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Personal Essay: Overcoming Addiction
How Did I End Up This Way?
I was sick all the time, I had no friends left, my family no longer spoke to me, and all I wanted to do was get high. I didn’t care that I was damaging my brain and my body, I was 30 pounds underweight, and hadn’t slept in days. Right around that time the hallucinations start to come on. I had a handful of pills left and my only hope was that they would take the pain away. Of course they wouldn’t, but it was my final option. I crushed them up and consumed them.
That became my daily routine, my normal. My heart started racing, the paranoia set in and the hallucinations blocked out reality. The voices in my head became alive and led to me to insanity. I was living in fear my whole life, and this time, this time the fear was too real. I had to do something about it.
But did I ask for help? My whole life I internalized the idea that only weak people asked for help. I would later learn that reaching out for help is the ultimate sign of mental strength, but that lesson was still far down the road.
The next morning, I woke up in the psych ward, completely unaware of how I ended up there. And they don’t just let you walk out of psych wards; I had lost my freedom. I vaguely remembered being constrained the night before but it was all a blur. I hit bottom.
How did I get there? I grew up in an upper-middle class family with loving parents and siblings. My home life was the definition of normal and I never had trouble making or keeping friends. But still, I always felt different. As I grew older I felt like everyone around me was given an instruction book to life. Mine must have gotten lost in the mail. Even though I was well liked my by peers, I felt alone and misunderstood.
When I was in 7th grade, I started acting out and getting in trouble. I would "ding dong ditch" houses, shoot off illegal fireworks, act disruptively in school and disobey my parents. I thought it was just normal teenager activity at the time, but it felt good. Good in a different kind of way. It made me feel powerful and respected. It also made me stop caring.
My first drinking experience was a nightmare. I was at a bar mitzvah party for one of my friends and a close friend of mine mixed up a concoction of beer, wine and a mixed drink and told me to drink it. I knocked it back and was drunk from the very first sip. It was by far the worst thing I had ever tasted. But it was the feeling I had been searching for. I was finally at ease. This was just the start to my downward spiral of addiction.
Shortly after my first drink I tried marijuana for the first time. My reaction was different than most. From the first moment I got high, I thought to myself this is what life is about. I am going to smoke weed for the rest of my life. I thought it was the greatest thing I have ever experienced and I was willing to give up everything to chase this feeling.
When I got to high school I managed to attract the kids who shared the same urge to constantly get high. My grades plummeted, my lifelong friendships suffered, and my parents started to notice changes in my behavior. I quit all after school activities. No more sports, no more clubs, just getting high. Spending all my time and money on that one feeling. I started lying to my parents and friends about my drug use and was even caught red handed several times.
My parents became worried and sent me to my first outpatient rehab center where I was forced to become sober, to learn about recovery, and to be subject to regular drug testing. I was 16, my parents didn’t trust me, and my new group of friends shared only a desire to get high. I had no intention on trying recovery but wanted to try not drinking and smoking marijuana.
When the toxins were all out of my body, I experienced the pink cloud for the first time in my life and felt on top of the world. But when that wore off, I obsessively thought of using, still manipulated people and situations, and could not stop lying. Having no real intentions on staying sober, I ended up getting high again.
My high school career can be summed up like this; smoking marijuana, drinking, abusing prescription pills and then getting kicked out of the house and forced into rehab. All this time I thought my parents were “strict” but in reality, I was a drug addict who couldn’t stop using. I was a tornado blowing through my family and relationships, and was on a path to destroy my entire life.
The worst was yet to come though. My first semester of college was everything I hoped for at first. Parties every night, cutting class to get high, and unlimited freedom. I was a full-blown drug addict and alcoholic; drinking a fifth of liquor on the weekends, smoking marijuana, and abusing pills every single day. I was depressed, lonely, scared, beat up, and worst of all spiritually bankrupt.
I officially hit my “bottom” when I woke up in the psych ward without the option of leaving. My life was unmanageable and I was finally able to recognize it. I hit my knees and prayed for the first time in my life. I was willing to do anything, I knew if I kept using I would die. Sobriety was now the only option.
From the hospital I went straight to rehab in Minnesota. It was the best thing I had ever done for myself. I learned about the 12 steps, started making healthy decisions, and most importantly, started liking myself for the first time since I was a little kid. After the 30-day program ended I landed in Florida for aftercare treatment. There I was integrated back into society and learned how to live again.
I slowly started repairing relationships with my family and close friends. People trusted and liked being around me again. I was happy and finally turned the corner. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. My body, mind, and spirit were slowly repairing.
After my eight-month stay in Florida it was time to come home. The first thing I did when I got home was hit a meeting. There I met my sponsor and quickly found myself in the young recovery scene. I didn’t feel alone anymore. I had a supportive team of sober young guys around me and worked the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The obsession to use dissipated.
I have been sober since April 20th, 2010. Today I live a blessed life, thanks to the 12-step program of recovery. I have amazing relationships with everyone close to me. All of the promises of the program came true and I can handle any situation, without having to resort to drugs or alcohol. I am a normal 25 year-old who doesn’t drink or party and I couldn’t ask for a happier life. I have freedom over drugs and alcohol, and am no longer obsessed with using.
To me, sobriety means freedom, happiness, and contentment. I have recovered from this disease. Every day that I am sober is a blessing and I am forever grateful for the people who stuck by my side. I finally found that instruction book to life and couldn’t be more thankful.
#Real #PersonalEssay #Sobriety #Recovery #AA
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