AllBetter

A Golfer's Path to Sobriety with Ryan Barba

August 19, 2023 Joe Van Wie / Ryan Barba Season 3 Episode 61
AllBetter
A Golfer's Path to Sobriety with Ryan Barba
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Our guest for this episode is Ryan Barba, a former professional golfer whose journey to recovery from addiction is nothing short of extraordinary. Ryan takes us down memory lane with tales from his childhood in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, as well as his passion for golf and skateboarding. He unflinchingly delves into his personal struggles with addiction, guilt, and shame. He also shares his future plans, which include a sobriety-focused podcast and his hope to interview his friend Brendan Novak. 

Opening up the conversation, we navigate the complex societal issues like gun violence, racism, and the often distorted influence of the media. We also explore the psychological toll of isolation, societal values' evolution over the past decade, and the importance of truly being present during social interactions. This segment is a deep dive into the contemporary societal landscape and the mental health challenges it poses.

Finally, Ryan talks about his experiences in recovery and how theatre helped him heal. His remarkable transformation story underscores the importance of recovery houses and the unique programs they offer to support sobriety. A big shoutout to our producer, John Edwards, whose input helped shape this episode into a testament of personal recovery, gratitude, and the promising possibility of a second chance at life. Tune in, like, and subscribe to our podcast on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Please stop by ApplePodcast and give us a Rating and Review!

Leaders Of Long Term Recovery in Pennsylvania 

We combine proven recovery principles with new, innovative techniques to provide one of the most effective programs for young men in the country.

 Discussions on addiction and recovery. We interview clinicians/researchers, legislators, and individuals that include a variety of means to recovery. Joe Van Wie is a father, husband, filmmaker, and reformed media consultant in recovery. 

Fellowship House
As a treatment center, Fellowship House offers both residential and outpatient treatment services to

allbetter.fm
Discussions on addiction and recovery. We interview clinicians/researchers, legislators, and individ

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the show


Stop by our Apple Podcast and drop a Review!

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/allbetter/id1592297425?see-all=reviews


Support The Show
https://www.patreon.com/allbetter

Speaker 1:

Hello and thanks again for listening to another episode of All Better. I'm your host, joe Van Lee. Today's guest is Ryan Barba. Ryan is from Delaware and Ryan is going to tell a story of personal recovery today, of how a career in professional golf was interrupted by an addiction that he could not hide. He won't tell that story in his own words. Ryan is also a patient at Fellowship House Outpatient, an intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization program. That is a program I am a founder of, so that's the disclaimer. Let's meet Ryan Barba. That's the sound effects. Ryan, thanks for coming over today.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely my pleasure. This is like my dream To be on a podcast. Yeah, I've told you this. I've always wanted to start my own, did you?

Speaker 1:

ever? Were you ever a guest on a podcast before?

Speaker 2:

No, I've always again, I've always wanted to yeah, never happened.

Speaker 1:

How about do any of your friends do golf podcasting?

Speaker 2:

No, I listen to a lot of them though, but that's. I kind of wanted to start my own just with, like you know, everyday stuff, you know, including kind of sobriety and stuff like that to kind of throw in there too, but it's kind of everyday life.

Speaker 1:

Well, let's talk about it. You stay in Scranton for another year, which it's unlikely with the plans you've been making in your professional golfer. But if you do take the mic here, take three weeks of all better. You could interview only Delaware people. Yeah, that'd be cool. Come on, all better. And you could interview Brendan Novak yeah.

Speaker 2:

Now I screwed him on. You think he would do it? I think he would. Yeah, I mean, I talked to him about it. Yeah, you know, I gave him your number and you know I was hoping to maybe have him come up. Even my year celebration whether I'm here or not, I want to celebrate my year up here and I was kind of hoping maybe he would come up and be a part of that too.

Speaker 1:

Who's Brendan Novak? For anyone who's listening.

Speaker 2:

Brendan is a. It was funny. I mean, my brother he's a big skateboarder and very good and he during his drinking days he kind of befriended Bam Margera and became really close with him and I think, from what I understand is, you know, I mean Novak lived with Bam and my brother would kind of hang out with that whole crowd.

Speaker 1:

This is like the 2000s, like early 2000s, no.

Speaker 2:

And probably 2012 to 2015-ish or all that Okay, sure Around there. But you know, he kind of got caught up in that crowd and then, you know, I lived with my mom and so did he. We all lived together. And then Novak decided to move in with us and he was still in active use then and it was just kind of a, you know, you picture the Jackass TV show. That's kind of what I had to live through and I was kind of like their puppet. You know where I would get peed on every night. You know I would get dead animals thrown in, you know, and I would sleep on the couch. I didn't have my own room. So you know they would be coming home at 5am in the morning and that's when they would kind of you didn't have to like leave home to be hazed.

Speaker 1:

every night, like every evening, you came home to a hazing or a prank that you involved?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, somewhere Dead animals.

Speaker 1:

Well, let's start from the beginning, right, where are you from and we're going to get to the point of how you ended up in Scranton. And for a disclaimer, ryan has been the first patient and resident of my outpatient and IOP, so I wanted to put that out there. So it's not cheap marketing and you could absolutely criticize anything about the house here openly.

Speaker 2:

I'm afraid of nothing.

Speaker 1:

I'll take criticism or change, but I always ask you guys what we could be doing better.

