How Addiction Saved Our Family

OK, I knew he drank, but don’t all teenagers? Then came the drugs. He’s finding himself. Experimenting. That’s what I believed, sitting and watching from my corporate management job. I take care of 40 employees. How is it that I can be so disconnected from my own family? When my perception started to clear, I had to face it. My son is addicted to drugs and alcohol. Off to Al-Anon I went. That’s what people do, right? They will tell me how I can get him sober. During my first meeting, I listened to a woman tell of how she set up healthy boundaries for her relationship with her adult daughter. She recounted for us how they bake and share such wonderful experiences. Wait, bake? My life is completely out of order. I immediately wanted what she had. After the meeting I approached her to see how to get it. I...

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Thriving in Recovery

I was a lost soul growing up, mediocre at school and sports and deeply ambivalent about my future. Middle school brought painful bullying and crippling anxiety. In 10th grade, some of the “popular kids” found out I was on ADHD medication and convinced me to crush one of my pills and snort it with them. Although terrified, I snorted the crushed powder and felt the greatest rush I had ever experienced. I progressed to abusing alcohol, weed, cocaine and pills. Kicked out of college after one year, life unraveled, and soon I was stealing money from my parents and selling drugs to support my daily cocaine habit. After intensive residential rehab, I got clean and am now one of millions of Americans living in long-term recovery. I've been fortunate to help many others who struggle. Freedom from addiction is possible, and I can assure you that life gets better in recovery....

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Katrina’s Story

I’m a person with lived experience, mental illness and addiction. I've been over nine years clean, and it was the toughest thing I've ever had to do. I was addicted to Methadone, taking lethal amounts everyday. From passing out behind the wheel on the interstate and hitting a tractor trailer, to losing everything and everyone I loved, and eventually becoming homeless. I know what it feels like to have lost all hope, feel alone, and that no one understands, not to mention the judgement and isolation that comes with being an addict and having a mental health illness. I felt so alone that I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I describe the pain as if I was on the top of a burning building with no way out and I only had two options – do I stay and burn to my death or do I jump!? Addiction nearly ended my...

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New Beginnings

I came into recovery following several suicide attempts. I was depressed. I felt like I was a complete failure, as a parent, an employee, daughter, sister and member of society. I was psychologically dependent on alcohol and hated that I was. I wanted to control it, but ended up in an abstinence group where I learned the seriousness of my illness and that it was progressive, something I think I knew deep down. I threw myself into recovery, and started working with others like me. I have helped women to rebuild their lives and have focused particularly on women with children. I have watched women rebuild their lives and handle problems that they couldn't handle before. I was privileged to be a part of it. I watched my own children blossom and flourish as they no longer had to live in fear that they would lose their mum. I have had...

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One Day at a Time

I am Suzy and I have been sober for almost four years. I know I cannot give my life story in 1,000 words, but I can say that my life has been a roller-coaster with many bumps along the way. My story begins like many other addicts: I had dreams and ambitions and never thought I would become an alcoholic, but 20 years of my life became ruled by the bottle. We all know, as addicts, how sad our lives become. I have yet to meet an addict who loves his or her life. My life has changed dramatically in these last four years, all for the better. I have control over my life now, and it has been a very rewarding, yet an emotionally exhausting process. I often get asked “how do you remain sober?” and “how do you stop yourself from drinking?” and my answer will always be the...

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Face to Face With My Own Suicide Note

My alcohol use started around age 10, as it was readily available in my house. Marijuana was also easy to access and was my primary drug of choice until age 16 when I got a fake ID and could drink whenever I wanted. I partied hard and began using drugs daily. I ended up in an adolescent treatment center a few short years later, mostly just to get out of trouble. The seed of recovery was planted, however, and though I drank and used for another year, with the information about myself learned in treatment all I did was prove I was a real alcoholic. Having been exposed to 12-step recovery in treatment, that is where I sought help after finally hitting bottom, which was when I came face to face with my own suicide note from a blackout. Over the past 30 years I have been on the marvelous journey...

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From Bad to Worse

I grew up in Silver Springs, MD, the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and started drinking when I was 11 years old. I drank to "fit in" and to impress others. I had very good parents and a great childhood up until I thought I needed to change to get along with the many different types of personalities and groups of other classmates. I started running away from home and skipping school for no other reason than the fact I did not feel like I belonged to any set of friends. The truth was that I was drinking more and more everyday, and could not function comfortably around anyone. I was hiding my drinking any way I could. Finally, at 15 years old I was drinking everyday and scared of what might happen to me, so I ran away from home for the last time, and hitchhiked to Texas where my family...

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Recovery – A Family Affair

I am the oldest of 3 girls – and all of us have the disease of alcoholism. I was what we called a garbage head because I used many drugs and took whatever I could find.  By the time I was 19, I was married and divorced. At 20, I was raising a beautiful baby boy while in my active addiction. For the next 18 years I was a functional alcoholic and drug addict. What I mean is I was a good provider, my son did not lack anything, and it is a miracle that he is healthy and has made a good life for himself.  When he was in his teens, I began to fall apart emotionally and physically. I was hopeless and wanted to go to sleep and not wake up! By this time, my baby sister came home from a drug and alcohol treatment center. She was going...

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Decreasing the Shame

I dabbled with drugs for years (I was a child of the '70s), and ended up addicted to prescription pain pills. I am an RN and as things got worse, I ultimately had an intervention done on me at work and went through an alternative to discipline program (with my RN license "held in abeyance" for 5 years).  Following my completion of the program, I was asked to facilitate peer support for healthcare and now run a peer support program for people in recovery.   I have co-authored a book: Re/entry: A Guide for Nurses Dealing with Substance Use Disorder. The book has been published by STTI and has won two book-of-the-year awards from the American Journal of Nursing.   I love my life in recovery – I never knew life could be so full! – and I feel strongly about getting the word out to decrease the stigma and shame that...

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A Journey Toward Hope

Alcohol use was central to the foundation of my family and upbringing. I have seen many in my family reach their trigger point and cross over into alcohol dependency. Unfortunately, I never witnessed any of my family stop, stay stopped and maintain long-term abstinence. From what I witnessed, there was no hope for anyone suffering from a substance use disorder.  When I became alcohol dependent myself and became aware that becoming abstinent was necessary, I was petrified, as from what I had seen, nothing worked. A friend referred me to his union’s health team, which referred me to a psychiatrist who convinced me that I might benefit from some education on alcohol since my family was peopled with drunks. One of the things his rehab required was the reading of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which I read with passion. Several weeks into my rehab, I experienced a moment of...

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