My Battle With Addiction and Path To Recovery
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Today I wanted to share with you something fairly personal from my past which has dramatically impact my life. By sharing this experience with you, I hope to spread awareness about addiction and provide hope to those who are currently battling substance abuse themselves or see the impact it has on others in their lives.
How it all started
In my early twenties I enjoyed drinking with my friends. Initially, I was primarily a social drinker, with the occasional binge drinking on the weekends.
In 2006, I began working on a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Western Washington University. Like many of my peers, I liked to ‘party’ frequently. Weekends, and the occasional school night, consisted of anywhere from 1 or 2 beers, to large quantities of hard alcohol. Sometimes I would wakeup the following morning with only vague recollections of the night before. Once in a while, I wouldn’t be able to recall anything that had happened.
As my tolerance for alcohol began to increase, my body required more and more in order to achieve the same ‘effects.’ Eventually, I found myself drinking nearly everyday, and ‘blacking out’ frequently.
Eventually, I lost my part time job as a waiter at the local steakhouse and my grades began to suffer. Unfortunately, this caused significant anxiety which only resulted in more drinking. Things began to spiral out of control.
By the winter of 2010, I stopped attending class completely, and started drinking in the early morning and throughout the day. I began to notice withdrawal symptoms that only heightened my anxiety. It became difficult to eat and sleep, and I would begin to tremble uncontrollably if I stopped drinking.
I was able to maintain this pattern of drinking for a few months, until one morning a lightbulb went off in my mind.
I later realized that this “lightbulb” was what many in Alcoholics Anonymous call hitting rock bottom. Essentially, the consequences of my drinking had become so severe that I felt there was no other choice than to finally do something about my addiction.
To make a long story short, I spent the following week in the emergency room and a detoxification center, where I was stabilized and detoxified from alcohol. Needless to say, this was a long and painful process.
The Stages of Change
I am proud to say that, thanks to several months of treatment, and endless support from friends and family members, I have continued on that path of recovery. This isn’t to say that I haven’t had any
Once I returned to school, I finished my degree in Psychology and entered into a Masters program in clinical psychology. It was here that I began to truly appreciate the various stages in my recovery. These are typically referred to as the “Stages of Change” :
- Precontemplation – Unaware that the addiction is problematic. Not ready to Change
- Contemplation – Becoming aware of the problem, and entertaining how to change in the future
- Determination – Becoming determined to change
- Action – Taking specific steps to change and abstain from drinking/using
- Relapse – A return to drinking/using
- Maintenance – Maintaining
What Helped Me to Persevere
As previously mentioned, my ability to stay in recovery has been largely helped by my friends and family members. Additionally, entering treatment was also vital to my recovery.
For the most part, I do not miss drinking. Of course, like anyone, I do have bad days, which can create an urge to drink. For me, there are several activities that I like to do which help me to stay the course and resist the temptation to drink.
- Daily Meditation
- Reading a good book
- Spending time with friends who value my recovery
- Attending a 12-step meeting
SAVE FOR LATER
- How To Make The Best of 2019 : FREE Workbook
- How To Stop Avoiding And Start Living : The Worry Cycle
- 5 Scientifically-Supported Tips For Beating Anxiety
- How to Stop Negative Self-Talk : The Cognitive Triangle
OVER TO YOU
Do you or someone you know struggle with addiction? Was this Blog post helpful? Please let us know in the comments below!
NancyJanuary 2, 2019 at 4:05 pm
So glad you are doing ssssooo much better! I haven’t had a similar experience but I’ve seen my kids drink a lot a sometimes I worry.
James Voss, MA, LMHCAJanuary 3, 2019 at 8:55 am
Thank you for the kind words, Nancy. I’m thankful every day to be sober 🙂 It can be frustrating to watch loved ones (especially your kids) to drink in excess. Knowledge is power. Spreading awareness about addiction is the first step to normalizing it so that people feel less ashamed and more willing to come forward and seek changes.
surfergrlJanuary 3, 2019 at 2:57 am
A useful article thank you. Looks like those stages could apply to other problems (for me, anyway).
James Voss, MA, LMHCAJanuary 3, 2019 at 8:50 am
Thanks! I’m glad this article was useful for you, and it’s very true that the stages of change can definitely apply to life changes in general.