Saturday, January 28, 2012

Into The Depths of Despair

Pamela J. Wells

My life began to crumble into the depths of despair. I hit rock bottom, not just one time, but several times. I struggled with alcoholism for 14 long, painful years. I was depressed most of the time and went through periods of extreme depression and even had thoughts of suicide many times throughout my adult life. I tried to drink my problems and my self-loathing away, but it only compounded the problem. I thought that I was never going to be able to pull myself up out of it and I surely wasn’t going to be able to do that while in a relationship, especially with someone who was drinking just as much as I was.

I tried different recovery programs, which helped me to understand the addiction better, but it took a very long time before I finally could not take it anymore and decided that I could not go on like that—living a miserable life. The one thing that I did take away from an outpatient program that I was in that was vital in me becoming sober was that when you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol or anything else, you are Always In Control of whether you drink or not, use drugs or not. It is common for people who are struggling with addiction to say that they are out of control. I was one of those people. It is not true, because we are the ones picking up the drink and putting it to our mouth. We are the ones using the drugs. It doesn’t matter if someone brings you alcohol or drugs, you are the one who drinks it, not them. You are the one using the drug. They are not putting a gun to your head and forcing you to use. Before you can even think about becoming sober or drug free, you have to acknowledge and accept responsibility that:

You Are Always In Control, Whether You Use or Do Not Use

You have to say to yourself, “I am in control and it is up to me to stop drinking. It is up to me to stop using drugs, and nobody else. Nobody, nothing external to me makes me drink, makes me use drugs. I acknowledge and take full responsibility for my alcohol/drug use and I have the power to stop it. I have the power to stop drinking and I have the power to stop using drugs.”

I wanted something completely different in my life. There was so much that I wanted to do, but I did none of it, and the things that I enjoyed doing, I stopped doing, because all my life consisted of was alcohol, depression, and misery. If I wasn’t drinking, I was sleeping. I finally decided, it was either me or the alcohol. It was either me or death. It was like I was not even alive. I was basically, already, the living dead, like a zombie. It made no sense, to appear to be alive, but my spirit seemed to be dead, yet I was full of emotional turmoil.

After short durations of sobriety, I ended up relapsing several times and finally managed to stop drinking completely and maintained my sobriety, which I was able to do when I realized that the only way to quit drinking is if I changed my thoughts every time a thought of alcohol popped up into my head. I knew that if I allowed myself to continue thinking about alcohol after that first thought that popped up, that within only a matter of seconds, it was like a switch was turned on in my brain and I started to fantasize about drinking, imagining myself drinking and how it felt, and once I experienced that in my mind and that switch flipped on, like a green light saying, “Go,” I knew I was going to drink, and the next thing I would do is go straight to the liquor store.

Even though I knew that I had to stop drinking, I also knew that I had to change my thinking, change my thoughts and perceptions about everything, about life, about myself, about other people; otherwise, the sobriety would be short lived and I would be back to a state of depression, hopelessness, misery and suffering. It was a long and very hard road that I know is always there, waiting for me around the corner, waiting for me to give up and travel down it again, if I allow myself to. Now, I seldom think about that time in my life, but when I do, I think about how miserable I was and all of the pain and suffering that I put on myself and that I put my family through—and now that road and life doesn’t look so glamorous anymore. I also had to stop associating with people who drank and I stayed away from places that served alcohol.

Once I gave up alcohol, I had to figure out why I drank and I had to figure out what I was thinking and feeling about myself that was driving me to drink and what I was trying to escape from. I had to change my thinking, so that I could live my life filled with peace and joy, instead of pain and suffering. It was an emotional journey that I lived for so long, but then it became a spiritual journey, that ultimately enabled me to reach a self-awareness about myself, to wake up from the dream that I was living.

If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, there are plenty of resources out there to help you in your recovery from it. I recommend trying everything, because you may find that you like one program more than the other, or you may want to participate in a couple of programs. You can find a local Alcoholics Anonymous in your area or other recovery groups. There are in-patient and out-patient programs. I found an out-patient program that I really liked. It was great because, not only do you get to meet people who are going through the same things you are, but you also have a group facilitator who is trained in addiction and recovery and many times have recovered from addiction themselves, so they know first hand what it is like going through it.

Below are some great resources to get help with recovering from addiction. There are many different resources out there, but these are a few of the main ones that I know of. There are also other programs, such as in-patient and outpatient programs locally, but you will need to do an internet search in your local area for those. I will be adding more recovery websites to the list as I come across them.

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