River Bank runner distances self from addiction


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In the comfort of his living room, Patrick Nesbit recounted the day he almost lost his battle to drugs and alcohol — the moment when fighting his addiction had beaten his fight to live.

“I felt like my wife and kids would be better off if I was gone; that their life would be better if I wasn’t here. And for a long time I was okay with dying, if I had a heart attack in my sleep or ran off the road in a ditch, that didn’t really bother me,” Nesbit said. “But it got to the point to where I was really desperate for it to happen quicker than that. And I thought I was doing them a favor and helping them out. That was probably the lowest I’ve ever been.”

His wife Kristin said Patrick told her about his desire to end his life and it was that moment they realized he needed help to beat his struggle with pain killers and alcohol.

“He got desperate. He realized it was so powerful and he was so consumed by it and he was so powerless over it that he felt the only answer for him was just maybe to not be alive anymore. And that scared him. He told me one day and that very same day he said that, ‘I’m going to get help’ and a friend came and took him,” Kristin said.

It was Nov. 11, 2011.

Nesbit admits that things were difficult in the beginning. At first, he would think about using every minute. Then, gradually, minutes turned into hours and hours into days.

Now, two and a half years later, Nesbit is still clean and sober and running toward his recovery in the Fifth Third River Bank Run.

“A big part of me staying sober and staying clean was doing something to keep in shape. And it has helped,” Nesbit said. “When I do have a long, stressful day, a couple of mile run does help quite a bit. It has helped tremendously. My mood is better now that I’m in a little more shape.”

Since the day he took his first sip of whiskey at age 13, Nesbit knew he was wired differently inside. He loved drinking and wanted to get better at it, he said. When his addiction was at its worst, he was consuming 20 pain pills and over a fifth of vodka a day.

The constant, daily battle between using or not using has equipped him with the tools to make it through his first River Bank Run.

But now, running has taken a backseat in his battle for recovery and his family has taken over.

“My wife sometimes says we’re newlyweds and we’re dating again. We’ve been married 10 years and for the whole time we’ve been married, I drank but I was a really heavy drinker and really bad for at least 8 years of it,” Nesbit said. “She talks about us being newlyweds and dating again. She doesn’t really know a Patrick that is sober. We’re just now learning that.”

“Luckily, my kids are young enough so they don’t remember most of it,” he continued. “But for me, I feel like I’m a new father. I’m learning what it means to be a parent. Learning what it means to be here for my children. For many, many years, I wasn’t here. Even if I was physically in the room, I was gone.”

Now he’s making up for that lost time. He says he’s more active and more involved. He runs and trains with his wife, an opportunity for them to spend some alone time away from their four children and talk.

He knows he’s just one drink away from returning to the life he knew before Nov. 11, 2011.

But he’s motivated, he said, by the way running makes him feel; by the way he’s welcomed in his home after work; and by the way being a father feels.

Life is good, he says:

“It’s a whole new world. It’s like starting life all over again.”

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