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 bi-sexual, then leather, then back to men. Most of my attention went toward trying to fix my eating disorder. I spoke to a friend who was sober and she helped me realize that while constantly trying to fix my drinking problem, I hadn't yet been introduced to the simple concept that NOT drinking generally works well in treating a drinking problem.

It's been a few alcohol-free years since then. There's a lot of living to be done outside of bars, and I've been able to experience a lot more of what life has to offer now that I'm not chasing a drink or a drug 24/7. Things aren't always perfect, but at least I'm really living.

Jasmine, 28