If you’re on social media, you may have seen people doing the #DecadeChallenge. People share a photo of themselves at the beginning of the decade and then one from this year.
A Belcourt man is sharing his #DecadeChallenge of how he overcame addiction and turned his life around.
“Getting sober is one of the toughest things somebody may ever do,” said Robert Upton.
A decade ago, Upton was in the middle of a 20-year struggle with addiction.
He ended up in prison for four months and lost custody of his kids.
“Unfortunately, I ended up losing my children for a short period time,” Upton said.
“That really hit me as some of the choices I was making took me down a path that I didn’t want to go down, and I had to look at my children and realize that something had to change and so I changed my life for them.”
He checked himself into a treatment facility and started his road to recovery. He said it’s one of the best things that ever happened to him.
“Made me realize some things about myself that maybe I didn’t want to face before because treatment is like a mirror that they put up to your face and you have to look at yourself so clearly without a filter, that we all like to use on social media,” said Upton.
“And you get to see who you really are and it helped me grow as a person and I’m thankful for that because it helped me a lot.”
It’s where he met his addiction counselor, Conrad Parisien, eight years ago.
Parisien, a fellow recovering addict, said he watched Upton struggle with sobriety for four years before making the decision to get and stay sober.
“I seen a guy who was ready he was reaching out and grabbing for it and I think he had a desire for it right from the beginning,” said Parisien. “It doesn’t mean you have to hit completely rock bottom you just to have somebody that you’re willing to work with and you enjoy working with that you will be able to grasp what they’re teaching you at the time.”
With the help of Parisien, treatment and wanting to see his kids, Upton turned his life around.
He’s been sober for four years, has custody of his four sons and is a math tutor at the Turtle Mountain Community College.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get up,” Upton said. “And I fell flat on my face enough times to know that, you know what? You have two choices, you can just stay down or you can get up. And I just chose to keep getting up.”
He’s sharing his story to inspire others that it is possible to overcome addiction.
“If you never give up, if you never stop trying, you can do it,” Upton said.
Upton is also a full-time student at Turtle Mountain Community College. He’s working on a bachelors degree in leadership management. He hopes to go on and get his masters, and one day, his PHD so he can be an instructor at the college.