Speaker 2:

But where did you grow up? Yeah, so I was born in Delaware, I don't remember any of that. But we moved to North Carolina and I spent most of my childhood in North Carolina and it was great. I mean, I couldn't have asked for really a better childhood growing up and as far as that. My dad got into promotion and we were going to move back up to the area in Pennsylvania about a half hour south from Philly called Kennett Square. So we moved up there and even my childhood became a dream childhood really. I was a big skateboarder back then too. I was introduced to golf at a very young age, even in North Carolina. I have videos of me whacking the club and things like that. But the cool thing back then when I was in middle school was to skateboard and I kind of wanted to fit in and I decided and that was really good at it. I was me and my brother bonded in that perspective. But my dad was a member at this golf club where we lived at and I would go out with him every now and again and I kind of caught the bug. And it was funny because I tried to hide it in a way, because golf was stupid back in the day.

Speaker 1:

Well, to your peers, sure, yeah, okay, so was it something.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, someone knew that I really liked golf and so I had to sneak out, and you know.

Speaker 1:

It's funny skateboarding and golf. It seemed like they would clash culturally, but there are two hobbies, leisure or even lifestyles that for most people who start them skateboarding or golf they don't ever have to stop doing them. Someone I knew that skateboarded in middle school, then high school. A good portion of them are now in their 40s. They still frigging skateboard.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, look at Tony Hawk. Yeah, the guy's like I think he just got surgery too recently and I still skateboarding, you know it's.

Speaker 1:

It's amazing. Yeah, it's an amazing thing. You know, I would have never considered that when we would, we would hay skater, die dude, like all the jocks attacking skateboarders, but that it's a lifestyle that lasted four decades for my friends that skateboard well into their 40, some of the 50s still skating on weekends, skate through town, go on a road trip, skate through another town. But golf also commits someone to a lifelong lifestyle too. So how does golf end up winning over skateboard? How does this play out?

Speaker 2:

I don't know, to be honest. I mean, everyone's always talked about the golf bug, you know, and people who have never golfed and they try it for the first time and they catch that bug, and I think that's what I kind of. I don't know. I think it was just more of like a really good escape for me. But so is skateboarding in a way too, you know it was. They're both very like you're outside, you know, you're enjoying the weather and but I don't know, it was just a way for me to escape, because I mean, during that time I was kind of going through. My parents were getting divorced at that time too, and me and my father bonded over that a lot and I became pretty good at it at a young age and I won the club championship, you know, when I was like 15 or 16, they gave you a parking spot and I got a parking spot and I'm not my license yet and the members weren't too happy about that, but I would park my bike there because I live so close. So my bike there or my dad would park there. But during that time me and my dad would. He would, you know, we would travel everywhere to play in tournaments and stuff at an age and and those what age are you at? I would say like 13 to you know 17. We traveled everywhere you know Florida, california, georgia, north Carolina, south Carolina.

Speaker 1:

Now was your dad, was he a pro?

Speaker 2:

No, he's just a he's just an avid golfer.

Speaker 1:

He played his whole life. Really has lights. The lifestyle can travel, can golf, without skipping over something. I kind of want to just pour down, just the divorce. How old were you when your parents got divorced? I would say around 13, around that age, and it lasts for like what, like, this goes over for two years a year it was, I think the divorce was finalized with.

Speaker 2:

the separation period was, I think, seven years. Yeah, it was kind of a nasty one, yeah, and you know it, at that age, you know, I didn't a lot of my friends parents were divorced. So I kind of like was going with the flow, you know, and I didn't really think too much of it. But you know it, in a way it took a little bit of a toll on me, but I got to be careful because my mom is probably going to listen to this. But when we moved there she became a pretty avid drinker. We were kind of known as the party house and my dad had moved out and it was hard for me to go to bed when I knew they were out drinking or whatever. My dad is not an alcoholic by any means, but my mom kind of became one in a way. And I think it goes a little bit deeper than that. They wouldn't come home until like three o'clock in the morning and then they would sometimes argue, and I wouldn't be working off too much sleep for school the next day.

Speaker 1:

But again, I think that was all normal just based off of like I used to deal with it. So you're traveling 13 to 17 golf. It's that kind of crisis that can explode a home that's not uncommon with your peers. When did you find your first kind of refuge in a drink or a drug, being that your bottom went? Your dad, 13 to 17,. Did your addiction start in that window?

Speaker 2:

I would say so. I mean, I guess I started drinking pretty early on, probably in around seventh, eighth grade, not really heavily, but just kind of a few beers here and there on family vacations and stuff like that. And once I got to high school though I was a freshman my brother was a senior and he was pretty popular as a student there. So I got kind of picked on a lot when I was a freshman. But when he left I had to kind of maintain that popularity and continue to throw these parties while and he would still throw them even after he graduated. But I had people coming up to me in hallways that I didn't, people I didn't even know, like, oh yeah, here you have a party this weekend. I might want news to me. But yeah, usually every single weekend we would throw a party.

Speaker 1:

And how many people would attend this party.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it depended. If I threw it I kind of liked to have people that I knew, kind of a smaller circle. My brother would kind of invite. He knew a lot more people than I did, so he would invite a lot more. But I would say, I don't know, 10 to 30 people, sometimes 50 maybe.

Speaker 1:

So 13 to 17 kind of wraps up. What does that look like becoming 18? What's going on then?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was a senior in high school. I had gotten a four-ride to Wilmington for golf and this guy was the coach there was kind of looking at me for a while. So I decided to go there after high school and I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a defense attorney and took criminal justice there.

