TOMS RIVER – Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino shared his experiences with addiction at the Finding HOPE for Life Support Group Meeting on May 22 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church.
The discussion was moderated by Steve Willis, co-founder of HOPE Sheds Light, a local nonprofit dedicated to educating families on the disease of addiction by creating awareness.
“We want to do our part to remove the fear and the stigma of this disease by offering a loving and safe environment that leads families to wellness, and the community as well,” said Willis.
Finding HOPE is a support group that meets the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, where anyone can go to get or give support to those dealing with the disease of addiction.
At the meeting, Sorrentino, accompanied by his fiancée Lauren Pesce, shared their journey through addiction and recovery, which transformed “The Situation” into somewhat of “The Inspiration.”
You may remember Sorrentino from his infamous rise to fame on MTV’s Jersey Shore, where his character “The Situation” was known for partying hard. What you may not have known was that he also battled with addiction to prescription painkillers for five years following the end of the show.
Now clean, Sorrentino credits the Discovery Institute for Addictive Disorders, and Pesce for his accomplishment. Discovery encouraged him to “put all hands on deck” and do whatever it takes to be clean.
“I’ll be honest, I hated everything about it [rehab],” joked Sorrentino. “But…I wanted better for myself and I was going to do whatever it takes to get there.”
“I am responsible and accountable for my decisions in life, and no one is coming to save me,” he added.
Sorrentino went through about a full year of treatment with Discovery, a combination of inpatient, outpatient, and one-on-one counseling. He said that he stuck to it and gave it his all, which helped him some out the other side.
One thing that treatment helped Sorrentino to do was face “the wreckage of his past,” and all of the bad decisions he may have made while using. He remarked that someone who has suffered with addiction, who wants to recover, is eventually going to have to face his/her past, just as he did, so they can move forward.
“I had to humble myself, I had to educate myself, I had to understand that I didn’t know everything,” said Sorrentino on the start of his recovery.
His first step to fight some of the negativity during the beginning stages of recovery, he said, was to be a better person. “It costs zero dollars to be a kind person.”
Sorrentino also noted that his “obsessive personality” made it difficult to stay on the road to recovery. “I had to get to the root of it [the problem],” he said.
A popular theme of Jersey Shore was their schedule of GTL or Gym, Tan, and Laundry. Sorrentino remarked that during his recovery he altered that schedule to GTM: Gym, Tan, and (recovery) Meeting.
Sorrentino’s fiancée also spoke about how their relationship also contributed to his recovery. Pesce and Sorrentino dated during college around 2004. After going their separate ways for some time, they came back together in 2013. Pesce said she knew Sorrentino “while he was actively using.”
She explained that Sorrentino would go through stages of doing great and then relapsing while he was using. “He would relapse, and he would relapse hard, and it would be devastating; I stuck by him through that, it was not easy,” she said.
Pesce shared her own experiences with addiction, having a younger brother succumb to an overdose four years ago. This experience helped her to work on herself and embolden her to be a contributing factor to Sorrentino’s recovery.
She accompanies Sorrentino to his recovery meetings and work events, noting “I try to be a layer of support for him.”
“I live right now with new purpose, peace, and integrity,” said Sorrentino. “I don’t lie, I don’t cheat, I don’t steal, I don’t drink, I don’t drug…I don’t even speed,” he joked.
Sorrentino remarked that he wouldn’t have dreamed that he has become the person he sees himself as today and he is grateful.