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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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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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...
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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...
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