Participant #16
24 Years Old

Bio of Addiction

A lives with her mother, step-father, and her pup, Charlie. She has a Bachelors degree in human services. A began drinking alcohol when she was 16 years old, but drank rather infrequently before the age of 21. She began having anxiety attacks in her senior year in college.

“I always had the intention to get drunk. There was no way I was only going to have a couple. What’s the point?”

As her 21st Birthday approached A was was struggling with depression and mental health symptoms from a borderline personality disorder. Despite all this, she chose to celebrate her 21st birthday with alcohol.

“It was the first time I felt like myself. It happened very quickly because it was my only answer ……” (falling into alcohol abuse)

A refers to her drinking as “controlled drinking”. She would often cancel plans with friends to drink at her own pace, alone in the basement. She drank heavily her last year in college. Life soon becomes unmanageable for A.

A entered a two week, partial hospitalization program (8am -3pm daily) for her mental health issues. At this time, she was also diagnosed with an alcohol addiction. A was offended and denied her alcohol addiction; she chose to hide her alcohol abuse from her family.

“Everyone does it.” (Drinks alcohol)

“So rule #3, your not allowed to drink or do drugs while in this program. I think I stopped breathing when she said that.” (At the intake session for the partial hospitalization program)

“I was there for my mental health. You guys are crazy, what do you want from me?” (Referring to her alcohol addiction)
“Like a good alcoholic, they said I couldn’t drink in program, so I drank the night before. I was hung over the first day. The therapist said I was an alcoholic and asked when was the last time I drank. I was like last night.”

Although A remained sober during the two week program, she began using Opioids that she had taken from a family member. Previously, A would substitute Opioids or Adderall, if she was short on time or unable to acquire alcohol in order to feel normal. A enters an outpatient chemical dependency program and fails. It was at this point that she attempted to end her life with anxiety medication.

After her failed suicide attempt, A re-enters the two week partial hospitalization program.  She refused to work in groups and would only attend individual counseling. A continues to relapse. She enters a Dialectical Behavioral Treatment (DBT) program and a chemical dependency program. DBT is founded on the idea that everything is connected, change is constant, and opposing forces can come together to find a balance. A attends DBT and chemical dependency rehabilitation 3 times a week for 2 weeks.

Turning Point

“I had three options for myself. I could try to overdose again, or drink myself until I can’t drink anymore. Both of those are pretty much die. Or 3rd, I can check myself into the hospital and get help. I don’t know what actually got me there. But I did know once your checked in your basically stuck. I don’t like that feeling of being trapped.”

“They asked me if I wanted to stay it sounds like you need help. So I stayed.”

Addiction 2 Years
Recovery Attempts 4 or 5

A completed her stay in the hospital without incident. After discharge, she attended a 12-Step program multiple times a week. She connected with a home group and a sponsor; A enjoyed the fellowship that a 12-Step process afforded her.

“The reason for recovery changed during the recovery process.”

“I had to stop comparing myself to other people. If they are not alcoholics, then I am not an alcoholic. Because I’m not that bad. I had to stop doing that.”

“I really started to realize I had a problem, when I couldn’t stop. Stop for a week, stop for a month, can you actually due it without going crazy. Is it on your mind the whole day?”

“I asked my first sponsor, when am I going to not think about this? I’d be sitting on the couch and all I’m thinking about that I haven’t drank in the last hour? Now I go days, I remember the first day I didn’t think about it. It slowly gets better the further away from it you get.”

“At first I really didn’t want it. I think my reasons change throughout the recovery process. At first it was about abandonment. I was afraid my therapist would ditch me.”

“I had to due it for me. If it is about something, it doesn’t work.”

“I had to convince myself that people actually cared about me. And at that point I kind of got there. I tell myself I’m worthless all day, but these people still stick around. So why would they stick around if this is true. Playing mind games with myself.”

“I do feel like I’m loved. I feel they would be missing something if I wasn’t here. But I still feel misunderstood.”

“Always remember to love yourself.” (Tattoo on her arm to remember to love herself)

“I came out at my friends house when I was drunk. I told them I was afraid to tell them because I was afraid they would judge me. They were like what?” (Telling her friend that is a lesbian)

“I can see myself today and tomorrow. All the time growing up, I could see myself graduating high school, graduating college. I haven’t set my new goal yet.”

Life in Recovery
2 Years

A did take a six month break from her 12-Step meetings, and remained alcohol and drug free the entire time. She has recently resumed attending 12-Step meeting several times a week while in search of a new sponsor. She proudly celebrated her 2 years of sobriety. A is thinking about becoming a sponsor to help others in the 12-Step program. In addition, she is searching for a career that focuses on helping others. A acknowledges that she now knows that there is only so much she can do, and utilizes her quick sense of humor in these times. She is currently off all medication for her mental health issues, and doing well.

“There are two type of people in the human service type of profession. The people who need help who try to help people, and then there are the people who get help who help people. I don’t want to be that person who tried to help, I want to be that person who helps.”

“If I’m busy, I stay out of trouble. But I have to take care of myself.”

Bachelor’s degree
12-Step program
Proud pup mom

Progression, not perfection. Set high standards, but make them standards you can actually reach.

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