Overcoming Addiction: A Work Still in Progress.
WARNING: Today’s post is disturbing. But it is an important read for everyone. My goal today is to release the shame and stigma of addiction. Many people in this country are suffering. You might be suffering in silence. I urge you to read this. It might encourage you, or someone you love, to seek help.
By Guest Blogger Charity Crenshaw
I’m going to start by saying my name is Charity and I am an alcoholic. A recovering one that is. I have been sober since August 24th, 2010.
For the sake of this blog, I will summarize my story the best way I can. I will not go into too much of my early life and the things that happened, that made me who I am today. I have very few memories of my childhood. I was molested from the age of 3 to 5, though I have blocked out most of the memories. I also have a big blank spot from ages 6 to 10. My mom had many boyfriends, so I think more happened than I am able to recall.
As a teen, I went in and out of abusive relationships. I was raped more than once. I put myself in many bad situations.
At age 13 I took my first drink. I remember how nice it felt to feel confident and not so anxious. It also covered up the inner turmoil I kept inside, that at the time, I didn’t understand. That’s also the age I started cutting myself. It didn’t take long for me to use alcohol to self-medicate.
The drinking got progressively worse in my late 20’s and it went downhill from there. It became my way of covering up pain and erasing bad memories.
At one point mouthwash was actually my drink of choice and I would drink a big bottle of it daily. I even drank hand sanitizer when there was nothing else. Cisco (a cheap wine with very high alcohol content) then became all I ever drank, and I would go through about 3 or 4 of the big bottles in a day.
I drank 24/7, literally. My bottle was even by my bedside at night. If I woke up in the night, I would take a drink. You didn’t see me without a bottle in my hand very often.
It got increasingly worse in 2007 after my dog of almost 11 years died. I did try and quit cold-turkey once, but then had a seizure. So I just continued to drink. By then I was drinking a bottle of Schnapps a day. I threw up all day long.
Sometimes my stomach just didn’t want to hold it down, but I forced it, because otherwise the withdrawals were horrible. The people that were making sure I had my alcohol were really only helping to kill me, but at the time, I thought they truly cared. No one liked to see me go through withdrawals. Then again, no one tried to seek help for me either.
I just happened to have a doctor’s appointment one day, and when I went in, they called an ambulance on the spot, as the routine tests showed my oxygen level was down to 60. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, where they found a ton of things wrong with me, all due to my drinking. I have polyneuropathy, congestive heart failure, liver damage, kidney problems, and anemia. I had to have a blood transfusion while I was there.
While in the hospital, I went through withdrawal but didn’t notice the horrific symptoms due to all the meds they were giving me. I promised myself I would not pick up a drink again when I got out. I haven’t yet.
Drinking ages you. It also messes with your brain so badly, that even after you stop, your memory is terrible and things you used to be able to do well, you just can’t do anymore. I now have about 13 meds I have to take daily because of my alcoholism.
I am going through many hardships right now, and staying sober through it all is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Drinking was my crutch. One that I no longer have.
Sure, I could drink, but I must think of my kids, and think back to how awful I was at the end. If I were to drink again, I would not live longer than 6 months max. Always remember that as an addict, every time you quit, then start again, it’s even worse than before.
My goal today is to help others who might be struggling with any addiction, be it an eating disorder, to drug abuse. Here are some tips for anyone currently going through addiction, or anyone recovering:
- Alcohol or any drug for that matter is simply a temporary fix to our problems. Our issues don’t go away, we just don’t feel them. Addiction only masks the problem. I drank 24/7 because if for one moment I was sober, those feelings came back. Well, drinking 24/7 will kill you. It almost did me. Do not wait to hit rock bottom like I did. Get help.
- If you are recovering like me, and it feels like things are getting worse because of anxieties (a common side effect), seek help immediately. I’m in therapy which helps a little, but what helps the most is having a WONDERFUL support system in my blogging community. I had to give up many friends in real life because they triggered me, and they still used. My online friends are my best friends, and when I’m having one of those days where I feel like I want to drink, I go to that site and talk to them. If you have a support system, then call on them when the urge overcomes you. I’m not an AA person due to my social anxiety, (which I am working on), so I have done this without AA, but for those of you able, I would greatly suggest going to AA. I hear it helps tremendously. Do not give into that little voice telling you to take a drink, or drug, or cut yourself, or throw up, or whatever, to make it all go away.
- Stay away from trigger areas and people. I can not stress this enough. Many things will trigger memories of good times drinking or drugging and that makes it very hard to resist. Stay away from these triggers whenever possible.
- Boredom is another thing that brings on the urge to drink or abuse drugs. Try to find a hobby if you don’t work. Right now I have started making candles. It makes me feel as though I have accomplished something.
- If you are still addicted, remember you are not a bad person, and you are certainly not alone. Addiction is powerful. Please seek help to stop before it is too late.
If you are struggling with sobriety like I am, just keep a support system handy. I have a page on Facebook called Recovering & Current Alcoholics/Addicts & the People Who Love Them. Feel free to like the page and share your story, or just go there for support. Every day I try to put up something positive, whether it be a picture or a quote, no matter how negative I may feel. My support system has been my saving grace.
I struggle every day with my sobriety. I also have to face the fact that no matter how long I’m sober, those cravings will sneak up on me, but I have to remain strong. Nineteen months sober on March 24th, 2012. It seems like a lifetime ago since I last drank, but I have a long way to go.
About Charity Crenshaw…
As you can see, Charity’s online community and their support have been the keys to her sobriety. She told me she wants to serve as an inspiration to those suffering with addiction. Social connection has been studied at great lengths, and has been found to be one of the top promoters of resilience. Would you kindly take a moment to leave a word of encouragement for Charity. It will help her more than you know.
Thank you Charity for sharing your story. I know it was not easy for you.