Speaker 1:

Trust me that won't interrupt your golf game. It did, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's why I quit, because I found out how much work it actually took and I'm like fuck that.

Speaker 1:

Well, if you could talk to any criminal lawyer, he'd rather be a golfer, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's so. During that I went there for two seconds. But during that time I found out there was a golf school in Myrtle Beach and my eyes lit up and one of my mentors he was a golf pro at the club I grew up at. So I just kind of had a high moment and I was just like that's what I want to do. So I kind of caught up with my dad and I don't think he was too thrilled that I wanted to pack my bags and go to Myrtle Beach. But that's what I did and it was a two-year program. You got your associate's degree in business and, believe it or not, I barely passed. It was I had to sit next to an accounting major to pass the final, to pass and graduate. But that was a crazy time frame too for me. I think that's kind of when I was introduced to strippers and I was starting to do a little bit more coke and all that stuff while I was down there and it was a good time. But it was a real shitty time too. I turned 21 years old down there and that was a shit show in itself.

Speaker 1:

How are you financing all?

Speaker 2:

this. So I was I mean, my dad was kind of fitting the bill for everything. We found this apartment near my school and he was helping me out financially, kind of gave me a budget and like this is what you have for rent and everything else and I would do some work at some golf courses on the side, like under the table stuff, but he was helping me out financially and which, looking back on it now, really it hurt me, you know. But he didn't know anything that was going on. Really, you know I but Did anybody?

Speaker 1:

No, how about you? How did you consider it? Did you feel this is something? If if exposed the rate and the amount that you're partying? Do you think someone would be concerned if they knew the whole picture? I think so, yeah, I mean yeah, dude, were you, did you think that way? Then, like this is something to hide, okay, no.

Speaker 2:

I Don't think I really care well in the thing and my dad didn't know I went to like a couple of strip clubs because he would see some ATM transactions that I made at. So I'm like yeah, I went there last night, but I don't think you knew the extent of it because I would bring you know four or five of them back to my apartment with a couple of my friends and you know, Just have a good time. Thanks, dad. Yeah, it's horrible looking back on it now you know, but I got a gun poured out on me on my 21st birthday by a cab driver. Just being an asshole, but you drew down on you. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I didn't do anything wrong. If anything, I over tipped the guy too, he still did it.

Speaker 1:

What did he feel was such a threat that he was?

Speaker 2:

Well, he was trying to use a cab driver and they would post up at trip clubs and when for and this one was, they didn't close to like 5 am, but they, he picked me up and he I live like five minutes down the road and this guy was like going Completely the opposite way and I kind of caught him out on it. Yeah, again acting like a idiot. And and the cab ride that should have been like 10 bucks turned out to be like I don't know $30 or something like that. I made a big fuss about it and I just threw like I Don't know like 60 bucks cash at him or something like that and I say go fuck yourself.

Speaker 1:

And he got out and flashed a piece flashed and you flash your piece out on the lane man Snatch it from you. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

He showed it to you, pull up a shirt, and then he pulled it out and put it at my forehead, and then I'm acting like this tough guy, like oh yeah boy trigger.

Speaker 1:

No, did you ever see this cab driver again?

Speaker 2:

No, well, the funny thing was I didn't like there was, the neighbors saw it. It was that, like you know, 5, 36 o'clock in the morning, so people are going to work. Yeah, I'm just coming in. You're getting Executed by a cab driver. Yeah, so people would saw it and cops came and I had a fill out a report and everything.

Speaker 1:

That's wild. How long ago was that? Because it just in height of today, being April 2023. I've read five or six stories in the last week of Just Extremely scared people shooting other people, of mistaken doorknocks, getting into the wrong car to cheerleaders shot, one killed. This was like two days ago and I'm seeing this rev up on the media, like In Florida. I don't know if you're paying attention to it, I was just, it just seems relevant of how quickly people are not only show a gun of the. I mean, these are just people opening fire. The guy down in Was it Ohio kid knocked on the wrong door looking for his brother. You just shot him. Yeah, just open the door and shot him.

Speaker 2:

What do you say? I mean, that's more like what do you think about that as far as?

Speaker 1:

It's someone sitting, you know, maybe they have rate racist tendencies, for whatever reasons their, their culture, they're limited background, education, socioeconomics, where you're raised, what year you're born, who your family is. This kind of creates, well, what's in your mind? I'm so you can't escape it like these these elements are and variables are chosen for you. Yeah, it's. Can you break free from them so you're not running through a life fucking terrified all the time, right? So now this guy's in his like 60s this is how I'm kind of perceiving it. He's sitting there just fucking getting hammered by the news all day. Yeah, that you know immigrants are raiding in at untold numbers. Eventually they're gonna what come to his door and take his, his soup and I Don't know whatever. You know madness reigns in someone's head. Yeah, from your fears. So it's not just what the news is saying, it's what you project the world's going to be. Yeah, like it's you completing the news story. I know how it ends. Yeah, like it's gonna be a war. It's gonna be a race war. Yeah, like this. You know these are the fucking minds just being poisoned so we could watch the same news product and one guy's getting reinforced with, like, racist agendas and being scared Now, if there's a black kid on my portrait ring in his bell, there's only one reason why he could be there. Right, he's gonna rob me and he's in a gang. Yeah, we know it, it's black lives matters now at my house. Yeah, just to solicit a fight and see it right that it's crazy.

