Profiles in Recovery

Omar Pinto

Omar Pinto lost his wife, his business and his sanity to the carnage of addiction. But a key part of his past – becoming a father – would inspire a sweeping transformation.

“I kept a picture of my baby daughter in my wallet, and when I felt like using, I would pull it out and stare at her beautiful little face,” Pinto recalls. “I would call my sponsor, or other members in the fellowship.”

A relapse in early recovery was the catalyst for ultimate change. Pinto had gone on a three-day cocaine and alcohol bender, and his wife – from whom he was separated – went searching for him, with their newborn in tow. She found Pinto high on drugs and walked away in disgust.

“In that instance I was broken into tiny pieces,” Pinto says. “The pain was indescribable and I dropped to my knees and asked God once again to help me get clean for the sake of my daughter.” Thanks to his investment in fatherhood and Narcotics Anonymous, Pinto has achieved 14 years of recovery. Today he helps others get clean as host of the popular “SHAIR” Recovery Podcast.

Day Job:
Host of The SHAIR Podcast on the web, iTunes and Stitcher Radio; features new inspirational recovery stories every Tuesday.

At my worst:  
I lived in a paranoid schizophrenic delusion . . . I thought the whole world was conspiring against me, including those closest to me.  I carried a gun with me at all times and was prepared to use it.  I cheated on my wife, I ran through all our money, I burned so many bridges and in the end lost it all.

What worked for me:  
Narcotics Anonymous – that is what worked for me and still works for me . . . I went to meetings every day for the first 180 days.  I worked the steps to occupy the time in between meetings.  I prayed every morning and every night I asked God to keep me clean one more day.  I quickly developed a very strong relationship with my higher power and leaned on him on daily basis, that is how I got through the cravings.

On my schedule today:  
Today I went to my Sunday 9 a.m. meeting, did a morning Yoga practice, prayed and meditated.

Best advice for newbies:  
Stick with the winners!  Even when you are going to meetings, gravitate toward people who have solid recovery.  Hanging out with newcomers is OK at the meetings but not a good idea for outside the meetings.  Surround yourself with recovery, make 90 in 90 and get a sponsor.

The first six months is so delicate, anything can set you off and if you are not surrounded with good recovery, chances are you will pick up and maybe take another newcomer with you. Most importantly change people, places and play things that could trigger you to start using again.

What I value most in recovery:  
Is my recovery.  I recently celebrated 14 years clean and no matter what happens in my life, no one can take my recovery from me, except me.  Through recovery I have developed life coping skills, values, spiritual principles, ethics . . .  the list goes on and on.

I can walk through life free from active addiction with no fear because I know that as long as I don’t pick up, my higher power will continue to deliver these amazing gifts into my life.  I live in gratitude for all the amazing relationships I have today and all of it is because of my recovery.

What I learned about myself:  
I was not the giant of my dreams or the dwarf of my nightmares.  I learned that I was not special and that I was a garden variety drug addict like everyone else in the room.  To not take myself so seriously, to wear recovery and life like a loose garment.  I learned that my worst day in recovery is better than my best day using.  And most importantly I learned to expect a miracle because they happen more than you can imagine.

On finding purpose:  
Finding your purpose is for me the most important facet of recovery.  So many of us including myself should be dead.  There is a reason we dogged so many bullets and that is a power greater than ourselves.

We all have a purpose on this earth and every day should be a quest to find it.  Mine is The SHAIR Podcast.  I help thousands of people every day find hope and recovery by listening to other addicts share their inspiring journey of recovery.  It’s an honor and a privilege to be of service.

Follow Pinto at theshairpodcast.com

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If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at profiles@drugrehab.org.