Addicted: Personal Stories of Some Who Know

I shared my story (about my Grandad and my own susceptibility), and have heard from a couple of friends who are willing to share their stories. Their stories are different. You will not see their names here, and they give permission to share these with you.

I enjoyed reading your blog “Addicted - I need help”. It had an impact on me on several fronts. On February 3, 1994 my Mom and Dad drove to a neighboring town to purchase bird seed and have lunch at their favorite restaurant. After doing so, they headed home to finish out their day and fill the bird feeders - something that brought such joy to my Dad. At 3:04 pm on the County line, they were hit head on by a drunk driver. The driver, a young female died on impact. My father died 18 painful days later. My Mother suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury that left her unable to walk normally or talk normally and ultimately, she went blind. She had such physical trauma to her body that she was in rehab and multiple hospitals for the next 18 months. And most importantly, it left her alone for the rest of her life. My Dad was 62 and my Mom was 58.

I struggle with the decision (internal turmoil) to go visit my Mother in another state. She is now 82 years old; she cannot walk, talk, move her arms, eat without full assistance and cannot see even the slightest glimpse of light. As a result of her TBI - she doesn’t know she has grandchildren and most days she doesn’t even know who I am. Throughout the years, she faded away. (Chaplain Note: This person does go visit…but it’s a struggle.)

What is extraordinary in this entire scenario is that alcohol grabbed ahold of me at 14 years old and didn’t let go for 15 + years. On November 28, 1989 I began my sober life journey. Then 4 1/2 years later, I’m tested with the death of my Father and loss of my Mother as I knew her. In an AA meeting I heard someone say, “Let Go, Let God” - mind you I wasn’t a religious person - but that hit me like a brick between the eyes. I can’t explain the feeling I get when I say that out loud, but I can say that throughout my sober life I have worn it out!! Imagine how grateful I am to have had all these experiences in my life teaching me now to live a purposeful and meaningful life to the best of my ability knowing that God has my back!?

Lastly, to this day I struggle with one thing - should I be grateful for alcohol? Look at the wonderful life I have been able to lead by getting sober and leading the life I have - or should I curse it as the devils liquid for taking away my parents? Maybe both. One thing I know for sure - Letting Go and Letting God was the smartest thing I have ever done!

Thank you for reading my long-winded story!!! You made me think today - I’m grateful for that.

I have heard different but similar stories most of the places I have lived. Another friend puts their story this way.

From 1988 until 2012 I lived a life of addiction. I called myself a “functioning addict.” That is, I could work, live, and get along in life. As I say that I realize I should not be here today…AA teaches that a life of addiction will take you to death, an insane asylum, or prison. Those are not very good retirement programs, and that is why I say I should not be where I am today…clean and sober for over 4 years.

I think the shame that I feel keeps me from opening up and sharing with others, but I feel better when I do. Sitting here now, it feels like it was somebody else that I am talking about. When I think, “Why did I do that?” My answer comes easy; I liked it…it made me feel inspired…always. It would not let me down even when people did. I once spent 28 days without sleeping because I was scared that if I closed my eyes, the feeling would not be there when I opened them again.

During those years I held a job for one company for ten years. I thought I could control my drug of choice. After “pointing out” at that job I went to rehab…not to get clean but to get my job back. I had to. I had to be in control and my perception was that when I was using, I was in control. It’s such a miracle that I am clean today. Getting that job back didn’t happen, but I got another job and did well in it.

Then my family life began to come apart. My spiritual life lacked a real relationship with God. I thought I could run anyone’s life, and didn’t realize that my own life was nearly completely out of control. When I went to drug court to stay out of prison I really thought I could manipulate my way out of nearly anything. That was before I stood before the judge.

His Honor only allowed me to say, “Yes, sir” to his question, “Do you want to be in this program?” Then he talked real bad to me for a while.

Jail (until a bed in detox was available) was living hell for me. I could not imagine years behind bars. When they had a place ready for me (and not a minute too soon), detox seriously started. We lost 6 people in that first month, they died. Really it was only 5 because the ambulance was close, they brought one back and he survived the month of detox. There were three others who either overdosed or took their lives in the 9 months of my drug court program following detox.

Somewhere during that time my parole officer got my attention when he said, “one more time of a dirty random and you go away for 10 years…I’m not talking about a year program…I’m saying you are looking at 10 years of hard time in prison.” I should have died more than once. Manipulation was no longer working for me. I had to get real.

At the end of my 10 months of drug court, the entire courtroom stood and applauded as the judge exonerated me of all charges and congratulated me.

My peer counselor said one time. “You’ve got to quit for yourself…you can’t quit for someone else.” I had quit for my job, but that didn’t last. I had quit for my family, but that didn’t last. Now, I have quit for me. AA helped me a lot in those early months after drug court. They have also helped steer me toward getting back on track in my faith journey. God is not done with me yet. I still occasionally battle shame and regret, but I’m determined to not let them take over. As the song says, “let the healing begin.” Healing has begun and I’m finding it to be a process, not an event. Healing my relationship with God and my family has, and continues on a daily basis to be the key to my staying clean and sober. My prayer is that it will be with you too.

I chose to include these two stories of addiction and recovery for two reasons. It might help those who have shared here. Their stories are stories of success and healing. They gave permission to share them with you.

The second reason is for someone who might be reading this and deciding whether to “come clean” or to “get sober.” I have seen enough of the delirium tremors and withdrawal to know that it is no picnic. I have also helped bury enough who have taken the path of least resistance and continued in their addiction.

Your chaplains are here to help…as soon as you take the first step and reach out. Why not reach out now?