Ok…So this post goes against the grain of my usual topics, but I felt a strong urge compelling me to stray for the norm. There is no secret that the Holidays are especially hard people with addiction and that they require support during these critical times. I am writing this blog to help other current addicts or people that are in Recovery. This is a tribute to all those who have lost their battle with addiction (a disease), those who are in their current addiction and either won’t acknowledge they have a problem or cannot admit it for whatever reason, as well as those in recovery like myself. Part of what we learn through recovery is to help others that are in denial or refuse to fight their pain stricken disease. Part of the way we can give back is to share our stories, good and bad, through success and failure, and even in relapse. What recovering addicts do know is that relapse is very real and can happen to any of us…experts say some 60 % of Addicts will relapse at some point or another in recovery. If nothing else, this should show how hard it is to beat addiction. It’s just as hard as beating Cancer, Diabetes, AIDS, Heart Problems, or any other type of physical disease.
This is my story. My name is Jason and I am an alcoholic. The biggest step for any addict (for purposes of my story an addict will be described as any person that has an addiction to alcohol, drugs-Illegal and Prescribed, gambling, Sex, and work although there are many other addictions) is to admit that they are powerless over their addiction which is a disease of the mind. Addicts are not bad people by nature…in fact it is shown that it is usually the opposite trait that is shown in addicts. Addiction is strong and very real and is taking millions of lives every year. I believe it is just one of the many tools of the Devil to take people off the narrow path to Salvation. So anyways…sometimes I can ramble so I will try to keep this quick and to the point. As I said, my name is Jason and I am an alcoholic. I am not embarrassed to admit that although I must admit this is the first time I am admitting that I have a disease in a public forum that is not relegated to “the rooms” (AA, NA, SA, or any other addiction rehabilitation program. Well only by the grace of God, on January 6th I will celebrate One Year and Four Months of continuous sobriety. I have not relapsed “yet”, the key word is yet, because an addict is only one mistake from being back on the wagon. The key to my specific sobriety has been my adoption of the “One Day at a Time” philosophy that is adopted in Addiction realms all over the world. Ok so one might say, “How do you know that you have a problem?” Addiction comes in many shapes, sizes, forms, and severities. Some people that are addicts were predisposed to the disease meaning that they inherited this disease from one or more family members, usually a parent. Other people that suffer with the disease have went through some type of sociological or environmental trauma that dramatically affected the person at a young age. What happens here is that the child does not develop normal coping skills and instead adopt addictive techniques to cope with all of the pain and hurt and stress of everyday life. Some people are born addicts. Other people grow into addicts. No matter how you become an addict is not the important factor, but instead the similarities that these addicts face. My addiction is clearly came about as the latter of the two types…as my parents were not addicted to alcohol or drugs at any point in their lives and neither was any of my other close family members. No my addiction to alcohol started when I was very young. I grew up in a tough family environment and had to deal with terrible trauma and issues. I lived in a family that had a mentally ill member. For anonymity, it is not important to tell you who the member was. However I can say that I dealt with dramatic trauma throughout my teenage and young adult life, the most important time that a person will learn important coping skills. Well, unfortunately I dealt with attempted suicidal experiences, mental and physical abuse, abuse of multiple family members. This does not make my family BAD!!!! It’s just an unfortunate part of life that many families deal with a mentally ill family member. I also became parentified at a very young age…meaning I was the caretaker even though I was in much need of care myself and did not get it. Through this process, I developed several mental blocks and personality disorders that have affected me into my adult life. The key and important part of this is that I am finally dealing with these issues and getting the help I so needed a long time ago.
I had my first drink at age 15. Yes, for most people that are alcoholics, that is considered late in the scheme of things. Nonetheless, after having my first experience with alcohol…I learned that I loved putting this substance into my body. In fact, when I was in my party stage as a young adult I was always the one who could not handle my alcohol, but yet i was always the one that drank near the most. I drank till I blanked out or passed out. This was a weekly occurrence for me. U can remember one time when I got my first sports car, my Trans-Am…I thought I was such a bad ass. I always wanted to fit in so I would hang with the “cool kids”. Little did I know that these experiences as a young adult would form me into a person that I did not recognize. Anyways, one night after a party me and a friend were dropping off some Chics and I came up to a Red Light. A Grand National pulled up next to me and revved his engine. Of course, I wanted to show off and as the light changed green I shot out like a bat out of hell…I was beating the other hot rod until I blacked out for five seconds. Well if it were not for my friend, I would have died that day. As I came too we were heading straight for a telephone pole and my friend who was super alert at the time after smoking a joint, pulled up my emergency brake causing my car to spin out of control…and then miraculously I came to a halt. Wow!!! I was red with fear…but that was just the beginning of my journey. The older I got, the more I enjoyed alcohol. Yes I enjoyed it so much I made alcohol my God. I was what they call a functioning alcoholic. Yes I had a decent job that I was good at and I was able to graduate college…don’t ask me how lol…but I was drinking more and more. At this point when I was around 19, I graduated from Natural Ice to Rum. Captain Morgan was my drink of choice, Captain and Coke. I could not get enough. I remember my hangout Joey M’s I would literally drink till I would pass out on the bar and have to be carried out. I thought this was SO great. It was such a great feeling. And it allowed me to receive plenty of attention…especially from the girls. Well, at this point I met a girl and was rebelling from my parents so I moved into her house with her mom and stepfather. I soon realized what my idea of a true alcoholic was…a person that drank all day. Not only did he drink, he became very abusive. He even let me drink with him, actually encouraged me to drink. Well, soon after this I decided I had enough getting beat up and I got my own apartment. Bad idea…my drinking increased. I can remember going through 3-4 Handles of Captain Morgan a week. I was drinking out of control. People must have known I had a problem, but I would never admit that. I continued drinking this way for a few years, covering my pain and hiding it through the alcohol.
