recovering alcoholic

I fight the old me everyday. Sometimes she’s not so bad and I can keep her in line. But some days she’s a real bitch.
—  Lena Slaughter

there is one thing i do not see enough of on this website- support for people trying to get clean and/or stay clean. addiction has ruined my life. addiction has ruined so many lives and recovering alcoholics/addicts NEED support to continue with their recovery. so, for those of you who are working on your first 24 hours or your first week, month, year, your 2nd year or 20th- i am so proud of you. you have given yourself something incredible today. addiction is one of the most insidious diseases in the world, but today, you did not let it win. remind yourself of all of the strength you have. you are a miracle.

An alcoholic is always an alcoholic. Sober is just another word for thirsty.
—  Sierra DeMulder, Werewolf

Truth: My father was a recovering alcoholic. He died almost exactly twelve years ago, still craving the taste of alcohol on the tip of his tongue. Everytime I hear this poem, I think of him, the war he waged within himself, the struggle, the courage, bravery, and strength it took to remain sober for my family.
If you are struggling to stay away from the bottle, know that to the people who care about you, it matters. Watching you fight your urge matters to them. They love you; they want the best for you. They want you to be healthy and happy. I guarantee that to the people who care about you, each day you remain sober is a victory they are extremely proud of you for. Take it one day at a time. You and your story matter. Never forget that.
day 1

“just one shot,” i told myself. i drank almost the whole bottle. had to call in sick again because i haven’t slept, because i want to throw up, because my head is spinning.

why is it so hard to stop? even now when i’m sick because of drinking, i keep telling myself that i’ll quit after new years. because somehow i’m telling myself that alcohol is important to have during the holiday.

why is it so important to me, when it’s basically killing me? i can’t stop. i want to, but i also don’t want to.

i tell myself that it’s no big deal. everyone gets wasted. but i have a problem. i can’t control myself. i need to focus. i need to get back in the program. i need to work for chips, to set my goals.

i need to stop drinking.

My Life Dating a (?) Recovering Alcoholic and How I Make it “Work”

Note: This isn’t a “how-to” date an alcoholic. Generally speaking, relationships will have their ups and downs, but choosing to be committed and to build a life with a recovering alcoholic will affect your life tremendously. You will get hurt, but that doesn’t mean it has to stop you from being your best self and living the life you want.

My therapist told me that I had to rethink this relationship and see if I was willing to go down this road of hurt. I was ignorant to what this road would look like and I was already into deep with the man I love. I chose to stay.

Advice: Now, I would say to people to not get involved with someone who is an alcoholic and who doesn’t wish to recover, and I would say to be weary of those who are beginning to and struggling with recovery. The latter half is where I fall.

But, I believe that relationships are life lessons. Things aren’t going to be perfect and happy all the time. It is a chance to learn and grow. This mindset definitely helps me.

Here is my Road with Joe:

