KUSA — All this week, on 9NEWS at 6 a.m. we will be featuring stories of people who have beaten addiction and are in the process of recovery.
Senen Rodriguez, better known on the radio as Slim, may have to get himself a new nickname.
“I’m trying to gain weight,” he said with a smile. “I’ve always been really skinny my entire life.”
He recently put on 10 pounds of healthy muscle through regular workouts and a nutrition plan that doesn't include alcohol, something he used to consume far too frequently.
“I have no cravings for alcohol in any way,” said Rodriguez.
He used to spend his weekends drinking bottles of vodka until he passed out. He would wake up with shivers that wouldn't go away unless he had another drink.
For a year and seven months, Slim has been sober. That journey began with an effort to make it just 24 hours without drinking. Along the way, peer support groups helped him. Documenting his journey on Facebook put his struggle in the spotlight.
“Putting it out there was to help make myself stronger,” he said. “I needed other people to know I’m suffering, so I could be held accountable.”
Slim shared his story in November 2017 during the Recovery Week series on 9NEWS. He never imagined how far that story would go.
“Over 600,000 people liked and shared it across the country,” he said.
Slim began hearing from people in other states who wanted to share their stories and get encouragement from his journey.
He now uses his radio platform to help others share their stories of sobriety.
“Sharing our Stories is a program I do on the radio. It’s a program where we share stories about addiction and, most importantly, about recovery,” Slim said. “We’re just people who have gone through addiction. We’re on the other side of it. And fighting for our recovery.”
Just four episodes of the show have aired, but it's already received recognition. It won the award for Best Public Affairs Program from the Colorado Broadcasters Association.
“More than anything, I was proud of our guests. The first thing we said was this award isn’t our award in any way,” he said. “Because it was our guests who come in and share their stories.”
Like many of his guests, Slim admits he’s still a work in progress.
“Let’s not sugar-coat it. I still have a long way to go,” he said. “I have lots of improvements to make in my life."
One of those improvements is happening with his body. The guy who says he’s been skinny his whole life is now beefing up his muscle.
“I’m not doing it because I need my summertime body. I’m literally doing it for my health,” he said.
It’s all part of his recovery journey, which he admits is not perfect, but is worth it.
“Is life 100%? No! People have problems, I got problems,” he said. “But if I’m gonna face these problems, I want to face them this way. Sober.”
Throughout Recovery Week, we're hosting a phone bank with resources from 6:30 a.m to 8:45 a.m. The phone number will be given out on 9NEWS Mornings, once the phone lines are staffed and open.
One of the organizations providing experts to answer questions on recovery is Mental Health Colorado. That organization often links people to the following recovery programs in the Denver Metro Area:
CeDar – (private) Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehab (Aurora- part of UCHealth)
Centennial Peaks (Louisville) – 303-673-9990
Cedar Springs (Colorado Springs) – 719-633-4114
Youth, adult – residential and outpatient
Denver Springs – (private, Englewood) -- 720-575-3772
Medical detox for alcohol or benzodiazepines (have referred/helped with opioids)
Arapahoe House was absorbed by:
Jefferson Center for Mental Health (opens at 8:30 a.m.): 303-425-0300 or 303-463-7400;
Withdrawal management and a walk-in clinic
Aurora Mental Health Center/East Metro Detox: 303-617-2300
Teen and adult outpatient, Detox withdrawal