Profiles in Recovery

Matt Sonneborn

Going on dates often challenges Sonneborn to confront the stigma of addiction – and change public attitudes.

“I think when people hear you are in recovery from addiction they tend to miss the “recovery from” part,” Sonneborn says. “The fact that I don’t drink tends to come up quickly when meeting someone new. I use it as an opportunity to teach someone about recovery. I refuse to hide it, though. I’m proud of my recovery and the more people that learn about it, the better.”

Sonneborn uses his past to help others find recovery. He provides free coaching for the collegiate recovery community in Indianapolis, and works at a treatment center where he transitions clients into recovery and guides them back to health.

Day Job:
Addiction Recovery Coach

At my worst, I was:
A hollow shell of myself.  I went to jail several times, totaled several cars, and even almost killed a friend driving under the influence

What worked for me:
A medical detox in a psych hospital followed by outpatient counseling led me to the 12 steps.  Although I was extremely reluctant at first, once I had the Gift Of Desperation as it’s called I came to terms with my own concept of spirituality and it has saved my life.  Support from my amazing family and some of my “real” friends was instrumental as well.

What I value most in recovery:
The ability to live and not just exist.  For me that comes from spirituality that’s infused in every area of my life.

Best advice for newbies:
Never, never give up!  Addiction is an extremely debilitating disease and recovery is a PROCESS!  It doesn’t stop if you relapse.  Be kind to yourself.

Learn to stop destructive thought patterns that keep you in the cycle of addiction.  Ask for help! Get support!  Know that you can have fun in recovery but you have to go out and make it.  It’s not going to come to you in the form of a bottle or a baggy anymore.  Keep an open mind, find out what works for you.

Favorite recovery quote:
“You can’t fix a problem with the same mind that created it” ~ Albert Einstein

Rules I live by:
Pray every day.  Stay humble.  Be objective about myself and subjective about others.  Strive for positivity, kindness, and love toward others AND also myself

What I learned about myself:
I’m resilient.  I have good qualities that were being masked by addiction.  I don’t need alcohol or other drugs to have fun.  Pain and other emotions serve a purpose and shouldn’t be numbed.  I am not my addiction.

How I get through the holidays:
Be with family and don’t isolate.  I can always leave if I get uncomfortable.

I get inspired by:
Working with other people.  Once I got into recovery and felt I had found the solution to my problems, I felt called to help others do the same.  It’s an amazing honor to be able to be a small part in other people’s recovery and it definitely has given me purpose!

Although it can be mentally taxing and frustrating at times, there is nothing better than when you are having a genuine conversation about recovery with someone who needs help and you see the hope liven their face.  It literally gives me goosebumps and can make me tear up.  It’s incredible.

Proudest moment:
When I received my 30-day coin in a 12 step meeting.  It may not seem like a big deal, but I never, NEVER thought I would see it.

On my schedule today:
Pray, meditate, exercise, and relax.  To me, balance and self-development are two keys to recovery.

Thoughts on relapse:
I’ve said in meetings before that I relapsed damn near every day for ten years before being in long term recovery.  Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease.  It can and does happen.  For me what’s worked is truly taking things one day at a time, knowing that I have to be cognizant that I have this disease that needs to be treated daily (for me that’s prayer, meditation, support, balance, self awareness and development) and stringing those days together.

The average person goes through a treatment center seven times before they sustain long term sobriety.  NEVER give up!

If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].