Like most, my story of addiction and my road towards recovery are certainly not a straight line. As of this writing, my counter reads in the single digits and I’m sure that some that visit my profile are confused and maybe put off by my offering support and advice to anyone.
Since trying it for the first time at 13 to becoming a full time alcohol dependent at 17, for most of my life the struggle has been with the bottle. Even after losing everything not once, but twice: job/career, two marriages, time with my children, friends, self respect, etc., I still refused to completely abstain.
I began the program in 2009 and continued being involved until 2015. I believe in AA. I think it is the best place for one suffering from alcoholism to start and God willing continue on in their road to sobriety. I, unfortunately, have certain mental health conditions that make it difficult for me to participate in a group setting. I still do visit occasionally and I still have several friends and contacts from my years spent in the rooms. Also, I still own and frequently reference the literature. For me personally, I began working with a one on one therapist and a psychiatrist who worked to find the proper medication that would assist in stabilizing my mood.
I wish I could say that the new approach did the trick but I would be lying. In the end, as of this writing, I am alcohol free. This new lifestyle is not the result of my working harder in a program. I am alcohol free because my body has been overloaded for so long with my increasingly heavy drinking that involved and evolved into more and more quantity over the years that it physiologically cannot process alcohol anymore. If I make an attempt to get drunk, I receive no reward of any kind. No buzz. No euphoric feeling or false confidence. I become sick, queasy, fatigued, and if I keep on trying, I will eventually blackout and risk a very high chance of causing pancreatitis. I’ve had it four times so far.
My abstinence from alcohol can cause a conflicting feeling. On the one hand, it’s a blessing. Once the pleasurable outcome of getting drunk was removed, so did my usage, so did my cravings, and so did my very rare experiments to see if it was only temporary. It’s not. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel like a cheat. I’ve been a regular at meetings. Had some great sponsors, and worked the steps, but I ultimately recovered, at the time of this writing, from the insanity of alcoholism through a medical condition. I’m grateful, yet sometimes feel like I took a short cut of some kind. Sometimes there’s guilt and the feeling that I didn’t earn it.
With alcohol out of my life, or basically it’s use rendered nothing but a trip to the hospital for a three to five day stay, my addicted brain started bugging me for a replacement. I started using marijuana. I found it very hit and miss, I could take it or leave it. Still...by my using it, I had lost my claim to sobriety. I was using and in active addiction. I started trying other drugs. No, I haven’t done it all but I sure made the effortto. Never really took to anything and just accepted that I would never find anything that would compare to alcohol.
I became careless and reckless. My dealer and his other regulars used to get me samples of anything they could. They couldn’t believe my tolerance and my ability to try something once and never pick it up again. And one day, out of the blue, almost as an afterthought someone offered me to take a hit of crystal meth. As soon as those vaporized chemicals hit my lungs, I was completely hooked. I couldn’t keep enough of it on hand and I’d pay whatever someone demanded for any amount.
After a brief period of using only when my one dealer happened to have it, I found other dealers. I was constantly buying and setting up my next buy through three or four different sources. Before I knew it, three and a half months had passed. Every penny I had saved over the past few years was gone. I had to tell my children that the vacation we had planned for later in the year was cancelled. I rarely slept and was always fatigued. I had lost over fifty pounds and not in a healthy way. I rarely ate. I was constantly coming and going, leaving at any hour of the day or night, no matter what was going on in order to score. Somehow, by all I can claim to be the grace of God, I realized I physically and mentally could not stop on my own. Even though I wanted to.
I had to do something. It was killing me. It was bankrupting me, and it was just a matter of time until I would find myself in jail or prison. So I devised a plan and through sheer will and desperation went for it and prayed for the best. I cut off communication with all my contacts, the best way I knew how. I lied. I told them to keep away that the cops were on to me. Yes, it was a lie but it was also easy to come up with. The long term, constant use had caused me to suffer from severe paranoia. I was constantly looking out windows and peeking through blinds. My anxiety would shoot through the roof if I had to drive anywhere. My guard was constantly up. At one point, I was convinced that the police were somehow tracking and monitoring my phone. I quit driving with it so that they couldn’t track and follow me, and came close to destroying it a few times just to be sure.
Despite all of the psychosis I was suffering from, I still somehow managed to follow through with my plan. I wanted to make a clean break from this substance. After cutting off my contacts, I used and got loaded one more time in order to obtain the false energy, focus, and confidence it would supply even though those effects would linger around less and less.
The hardest obstacle to overcome at this point was the overwhelming paranoia. Despite how strong it was, I picked up my very suspicious phone and called my therapist. I told her that I needed to discuss something very important but was unable to over the phone. I asked if there was a secure email or phone number I could text. Confused, she said no and asked why I couldn’t just talk. I mumbled and shifted and made up something along the lines of; I would just prefer to discuss it in confidence and that because of my location, I couldn’t talk about it out loud. She asked me if I was drunk and I laughed it off like, of course not! I would never be that stupid again! I could hear the concern in her voice as she said that if I came out right then, that she would make time for us to speak in private in her office. I agreed and set out to make the drive, completely torqued out of my mind, and of course cell phone free.
When I finally arrived I had worked myself up into a paranoid frenzy. The belief that as soon as the word “meth” left my mouth, a squad of orderlies was going to burst in and haul me away to the psych ward was very real. I don’t know how many minutes my introduction took but I refused to disclose my problem to my poor, confused therapist until I went over a carefully planned out list of conditions and got her word that we had an agreement that they would be met. I clearly stated that I in no way was suicidal or homicidal. I yammered on about how if law enforcement were to be involved, that I please be informed in advance so that I could speak to and prepare my children about my possible going away, and on and on... Finally, I came out with it. I confessed to what I was using, how much and how long. It still took convincing from her that I was not going to be locked up or my house and car searched. I also had a hard time believing that after I went over everything I felt I needed to, that yes, I would be allowed to go home and no, law enforcement would not be notified or involved. How they could just allow a man who bought and possessed crystal meth every day, to just go home after months of breaking bad just blew my mind.
Long story, I know. Since reaching out for help, I stayed clean for 34 days. I unfortunately, did relapse one time, but sought help immediately and refused to give up. Even with my participation having the possibility of aggravating certain mental health issues, I have begun treatment at an out-patient rehabilitation center that is group orientated and am still enrolled despite the relapse since I immediately informed them of what occurred. I am also hoping to make another attempt at finding, joining, and working a new 12 step program.
I know that my sobriety counter does not display an astronomical number and yes, I consider myself to be starting fresh in recovery. But I have years of experience battling and living with addiction. Experience that I hope will be used to one day help others. I appreciate your taking the time to read about certain parts of my journey and I hope that if I can be of help or service to anyone in need in any capacity, even if right now all I should do is listen, that you do not hesitate to ask. If I can’t help or answer your question, I guarantee that I will find someone who can. God bless.
About the Author: Quadseven is a freelance writer specializing in film screenplays. He identifies as an addict, currently in active recovery. Also a disabled veteran, he often participates in various programs which allow him to return to college as a full time student. In his free time he enjoys caring for his black Labrador who he claims is an irreplaceable source of support and companionship. His most valuable free time is always reserved for enjoying the company of his three children. They are the driving force, inspiring him to continue on his path of recovery, leading to a healthy lifestyle that results from sobriety and freedom from the prison of drugs and alcohol.