they have a coffee house associated with it. It's called the good bean and it was hard to get a job. And during COVID and I need money. I need to keep busy. Yeah, not so much the money but that the idle time was killing me. Yeah. And I became the guy behind the counter at the coffee house and they became a barista. And it was a job that I loved. I loved it.

Joe Van Wie  47:25  
And this is a recovery coffee ops, it's associate

Sean Eagen  47:27  
Yes, with associated with the house. So it's part of the deal. When you go there. You go downstairs, you can work on any assignments you might have spots or clinician might give it to you. It's a nice safe place. But it's open to the public as well. COVID That little bit we brought our you know the coffee's out to people and their cars and stuff. But it was something to do. Yeah, it was I found myself my coffee house. Because I was in there alone most of the day. Not people in there. Like you would think of a Starbucks and a lot of time. And when I was doing some of the times it's not work, you know, for my sponsor.

Joe Van Wie  48:10  
And so the steps 12 Step life, yeah. Did you ever thoroughly go through them before this point of your life? I did. But

Sean Eagen  48:17  
to what degree? You know,

Joe Van Wie  48:20  
it didn't stay as maybe a continual practice like 1110.

Sean Eagen  48:24  
Right. You know, I would I would

Joe Van Wie  48:27  
say you understood at least you knew the path you were going down

Sean Eagen  48:30  
to some Oh, yeah. And then, you know, complacency sets. And, yeah, I'll do it next week. I'm busy. I'm busy. Meanwhile, I'm busy doing the things that recovery has provided for me. And I think I don't think I know I started taking being sober for granted. I have to put money in the bank to make a deposit and I wasn't putting anything in my sober bank, nothing. If I was it wasn't truly authentic, and go to a meeting and see you. My mind wasn't there. I just wasn't present. I was doing it because I was just used to doing it.

Joe Van Wie  49:12  
I've been there. I know a lot of us however, you know what it is I think the non drinking is solved. That was the problem. Let me get busy with the life I have to design and it disregards what we both know the problem is is you know a mind that is prone to resentment, fears, anxieties. Dishonest I get confused of the life in my head versus like them having I do that long enough. You get yourself in a desperate situation. That noise comes back. It's really loud. Yeah.

Sean Eagen  49:45  
So I needed to do something about that. And at a coffee house I found myself Yana later, I found myself wanting to get back into treatment, but to work there At the milestone house and at xL treatment center,

Joe Van Wie  50:04  
so milestone house XL treatment center, your community outreach, what is that?

Sean Eagen  50:10  
I am community outreach and the alumni coordinator. Okay, so the alumni coordinator portion is I'm calling people checking in with them after they've been discharged. And when they come, I welcome. My name is Shawn, do you have everything you need? I'm familiar face. I'll get with them, I'll, I'll ask them a few questions to make them feel comfortable. And if there's anything I can do to be of service while they're there, um, just a face that they they've seen, that is familiar and making them feel comfortable coming to me, or anyone else. I'm just trying to be that base of consistency. before, during and after the community outreach is visiting other places and finding out what they offer.

Joe Van Wie  51:02  
Telling them what we offer and combining a synergy or continuum of care. Like

Sean Eagen  51:08  
yeah, and it's based on case by case. So everyone's needs are different. And learning about what's best for the client, where they can go

Joe Van Wie  51:21  
for aftercare. So you your your philosophy, milestone and Excel, you base it off individual care, kind of. Yeah, it's virtually the individual story, that's kind of the trend, and seems to be the one that listens to the patient moves to

Sean Eagen  51:37  
co occurring. Yeah, it's a serious thing. You know, it's, it's very prevalent now, more so than it was back when, but there,

there's a lot of stuff going on getting sober and certain people have different issues that they're dealing with. And meeting them where they're at with those. Sometimes they need might need a little extra help at some point in time before, before they get to milestone in Excel or after. And that's it's a good screening, in the sense in and seeing and more people being able to articulate how long the care should be, for really better result, three months a year of, you know, the step down programs, which have traditionally been called from stabilization. That's detox that happens usually in a treatment center, that could be 30 days. You could step out to the partial hospitalization program that could be at 90 days of now you've you have a resonance 1510 hours a clinical and then an outpatient stepped down from there, that you're you're spending, you know, anywhere from five to 10 hours now outpatient in your own residence. And from this time, you know, that lets the brain and your body biology and your spirit catch up with a lifestyle in a community that's going to produce recovery. Right and this you have to kind of phases a treatment here you have the treatment center and the milestone house. It seems like you've had, as you know, that is a serious relationship. You seem so dedicated to your experience there. And how fulfilling this role is meant for you.

It is the they believe back together. Right. And Mike Frank and Nicoletta Danna Cheech, Mike Frank's the owner and Nicoletta Danna teaches the director. They, at the sober living as a residence did me such justice. I mean, they I'm a hard case, you know, I'm not the easiest guy. Oh, my God, you're your urinal. But like, you are like, Oh my God,

Joe Van Wie  53:53  
you're Moby Dick in the treatment center, right?

Sean Eagen  53:55  
I mean, these people here he's coming near and you know, they hear my history, this guy has gotten police chases, and I don't know if he's a handful, and the gratitude I have to them for, for taking me on and then caring for me. When I needed them to, it's a debt I cannot pay back. So I try to be a service as best as I can.

Joe Van Wie  54:19  
Sean, I'm overwhelmed in the position that you have, and and us going to, we're going to a meeting together once a week we can same group by coincidence and love it. I love that meeting. The inspiration that it gives me and other people in that room and myself that I need it is serious, profound, and something I'm not taking for granted. And I wanted to have you on here today to talk about. We're two guys that our recovery required us to produce an entirely different life and that life is a life almost. We gladly accept the debt of all the help we've experienced in the past. So I'm very excited to see what will happen in the next five years and that we're both committed to a field that helps people that have the same condition to us. Would you have come back? Absolutely. Some of it will be honored. We're coming down to the hour. Is there anything you'd like to say before we close up our chat here?

Sean Eagen  55:23  
I just want to thank you for having me on. You know, when you asked me I thought, this is surreal, that you know, we're both on the other side, so to speak. You have a family you know, fixing to hopefully one day have one

Joe Van Wie  55:40  
we're in an attic to talking about attics.

Sean Eagen  55:44  
These are things that I just pictured that weren't like we said earlier possible now. So I want to thank you for Thank you, man. I'm

Joe Van Wie  55:51  
glad to know you. So. Thank you, brother. I will see you soon. You will. Thanks, everyone.

I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of all better to find us on all or listen to us on Apple podcasts. Spotify, Google podcasts, Stitcher, I Heart Radio, and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer John Edwards, an engineering company 570. Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And if you're not on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right.

Transcribed by

Welcome to the show Sean Egan.
When was the first time you got drunk?
Cocaine as a shortcut to self-esteem
You have to celebrate freedom.
You’ve got a disease of entitlement.
How to deal with the anger that comes with addiction.
How did you start recovery?
What’s your community outreach and alumni coordinator role?