I came into contact with the addiction and recovery world about five years ago with little to no knowledge of what it really meant to be in recovery.
Growing up in South Florida meant that if you were in drug or alcohol recovery, you were pretty much from some state up north and came down here to live in the scummiest of places, being the sketchiest person that you possibly could be. That was my take on recovery in general. I would eventually come to find out that I had it all backwards.
Like a lot of young adults, in my early twenties I found myself asking the inevitable question, “Am I an alcoholic?” At the time I was 23 turning 21 over and over again. I celebrated, mourned, and treated my anger with the one thing that would cheer me up, alcohol. As I know now, if you keep asking yourself if you have a problem, you most likely do. My wake up call came one night when I decided that the only way to fix my broken heart was to down my sorrows with as many pineapple vodkas as I possibly could. I proceeded to get blackout drunk and had no recollection of most of that evening.
Still to this day, I can’t tell you how many drinks I had that night. The next morning, waking up in my friend’s bed with my heart feeling like it was about to bounce out of my chest, I knew something wasn’t right. My stomach was in knots, I felt like I had the most intense food poisoning coupled with a deathly flu. I came to find out I had alcohol poisoning. Fast forward through the details of throwing up and sleeping for days, my dad finally sat me down and said that it might be time I seek help from a treatment center.
Sometimes it takes another person telling you what you already know deep down to truly recognize that you have a problem. In my case, it was my caring father, and I had to make the hard decision, do I need help or can I do this on my own? From what I thought I knew about recovery at the time, the last thing I wanted to do was live in the scummiest of places and be the sketchiest person that I could be. It was at that moment, that I said enough was enough and quit alcohol by myself.
I won’t say quitting alcohol myself was easy, or that it was fun. I consider myself very lucky in the fact that I was able to put myself on a good path without going to rehab like so many other people need to. Somehow, with enough determination and positive influences around me, I was able to do it on my own.
Jump forward to today. I am twenty eight years old, with a much different look on addiction and recovery.
Five years have gone by and I think about my drinking days frequently, and how much fun they were but also how lucky I got that I had someone tell me I was spinning out of control. It was my own decision to call it quits but for some it’s just not that easy. Giving up drugs or alcohol isn’t just about throwing in the towel, you have to change your whole lifestyle, your friends, and make up for the hurtfulness you may have brought upon your family. It’s not easy, take it from me, I had no help.
Through out the years I had to lose some of the closest people to me and miss out on many nights of parties and benders. I had to learn how to deal, along with handle, my emotions. But I knew, had I kept drinking, I wouldn’t be here today. I not only wanted to prove to myself but to my family, that it was my decision all along no matter how hard it got.
Ironically, in my career and personal life I have come to know and befriend many people that are in recovery from drugs and alcohol. They are some of the smartest, kindest, and funniest people I know—nowhere near the sketchy and scummy individuals I had assumed they were earlier in my life. I recognize that addiction can hit anyone, and certainly doesn’t discriminate against gender, race, status, profession, or…anyone.
Going into treatment, you aren’t at your best. I know this because I was one step away from getting the proper help I probably needed. You do act like the sketchiest person and come from the scummiest of places, but reaching out for help, shouldn’t be considered wrong, it should be embraced as someone who wants a better life, who knows of a better life, who needs a better life. Reaching out for help can save your life, or as in my case, taking the advice of someone who thinks you need help can save your life too.
In my experience, life would have been a lot different if I hadn’t put down the booze.
Lisa is a media specialist for Lighthouse Recovery Institute. She is a lifelong resident of Palm Beach County, FL, where she resides with her fiancé. You can normally find her at a punk rock show or out with the boys skateboarding. She graduated college in 2012 and plans to extend her journalism career as far as she can.