Speaker 2:

Because it's funny now, because I heard something like we saw a video the other day about like Bringing the doorbell, like now versus like back in the 90s. Oh, that's a comedian, I think. Yeah, but like back in the 90s, like you were excited when the doorbell rang, like you were like you know it's one of your friends, or, but now it's like you turn off all the lights, you hide, it's like crazy.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. And in person contact, uh it's. I think it takes more energy from people to be present for, like in person social engagements. Mm-hmm, um, it became real common. I even, like 10 years ago, I'd be hanging with friends. We could be taxing and half paying attention to each other. You know, if you did that 10 years prior to that, it'd be really rude. Um, I remember when next tell would have that two-way beep, beep, beep in restaurants, people would be offended. Then it became normal. Then, you know it's, uh, I think there's a pushback now, when I'm with my wife or we're with people, they get all of our attention. Mm-hmm, I think people get tired of that. It's just, it takes so much. Yeah, it's crazy after the last three years some of the isolation from covet. You get comfortable not being around people.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean it's, it's bad. I mean Carly and I were talking about it because she had gotten rid of her, like social media and and all that and I don't have any Social media and Carly is our master clinician at fellowship house. Yeah, she's okay, but like I do have tiktok, which is still like it's I, hate that I like it so much. But Carly purged herself of all of that. Yeah, and you know, even me being on facebook and instagram, like, I've seen like a mental change in as far as like yeah, I don't care about like, it's so funny to me now, like looking back on, like I have to post this picture of like look at me at On fucking you know grease. Like, why do I need, why do I feel the need to share that With everyone? I have a problem.

Speaker 1:

Um, the podcast was a way to combat it. I could meet the needs of like how I like, hurted explosion. But, um, sorry people, there's explosions and green ridge speaking at gunfire. They're here, they're now shooting at us.

Speaker 2:

They're at the doorbell.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's everywhere now Stories, news, my house, we're shooting. Well, I don't know, that was my way to combat it because, um, it has a really strong effect on me. Um, now, um, that I could feel it. It lingers for days. I feel Like almost disassociation, peeling away from the phone. Um, instagram, facebook, I've, I've, I've raced the apps from my phone and I go on maybe three times a week to post the podcast. But even if I leave it linger that day, I'll be tracking things, looking for things or I'll be scrolling on. I don't have tiktok, but I do the reels on instagram.

Speaker 2:

Yeah same thing. They're awesome, I mean it's just.

Speaker 1:

It's really bad because it's nothing I need to be giving my my time to. No, I have a lot to do, yeah, um, and a lot of people need my attention. Yeah, and I could be somewhere for 15 minutes. I could be looking in the morning before I could be meditating or doing something to start my day, go down to the gym and I could. 15 minutes just gone and I'm watching weird shit. Yeah it's weird stuff, thinking it's hilarious, but I'm like, what am I doing like this? I didn't make a willful decision or plan that to be part of my day. It's just frightening to think the commodity is my attention and I just sold it to someone. I just gave it to them. They're exploiting my. My frontal lobe is gone. That's the real fear for me at the sense of AI rising up and running these these things. If it had its own goals, we wouldn't even know you're being spun out. I'm not even saying it has to be a robot. We're not even talking about A manifestation of some AI in a singular machine. Just just now. It influences us tremendously. It rewards lies. It's already trained to manipulate humans and scare them and spread false information. It just frightens me the three things you shouldn't have done with super systems like that, like Instagram and all these models and these. The rise of AI. Ai Is teach it about human psychology or cognition or emotion. It knows how to manipulate humans. There was one thing you should never do to AI. They said that in the 60s. The second thing is put it online. Right, and now it's pervasively, could get into anything. If it's going to be a super intelligence and super intelligence is it's unhuman. It would be alien. Yeah our own cognition. And then the third thing is uh, Never teach it psychology, Don't put it online and never teach it and train it in code, writing code. Now this is what would make itself generating. I know we went off on a tangent here and I did on my last podcast, but it's a. It's scary, it's the news that has my full attention, because I love existential crisis, yeah, but this one's really unique and some people are really scared. Some people are really happy and I've been trying to listen to yeah, I would love to yeah wear the guardrails on this, but it's hard to imagine AI being great. I believe them. If they're great, it's got guardrails and it doesn't become conscious. What I don't believe is, if it is conscious and you don't align it right, you're all dead. If there's no escape from it, we are just prey to whatever its will. Is we already? I've just spent 15 minutes every morning. Any morning, I could be victim to my own phone my own attention and I didn't make a decision to do that. It's weird.

Speaker 2:

It's bad, it's horrible.

Speaker 1:

Well, let's get back to your life story, now that AI has taken into this it is AI. But when did your addiction start to jeopardize what you're really good at and what you really enjoy is golf, and you're a pro. And how did you lose that? How does one lose that because of an addiction? And how do you realize what's happening to you?

Speaker 2:

I don't know. I think when I turned 21 and I had gotten my first pro job is when it really took a downfall. But as far as the game itself, that's a love that I will always have and I always did, because that was my escape of everything. It was kind of like my drug in a way. But I had gotten my first pro job when I was 21 and I think that kind of shot my ego through the roof when all my friends were still in school and I had a golf pro job making I don't know. It was like 30, 35 grand a year and I thought it was a million bucks.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, man, that's a real shot of pride, identity, a payout from all the time spent with golf. Now you're a pro.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but I had gotten 2 DUIs during that time, back to back within a month and I would show up late all the time and that job probably lasted I don't know like six to eight months and I got fired. But I quickly found another one and it was just kind of the same pattern throughout my whole career and I just kind of went, I bounced around and then there was just one job opportunity that opened up in Florida. And prior to that, that's when Novak lived with me and my brother and my mom and my brother had gotten me and him gotten to a very big argument and it's crazy looking back at it now. I was going to work and he was coming in from a bender and him and I got in this big argument and he went to rehab that day and stayed sober ever since then.

