Who Am I?

I am in early recovery of an addiction to methamphetamine, which I used practically every day over the last 4 years. I recently decided to get clean because the realization was "I ABSOLUTELY HATED GETTING HIGH," even though the disease of addiction had such a hold on my life that I had a hard time stopping and therefore at the end I didn't like who I was.  The addiction has left me at a complete loss for who "Amanda" is – or was – and I am desperately working on my recovery in order not only to conquer sobriety, but to redefine who I am. -Amanda Z., Pennsylvania, sober since September 2014

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My Life Was a Series of Costume Changes

All I know is that I feel a helluvah lot better waking up without a hangover and knowing the name of the person I just slept with. Seriously. All drinking has ever given me is a talent for making bad decisions, the majority of which have had disastrous consequences. I'm a risk-taker by nature, prone to not thinking things through. I simply don't need alcohol and other substances to increase the danger. It took me until I was 26 years old to figure this out. Prior to that, all I knew about myself is that I didn't fit in. Anywhere. High school was fine, but after that I didn't have a clue. My life was a series of “costume changes” in an attempt to find the one external situation that would somehow fix the feeling of being lost in my own life. I came out as a lesbian, and then went...

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I Believed I Was Crazy

One morning, after the office holiday party, I woke up with a massive hangover next to my boyfriend who looked at me with complete disgust. My antics, or “adventures” as I liked to call them, just weren’t cute anymore. I knew I had to do something; I wasn’t going to remain alone for the rest of my life because I couldn’t drink. I knew a woman who was sober and happy about it so I reached out and asked for help. That was seven years ago. At first I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I had absolutely no idea of who I was or what I was capable of. I had hated myself for so long that I was sure everyone else felt the same way. Little by little I began to open my eyes and realize people weren’t nearly as obsessed with me...

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I Discovered a Whole New Part of Me

Once I turned 30, I began to notice that most of my peers didn’t drink as much and as frequently as I did. The way I “controlled” my drinking was through binging. I would not drink for a series of days knowing that Saturday night I would allow myself no limits. On those nights, I would drink all night, ingest whatever drugs I was offered, throw up publicly and behave completely inappropriately. Even during this time, I thought I just needed to blow off steam. I am simply a fun person who likes to have a good time. It wasn’t until after my last disastrous bender when I blacked out and woke up with no front teeth that I realized “I have a serious problem!” Now, I am learning how to cope with life without drinking and drugging, which initially I thought would be a death sentence. But it has been...

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What's Wrong With Me?

I watch people around me drink the same way I do but they don’t get wasted like me. There must be a trick, some secret or learned way of drinking that I haven’t figured out yet, but I will. I’ll try beer instead of vodka. I’ll try eating more before I drink. I’ll find a way—there must be a way. It’s not like I’m a drunk or something! I’ve never lost a job, I’ve never gotten a DUI, I never drink in the morning. If I was an alcoholic, I wouldn’t be able to say that. This is simply a matter of getting a grip on drinking, figuring out the way to do it. Welcome to one of the many scripts that ran through my head before I got sober. They varied a bit here and there, but they all led to the same conclusion—I could not accept that I was...

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Living With an Alcoholic

Living with an alcoholic was not in my dreams when I thought of getting married and living “happily ever after.” But that is where I found myself after a few years of marriage—in the middle of alcoholism.  First I thought there was something wrong with me.  If he loved me, he would stay home. I thought I could say something that would make him understand what he was doing to his family and his life. When words didn’t work I used tears and threats of leaving if he didn’t change.  All I could think about was “where was he, who was he with, how much money would he spend, would he kill someone while driving home, would he kill himself, what kind of mood would he be in when he came home?” Every time, he said, “I promise I won’t drink again.”  Or, “when  we move to our next home or...

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My Sister, an Alcoholic

My younger sister and I are two years apart, and were very close growing up.  After high school I moved, and we lived on opposite coasts but talked all the time and saw each other on holidays with the family.  Then suddenly she stopped calling. I would call and leave messages, and rarely get a call back.  I knew she drank and smoked weed, but at the time had no idea she had started messing with dope. I called her job, only to find out she'd been fired months ago.  My parents went to her apartment to find her gone, unopened mail filling the mailbox.  Now we were really scared.  We all felt so powerless.  When the money ran out my sister showed up at my parent’s house and was sent to rehab.  But when she got out, she started to use again.  Like before, she disappeared. I felt worried, sick,...

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He Thought He Could Handle It

Jason was the kind of person people were drawn to.  He made friends easily and had a great sense of humor.  He was a caring person and a loving son who respected his family.  He was helpful around the house and in the winter he always shoveled our neighbor’s walk.  He loved kids, he was active in his youth group and he often volunteered for various community projects--he even worked for the agency I work for, a community-based group in Middlesex County, New Jersey that works to prevent substance abuse. When Jason was a little boy, he’d lie about little things.  When he was seven years old and swore he had taken a shower, even though the tub was completely dry.  He got caught in lies like that all the time, but as he grew into a young man we talked about it and he said he realized how silly it...

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Getting the Message

The first time my daughter came home drunk, I’m embarrassed to say, I thought it was kind of cute. She was only 15, but she was swearing like a sailor. So I sloughed it off. But, unfortunately, it didn’t stop there and her behavior began to get more and more problematic. For a kid who used to love school and had a lot of friends, things started to change, and by the time she was 17 my wife and I were truly concerned. When we talked to people about it, they often expressed the idea that it was just a phase that would pass, but before long we realized it wasn’t getting any better. We tried all the usual things – grounding her, telling her she couldn’t hang out with certain kids who seemed to be a bad influence, withholding her allowance, thinking this would limit her ability to get hold...

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Out of Control

My binge drinking began in high school, and with it, blackouts and promiscuous sex. I brought hard liquor in Gatorade bottles to school dances and hooked up with boys in darkened hallways. I lost my virginity to a guy I barely knew at a house party. When I woke up the next morning, I hardly remembered it. My friends and I had fake ID’s and would go out to bars. I met lots of men and had lots of casual sex. One night as I drifted in and out of drunken consciousness, I was date raped by a man who I thought was a friend. A few months later, it happened again. At the time I didn’t connect the drinking with the negative episodes in my life. I thought that everyone drank the way I did. I was angry that my life wasn’t going as I wanted it to and that...

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