CDRC Founder's Story
My Name is Barry Levine and I am a person in long term recovery.
For me that means that I have not had alcohol or a drug since December 4th, 1988. I am also the founder of the Capital District Recovery Center. Here is my story.
For as long as I can remember, I grew up with a secret. I was sure that there was something wrong with me. I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere or with anyone. I thought I was a bad kid. I didn’t seem to be good at anything but getting into trouble. I was a fear based kid and it carried on into my adulthood. I was so sure I was going to fail at whatever I tried that many times I didn’t even try. I hid this secret from the world with humor and arrogance. I tried to change who I was to fit in somewhere, anywhere but could not.. I found alcohol when I was 13 and started using drugs at 19. They changed my life. I found courage where I thought I was a coward. They helped me forget who I thought I was. I abused drugs and alcohol for 30 years. I thought they were making me who I wanted to be but that was an illusion. They had stopped working for me. During those 30 years I lost jobs, my family and what little self respect I ever had. I was selfish, self centered and only concerned with myself and getting high or drunk. In the end, I just wanted to die.
I walked into my first meeting a broken hopeless 43 year old man. A young man met me at the door and offered me a hug. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been hugged. He offered me coffee and I really needed those two gestures. By the end of the meeting I had found hope. I had found a place I belonged. People seemed to accept me just because I was there. They didn’t care who I was, where I had been, what I had done or what I had used. They just wanted to help me recover from what I came to realize was an insidious disease. That was my beginning. It was suggested I go to 90 meetings in 90 days and get a sponsor. I didn’t think I could do either of those things. But, after I lost my job I started going to a meeting every day. It took me three months to find my first sponsor. That began the closest relationship I had ever experienced. He taught me about a higher power and took me through the twelve steps. Recovery has not been an easy road. My sponsor Rick and my mother both died in 2002. My second wife who was my soul mate died three years later after fighting cancer for eleven years. My dad died the following year. These loses rocked my world. While I wanted badly to hide in alcohol or drugs, my Higher Power and the people in the fellowship helped me get through those loses without a relapse.
I have now gone through the steps multiple times and my life has continued to change for the better each time. I have experienced the vital spiritual experience as a result of working the steps. My life has changed 180 degrees. I still had authority figure issues and found it difficult to work for almost anyone. I started my own business early in recovery. Working for myself made sense. After nineteen years I was able to sell the business. Where do I go from here?
About the time I sold the business I had a dream, a vision. I wanted to start a Twelve Step Recovery Center. I saw it as a place for people of any Twelve Step Step Program to have a safe place to have a meeting and to find resources to help them and their families recover. I made a floor plan of what the building would look like. Here is where my old friend fear re-entered the picture. I didn’t really know how to make this a reality. Fear told me I couldn’t do it. That I didn’t have the knowledge needed to make this happen. However, I was no longer the fear based person of my past. I shared my vision with friends and found people who agreed that this was an important idea for the Capital District recovery community and the community as a whole. So we put together an exploratory committee of people who had the skill sets we needed. First we had to make sure this was a viable idea. We found other recovery centers around the country that were thriving and they were willing to tell us how they did it. We then found an attorney who helped us get incorporated as a non profit company. We became The Capital District Recovery Center aka CDRC. We then started our fundraising efforts. This was difficult as we didn’t have a building yet. We were however able to get enough donations to look for a building. It took over three years. It seemed that the stigma of addiction kept us from finding the right building. Ultimately, higher power put the perfect building in front of us at the perfect time. We opened our doors on July 1st, 2018. The going was slow but, when the pandemic forced us to temporarily close our doors in March of 2020 we had a thriving community of 234 meetings per month. With the help of virtual meetings and the return to in person meetings, CDRC continues to thrive and grow. I have dedicated the rest of my life to helping others. I am proud to say that CDRC is one of the ways I am fulfilling that passion.