Addiction Changes You, Recovery Makes You
No one chooses to become an addict. I didn’t. When I discovered that I suffer with addiction, I was finally able to understand why I always felt broken. Sadly, my addiction was rife for over twenty years and it has some pretty serious consequences. Fortunately, I found recovery and I was able to rebuild my life. In this post, I share how I dealt with my addiction and maintain continued sobriety in a life that I love.
My addictive behaviors started when I was less than ten years old; I would seek solace in food to deal with my uncomfortable feelings — I felt lost, sad, and disconnected. At age 10, I discovered smoking and each cigarette provided a sense of relief from my continued depression and anxiety. In my early teens, I discovered drugs and alcohol and felt like I finally had a reason to live, as my brain was flooded with feel good chemicals and my depression lifted. I spent the rest of my teens, twenties, and early thirties, chasing that feeling.
Except, I only ever felt temporary relief using alcohol and drugs; it always followed with an even darker depression and palpable anxiety that felt like it was throttling me.
My addiction slowly removed friends, family, possessions, health, and sanity from my life piece-by-piece. It took two years to reach my rock bottom. During that time, I was drinking four bottles of wine and taking a handful of pain killers each day. My life was consumed with an insatiable desire to use alcohol and drugs to anesthetize my crippling feelings of low self-esteem, disconnection from the world, and innate desire to avoid my reality. I hated my life and I hated myself.
No person, place, or thing was enough to stop my addiction. Friends and family tried desperately to help me, but to no avail. I had to reach a place where I had truly had enough, to the very core of my being.
I am one of the lucky ones. Not everyone has enough; their enough is death. At 32, having lost almost everything, I found recovery.
Here is what that looked like:
· I admitted that I had a problem and made a commitment to get help.
· I sought help in a 12-step fellowship and I threw myself into their program of recovery. I did what was suggested: I attended meetings regularly, I helped others, I got a sponsor, I worked through the steps.
· I put my recovery before anything else in my life: no person, place of thing, can stand in the way.
· I attended therapy and I worked through the issues that led to my using.
· I developed coping strategies for life: I learned how to express myself, I found a creative outlet, I found a way to deal with conflict, and I learned how to decompress.
· I realized the importance of daily exercise to expend stressful energy, and create natural feelings of wellness.
· I began to look after my physical well-being with my diet, by eating natural whole foods, and I stopped seeking to escape myself with food.
· I found activities that give me true pleasure and made sure that they form a part of my daily life: nature, hikes, walking, yoga, artistic and creative endeavors, expanding my knowledge, helping others.
Recovery isn’t easy — life isn’t — but it sure is worth it. My life is one worth living today. If you are struggling with heavy drinking or using and it is beginning to affect your life, it need not get so far that it take over your life — get help today, you’re worth it.