AA meetings at Halt Club, 817 Holly Drive, Gainesville
- 8 p.m. all week
- 6 a.m. weekdays
- 7:15 a.m. Wednesdays
- 7:30 a.m. Saturdays
- 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Corey Taylor is man of routine.
On an average day, he wakes up in his childhood home, gets dressed and heads to class at Lanier Tech in Oakwood. Taylor is studying to become an X-ray technician.
Once school is over, he heads for home. But not before making at least one stop at the Halt Club next to the campus of First Baptist Church in Gainesville.
The house at 817 Holly Drive is a visible, safe and anonymous place for Taylor.
It is where he attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
“I try to go to a meeting every day,” the 28-year-old Murrayville man said.
It is there where people just like him share their life stories, recounting their highs and lows.
“They give you advice and tell you what they did,” Taylor said.
He sees a wide range of people from the Gainesville and Hall County community.
“Addiction is the great equalizer,” he said. “It can affect everybody.”
It is there where Taylor will be recognized for a special anniversary. He will be sober for three years Jan. 10.
“I just go to a meeting and it will be acknowledged that it’s been another year,” Taylor said in a matter-of-fact tone earlier in the week.
About five years ago, Taylor had a similar routine with one big difference — alcohol was always involved.
Taylor’s addiction reared its head in 2008 when he enrolled at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.
“I didn’t know anybody there,” Taylor said, explaining he spent two years at Gainesville College before transferring. “So I started partying, and I drank to party. Then I became dependent on it.”
Taylor explained he drank for a few reasons. He said he experienced severe anxiety, had feelings of inadequacy and didn’t process emotions well.
“I feel uncomfortable in my own skin,” the 5-foot-9 man said. “I didn’t talk about my feelings. I wouldn’t tell people the truth. And the only way to escape was to get drunk.”
His dependence on mostly beer continued for his three years at Georgia Southern. But somehow the then-23-year-old managed to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2011.
“I kind of half-assed my way through Georgia Southern,” Taylor said.
However, the young man still did not know what to do with his life. So, he moved home and enrolled in a master’s program at North Georgia College in Dahlonega.
“School was the only thing I was decent at,” he said. “Or so I thought.”
Taylor applied the same amount of effort in his master’s program as he had at Georgia Southern.
“When we had papers due, I found out my classmates were spending eight hours on the paper and I was spending 45 minutes on them right before class.”
His routine of going to school followed by nights of drinking left him earning Cs. Taylor was kicked out of school in December 2012.
That exacerbated his drinking problem.
“I’d get drunk to the point until I would pass out,” he said.
Then things took a turn for the worse.
In January 2013, Taylor spent his mornings at work and spent his afternoons and evenings drinking with “people just like me.”
He said always planned to just have one beer. But as they say at his AA meetings “one is too many and a thousand is not enough.”
However, it had finally reached “enough” for his parents, Robert “Bob” and Vickie Taylor.
“I had drank too much and had to call my parents and have them come pick me up,” Taylor said.
Once at home, Bob and Vickie delivered an impromptu intervention to their second of four children.
“It was one of those moments when you boil over,” Bob Taylor said, explaining he was angry and surprised at his son’s actions.
Then Bob Taylor delivered an ultimatum.
“I said he would be in treatment or be kicked out of the house,” Bob said.
The trio made an appointment with Taylor’s therapist, who he had been seeing to deal with his depression for a few years. She concurred with the treatment plan.
Taylor agreed, but was not fully invested in the idea.
“I just wanted to get my parents off my back,” he said.
The first suggestion was for a rehab facility. However, the expense of a place in Statesboro — which is where Corey’s problems began — were scrapped. Bob Taylor said he and his wife thought it would be better for Corey to be in treatment close to home.
Therefore, Taylor started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and got a sponsor, Peter Kite.
Kite, who knew Taylor when he was 14 years old, met his charge at a restaurant and heard Taylor’s story. He began to laugh.
“I wasn’t laughing at him,” Kite said. “I was laughing because I can relate. His story was my story.”
The Gainesville man also saw more than the shy but cocky image Taylor was revealing.
“He acted like he had all of the answers,” Kite said. “I’d call it a front.”
But it was only a short matter of time before that front came tumbling down.
Two weeks after joining AA, Taylor enrolled in an outpatient program at Laurelwood, a facility connected to Northeast Georgia Medical Center dedicated to the stabilization and treatment of individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse, according to its website (www.nghs.com/mental-health-services).
During a group session with women who had tried to commit suicide, Taylor shared his version of events of his alcoholism and the benefits of AA.
“Peter called me out on it,” Taylor said. “He told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and I had to go back and apologize to those women.”
He admits “it was the first time someone had called me out on my bull.”
Kite said he didn’t like to do it, but it is what AA sponsors do.
“Brutal honesty sucks,” he said. “And that’s what I had to teach him. I told him the only thing you know is you are not drinking today.”
Taylor returned to Laurelwood and expressed his remorse to the women.
“It was very humbling and humiliating,” he said.
The responses surprised and overwhelmed him.
“They gave me hugs and were saying it was going to be OK,” he said.
At that moment, Taylor said he realized he had to be honest and “stop trying to fool people.”
Since then, Taylor has been working the 12 steps of the AA program.
One of his first actions was to cut out friends and cohorts who drank with him. And instead of going to bars, he attended AA meetings.
“And I hung around my family more, and I had to repair those relationships,” Taylor said, adding the main one was rebuilding the trust with his parents.
“I would ask them to send me money for groceries and I would use some of that to buy beer and pot,” he said. “They supported me at college and in all the things that I did and I threw that in their faces.”
Now, he said his relationship with his parents is “never better.” Bob and Vickie agreed.
“I have a closer relationship with him,” Bob said, describing their relationship previously as a casual one. “We are closer than we were. And we have strong respect for him. God has really blessed him and blessed us all.”
Vickie said she is proud of her son’s accomplishments and tries to point them out to him, especially since Corey describes himself as a “glass half-full” person.
“I think we have been more of his cheerleaders,” she said. “And we point out positives things he has done. ... He is kind, caring, smart and funny.”
Bob and Vickie aren’t the only ones receiving the benefits of a sober Taylor. He is working to repair his relationships with his older sister and younger sister and brother. He explained he lied to them and missed important family events while drinking. One particular event makes him feel ashamed.
“I was drinking the night my niece was born,” Taylor said with downcast eyes.
But since becoming sober, he spends time with his siblings and 6-year-old niece.
“I hang out with my niece a lot,” he said as a faint smile appears. “I like that I can be present with her, and they trust me enough to be around her.”
Taylor said he feels grateful his family has forgiven him of his past behavior and have not judged him. He just wishes he could do the same.
“I can forgive anybody else, but just not me,” he said.
While Taylor still lacks confidence, his sponsor does not. Kite said Taylor has undergone a 300 percent turnaround.
“He’s more open,” Kite said. “He’s in school. He didn’t think he could do anything when he got sober.”
Taylor describes himself as a work in progress, and AA is helping him to achieve that.
“There is no finish line,” he said. “There is no graduation in AA. The best I can get is dying sober.”