I am not your typical alcoholic. I had everything going for me – an executive job at a Fortune 500 company, a home in the Southern California and a wife and child whom were the joys of my life. I started drinking later in life (early 50’s) but once I started, I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t long before the pressures of life, job and family took its toll. My attempts to use drinking as a way to “relax” eventually caught up with me and I wrecked everything. But like anyone who suffers from addiction, I thought I could handle it on my own and it wasn’t until that day that I drank myself into the hospital and woke up with tubes in places I never thought a tube would fit did I realize things had to change.

I knew I needed to get away and out of the stale and lonely environment I’d been in. It was then that I was referred to Oak Forest Recovery in Old Agoura. This was a beautiful sober living home nestled among many oak trees in a quiet and peaceful location. There I met a great guy named Jerry who explained what Oak Forest is, how it works, and he made me feel comfortable and accepted. He introduced me to R.J. who also made me feel like this was the place to go to get into sobriety. I then made the decision to enter into the sober living for at least 30 days (I actually chose to stay 60 days)!

Upon getting into a room in the house, I then realized that I was gonna be the “old guy” in the house. I saw all these younger guys, many of them looking like bodybuilders and I then thought to myself, “Aw crap, what did I do?” It was hard for the first few days and with the help of the staff and these “kids,” who were old enough to be my kids, I eventually got into the groove of living in a sober living home. The laughs we had made me realize that age doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

The focus at Oak Forest is definitely recovery. There are rules in place, chores that have to be done, daily meetings to attend, workouts at one of the best health clubs in the area, and of course, arrangements which needed to be made for treatment at an outside location. The staff on duty made sure that my needs were taken care of and encouraged me to get involved and be part of the Oak Forest family. At times it seemed like pure chaos but once I let my guard down, opened my mind, and worked towards getting better, it became a fun place with thing to do to keep my mind out of my addiction.

I realized that the people in “the house” were there for the same reason as I was. There were only two choices that any of us had to make: live or die. (that choice was obvious) And the choice to live was spending time in a place like Oak Forest. These “kids” were also serious about sobriety and many of their stories were shocking to someone like me. In my 60 days at sober living, I saw some true changes in people – including myself. I learned that this addiction problem doesn’t just go away after your get out of sober living an back into the “real world.”. It takes a lifelong commitment to maintain sobriety and the friendships I’ve made through this house and structured program will help me to carry on for years to come.

I highly recommend Oak Forest Recovery for anyone, old or young, that needs a change in scenery and structure in life. The encouragement and support I received by everyone involved in the program truly has put me on the right path to recovery and getting my life back together. I could not have begun this journey without their help and to them I owe a debt of gratitude. Oak Forest is, and always will be to me, a place to belong and a place to become!

– Peter S.