Stories of Hope… Ryan Sievert
“My name is William “Ryan” Sievert. I was born May 10th, 1984, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in your typical middle-class home. My parents got a divorce when I was seven years old. Growing up, I was always a quiet kid. My childhood was pretty normal compared to most. Growing up in Cajun country, like most households, there was never a shortage of parties and get-togethers at my grandparents, and drinking alcohol was normal. Throughout my upbringing, I would see drinking as accepted. I believe I was maybe thirteen when I drank for the first time. I noticed I wasn’t as shy after I drank. Fast forward four years, I get in trouble for the first time involving drugs.
While sitting in the classroom in my first class when I was a sophomore, the football coach came and got me out of class. Little did I know the next two years of high school would be some of the darkest times in my life. Well, we went to the assistant principal’s office, and they searched me and found a tiny bit of pot. My consequence was getting expelled for two years. I was required to go to an alternative school with the worst of the worst fellow students. I got all my friends taken away. I had to move in with my dad and stepmom at the time on the other side of town. I was so depressed I started seeing a social worker for the first time. A year later, I started working at my first restaurant job. Well, at this job and like most other restaurants, it was one giant party.
After I graduated from high school, I had more consequences for my drug abuse. I took a road trip with a friend of mine. She wanted to go see her boyfriend in California. Well, we didn’t quite make it there. Almost to her brother’s house in Austin, Texas, we get pulled over, and they search the car, and I get arrested for the first time for drug possession. This scared me enough to quit partying for about six months. But, being the addict that I am, things just kept getting worse and worse.
I go to rehab for the first time just to make my family happy and not doing it for me. I also used to think AA was a cult, so of course, I wasn’t serious about my recovery. After three twenty-eight places, two mental institutes, and quite a few detox places, I still didn’t think my life was unmanageable. Fast forward to August 2019; I kept hearing all these awesome things that this place called The Extension has done for my step-sister in Georgia. Finally, I called her and got more info to make the family happy. A few days later, she called me and asked me if I wanted to get help. The writing was definitely on the wall; my life was in shambles. Within two days of that phone call, I get a one-way bus ticket from New Orleans to Atlanta.
After the eight-hour bus ride to Atlanta, I go straight to Cobb County detox. Five days later, after the worst detox experience, I have ever had, I got to The Extension. I was very fortunate that they had a bed waiting for me. Not only did I not sleep or eat for my first few weeks here, but I also had a million emotions going through my head with all shame and guilt I put my family through. I also was in another state, not knowing anyone besides family members.
The first thing I picked up on at The Extension was the brotherhood. When I met fellow residents for the first time, they all said the same thing “welcome home,” being at my share of other rehabs; it was pretty much every man for himself. Growing up, I would never open up to anybody if something was wrong with me. I learned pretty quickly at The Extension this was very important. A month into my time here, they make you get a job, and I had no idea what I was going to do. Being in the restaurant business my whole life, I had no idea where I would work. So I told myself I was not going back to work at a restaurant this early in my recovery.
I have always loved animals and saw this place down the street is a boarding/ day care for cats and dogs. So, I went in there and talked to the owner, and a couple of hours later, they called and asked me if I wanted to have a working interview. All that fear I had about not finding a non-restaurant job went away. I used to tell all the guys that I had the best job at The Extension. Everybody else had all these much higher-paying jobs than what I was making. That didn’t bother me in the slightest. I didn’t come here to make money.
Each day I could see my life might actually be worth living. I also noticed that I am getting much better at opening up to people if I am depressed. A little more than halfway through my time here, I was asked to be a houseman. This was huge because I was always shy and quiet and kept to myself. I’m pretty sure that was exactly why I was asked if I wanted that responsibility. Eleven months later, I finished my program at The Extension. Now that I am an alumni, I try to use all the tools I learned from the staff. Now, I do my best to help out someone in my shoes when I first got to The Extension by being a sponsor. Being sober for a little over two years, I love my life for the first time. I am a manager at Das BBQ in Atlanta recently got promoted to salary. Thanks to The Extension, I got my family back in my life and have an awesome recovery network with actual friends. In conclusion, I LOVE MY LIFE!!! ”