Speaker 1:

Did you have any definition in your mind of what recovery was, or had friends or people disappear in your life? Which treatment prior to your brother?

Speaker 2:

I mean Novak went before him, but I knew a couple of my friends but I didn't really have a working idea of what recovery was.

Speaker 1:

I had no idea what AA was, let alone no, no definition of addiction. No, not at all.

Speaker 2:

I didn't think I had a problem whatsoever at that point. It took me a very long time to kind of realize that. But I was taking money from my mom and I didn't want to face it. And she called me. I didn't want to face that conversation. So that was kind of a move for me to kind of go down to Florida and escape everyone, including my family members and we were talking about that the other day where I kind of cut off communication with everyone. There would kind of be spurts here and there, like with my dad, but it sucked because my mom would send me. She would have people come over that I knew in Florida and she also knew, and they would deliver me birthday cakes that my mom would purchase. I never once did I shoot her a text and say thank you or anything, because I still felt so guilty and shameful of what I did.

Speaker 1:

It is guilt and shame. If you don't mind if I could pry a little in, the sense you said your ego exploded when you got the position as your first golf pro position. You get a salary, young guy, most people it could be pride. It won't be, just say, an ego. But ego is distinct. It's this idea of this persona, this mask that I'm creating, this manufactured identity, and for some people that have trauma and addiction, the line is really blurry of where this true sense of self or authenticity of self is versus the ego we manufacture. And I relate to this profoundly because I feel like I designed an ego before I had a personality. Just because of circumstances that you can't control, what you raised up, an ego rises up to defend a person from a reality that's just too painful, like this personality. So do you think some of this could have been the confrontation of now being just what could be called a thief, not an addict? You took money. That's just too painful for someone to say no. This is not how I think of myself, because I don't think of you as a thief. But addiction can make us justify all these strange patterns that we would always find immoral to do. But we'll never look at it as that as we're doing it. And do you think isolating yourself for that period down in Florida was that was just too painful to come to terms. If you admit it to that, you're admitting to a serious problem.

Speaker 2:

Right, yeah, well, yeah, I think so. I think that was, yeah, I mean, and that's the thing too, where it's just like when I was doing that, like my parents didn't raise me like that either, where it's just like I didn't really know well, I didn't want to know the extent of like what problem I had. I didn't want to hear it, but, yeah, I didn't want to face reality and the funny thing is it's actually I never. I was thinking about this the other day where I lived with someone in Florida and they wouldn't he didn't charge me rent, but he lived with his fiance and he was in the program too. I had no idea what the fuck he was and I just knew he was gone for a while when I first started this job and he came back and because he was in rehab. But yeah, he said he was in the program and all this stuff. I'm like oh, good for you and it's funny. It's not funny. But, like you know, we were at the bar one day and he was there and with some of our work friends and we were doing coke and he decided to do some blow with us and he relapsed that and I didn't know the extent. I'm like, oh yeah, it was all right Without a drink.

Speaker 1:

Without a drink. They've only known a couple people to do that and they're dangerous. Yeah, but it's just, I didn't last long. No, but the guy that's like, yeah, like he doesn't, he didn't prime himself for like four beers or a scotch. You're just bumping lines of coke without a drink in your hand. I don't know. I keep my eye on that guy my entire drinking career. The guy who's doing cocaine without having a few drinks. I'm watching him because he's going to be a problem.

Speaker 2:

Well, he didn't, he was perfectly fine. And it's crazy because he, I mean, granted, only lasted maybe two months and then he started drinking again, but I didn't again. I didn't know like the extent of it. I'm like, oh yeah, dude, if you just do coke, like that's fine, Like just don't drink alcohol. That was your problem, right, Like I had. I was so oblivious to any of that, yeah, midnight advice.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, To do it just do it like Freud, just do it out of the intellectual interest of cocaine.

Speaker 2:

Listen to me. I've only had about an eighth of James and then a eight bomb at this point.

Speaker 1:

How does that that journey down to Florida end?

Speaker 2:

I had found a job in North Carolina and we that was like the only job I left on good terms with and they actually offered me more money to stay and I was. He can offer me $100,000 or probably wouldn't stay, but I've always wanted to end up in North Carolina and end up working down there, and that was short lived too. I kind of quickly, you know I kind of Starting to drink it, I was drinking, I was getting prostitutes, I would you know, I graduated to crack you know a while back, but Did that expedite things pretty quickly? Oh yeah, it was bad, and we were. I was talking about this the other day too, or you know, I was gonna pay it bi-weekly and I hated it when I wasn't sober. It is because, like I would spend that entire paycheck and then three days two days, oh yeah, overnight, yeah, and I wouldn't have money for 13 days? Yeah, so like, and that killed me. But and how about cigarettes? Did you smoke cigarettes?

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, yeah, how you get into a pack like that's.

Speaker 2:

I would have people from work. Just I'm gonna say I'll get you.

Speaker 1:

Unaverage if you could smoke all that you you regularly smoke. Is it 20 cigarettes a day?

Speaker 2:

No, I actually don't smoke a pack a day. I probably smoke, you know, 10, 15.