  • First Dates: Our first two dates were great, I think he had mentioned to me on our first date that he was recovering from alcohol, but this just flew over my mind and I had little to no thought because I had no idea what that entailed.
  • First RED FLAG: I believe it was our third date, and I had texted him letting him know that I was ready to meet up. From him: nothing. I was so upset and I tried calling him, but the phone only rang. No answer. Eventually he got back to me around 3 am. He had passed out from drinking. This should’ve been the turning moment for me, but Joe was so sincere in his apology and he had told me that it wouldn’t happen again. I believed him. You may be thinking how stupid I was to believe it, but I do have self love issues and I wanted so badly to have someone love me. If that same thing had happened though, I would be ready to let go. Well, that never happened again, but we had different issues relating to alcohol.
  • First Month: After that event, we had spent every day with each other. Literally. We couldn’t get enough of each other and we didn’t want to lose a moment before I had left for Cambodia. This also prevented him from drinking at all, so he was sober for a month. Mind this: it wasn’t healthy either way. I believe I was used as a replacement to alcohol.
  • Second Month: I had left to Cambodia and this is when most of our problems began. He started drinking again. We fought so much and mostly about me drinking in a different country. I had felt he was controlling and he had felt that I wasn’t considerate of his feelings. I stood by my beliefs though. I didn’t want to fall victim to a controlling boyfriend. He’s a nasty drunk. He gets angry real quick and isn’t a nice person to speak to if he’s upset. When I came back, we fought about it and we finally decided to put aside. He still believed though that I wasn’t considerate and I felt he was controlling, but none of this was said and I would soon find it to blow up in our faces. He stopped drinking for about a week or two upon my return and then had to be hospitalized for withdrawal symptoms. My grandmother had just died and when he was hospitalized, I had a breakdown. Again, another promise that he will try his best not to drink. My take, I wanted so much to believe him, but I told him that I would break up with him if he did because I couldn’t handle being in a relationship with an alcoholic.
  • Third – Fifth Month: About 3 months of sobriety and everything was bliss between me and Joe. He started working at a good job too. I had also made sure to only see him once to three times a week to ensure that I keep a healthy balance of my social life and of my me time. I saw myself marrying him if we continued to progress forward. But, I knew that one day a relapse would happen. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. A few days ago, Joe had relapsed and he was so embarrassed he had lied to me that he didn’t. We had fought about the issue that I drank in Cambodia. I was so upset with him and I knew what he was doing was unhealthy and I had a gut feeling that he had drank. He was mean. I stopped replying to his messages. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to be with him, but at the same time I didn’t want to lose him. After a few days of solitude, we decided to talk. Before we met in person though, he had apologized for the way he acted, but I wasn’t having it. He told me the truth. He did drink. He told me that he would be serious about recovery, but I told him that this is going to keep on happening, and he had already told me that he was going to be serious. But, I also couldn’t live with the consequence that I was to break up with him. We also finally resolved the issue about Cambodia and me drinking. We were able to really speak about this in a healthy way.
  • Now: In the end, I told him that I really have no idea what to do, but I obviously haven’t left. I also mentioned that I do want him and I will support him as best as I can, but the alcohol cannot affect us. If he relapses, he can’t involve our relationship. (This may be unrealistic of me to expect, but it’s the only way I can deal with it at the moment)  I also made it clear that if I feel like enough is enough, I’ll let him know. Right now, he’s planning to attend AA meetings once a week and I will go with him too if he needs the support. Objectively, I see that this is unhealthy, but below I’ve written what I do to ensure that I love and take care of myself first. Also, I would like to note that my boyfriend is also amazing and is truly working hard to the path of recovery and he understands that I do have to take care of myself and if things continue to repeat, he thinks too that it is best I shouldn’t stay in the relationship.

Tips to Dating a Recovering Alcoholic:

  • Have Boundaries: Create boundaries that ensure the well-being of your physical and mental self.
    • You must be able to say no without feeling guilty. Although Joe had felt that I didn’t consider his feelings when I drank in Cambodia, I didn’t feel guilty for not complying with his wishes. I knew I wasn’t abusing the alcohol and I was there to have a good time, so I ensured that I continued to make the choices for me.
    • You feel safe to express your thoughts and emotions. I was able to tell Joe that I was afraid of him when he drank. I was also able to express that I had felt he was being controlling. He understood me and didn’t say I was wrong for feeling the way I felt. 
    • Not feeling responsible for your partner’s happiness. Although you can be a loving and supporting partner, it isn’t up to you to fix your partner’s life. You shouldn’t be telling what your partner should do to recover. Also if you end up breaking up with your partner, you aren’t responsible if they take up drinking again. It is their choice.
    • Be responsible for your happiness. If you’re miserable for the majority of your relationship and you’re hoping that your partner would change and make it better, you’re putting your happiness into someone else’s hands.
    • Don’t allow your partner to abuse you. If they hurt you physically, leave them. If they hurt you emotionally, leave them.
  • Talk About It With Your Partner: Don’t leave your thoughts and emotions unspoken. Discuss with your partner your boundaries and see what your partner’s plan of action toward recovery is. This allows both partners to be on the same page. Make sure you don’t use key terms that are condemning. If your partner truly wants to recover then they are probably already beating their self up and are hurting just as you are.
  • Support Your Partner: Your partner is just as human as you are. If they are on the path of recovery, they are on the path to their best self, so support them on their endeavors. Make time to go to AA meetings with your partner. If you’re at a party with your partner, don’t drink. If they are learning how to cope without alcohol, be there for them during their tough times. Remember though to balance your life. If you find that supporting your partner is a lifetime job, you’re enabling your partner to depend on you. This is just as unhealthy.
  • Make Time to Love Yourself: As long as you can love yourself, you’ll be able to keep your boundaries and ensure that you are on your path to your best self. So make sure to spend time alone and away from your partner. Do things that make you happy: go for that hike, take a class that you’re interested in, go on that trip to Europe. Make sure to dress up even if you’re going out to run errands by yourself. Make you feel beautiful for you. If you can make yourself happy, you know that you aren’t dependent on your partner’s love and are able to leave the relationship if it crosses your boundaries.

