Name: Alan L.
Sober Since: 03 / 20 / 2016
Sober For: 6 Years & 262 Days
What it was like?
I began drug use and drinking at an early age, and became regular by my early teenage years. I was a kid who never felt like I fit in anywhere, and I struggled with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder; resulting in suicidal thoughts and emotional instability. But the moment I found drugs & alcohol, all of that changed. It gave me all the confidence I’d never had. It made the bad times tolerable, and the good times even better. But the thoughts of drinking, using and escaping never left my mind, and it became an obsession. I’d hide it from my family and drinking alone became my regular getaway. I found myself embarking on an initial journey into recovery. It only lasted about a year. Truthfully, I never got truly honest with myself, and was only riddled with jealousy; Other people could drink and I couldn’t. People could go without psych meds and I couldn't. That set off 15 year long journey that eventually brought me to a point where I feared living more than dying. What had started as a nightly ritual of a few beers turned into, by the end, straight maintenance drinking, waking up to several shots of whiskey in my coffee, drinking beer all day and ending with more hard alcohol at night. All day, every day. Before I knew it, I was self-medicating and had no intentions of continuing psych meds that are needed to help stabilize my mood frequency.
I had lost it all. Family & friends had given up on me. There was no money left, a repossessed vehicle and no place to call home. I couldn’t stop drinking, and I couldn’t get enough booze in me to kill the pain anymore. My life had become one big lie, as I’d been hiding the extent of my problems from everyone close to me. I once spent four days lying, saying I had the flu, when in fact I was on a bender. I couldn’t stop. The terror was something I only wish nobody ever had to go through. I just wanted to run away, and I had no idea what awaited me on the other end of it all. I never thought it was possible to reach that bottom…but alcoholism and drug addiction brought me down to my knees and finally, staring at all the wreckage, there were only two choices – let myself go for good, or ask for help. It took a failed suicide attempt and losing everything for me to accept that I had to make a choice between substance abuse or life. I couldn't have both. At around 24 hours sober, I checked into a treatment program that helped to save my life. I needed to get away from the wreckage. Treatment forced me to see one thing crystal clear – my recovery had to be the most important thing in my life. They say whatever you put ahead of your recovery will be the second thing you lose. I learned that I had to get sober not for other people, or to look good in the face of my wreckage – that I had to get sober for myself. Most importantly, I had to learn that I was worth it.
What it is like now?
Nowadays, I try to remain as vigilant as possible in the fellowship of recovery. Talking to other people who have faced similar things to me and hearing how they’ve moved through and handled the many challenges life presents sober is critical for me. I also do what I can for the newcomer. When I found recovery, I can’t even summarize how significant it was for me to talk to people, tell them what I’d done and the what I was suggested to do. I owe that same warm heart to every new person who is seeking long term recovery. In short, I try to avoid being hungry, angry, lonely and tired, as these four things can trigger an emotional spiral. I now yearn to take my experience as a musician and merge it with my new found passion for recovery in any and every way possible. My greatest message to others that are suffering from addiction/alcoholism is as follows: You’re worth it, plain and simple. There is a solution to your problem, and millions of people out there – 23 million in America, in fact – have found it. You can too. You are not a bad person that needs to get good, you are a sick person who needs to get well. Today my life is honest and true. I don’t have nearly the material things I once did – but what I have today is a reflection in the mirror that I can look at and feel good about it. The greatest job of recovery is the ability I now have to feel good about the things I do, and the person that I am. I had never felt that before in my life. I get to care for others and be a good friend and a good son. And it’s all genuine and true. I owe all of that to recovery.