For November, we are focusing on the thankfulness our community has for sobriety—appropriate for this time of the year, right? To start off, we have Founder and Partner of the Philip Scheinfeld Team at Compass, a real estate technology company, who has struggled with obtaining sobriety himself. However, with a life now fully dedicated to and thankful for sobriety, Phil has been able change his life and walk down a new path, thankful for his nearly 9 years of sobriety.
During our interview, we were able to dive deeper into Phil’s journey with sobriety and how his addiction and transformation impacted his life:
Soberocity [S]: How important is sobriety to you?
Phil [P]: To me, sobriety is the most important thing in my life. Without sobriety, I wouldn’t have my family, friends and my career would not be where it is. Even on my worst days I still have sobriety at the end of the day, which makes me feel accomplished and proud. I currently run a top real estate brokerage team at Compass; were if not for my sobriety I would not be able to have done.
[S]: How much has your life changed since you decided to become and stay sober?
[P]: In the past 9 years my life has changed for the better since I got sober. I have an amazing relationship with my family and friends that I wasn’t able to have when I was in my addiction. I was only 20 years old when I got sober but getting sober at such a young age really taught me a lot about myself and gave me so much knowledge for the 29 year I am today. I see the world much clearer and am able to make the best decisions that, if I were still using, I know I wouldn’t be able to make.
[S]: Do you wish that you could change anything about your past? Why or why not?
[P]: I wouldn’t change anything about my past. The mistakes I made have shaped me into the person I am today. If I didn’t make the decision to enter rehab, I don’t know the person that I would’ve turned out to be; but I am sure I wouldn’t be where I am now.
[S]: Were you ever hesitant about being honest about your past/struggle with addiction?
[P]: I was definitely ashamed and embarrassed at first about my past struggles with addiction. Over time I was able to realize that those same struggles turned into positives when I got sober. It taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to; no task too hard and nothing unachievable.
[S]: Had you not been in the environment you were in do you think your history with addiction would be different?
[P]: I think the people I surrounded myself with certainly accelerated my drug use and addiction but at the end of the day I have an addictive personality and I think it would have happened one day. Maybe not when I was 20 years old, but it could’ve happened when I was older—potentially with a family and kids which would have been much harder for me. I was in treatment with adults in their 50s and even 60s with kids and a wife/husband, and I can only imagine what that does to a family. I am glad it happened when it happened because, now, I can enjoy the rest of my life knowing I am sober and don’t have to tackle that later down the road.
[S]: You spoke about normalizing your addiction lifestyle. What made you think this way of living was “normal”?
[P]: All of my friends around me were using drugs and drinking daily. Going to bed at 6am seemed normal; drinking all day seemed normal. It never occurred to me that what I was doing was wrong until I entered rehab and my therapist explained everything to me.
[S]: What was one of the hardest things about getting sober?
[P]: The hardest thing about getting sober was having to cut ties with certain friends for a while. Friends who I thought were my best friends, but in fact, taking away the drugs and alcohol really weren’t that good of friends. Once I recognized that the “friends” I had were really using buddies, things became much easier. They say in treatment that you are as sick as the people you hang out with; find healthy people to hang out with and that will make you that much better. Also, having to make amends to the people I harmed along the way; family, friends and exes.
[S]: Do you believe you would’ve been successful in getting sober without a support group?
[P]: I think that going to rehab for 8 months was something that I really needed to do. Even with going to rehab, I didn’t think I would stay sober forever. It was only after being there for 8 months and going through a lot of self-reflection that I was able to realize that staying sober was what I needed to do for my life to be successful. No, I don’t think I would have been successful on my own.
[S]: What were some sacrifices that you had to make in order to obtain and maintain your sobriety?
[P]: Some sacrifices I had to make were people, place and things. I had to cut ties with certain friends that I used with; I had to stop going to certain places and things that would remind me of using. The hardest was cutting ties with my closest friends at the time. Even a girlfriend at the time I had to cut ties with, which was very hard for me, but when looking back now it was the best decision for me and my recovery. Today, I am almost 9 years sober and couldn’t be happier with who I have turned into.
[S]: Were there any labels or stereotypes you had to deal with during your recovery process? How did you deal with them?
[P]: I definitely got stereotyped as a rich kid with a glamorized drug problem that wouldn’t stay sober because they felt money would ruin what I achieved in rehab and that I wouldn’t be able to reacclimate to the real world; i.e. get a real job and be a contributing adult in society. How I dealt with it was by remaining sober all these years and now I run a top team at Compass, where I fully support myself and my lifestyle. I have a terrific relationship with my family and although my life isn’t perfect, I am always striving to be the best version of myself.
Breaking free from the stereotypes that were placed on him and continuously evolving, Phil Scheinfeld shows us that nothing is impossible with the right amount of focus and dedication. Through his overwhelming thankfulness for his sobriety and continued pursuit of it, Phil illustrates the powerful changes that can result from cutting your addictions off and pursuing a life that exemplifies the best version of you.