At this point, life circumstances forced me to move to New Jersey. I started a new position in my company and I thought I was invincible. At this time, I was working in Glassboro, right near ROWAN college. I thought I was “The Man” a 26 year old adult living my life like a was a kid again. I was hitting all of the fun bars…Landmark, The Hot Spot, etc. I would work the 2nd shift and then go to the bar and slam alcohol like it was water. I would then drive home drunk, countless times, even got pulled over a few times but always got out of it. Then I met another girl with whom I fell in love. We bought a house together, but the relationship quickly went down hill, she cheated on me and I grew anxiously depressed. Instead of communicating my concerns about the relationship and the direction it was going, instead I would “drink my sorrows away.” Well this only lasted for a short time as she knew I was drinking a lot. Anyways…one day I was trying to catch her in the act and I was driving drunk like a maniac on 295 and got pulled over. I got a DUI…lots of Money and lots of grief. This was 2007. So do you think the DUI would have woke me up…no way. I lost my license for a year but I continued to drink away. Me my friend and his girlfriend would spend countless nights drinking into the late hours of the night. At this point, my tastes changed to Vodka and Red Bull with an occasional dabble with Jack Daniels. This went on for close to a year and then I got my license back. So do u think this would deter me from drinking…No Way. I got my license back and soon after I was drinking and driving. Driving under the influence was the norm for me. I was able to hide
My addiction very well from people who knew me the best. I continued to do well in work and I continued to let the alcohol flow. At this point, I began drinking by myself more and more. I would spend endless nights and days drinking at my bar in my basement. Then my life changed…I met the best woman to ever happen to me and she had 2 boys. We fell in love and although my drinking may not have been at the level it was before, I still could not resist the taste of alcohol. To keep my scent or secret under wraps I would by alcohol…vodka every other night and I would buy her a bottle of wine. This happened for most of our relationship but I never let the secret out that I truly had a drinking problem. Of course…I was not ready to admit that I had a problem. Anyways, as time went on I began to drink more and more and I was hiding it at this time. After work, I was stopping at the liquor store and buying multiple air plane bottles of Jack as well as my choice of alcohol for the night. On my drive home, I would acquire a nice buzz from the airplane bottles before I even entered the house. Then I would pound mixed drink after mixed drink like I was just drinking soda. The amount that I was drinking was out of control but I was too proud to notice it. Anyways, I would get really belligerent when I was drunk and started being nasty to my girlfriend and her kids. It really was affecting our relationship. At this time, we were going thru some difficult times financially and this did not stop me. I was spending money that I did not have on booze. It was not a good situation. Finally, a light clicked my head. I was becoming too mean to the boys and I realized alcohol made me a nasty person. Then one day it happened…I had a meltdown and my girlfriend intervened. I was slamming a whole bottle of vodka when she snatched it out of my hands. I then ran to the garage where I began pounding beers. She came into the garage and said…I will not sit back and watch you kill yourself and us in this way. At this time, I finally got it, I was powerless over alcohol. I was an addict. She helped me check into a detox center where I spent seven days. It was the most scary week of my life. I was truly alone and depressed. Little did I know this was the start of a lifestyle change. After Detox, my girlfriend stuck by my side and I knew every day would be a struggle. After Detox I entered an outpatient rehab center that dramatically changed my life. I learned that it is ok to put yourself first. By this I don’t mean being selfish. I mean put your health first. I have learned so many other great things through my recovery. I wrote an emotional good bye letter to my addiction, which took a lot of courage and grit. You actually go through a grieving process while in recovery. Who could imagine that…all of the steps of grieving. The most important thing that I have learned in my recovery is one day at a time! This is the motto that keeps me sober everyday. My girlfriend and her boys have since moved away…my doing as
I wanted to work things out on my own. Being by myself has taught me a lot of things that I did not know about myself…some good and some bad. Eventually I will get past the pain and anguish that all addicts go through. I think it is important to note that addiction is not the plague. However, a person must want to beat the disease and only the strong survive. Just like the cancer patient who undergoes chemotherapy…recovery is a life long healing process. I am sure that I left a lot out of my story. My hope is that this story will inspire someone to acknowledge that they struggle with addiction. If only one person does this, then my story has served a purpose and breeds success. I want to help others who have an addiction. I want to raise awareness that addiction is a disease of the brain and should be treated just as seriously as heart disease, cancer, AIDS, and even Alzheimer’s disease. People that are addicts are normal people just like you. They just have had the unfortunate accumulation of a terrible disease that cannot only destroy your mind but also your body. So in conclusion, I hope that my story has made a difference and I pray that someone will find hope and comfort knowing that there are many other just like you. After the recent shootings in Connecticut, the stigma against mental illness must be addressed with the utmost care. One Day at a Time My Friends. Anyone that thinks they may have an addiction can contact me through Facebook or email. I am more than willing to help. In fact, it will help me go through my recovery. Light Speed…God Bless!