Alcohol sneaks into lives and slowly creates mass destruction. I had been drinking for years when I went into manic mode and slid off the deep end.
The ultimate destruction phase began with an irresponsible grand plan to expand my outdoor recreation business. I was acting out of ego, trying to show people that I could build my business and succeed, but I had no business plan and no strategy. It was the perfect storm of drugs, alcohol, antidepressants, business, and a pending divorce. I was recklessly crossing the country looking for partners while I was in manic mode and out of control. No one called me out for being out of control because I was able to be sober for the meetings, and I told a good story so I could conceal my lack of a plan. I was also a successful business person and had a good track record, so people listened to me. But at night, the wheels would come off, and I would drink again. My life was all a lie. It was like the duck analogy. On the surface, things looked good, but under the water, I was paddling as fast as I could to keep everything going. My life seemed exciting, but it was shallow and hollow.
I was trying to prove everyone wrong and show them that I could succeed. Everyone was telling me not to jeopardize our finances. Thankfully, I had a DUI and several legal encounters. I use the word thankfully because those incidences unraveled my world, and it went down hard and fast. Like many people, I couldn’t rebuild until I hit rock bottom. My wife graciously gave me a second chance and got me into the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. My manic phase turned on a dime into depression and became something worse than anything I had ever faced in my life.
When I was released, my wife rented a separate home, and my sister came out from North Carolina to stay with me for 60 days. She would drag me out of the house to go on walks and helped me create a list of all the things legally and financially that I needed to face. We picked one item daily and chipped away at the list. There was community service, appointments with my lawyer, selling my motorcycle business and our house in Moab, court appointments, and undoing some financial issues that I had created. I was doing all this while I was so depressed it was hard to live in my skin. At this point, I lost my identity.
My wife, who is board certified in family, integrative, and lifestyle medicine, took it upon herself to study natural remedies for depression and came up with incredible food choices. I started an entirely plant-based diet, and my exercise progressed from walking the dog, to running, to biking riding and just continued. I joined AA, and I was given a service role, which made me accountable. My job was to unlock the door to the building, bring the cookies, and make the coffee. I was shocked that they gave me the key to the building. I was so depressed that I didn’t think I could do it. But I did it. I showed up every time.
After completing the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I felt better. I did the program by the book, and that gave me a second chance at life. I started to break out of a shell that I had been in, which included guilt, shame, anxiety, and ego. I felt free. One day when I was driving up a local canyon where I used to enjoy motorcycling, snowmobiling, and bike riding, it came to me that I had to take everything from before, wrap it into a business, and give it to others at no cost. Service and giving back is part of the AA program. It was at that point I started Adventures Anonymous, which is a culmination of everything I did before this time in my life.
I think everyone struggling with alcohol deserves a chance at my program. I call it adrenaline adventure therapy. When you are pulling the throttle on a jet ski/snowmobile/motorcycle or when you’re coming down a 100-foot rope rappel or when your white water rafting (all things I offer in my program) you can’t think about what you did wrong. You begin to build new neuropathways. Old patterns and thoughts are coming down while others are rebuilding. Neuropathways are the human brain’s pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Dr. Matt Wooley, psychologist & professor, likens building new neuropathways to going to trail only to find the forest service has blocked it off and has created a new path. The new path is difficult because it is rough where the old path was smooth and easy. But a few years later, it’s hard to even find the old path. The sign as been taken down, and it’s grown over. Now the new path is the easy way.
Strong emotions and intoxication can quickly build pathways that are negative and take us to dark places. Being mindful, entirely focused in the moment, is a great way to create new neuropathways. Therefore, something healthy and mindful is also a powerful way to build new pathways.
I was reading a book called The Three Day Effect. The book explains that after three days in nature, you forget old habits and vices, and you’re able to create new patterns.
My 3-day program offers a mindful practice and includes a plant-based diet designed by Dr. Nicole Priest to detox your system from alcohol and other toxic substances. It gives participants the chance to have a small instructional test drive on three or four pieces of outdoor recreational equipment that could include jet skis, snowmobiles, etc. You don’t need riding skills or experience to participate. We also go on a hike to a natural hot spring where we enjoy a soak, we hike to an arch in Moab, and we go on a mellow rock climb and repel. We do some self-inquiry work and attend one or two AA meetings in Moab. It’s a sun up to sun down program.
I gave up everything I loved when I became depressed. I wanted nothing to do with anything that I used to enjoy. This program gets people back into the sports they love, have always wanted to try, or want to use as a way to start a new path.
You leave with meal planning and diet strategies, new skills, and self-inquiry worksheets. I can be your AA sponsor or you can get a new one, and you’re on the road to recovery. I will reset your compass. In an airplane, if you change your compass even 1⁰, eventually, you will go a different direction. I won’t change everything about you in three days, but I will reset your compass, and if it’s only 1⁰, you will be incredibly successful.
All of the people who have participated in my program had all relapsed and tried many recovery techniques. To this day, they are all sober. I speak with them regularly, and they all know that there is a potential to work for Adventures Annonomyous. I want to build this business with apprentices who have gone through my program and want to learn skills in this business and who want to give back. My dream is that the whole board, the officers, and all the employees will have gone through my program and are successfully in recovery and can help me run this company.
Because the program is free, we rely heavily on donations. All donations are tax-deductible. We also offer the opportunity for past participants to pay to bring their son, daughter, husband or wife on a trip to rebuild relationships. This is an opportunity for a sober person to come back as many times as they want. Alcoholism is a family disease. Sharing these experiences can help repair broken families.
I lost my identity when I sold my first motorcycle business. People who are grounded possess a strong sense of identity. They make better friends and weather storms better. My identity came in my involvement in recovery and seeing that I can help others. My life experiences have been a gift that I wouldn’t trade because I am now healthy and able to help others. Once you’ve decided to get sober, we’re here to support you.
My three-day experience was exhilarating, exhausting, and transformative. But most of all, it helped me to rethink, reset, and reenergize my personal goals. It was a great way to recharge my body, mind, and soul. – Jeff
I learned to mask and escape from my emotions using alcohol instead of developing proper and healthy coping exercises to deal with my feelings. The writing exercises and meditation taught me to express emotions and thoughts in an organized and healthy way. And because I ate so healthy for those three days, I'm now more self-aware of what I'm putting into my body every meal. – Kiel
Adventurers Anonymous helped me find the real Parker, not a new Parker, the real one. I found a man who pushes boundaries but respects them for what they are there for; a man who doesn't raise his middle finger anymore, but instead takes in God's great beauty after a long day of riding single track in the backcountry. This program will show you the real you, It will show you just what you're capable of, and ultimately it will teach you how to never waste another day because of the night you had before. Get out there and feel who you are, take hold, and shoot toward your new future. – Parker
I had a great experience with Burke in his winter playground. From the minute we arrived, I was set at ease. All the rules and expectations were clearly explained, and questions were encouraged and answered. Throughout the experience, I felt safe and well cared for. The cabin was perfect for our discussions of recovery, and stories of hope and inspiration. Though I am not a motorsports enthusiast, I was encouraged to get out of my comfort zone and try some new things. And was it really fun to ride snowmobiles with Burke. He showed me in detail how to safely run the machines so I would know what to do before anything happened. At first, he kept me on a short leash until I felt comfortable, and little by little, he let me push my fears aside and enjoy the adrenaline. - Jeff