Remember, you are not obligated to stay in this relationship, if you know it’ll be an endless cycle of hurt, leave. You deserve to be treated with love and respect. You deserve happiness.

“Your imperfections make you unique. If changing them will make you a better person than work on that. If not, accept them with love and compassion and embrace who you are.”.

~ Lena Slaughter

two years ago I was so low that I would do anything to get high.
I was smoking whatever I could get my hands on, popping whatever pills I saw, drinking anything I could, and I even resorted to huffing anything just to feel okay.

I have been sober for one year and three months now.

today has been so rough.
and normally, I would have gone straight to the bottle, or I would have gone on a pill fiend journey, but instead I went out to eat and treated myself to fried ice cream, then came home to a fire and sat and talked to my brother and listen to music.

and honestly, I am SO proud of myself. and I have the right to be.

one year, three months sober :) I never ever thought I would make it this far

How To Finish Your Drink

I have come to believe several things about how to quit drinking. One is that AA was very interesting and helpful to me when I attended meetings in 1995 because it was comforting to see other alcoholics and to see how people who were so different could come together and express feelings and experiences that were so intimately similar.

But I don’t believe AA was useful in achieving or maintaining sobriety. It was interesting and comforting, but not of any particular use.

It’s important to understand what AA actually is. It’s not a company or an organization with a structure like that Salvation Army or Weight Watchers. It’s really composed of individuals who agree to meet at a certain place and at a certain time to listen to members discuss their experiences as drinkers and detail the problems alcohol has caused in their lives. Considering the lack of any staff or even chain of command, the meetings are remarkably similar and structured. Multibillion-dollar retail chains suffer less consistency,

But woven into the philosophy of AA are certain concepts that I feel undermine sobriety. The first is the requirement that one admit to powerlessness over alcohol. And probably, this is – along with the spiritual “higher power” aspect – one of the more frequent struggling points for those new to AA.

My problem with admitting to powerlessness over alcoholism is that it isn’t true. It was always a choice, though in the very late stage of my alcoholism, I made the choice by rote, never even considering the option not to drink. By then, it was extremely uncomfortable to be sober. Physically and mentally horribly uncomfortable.

I actually think one must assume power in order to be sober. One must not give oneself the permission to drink or relapse that the powerlessness of being alcohol’s victim provides.

Another Feature of AA is its slogans. Some, like “What you focus on grows,” are profound to a cosmological degree.

Others, however, I believe encourage drinking. “Progress, not perfection” and “relapse is a part of recovery” are two such slogans.

AA is based on submission and humility and for this reason, alcoholics keep count of the number of days, then weeks, then months, then years, they have maintained their sobriety. As with all things in which there is a score, these numbers evolve meaning. Reaching a certain number is rewarded with a token; relapsing results in forfeiting all of one’s accumulated days and starting the count from zero again.

What I don’t like about this is that the score keeping introduces an unnecessary and potentially dangerous element of currency into sobriety.

In a program based on printed text – twelve steps, printed onto posters and hung on every wall of every AA meeting worldwide – and slogans, known to most members, and frequently utilized in meetings, a statement such as, “relapse is part of recovery’ becomes something close to an instruction. But if falling short of this, it certainly implies that a lack of relapse would be out of the ordinary.

So in a way, on exists within AA knowing they will at some point drink again because to not drink would be “perfection” and to drink would be a “relapse” and “part of recovery.” The price paid would be the number of days one was willing to lose.

All of this is a great deal of time spent in the company of alcohol, even if one isn’t consuming the stuff. Drinking alcohol with your mind isn’t freedom.

Talking about alcohol every day when you can’t drink isn’t going to work for everyone.

For this reason, AA strikes me not as the cure for alcoholism, but as the next best thing to drinking and the place to bide your time safely and without judgement until you do.

What has worked for me is to find something I wanted more than I wanted to drink, which was a fuck of a lot.

This is less a decision than a discovery. And it’s for this reason that not everybody will get sober.