Speaker 1:

You know cigarettes are designed like by dosage, length and and by the pack to be 20 cigarettes a day, because withdrawal starts immediately after you put it out and full withdrawal would be an hour. Oh great after you have extinguished a cigarette. So on average, the whole design and metric of 20 cigarettes is to make sure all smokers would want to like every hour Could smoke a cigarette every hour, yeah, not more, wow. Yeah, well, I make sure you guys. 13 days to figure out how to get you know, 1300 smokes.

Speaker 2:

So I suck man it. And during that I got kicked out. I was living with a buddy of mine who worked at a different course. He was on, he was on the grounds crew at another course. But I couldn't stick up with rent. It was, I think it was only, like you know, six or 800 bucks. I had to pay, but I couldn't afford a big double, you know so. So I lived out of my car for about six months and, you know, thankfully I had. You know, I worked at a golf course where they had locker rooms and showers so I would shower there in the six months, was it.

Speaker 1:

what seasons is it? Spring, summer, was it?

Speaker 2:

it was, I think, fall. Yeah, it was, and it sucked because I I would have to kind of put the heat on and turn off my car, and sometimes I wouldn't turn off my car. I'll forget.

Speaker 1:

How did you get you? When did you get used to sleeping in your car, to the fact it wasn't painful every night?

Speaker 2:

I don't think I don't think I used to it so man it was fucking tough because, like, even then I couldn't Did anyone know you were living in the car.

Speaker 1:

Were you hiding this for the majority of the people that were in your like circle in North Carolina? Were you?

Speaker 2:

no one knew as far as people in North Carolina, I would tell them I was staying in a hotel.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

There was a couple times where I did. I asked, like the headpro, if I could stay with them and and he offered, he was like he'd stay with me until you find a place and I just, I just, wanted to do that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you might want to.

Speaker 2:

You might fuck it up too right, because I'm walking in at five o'clock in the morning, you know after you know Doing drugs all night man right, that's I'm, I'm, I'm in.

Speaker 1:

That's intense to walk around, that's fear, it's just total fear, shame, anxiety, anxiety out of control by that. Oh yeah, yeah I couldn't.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the Walmart parking lot was really where I stayed and there was McDonald's right there, so I'll kind of scrape up. I would literally scrape up, you know, like you know, quarters and stuff to try to get a meat chicken or whatever but, yeah, for those two weeks where I didn't get paid it was. It sucked.

Speaker 1:

Did you have a cell phone, mm-hmm yeah when the loneliness would drive in, and you know I have a lot of friends and people I've known really well that have ended up homeless in various ways, from a car to not having a place to live, going house to house to straight to the streets of Kensington. There's something that's just brutal. It's loneliness, and it will arise, you know, until you totally lose a sense of yourself. It'll rise every day. Mm-hmm. When would that happen to you? Would it be in that parking lot? Would it? Would you be tempted and compelled to just call someone and say Fucking, this gotta end, like what restrained you from calling home, or I think?

Speaker 2:

it was just like Just fear of not having the conversation, but I eventually did, you know, I eventually did call my mom and I told my work that I needed some time. I don't know how long it's gonna be, it could be forever, I don't know but I just wanted to go home and sleeping in a fucking bed and so, yeah, I did eventually move back up here and I haven't seen my mom and I don't know three, four, five years or something like that, and so that was a very emotional moment, you know, especially for her. But I think, really, where the depression hit was, you know, I had gotten a job after I got my first job. You know, I had gotten a job after that too, and but I got gotten far from that job too, from stealing money from there. But I had something, what they call that clinical depression, where I would I literally stayed in my room for Probably six months, maybe a little bit more. Yeah, I Wouldn't get up. I guess I the only time I would get up was to get food and I would literally pee out the fucking window because I was too afraid to face anybody. That's crippling. You know, I lived with my brother, um, he was sober and he was in the program and, um, you know my mom was there, but you know she would come in check on me every now and again. But I, I did not want to face anybody because I didn't know, I thought my life was done Because I had just broken up with a girlfriend. I lost my job, my dream job that I had. Um, I was facing a third DUI the time, um, and you know I have this like stigma that I I'm a thief because I stole money from a club that you know To feed my addiction really. But um it, I didn't know where to go from there. I was so fucking lost tonight to the point like my lawyer kept on like continuing the court date until I went to treatment and um yeah, I, I was Still going. I would go out in the middle of the night to go on a little bit of a binge. You know, my mom would give me a couple hundred bucks but I would stay out for Three days at a time and um well, that sucks.

Speaker 1:

They're not fun to come back to that after three days. They crawl back into your mom's house.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was bad and um, you know it that was, I met someone else on this dating app and, um, in a way, she saved my life. In a way, um, because I attempted suicide. I um Kind of had enough. I, you know, I had stole from the girl I was talking to and, um, I decided I wrote a whole bunch of uh letters on paper towers with a sharpie and, um, the place I was at, I I had a whole bunch of there was a whole bunch of Advil there, so I just started like chewing them. It's corny, it's gonna sound corny but like she's desperation. Yeah, but she's. She sent me this like our song that we used to listen to, like while I was chewing the fucking pills, and, um, I just spit them out right away when she sent it to me and um, but that was just the moment where I just kind of gave up and I was surrounded by a whole bunch of cops and um, I had a warrant out for my arrest from stealing from my job which I had no idea I had. Um, and this cop was like you know this cop, by the way, like you saying that he knows you, I'm like I don't know anybody over there. I don't know what you're talking about, but this cop that used to come by the club that I worked at Him and I became pretty good friends and he's the one that picked me up oh my god, great Like this is the last person I want to see right now. But um, he, uh, he gave me a hug and just said you know, I want to see you here again, you know, but I had to go to treatment to take after that, but yeah, well, what?

