An Alcoholic's Journey to Recovery
The Word Addiction...
Addiction is a word that can be scary to many, especially those who have addictive tendencies or are close to someone who does. As a recovering alcoholic of 5-1/2 years, the word "addiction" first came to my mind when I was 16 years old. At the age of 16, I started to drink heavily, and by the time I was 18, I was a full-blown alcoholic. I would say to myself, "I need to keep it under control, so no one will stop me from drinking." This meant not drinking and driving for fear of getting a DWI, which would cause an intervention.
Keeping it to Myself
At the age of 16, I felt the euphoria of alcohol for the first time, and this is when my love affair with alcohol began. Over the course of my active addiction, I relentlessly tried to keep my alcohol addiction hidden from my family and friends. I was living the normal life, and to me, my alcohol use was interfering with my career, relationships, or anything else for that matter.
On August 18, 2004, my alcohol addiction could no longer be hidden. On this day, I received a gross misdemeanor DWI for having a blood alcohol level of a .341 (yes, that number is correct). The day before my birthday, I decided to celebrate by myself, and ended up with only one bottle of rum left for the rest of the night. So at 3:30pm, I drove to the liquor store to buy another bottle, and a case of beer, but the problem was, I had been drinking since noon. As I was returning to my apartment, a car full of teenagers backed out in front of me, and I did not have the physical capability to stop my truck. From this moment forward, my addiction was made public.
Reaching Rock Bottom...
After I went to court, I was sentenced to a correctional facility for 45 days, and after that judge handed down that sentence, I realized I was in need of help. I was also told that part of my probation was to not use drink alcohol, it hit me again, that I had a severe addiction. All of the years leading up to these events, even though the word addiction was in my mind, I always referred to my alcohol use as a short-term problem, and not a disease.
Everyone has a different rock bottom, and I was able to rationalize myself through pure hell, and not come to the conclusion that I had an alcohol addiction. People with addiction disorders are able to rationalize anything to continue to use, until they hit their personal rock bottom, which unfortunately may be death. I continued to have divine interventions in my life such as going to jail, instead of drinking myself to death on August 18th.
Getting Started in Treatment
The disease of addiction was in control of my life from 1996-2011. I went to treatment at the Hazelden/Betty Ford Treatment Center in Center City, Minnesota, in 2004, but was only able to withstand the demon of addiction for one year. After I made it sober for a year, my addiction told me that I could begin drinking again, because I would be able to control it.
In 2011, after being hospitalized for several accidents while under the influence, and also suffering from extremely high blood pressure, I was told that I needed to quit drinking, or lose my family. I went to La Hacienda Treatment Center in Hunt, Texas, for 34 days, and I have been in active recovery ever since.
Not Being Judged
One of the reasons I know I was successful getting started in treatment the second time was that I was not judged by my family or friends. I actually had full-fledged support in the decision to go to a treatment center away from my four kids and wife. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, wife, parents, as well as my own kids, all embraced my decision with an open heart. At first I was scared to tell some of them, but when I did, they immediately reassured me that I was making the right decision in my life.
People who are at that fork in the road—either receiving addiction treatment of some sort or continuing on with their addiction—must have the support of others in their life. The conversations while I was in treatment, as well as afterward, were difficult because of the pain I had inflicted on others during my active addiction, but I knew that I had their support. Not being judged is a critical factor to the success of a person starting to identify that they need treatment for an addiction.