My view that the way to stop drinking is to stop drinking is laughably simplistic on the surface. It’s “Just say no.”

It’s also true. The way to stop drinking is to want sobriety more. And then when you feel a craving, feel the craving until it passes. But don’t act on it – any more than you wouldn’t kill somebody you feel like killing when they cut you off in traffic.

Just because you want something, doesn’t mean you have to have it.

I know how infuriating that is to hear.

Relapse is the temper tantrum you allow yourself to have when you forbid yourself from drinking.

To stop drinking, you stop drinking. You pour it out right now.

Everything else – all the books, therapies, and programs – are merely hand-holding. They all strike to accomplish the same thing: to talk you into not drinking.

I’m saying, if you want to stop, you will. But most do not want to stop enough to actually stop. And until there’s a medical fix, alcoholics will die as drunks.

To be successful at not drinking, a person needs to occupy the space in life drinking once filled with something more rewarding than the comfort and escape of alcohol. This is the thing you have to find.

You might not. Most alcoholics won’t.

The truth is that people who cannot stop drinking are the people who, however guilty they may feel and however dire the consequences, have become so addicted to the drug and the experience that they prefer it to the remainder of their lives. While they may truly want to be sober, they want to drink more.

The thought that precedes a relapse – certainly in my case and I bet in others as well – is, “screw it.” Screw it is an idiom that means, “I no longer care.”

Taking a drink is the opposite of powerlessness. It is taking firm, decisive action to terminate a state of sobriety that feels less satisfying and less convincing than drinking has felt in the past or we imagine will feel in the present. It may feel like one is powerless because it’s frustrating to be unable to authentically want the thing you really want to want. But don’t.

As a drug, alcohol is cunning. Because most alcoholics do have a measure of control over their drinking, often for many years. This changes, when it does, suddenly and profoundly. In late-stage alcoholism, the physical effects from abstinence are not only painfully uncomfortable but they can be fatal. At this stage, the alcoholic requires alcohol.

AA advertises a majority success rate. The advertisement is in the form of one of AA’s foundation documents. “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” The implied efficacy brings to mind the question of, “who’s ‘we’?”

The twelve-step program is frequently the first and primary course of treatment administered for a diagnosis of alcoholism, which is medically classified as a disease. I can think of no other standard medical treatment that is supported by little or no research and offers patients no statistical information regarding efficacy.

Still, many people swear by AA and have maintained lengthy periods of sobriety within it. For these people, the spiritual foundation and community of AA provide something that is, on the whole, more satisfying for them than drinking.

I don’t believe that AA has “kept” these people sober. They have, instead, found something that has enabled them to choose a life without drinking. Many members of AA credit the program with keeping them sober; but they themselves are the reason.

They myth that alcoholics are powerless and unable in any way to shape the outcome of their addiction is a fatal, deeply untruthful message. No alcoholic should ever feel powerless over alcohol.

Those who die were not powerless. They either chose alcohol or they slid passively into the inevitable outcome of drinking; they made a decision by choosing to take no new action. And it’s this choice that results in death.

That there exists a medically recognized disease that is typically treated through twelve-step programs that are based on vague supernatural components is shocking to me. If breast cancer or leukaemia were treated in such a medieval fashion, there would be riots.

Ultimately, the treatment for addiction – until and if there is a successful medication – resides within the addict. You can’t spend time waiting for rehab to ‘work’ or for something to ‘fix’ you. These things can – and do – inspire you or encourage you.

You don’t need to take action to stop drinking. Drinking is an action: pouring the vodka into the glass, raising the glass to your lips.
To stop drinking, all you have to do is sit.
In 100 percent of the documented cases of alcoholism worldwide, the people who recovered all shared one thing in common, no matter how they did it:
They didn’t do it.

They just didn’t do it.

You absolutely can stop drinking today, right now.

The question is only, do you want to be sober more than you want to drink? Very few people can answer this question truthfully and reply, yes.

I hope you’re one of them. Maybe you are.

I didn’t think I was.

- Augusten Burroughs

201

HELLO EVERYBODY… how’s life?

Today marks 201 days without a drink.  I woke up and headed to a meeting… raised my hand, and shared just to take an active participation in my recovery… stopped off to get some groceries on the way to work, and somehow the sunshine seems like the best drug ever today… grateful to be sober, and grateful to have some LIFE in my life…