Overcoming the Darkness: From Addict to Entrepreneur - TribPapers

Overcoming the Darkness: From Addict to Entrepreneur

Corey Clayton Austin enjoying the beaches of Hawaii with his family. Photo submitted.

Asheville – Corey Clayton Austin, a friend, shares a remarkable story of transformation. While his current life in Hawaii, filled with surfing, family moments, and architectural achievements, appears idyllic, Corey’s past was plagued by addiction. When Corey opened up about his struggles with addiction, I was deeply moved and knew his story needed to be shared.

Corey Austin Home design. Photo submitted.
Corey Austin Home design. Photo submitted.

In a heartfelt post, Corey revealed, “This is the second year in a row that my sobriety date came and went without me even realizing it until days later. I remember in the early days of rehab when I couldn’t help but count every hour, living ‘one day at a time,’ as they say. The thought of a day passing without thoughts of drugs or alcohol was unfathomable to me.” Corey found it difficult to believe those who claimed drugs no longer occupied their minds. He admitted, “It’s all I would think about from the moment my eyes opened in the morning through the restless nights.”

Past the Point of No Return?

Corey shared, “I had already surpassed the point where I felt I had the option to return to a normal life. I knew that path had no future for me, yet somehow, it didn’t matter anymore. Drugs, especially the ones I was hooked on, are deceptively convincing, making you believe you have no other choice.”

Corey sadly admitted that few people from his past are still alive today. He solemnly stated, “Some are in prison, and the rest are dead. Three people managed to overcome their addictions and turn their lives around.”

About the Needle Exchange Programs

In light of recent discussions about needle exchange programs, I sought Corey’s perspective as a former addict. Corey expressed his uncertainty, saying, “When I was out there, we didn’t have such programs. I fail to understand how providing more needles reduces overdoses. While it might prevent the spread of infections, easier access to needles only makes drug use more convenient. It seems like providing needles would result in more overdoses. Personally, I experienced three overdoses, one which left my heart stopped for ten minutes. What if that ambulance driver hadn’t saved me? I believe there’s a place for people to offer assistance in the field of addiction, but we must differentiate between ‘saving’ and ‘serving.’ To me, saving is like putting a band-aid on internal bleeding—it may appear helpful, but it doesn’t truly address the root cause.” Corey makes himself available to those ready for change, stating, “For me, serving means being accessible when appropriate, sharing my experiences and the tools that have aided my own journey.”

The Turning Point for Corey

What were the tools that helped Corey turn his life around? Corey shared, “During the early stages of my recovery, I stumbled upon a book called The Secret that had been introduced to me by someone I respected. Once I started reading, I was captivated. I wondered if the principles outlined in the book were truly attainable. According to its teachings, I could envision and deeply feel the life I desired, trusting that it would manifest. I poured my heart and soul into envisioning a life free from drugs—a challenging task considering my prolonged exposure to addiction.”

Corey reflected, “One night, lying in bed, I recalled the man who introduced me to The Secret mentioning that the book lacked one vital piece—God. Initially, I resisted this idea, as I associated God with manipulation and control, rather than happiness and love, as I perceive it today.”

The Secret became a steppingstone, leading me to the next chapter of my life,” Corey continued. “Another transformative book I encountered was The Flute of God by Paul Twitchell. I initially avoided it due to fear associated with its title, but it persisted throughout my addiction and resurfaced during my early days of sobriety. After The Secret, I yearned for more. I felt there had to be more to life. As I delved into The Flute of God, I couldn’t put it down. The rehab center encouraged meditation—an approach I initially struggled to comprehend, given the goal of eliminating thoughts—I discovered that this contemplative technique redirected my thoughts toward positivity. I practiced it twice a day.”

A Profound Realization

Corey remained unaware of the transformation occurring within him. He recounted, “I remember driving one day, realizing I had been practicing the contemplation technique for a month without noticing any significant change. I wondered if there was any hope for me. Then, out of nowhere, I burst into tears as I realized I had been sober for over a month—an achievement beyond anything I had previously experienced. Not only was I drug-free, but I had also discovered happiness. I felt a level of joy greater than any I had ever known. While most people would consider living in a rehab center with sixteen other grumpy and deprived addicts as rock bottom, I was already rising from the depths. This newfound tool, the contemplative technique, allowed me to access a place of inner happiness and contentment, independent of external circumstances.”

A Beautiful and Rewarding Life

Today, after 14 years and twenty days since his last drug use, Corey leads a wonderful life with a loving family. As the owner and founder of Bonsai Architectural Designs, he creates incredible homes. Originally from Atlanta, Corey now resides in Hawaii, although his work takes him across the country.

He concludes, saying, “I consciously choose happiness, love, and being an example to my brothers and sisters still struggling in the darkness. There is always a way out.”