Speaker 1:

brings you to scranton. Yeah, scranton, I, uh, I had a.

Speaker 2:

I relapsed, uh. But um, going to, I had a scare at. You know, I was kind of held hostage in a way and um, you know, the first go around it took me a while to kind of get into treatment. But this one I had, you know, I was kind of like I needed, I need to do it. But, um, after what I just went through and um, um, yeah, I uh going through that whole Stage, it it's hard to even believe that I, you know, kind of went through something like that. It it's weird to say even now. But, um, I was trying to really control things. My first go around I thought I knew it all. I was a house manager at one point Coming here. It was really weird how I ended up here. I went to Clear Brook in Massachusetts because every 20 days I came up to they tried to send me to Langhorn, which is a PHP for Banyan. I was going to go there. I want to go to Clear Brook down there. I thought they did PHP there too and they didn't. But they're like, oh well, we found this place called Mountain Teg. It's pretty new. I'm like, all right, fuck it.

Speaker 1:

I'll do that. That's by Elks Mountain here At this point, just like if someone was listening. You're continuing with care here, you get detoxed. You got 28, 30 days in inpatient treatment From there. You want to go for further treatment and that could be up to more 90 days what you're calling a PHP partial hospitalization program.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I didn't know it was 90 days, I thought it was 30 days. I went up to my counselor and she was like, how long does it stay here? Like 30? She's like, well, we recommend 90. I'm like I'll do 90. That's what. It was really different this time. I was really willing to do anything to get help. Yeah, so I did the 90 there and I experienced something. One of my best friends died while I was in treatment there and that kind of killed me, because he came and visited me a couple weeks prior to his death, weeks leading into it. I was on the phone with him every day, trying to get him to actually come up to Mountain's Edge, because there was a guy there that has been to 37 treatments and he said this is by far the best place I've ever been to, and it truly is. I mean, as much as I hate to give Joe Kane a lot of credit here, but that whole him and that whole staff there really changed my life, joe.

Speaker 1:

Kane's, the clinical director of Mountain's Edge.

Speaker 2:

But the groups that they run there. It's something short of amazing. It's really intimate and it's something that it's really hard to explain. He's one of the best clinicians in the world.

Speaker 1:

It's incredible.

Speaker 2:

It's crazy and it's funny to see here people like oh, I fucking hate him, like well, it's probably for a reason.

Speaker 1:

But well, hate requires passion, so there's passion involved in there.

Speaker 2:

It's just he calls people out in their bullshit and people just don't like that. But going through that, I mean it was really they. Let me go to the funeral for my best friend. I think that whole time that funeral really hurt, like it seared into my brain, because I had my mom sitting next to me and when the priest gave my mom or his mom the ashes, my mom kept on saying like don't do this to me, don't do this to me.

Speaker 1:

Did you feel sober there? Like, what was your feeling there? That would be different from not being sober, just being dry, because you went there with full intentions to grieve and in pain. But how would you describe feeling sober at that moment, matt? Like what does that mean there? Even though you're sad and in grief, did you feel vulnerable to drinking?

Speaker 2:

or relapsing? No, I didn't. It's funny because after the funeral, I went to the you know they have gathering after where they all drink, and it was. We're just looking at people and like they're all drinking and I like saw it from like a different perspective. Like I'm, like man, that's what I would. I would drink myself to death right now, like this was five months ago, you know, sure, because like, but it was like that just moment of clarity, of like they're doing that to numb the pain that they're currently in and unfortunately, I don't get to have any of those, I don't I get to feel it, which I became like grateful to kind of feel that now, in a way, just to feel feelings, whether that's happiness, sadness, anger, you know, I'm kind of grateful to enable to like go through those feelings and really experience them all you know, because I wasn't. I haven't been really used to doing that for, you know, like a decade, you know.

Speaker 1:

So I would you describe the last three months of really getting your sea legs in recovery, Because how long are you sober?

Speaker 2:

now Almost 11 months.

Speaker 1:

Almost a year is coming up soon.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And a year. It took a year of full treatment. There's not much you haven't done towards your recovery is the PHP. Afterwards you went to kind of instill an intensive outpatient program, live in a recovery house, and that's when I got to meet you and I've known you now since September.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean it's funny because I think I've told you this. But I mean I've heard you speak at a meeting and you know I kind of always had. You know, I was like I really like to ask them to be my sponsor and then, like I didn't see at some of the meetings and then I saw you at Willow house. I was like get the fuck out of here, just like a, you know, fucking perfect moment. There's that psycho.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I've been fucking looking for you. But yeah, I mean the trains. I had no intention of staying in Scranton at all. I had zero until about like two weeks of my discharge at.

Speaker 1:

Mountain.

Speaker 2:

Zedge, and then one of my good friends, dj. You know he went there. We talked to Larry and I was like, all right, well, I'll try it out. You know I'm not going to stay there long probably, but I'll give it a shot on as well. But it's changed a lot, you know, since I first got in there. But I think it's all positives in a way, but it'll be a lot more changes soon.

Speaker 1:

I mean your patient zero man Golf pro to patient zero, that'll be the name of the stuff.

