Almost all of my family has addiction problems/has committed suicide as a result of untreated addiction issues. I grew up lonely, confused, and depressed. It seemed like I was destined to join my family members and become suffer from addiction. And I almost did. Thankfully, my best friend Harrison helped me realize that I am more than a pile of genes bound for a life of suffering. He helped me realize that I had a choice, not a shameful choice, but a choice to be mindful of my addiction and to conquer it. By the grace of God, I tackled my addiction and have been on top of it before I reached 25 years old. I realize that because I chose to fight addiction, I now have my whole life ahead of me to live. It's because of all of this that I feel a calling to reach out to other young men and women, to help them get their lives back before too many years slip away.
My name is Derek Rogers, and I am 24 years old. Before I was even born, addiction had a strong hold on me and my family. A couple of years before my birth, both of my grandfathers committed suicide from years of substance use and horrific addictions. Once I began to grow up, as a young boy, I realized that all of my aunts and uncles also suffered from extreme addiction to alcohol. I later learned that one of my grandmothers also had an addiction. With all of this information, it seemed my life was destined to be destroyed by addiction. It was in my genes.
Despite my own addictive behaviors, beginning at the age of thirteen, I still managed to forcefully will myself to achievement. In 2012, I graduated as high school valedictorian. In 2017, I graduated with my Bachelor's of Science from the University of Florida. In other words, on the outside I seemed fine. But inside I was suffering. My addictive behaviors and tendencies consumed my life to the point that I checked myself into a rehabilitation clinic. If anything, I viewed this as my last punch before going down swinging in life.
I can confidently write now that I am completely sober and the happiest I have ever been. Each and every day I am defying the odds my family's genes have bestowed upon me. Today, and each day forward, I am rewriting history for the Rogers family. For my future kids, future grandkids, and generations to come after. Each morning I am choosing to fight when others in my family choose to give in. Nothing has given me such pride as tackling my addiction and coming out victorious, each and every day. My journey has led me to pursue a career in education; I will receive my Master's degree from CU-Irvine in the summer of 2018. This journey has also led me to understand how vital a role model could have been to me when I was struggling with addiction. Because of this I have rededicated my life to doing anything and everything I can to help someone else with addiction problems.
In essence, I conquered my addiction and have blossomed into a state of being I never thought was possible. Much like the lotus flower that grows beautifully out of the muddy waters of a pond, I grew beyond my life's "mud" to become someone that loves life to its fullest. And I've only just begun to flower into the man I strive to be.