It has been several years since I last had the desire to pick up a drink or drug
I graduated from high school with honors. I had never smoked a cigarette. I had never had a beer. I had never stood outside on the corner before school and been in the circle of students passing the joint around. My father (a career police officer) and my mother (a nurse) were very proud of me, and as they sent me off to college, never once did they worry about me falling into “the wrong crowd”. I started freshman year on the Dean’s List, lived in honor’s housing, and took honors classes.
Things changed drastically one Wednesday halfway through first semester when a friend insisted I go with her to a keg party. I didn’t have anything planned for the evening, my homework was done, and for the first time in my life I could do whatever I wanted without having my (very strict) parents watching my every move. So off I went to my very first frat party.
When I walked up to the door, I handed someone $5 and in return I got a red plastic solo cup. I made my way to the center of the room, where I found a giant tub of red punch with fruit floating on top. I scooped up my very first drink. I made sure to get a few pieces of fruit, thinking I hadn’t eaten dinner and was already feeling my stomach begin to growl. That night, I drank grain alcohol punch and ate several pieces of fruit that had been marinated in grain alcohol for several days. I don’t remember leaving the party. I don’t remember anything after the first sip of punch. I have no idea how I got back to the dorm, either. I just remember waking up with the absolute worse hangover of my life. I swore that morning that I would never, ever get drunk again. I swore to myself that I would never go to another keg party, either.
My first three years of college went by quickly. I began my college career on the Dean’s List and when I finally quit after my junior year, I was drinking almost every night, had lost any interest in pursuing a degree, had alienated my family, and was not interested in anything other than having a good time. I had also picked up cocaine, and though it was not something I did on a regular basis, the few times that I had done it made me want to do it even more.
My college boyfriend was a mean drunk, but I loved him, and I left the safety of home to move in with him and his family. Drinking, drugging, fighting, basement card games in rooms filled with loud noise and air thick with cigarette smoke became my life. I had several visits to the emergency room because of alcohol poisoning and at least one visit to the ER because my extremely drunk boyfriend decided to take his alcohol induced rage out on me with his fists.
I had my first miscarriage in the bathroom of my boyfriend’s parents’ house, after drinking all night at a Chinese restaurant. I began hemorrhaging. I saw blood and I blacked out. I woke up in the hospital and could not see a familiar face anywhere. I was told that I had lost my baby and that I could go home in the morning. I never saw my boyfriend again. I was put on a train and sent home.
My drinking did not end there. Girl meets boy. Love at first sight. Party. Party. Party. Marriage. Babies. Did I mention the partying? Alcohol, cocaine, unpaid bills, drunk driving accidents, lost jobs. When crack was introduced to the party, I was not immediately enthralled. Eventually, when my husband left because crack was better than I was, eventually, I too, picked it up. Not even my children were as important to me as smoking crack was. What followed was more than 20 years of active addiction. Arrests. Jail time. Prostitution. DCF involvement. Detoxes, rehabs, halfway houses, psych hospitals and locked units. Overdoses, attempted suicides, rape, brutal beatings, raids, homelessness, and death. Lots of death.
My husband died, my family disowned me, my children were being raised by someone else, and no matter how hard I tried to make my way back home, I didn’t know how. I am not sure what clicked inside but I do remember the very last hit I took. I remember the fear, the pain, the desperation, and I remember that feeling of complete relief when I went into detox the very last time.
It has been several years since I last had the desire to pick up a drink or drug. Since that time, I have gone back to college, and in a year I will have my BS in Sociology with a Psychology minor and my MS in Nonprofit Project Management. I recently graduated from an Addiction Counselor Education Program and will be taking my board exam soon.
I am a certified Recovery Coach and within the past year I have been a key factor in opening a Peer Recovery Walk-In Center in my community, have implemented Grandparents Raising Grandchildren So. Central MA Support Group into my community, have been voted to sit on the PAE Student Advisory Council and will soon be implementing an educational program into the elementary and middle schools here in my area specific to drugs and alcohol as well as to promoting prevention throughout the entire school system.
I am a volunteer for BVES, a winter emergency shelter for homeless individuals and last year, with other volunteers, was able to find addiction rehabilitation services for several individuals. This year I will be bringing that same program into my own community.
I have many regrets and if I could go back in time, there are so many things that I would do differently. But today, I truly believe that God had a plan for me. I have dedicated my life to helping others like me find recovery. I don’t know what it was, exactly, that I got, but I do know I found the gift of life on my journey to find recovery.
Today my only goal is do whatever I can, to the best of my ability, to share this gift with others like me. A life in recovery: surrounded by love, acceptance, hope and faith.