It’s one thing to be in recovery, but another to love it. Recovery is a gift. If I got what I deserved, I would be dead or in jail. Recovery has given me a new way to life, a beautiful, prospering one, in stark contrast to the dark, gloomy grip of addiction. As long as I actively work the steps of recovery, my life will continue to get better. I was told from the beginning, do not give up until the miracle happens, and miracles happen every day. But recovery can only start with surrender.
In my teenage years, I struggled greatly with addiction. However, my life wasn’t “that bad” until I went to college. I started off smoking weed and drinking when I was 12 years old. Smoking weed was my favorite activity, and I couldn’t wait for the weekends to get high. Drinking was a thrill for me as well. I was more fun while drunk (or so I thought), and it was the perfect social lubricant.
As time went on, my drug habits grew worse. Instead of smoking weed on the weekends, it became an every day habit. Sometimes I would even smoke multiple times throughout the day. After awhile, I needed to be high to do every day activities such as eating sleeping or even focusing. There are no physically addictiing properties to marijuana, but the mental symptoms were there. It is hard to be stoned all the time and get away with it. My parents eventually caught on. When they caught me red handed, I was forced into rehab. There, I learned about recovery for the first time.
I have ADHD, so I learned that I was mainly self medicating—taking medication to make me feel good. After discovering I was attempting to medicate my own mental illness, my parents sent me to the best treatment for dual diagnosis. It was there I was exposed to recovery for the first time. At the start, I was open minded and willing, but my thoughts shifted as the cravings came back. I stayed clean for half the time I was in this outpatient center, but then I realized how easy it was to fake drug screens. Yet, my parents built back trust in me and my life started coming back together. Little did they know I was still getting high. I felt guilty, but not guilty enough to change.
By my senior year of high school I had been kicked out of my house numerous times, forced into varying outpatient rehab centers and caught with drugs more times than I can count. I got into more addictive substances such as Xanax, Vicodin, and Adderall. I also managed to smoke weed every day and binge drink on the weekends. My life was totally out of control, but I thought I was “cool.”
It was the moment I had been waiting for my whole life, college: finally free and able to do what I wanted, and did I ever. I found the crowd that was equally obsessed with getting high and drinking as I was. I went to class the first week, then spent the rest of the time partying. It was a dream come true. At least for the first month. Then it all suddenly came crashing down on me. I disconnected from my family and friends and ended up in my cold empty dorm room by myself. It didn’t take long for me to overdose on Adderall. I ended up in the hospital for eight days. It was then I realized I had a problem.
After my eighth day in the hospital, I decided to finally get treatment for dual diagnosis for myself, instead doing so to please other people. I checked myself into rehab, and it was the best decision of my life. In rehab I learned that even though I thought I was unique, I was not. Thousands of people suffer from this same disease. I felt hope for the first time.
I started my recovery journey on April 21st 2010 and haven’t looked back since. I met a sponsor at my first meeting and immediately started working through the steps of AA. Gradually, my life started getting better. I started feeling better, looking better and acting better.
I was 19 when I got sober. I had so many fears, such as thinking, how can I turn 21 sober? What am I going to do at my friend's weddings, or how am I going to make it through these holidays? I was told cheesy cliches, such as “just for today,” and “keep coming back.” Surprisingly, these corny statements helped me get through tough times.
My process started with acceptance. Before I could start with the program, I had to accept the fact that I was an addict, and powerless over drugs or alcohol. It was easy this time: my whole life, I thought I could drink or use drugs like a “normal person.” However, what normal person blacks out every time they drink, and spends all their money and time on whatever drug they can get a hold of? Drinking socially or doing drugs recreationally was nothing more than fallacy. The next steps of the program are about finding a power greater than myself, clearing the wreckage of your past and then helping others.
These past six years of my life have been the most amazing years of my life. I’ve had opportunities that I would’ve never had if I was using drugs. I graduated from college, lived overseas and started a career: all things I never planned on. When I was using drugs, the only thing I cared about was how I was going to get my next fix. Now, my interests lie in helping others, and setting up goals to achieve in the future. I have genuine relationships with people today, which I didn’t think was possible. Most importantly, I am happy, and that is something no drink or drug can beat.
One of the very first things my sponsor told me, was “if you do this program as honestly and thoroughly as possible and it isn’t more powerful than the drugs you were doing, I will personally refund you with whatever drug you want.” It has been over six years since he made that statement, and I have yet to take him up on it. Today, I know that every day is a blessing. I have true friends that care about me as much as I care about them, my parents trust me once again and most importantly, I am free from this disease. This program saved my life, and I will be forever grateful.