Hi. My name is Kyle Kuehn, and I was exposed to substances at a young age. Marijuana and cigarettes at 14. Cocaine and alcohol at 16. Ecstasy at 17. By 18 years old, my addictive personality mixed with the availability of substances was mapping out the next 8 years (or chapters) of my life. In addition to my genetic predisposition and my environment, I’ve also worked in restaurants and bars for over a decade. And whether it’s the hours, money, or culture, it is an industry that unfortunately breeds substance abuse. The next eight years is a roller coaster of highs and lows. Key moments along the way…but this is just a blog so we’ll keep it short.
Around August 2014, when I was 27, I got an idea to open up a sober bar/boxing club. Many people think I got the idea for a sober bar because I got sober. Well that’s not true. I got the idea for a sober bar because I NEEDED to get sober. Alcohol and other substances were destroying my life, and blinding me from my potential. The idea for a sober bar came to me while I was still very active in my addiction.
My four moments
As a matter of fact, I was still drinking at the bars telling everyone who would listen about this sober bar I was going to open. Until one night a friend looked me square in the eyes and said “If you’re telling everyone about a sober bar, but sitting here getting wasted with me, doesn’t that make you a hypocrite?” To which I replied “shut up or I’ll black your eye,” but this was a huge moment for me. I needed someone to call me out.
I also took this idea before my church. They commended my efforts and enthusiasm, but expressed similar concerns to my character and not practicing what I was preaching. They said “focus on getting your priorities straight, if God is in it time will tell.” This is when I realized that my actions weren’t lining up with my words, and that my behavior was limiting my potential.
I also remember being at an endless beer/wings night at the baseball stadium with some guys from my church group. We all sat down to watch the game and I couldn’t help but notice that none of them got a beer. I said to my mentor “Hey bro, are you not drinking cuz of me?” He replied, “How could I drink a beer when I know that you struggle? You’re my brother!” This is when I realized that my addiction was affecting other people’s lives. Not to mention the many people and relationships that I had been neglecting and hurting along the way.
Shortly after all this, I remember sitting in my car after a late shift at work. A buddy was texting me to come over to party and mix drinks. I wanted so badly just to go home, but I knew I had to pass his house and 15 bars just to get there. I started to pray….and just asked God to please help me. I started my car….and on the radio just happened to be a preacher talking about addiction. I’m happy to say I went straight home that night. But that’s not my sobriety date. This is the night that I realized I wasn’t fighting this alone.
A few weeks later, God had laid it on my heart to give up Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine for 30 days. A challenge I’ve termed Kicking the C.A.N. So on January 21st, 2015, through the power of prayer, journaling, and supportive people in my life I gave up all three substances. (Disclaimer: I started drinking coffee again on day 45.) I am happy to report that I have not had a drink or a cigarette since!
I recognize that this is an unusual story. I recognize that it is not common to get sober while working full time at a bar. I recognize that there are many paths to recovery and sobriety. Some might look at this story as being able muster up one’s will and quit cold turkey. But I know that’s not it, because this had been a long road. And whenever I look down that road I can see that the people, places, and things placed along the way all contributed. I also recognize that there are a lot of wonderful and successful programs out there for people to get clean. However, in an effort to be authentic, I can only recommend the path that worked for me. And that path is God. I asked Him for help and He gave me what I needed to overcome. He saved me from myself and completely removed the desire and temptation to use. My name is Kyle Kuehn and I am not an alcoholic. I have victory over alcohol. Thank you Jesus!