Speaker 2:

But now it's been, it's a. Really it's funny because every sober house I've only been to two, but like every one they've been like brand new. So like I've been in, like you've only been in brand new sober houses, yeah, wow, and they're all like, they all need help and they all which is good, you know, but you know it's a. At Novak house it was more like they had one house and then they started getting more and then that was a house.

Speaker 1:

They didn't have outpatient services per se right there. It was more peer to peer.

Speaker 2:

12 step oh, yes and no. I mean, brandon was part of a band in, so that's right. Yeah, he worked. He wanted us to do IOP for Banyan, but it was all on zoom, so you didn't have to you could have went somewhere off site if you wanted to, but he pushed people and most people did, which was cool. We kind of all did it at a house as a house, and but it was a 90 day thing and that's a good way to run a recovery house.

Speaker 1:

Well, like, why be a recovery house? You're just an apartment building If you're not initiating a the tenants to be in some level of care outpatient, iop, I mean, what's the standard then? Like this this is a place to get better, get more therapeutic measures to help you outside of peer to peer. I agree that everyone in a recovery house should be in a level of care.

Speaker 2:

Oh, yeah, for sure. And it I mean I tell you what the IOP for Banyan. I hated it. I just didn't think the level of care was that good. But I think it's really cool what you guys are doing, just as far as, like you know, because most overhouses do require you to do IOP and but they're all off site you know, so this one, you get to walk down stairs and you're in IOP Go time, yeah, which is cool, and I think the groups are good and they're more you were talking about it a couple weeks ago but, like, as far as like the shares that people are having now in those groups, you know, I mean they're younger kids and they're very, you know, intimate, intimate.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, very safe, and I really I am surprised at how people have responded to not only the groups some of the lectures of how we position what addiction is the trauma based, informed ideas of addiction and the meditation of impasana that we practiced. I couldn't believe. You know, some people may may not like it, but the people that have. I was just surprised by it because it's usually an act for me, it was an act of desperation to make it part of my lifestyle, but I think some people really gelled with it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, I agree it's. It's funny because I've been to like maybe two meditation groups this whole time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you only go to the first one.

Speaker 2:

I only go to your group, joe, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you missed a good meditation. Last week we had a. Were you there for the comment? My, don't look up meditation.

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

It was more of a visualization. Charlie and I are trying to flush it out into. It's a good tool to see what is at the surface of the top top of mind of your desires. 17 days left on earth and we explore some means of what you would do even in early recovery. Given the chance to be with loved ones who wouldn't be there, given that wouldn't forgive you for whatever, wherever your broken relationships are, would you relapse under this plight and an ism that, like we're all getting destroyed anyways, mm-hmm? Would you be driven to get laid Revenge? Some people wanted to get revenge. It was crazy. And then on day 17. We said it, with 18 days in, the comet hits, day 17, the comet misses, and you know now who are you Like if you just total nihilistic approach to the end. We have to stand in Judgment of ourselves, of what was priority. Who did we become under this crisis? Mm-hmm and you know you really have to paint the visualization and we took our time for an hour to do it, and breathing, and this group has been together for a while now, so it wasn't just a cold audience, there was like nine of us. It was wild what some of these answers were really. Yeah, and you know, especially for the fathers in the room- yeah of where they are, and what you target, then, is where your men's need to be. Yeah and why would you need? There's always a fucking comment coming for us if you're an alcoholic or a drug addict or have substance use disorder, your fears are comets. You, you manufacture Such tremendous fears and shame that you'll relapse at any given moment with this unbridled brain. Yeah, so, first off, the comet didn't kill us, so we always have this fake comet that's gonna kill and ruin our lives in our world. But in that time, what did you abandon and what can't you fix, or what did you run from? This is where your recovery should be focused on. Yeah, these are the relationships to that can heal and Doing so you have recovery.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, it's kind of how you go through the steps to, in a way, yeah, we have those ten big ones and you know it's you know going through that and it's it's cool. Well, you know you kind of perceive that and but yeah, it's yeah. Well, mainly we make them out of a moho 100% of time really well at that point.

Speaker 1:

The other reason that worked I have put these tubes up the lining of the wall and I've been able to just fill half the room with nitrous. Let us begin, gentlemen. I Am glad to have met you. We're coming up at an hour and I'm gonna have you back on. But right, the reason I wanted to have you on a Getting to know you the last couple months and seeing recovery just transform your life, your relationships, you making hard decisions and experiencing grief and loss in love, all within 11 months and not having to drink and realizing, you know, drugs and alcohol weren't your problem. They were. They were a failed solution. It's so hard to let go of something that almost works drugs and alcohol, yeah. And to see you see that you know Come to be a total fact in your life here and what you've done for our house and how you've inspired people there, I am grateful. I'm glad you came on Well, thank you.

Speaker 2:

It's my pleasure, it's a. It's been a shitty year and it's been a great year, but that's what.

Speaker 1:

That's what theater is masks you gotta I get to use. I forget to use sound effects.

Speaker 2:

But I love it, man. Oh, thank you Joseph.

Speaker 1:

I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of all better. To find us on all better FM, or listen to us on Apple podcast, spotify, google podcast 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.

Ryan Barba's Story of Personal Recovery
Fear, Guns, and Social Media Impact
Existential Crisis, Addiction, and Escaping Reality
Overcoming Addiction and Finding Hope
Experiences in Recovery and Transformation
Musings on Theater and Gratitude