On the 17th of July Matt Scarce will begin a 1300 kilometre journey down the Queensland coastline. He will begin in Brisbane exactly eight years after he started recovery from years of drug and alcohol abuse and finish in Townsville. During his recovery he attended SMART meetings and today he’s a SMART ambassador. We asked him some questions about his journey through recovery as well as his upcoming journey down the coast of Queensland.
1. What are some of the biggest physical and mental changes you’ve experienced since you’ve stopped drinking and using drugs?
There are so many changes I’ve experienced since I stopped drinking and using drugs! Physically I’ve never felt better and a recent blood test came back with a really positive result, in fact the only advice my doctor could give me was that I could drink a little more water. Mentally I have continued to get a better understanding of myself and developed skills through experience that enable me to deal with people, places and situations that would have led me to drugs and alcohol. Today the hole inside me that I used to fill with substance abuse is filled with peace.
2. Throughout your recovery, what were some of the techniques you employed to avoid temptations and stay on course?
In the early days I wasn’t strong enough to do it in own my own, God knows I’d tried so many ways. I had to make some tough decisions which meant I had to let go of some friends, and stay away from places where I would easily give into temptation. There were a few times where I could easily have gone backwards, in those moments I had a decision to make, go back to what I knew wouldn’t help or reach out to people who had been able to change their behaviour and draw on their experience for strength and hope. In time I began to develop my own, I still have a support network of people around me, I’m only human and we all need help sometimes.
3. Aside from the physical demands, what do you think will be most challenging aspects of standup paddle-boarding for 50-60km per day?
I think the most challenging thing for me will adapting to situations quickly. I’ve done the best I can to prepare mentally and physically and I have safety plans in place, but there are many variables that can come into play. This challenge is very similar to early recovery. I don’t know what’s going to happen and a lot of things are out of my control and can change suddenly, I will be drawing on the skills I’ve learned during the last eight years of my recovery.
4. Are you expecting to encounter any marine wildlife during your journey?
Being out on their turf I expect I will encounter them. I am a big believer in all of us here in this world are connected, and I hope that any marine wildlife I encounter will instinctively know that I am just passing through and that I’m of no threat or a source of food!! I don’t know exactly what I’ll do in some of those situations but I hope to capture some of these encounters.
5. Who are the key people in your corner supporting you through this challenge?
The key people supporting me through all of this have been my cousin Nic, her help at the beginning was critical to this happening and I can’t thank her enough. My mum who has always said I can do anything if I put my mind to it (even something this crazy), my ex-partner Tanya and my kids have never doubted me and have always been there to help, my very close friend Lindsay, has been in my corner for 8 years, through all the ups and downs he’s been there. I have my stepfather Lionel and Aunt Kris who are taking time off to be a part of the road crew, this would not be possible for me without their help. There are so many others too. SMART Recovery Australia, Wildearth, Simon George and Sons, and all the people who have donated money to the challenge and shared my posts online. Without them no of this would be possible, it is very humbling to come from a life that was spiraling out of control to having all these people believing in me and what I’m looking to achieve.
6. Can we ask if you are dedicating the SUP challenge to anyone in your life in particular, if so, who and why?
If I am dedicating this to anyone then, this challenge is for YOU. The person who wants to change but doesn’t know how or what to do. The families whose loved one is still in active addiction, I want to give them hope their loved one can still change. The people who work in drug and alcohol counselling and the rehabilitation industry. Why? Because those who want to change their lives need experience, strength and hope. I am strong enough now to share mine, and I hope I can make a difference.
7. What advice do you have for anyone dealing with addiction?
The big one is ask for help, but more importantly you must be willing to do whatever it takes. SMART Recovery meetings are a great place to start. Build a support network. Recovery is a process of learning, growing and changing. It won’t always happen in the way and in the time we expect. But through consistent efforts you’ll get there and I’m yet to meet anyone who regrets their recovery
To find out more visit Matt’s website, SUP 4 Sobriety by clicking here