I wanted to switch the discourse from the stories of my struggle with anxiety and addiction to the focus on recovery. Recovery has been an eye-opening journey. Has it always been easy? Absolutely not. Have I relapsed? Yes. When I found my footing and the right places I felt lighter. I was carrying around such a heaviness and I feel like I can breathe.
I wanted to share not only about what helps me, but also resources if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction.
Admitting you have a problem
Of course, before you get better you have to be brutally honest with yourself and your life. I had a hard time believing I was an addict. I believed addicts were girls on Ferry Street in New Haven, selling their bodies for drugs. I came from a big, Irish Catholic family from a shoreline suburban town. I didn’t go to New Haven but I did go to my doctor for my drugs and the package store. This notion that you have to be on the streets to be an addict is simply untrue.
I was in my apartment in a sleepy little shoreline town, taking too many benzos, running out and drinking by myself when things got the worst. The “I am not one of THOSE people” kept me from getting help. It was a different poison. Once you realize you have a problem and you need help, that’s where it starts.
Online Sobriety Groups
Right before I got help, I knew the cycle I was in - (especially from February-May of this year) was not normal. I was tired of drinking, taking Adderral to pep me up then Ativan to calm me down. I joined a fantastic online group that has over 5k members. They are all women with stories but I found myself being drawn in and amazed that women my age (and also older and younger) shared similar stores. We can vent, we can share our milestones, our before and afters, our sad stories, our joys. There were glamorous women, business owners, models, mothers, women who came out of jail and turned their life around, the sober curious and those just starting on their recovery. I still post and comment in the group - but this helped me push me in the right direction. I’ll forever be grateful for this group!
When I hit rock bottom - withdrawing in my apartment from benzos all alone, barely able to walk or talk - I knew I needed help. I searched endlessly for inpatient rehabs to no avail. The benzo addiction is a VERY tricky one especially if you also have an alcohol problem. I almost gave up until I found a place that helped me, but outpatient. I was nervous at first, a lot of people go for methadone or they are court-ordered. I was still in my ego and felt I didn’t belong there. Until I talked to a counselor, a doctor and finally my psychiatrist. I now have a personalized program for me that focuses on my recovery from benzos and alcohol. I have to be completely honest when I go in. I chose to go there and I am motivated to stay sober. There are many different medications you can take to curb alcohol cravings or make you sick if you even drink. There are also effective non habit forming medication that help ease benzo withdrawl and make it manageable. I check in every two weeks and I opted to get drug tested. If I fall astray, I’m off the program. I chose to make myself accountable and put pressure on me. It makes me work harder.
Find what works for you!
Going to meetings
I was told the moment I embarked on sobriety to go to meetings. I sighed and complained. I truly believed that meetings were NOT for me. I’m ONLY speaking from my personal experience - I had gone to meetings before, different towns, womens only, closed meetings, open meetings but I only moved in one fellowship. It just didn’t work for me. And then I realized - there are so MANY fellowships out there - let me try another one. After work one day I googled a meeting in a different fellowship. I didn’t know what to expect. I stepped into a hot church room and was greeted warmly with hugs and “welcomes”. The stories, “the shares” spoke to me. I finally found my people. I felt like light was all around me. I understood, then, why I was told to go to meetings.
NA doesn’t work for you? Try AA.
There are SO many.
Getting a sponsor
I remember thinking I’d NEVER get a sponsor. Before I became a friend of Jimmy K’s, I tried my best to scan the rooms but just didn’t connect with anyone. Then I went to the right meeting for me and was welcomed by an incredibly warm woman who was so eloquent and put together. I was really inspired by her natural radiance, she was beautiful inside and out and was so welcoming. My third meeting after it was over, I skiddishly approached her and asked the big question. And she said yes! I was told to find someone who has the qualities you want. So I went for it.
Need help in navigating finding a sponsor? This is from DrugRehab.org :
“So how do you choose an effective sponsor? Mutual aid organizations recommend a few basics: Find someone you can talk with freely and honestly. Stick to one sponsor if you’re a newcomer. Choose the same gender so you can stay focused on the program (some gay men and women feel an opposite-sex sponsor is more appropriate for similar reasons, AA notes).
An honest self-appraisal of your needs is critical in choosing a sponsor, says Schenker, a board member of the Society of Addiction Psychology, American Psychological Association. Many people in recovery benefit from a supportive approach, while others need toughness and confrontation to stay sober.”
People, Places and Things & One Day at a Time
I try to always remember: People, Places and Things. That is an excellent article to familiarize yourself if you aren’t familiar with that term.
Also - one day at a time. “We just have this 24 hours”. That calms me. I have relapsed and drank and realized it’s part of the process sometimes. Going to meetings and having a sponsor has helped curb the feeling I need to drink to fit in.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction here are some resources:
SAMHSA - Perfect for hotlines and searching for rehab centers
The Temper - Great blog to follow along too!
The Healthline - Find a blog that speaks to your journey!
The Benzo Free Podcast - This has personally helped me so very, very much!
Are you sober or sober curious? I’d love to hear from you!