Almost reaching the six-year mark of being clean and sober, Lewis County resident Andrew Giese knows the impact of softball and Narcotics Anonymous in aiding in his recovery from heroin addiction. Believing that everyone can have a chance at recovery, he was determined to find something that would help aid his own path to sobriety and something that would be able to help others in their recovery journey as well when he found softball.
A major turning point in his life was the heroin overdose that sent him into a two-week coma. The chance of his survival was poor and the probability of brain damage extremely likely. When he woke up, Giese was told the damage to his lungs and his legs would not allow him to run again.
He decided that the perceived fun that drugs brought him was not worth wasting his life. Determined to beat all odds, he set out to train his body to allow him to play softball. He started from the very bottom, learning how to walk, how to talk and how to be a human being again.
Leaving the hospital after weeks of physical rehabilitation and dependent on a cane, he made slow and steady progress. Giese started playing softball merely a few months after his near-death experience. He worked pushing his body to do things that he should have been incapable of and loved the personal successes the effort brought.
Recovery means finding a replacement for the drugs. Through different teams and tournaments, softball allowed Giese the physical outlet and the support system to replace drug use with a healthy alternative. Softball provided an outlet for emotions like anger and frustration and gave him something to do. Building a team gave him a way to give back to others in the struggle and allow them the chance to replace their drug use with something structured and supported.
Narcotics Anonymous is a program built and tailored for recovery success. It provides a community geared towards supporting a journey to recovery and it’s structured. In the throes of addiction, all structure is lacking. Finding a sponsor and a higher power, the NA program gives people the authority and accountability that is needed to be able to take steps towards a clean and sober life.
“It’s very nice having an organization like Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery, that has your wellbeing in mind and will accept you for who you are and what you have done,” says Giese. “Find what program works for you and use it.”
While he was using, Giese would often disappear from his loved ones and family – sometimes resurfacing in jail. “I lived like a heathen in addiction,” he says. “Addiction leads to distancing and dissociating yourself from everyone you know and love. You do not have friends outside of drugs – you have people that you know but they do not care about you aside from addiction. Life in addiction is lonely.”
The positive byproducts of his recovery are his beautiful wife Meghan and son Remington – along with softball, his community and the support system he gathered around him over the years. He found his wife through an NA function when he had one and a half years clean. They have recently celebrated three years of marriage. His son Remy is growing up with a love for softball as well.
Giese is thankful to now enjoy the good things life has to offer and be present for his family. Being able to help addicts with life questions, sharing time with people who have his best interest at heart and learning how to trust people are positive changes he found in recovery. In his newfound life and recovery, he strives to “Do the next right thing”. Taking that first step to do the next right thing is the hardest but only focusing on one step makes it attainable.
“As long as you do the next right thing, everything will be okay, even if it’s the hardest decision,” Giese says. “Live life without regrets and learn from mistakes. Mistakes are only lessons to learn from.”