Participant #12
E
31 years old
Married

Bio of Addiction

E is married with a combined family of three children. E was raised in a family in transition; her mother was married three times over the course of her adolescence. Substance abuse is a common issue in her extended family. E’s father was an active drug abuser while she was a child. She notes that her extended family tree is filled with substance abuse incidents, some resulting in death. E had her first experience with alcohol at five years old and she began using alcohol and other substances regularly around 13 years old. She attended college, but did not graduate, and eventually moved to California to work for a door-to-door sales company. E became addicted to Meth while in California in her early 20s. She used marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, mushrooms, meth, crack cocaine, and alcohol in some combination during her years of addiction.

“I don’t know when I started drinking or it became a problem. I don’t understand that part of my story.”

“There is a large part of childhood I can’t remember.”

“One thing that always kept me away from recovery is I have this super ability to switch drugs.”

“I wasn’t hip enough for Ithaca so I got a job in California with a door to door sales company.”

“I always loved drugs that would allow me to do more. So I was never a downers person, I likes uppers.”

“The people who smoke crack are pro crack; the people who smoke meth are pro meth.”

“There was this older women, she would call me little girl. She would give me meth tooters off her acrylic fingernail. She would ask me, “little girl do you want a tooter?” We would work together. I would not stop until I made a $1000 that day.” (While working door to door sales living a transient life style.)

E stopped using meth without the benefit of formal rehab. She began using food, alcohol, and marijuana as replacement drugs.

“So I would just switch drugs.”

At one point, E experienced a severe episode of depression and attempted to end her life. Despite the trauma of her attempt, she self-admitted herself into the hospital for inpatient psychiatric help.

“Of course they wanted me to take prescription drugs. I was like oh well, but print out all the side effects. I will smoke crack but I will need to know all the side effects before I take prescription drugs.”

“I couldn’t manage my emotions. I couldn’t stop drinking. And I couldn’t stop using, but I wanted too. My life was really insane looking back. Really reckless.”

When E made the decision to stop using a particular drug, she would switch her drug of choice to help medicate the prior drug’s withdrawal symptoms. At no point was she able to fully abstain from all substance abuse; she became addicted to switching her preferences.
E suffered the death of two important people in her life- one being the father of her oldest child. Her child never had the opportunity to meet her father. E was unable to cope with the ramifications of these deaths. E oldest child lived with her during her addiction. E’s mother frequently helped out with childcare. E is very regretful for her time as an addicted mother.

 

Turning Point

E began going to a 12 step program as a friend’s support system. She chose to stop using drugs and alcohol after 6 months of attending these 12-Step meetings for a friend, and it was only at this point she truly came to understand that she was an alcohol and substance addict.

“I have no ability to see myself, but I can see others. When I heard their stories, there were dots between their stories.”

“I had this false sense that I was controlled because I have this ability to switch drugs. That was actually not an asset. At first I though it was an asset.”

“I am E and I am experiencing difficulties with drugs and alcohol.” (what E would say at 12-Step group meetings)

E continues to attend 12-Step meetings and listens to self-help books.

“You really can’t read drunk. So I would listen to tapes.”

 

Rehabilitation
Addiction 10 years
Recovery Attempts 1 (long progression into recovery)

E describes her rehabilitation as a progression. She regularly attended 12-Step meetings to maintain sustained recovery.

“I had more clarity. My alcoholism was like a train that hit me and I had to get off the train. I could see the whole train passing by all the graffiti on the different cars. I could see the different phases in my life and how that was affected by alcoholism.”

“I had never been so broke. I had to realize I couldn’t work in the way I had worked before.” (Referring to high stress and production employment)

E now balances work, motherhood, and her mental health needs.

“I had to really want to change.”

E struggled, but was successful in finding the resources she needed to reach sustained recovery. E has connected with a 12-Step sponsor, and established her home group. She attended 12-Step meetings several times a week during her initial recovery.

Life in Recovery
2 years

E is currently studying for her degree in human services. She hopes to complete her studies with a degree in social work. E cannot stress enough how fortunate she is to be in sustained recovery. She lives her life by living intentionally, and not obsessing. E attributes a large part of recovery to Cross Fit exercise. She notes it has changed the way she thinks about herself, noting that she wouldn’t be or think the way she does, if it was not for her journey through addiction. E has connected with a stable 12-Step sponsor after several attempts. E is an active community member advocating for women in transition. She still feels the stigma of addiction and recovery in her community activism. E has become a consciences and loving mother and wife.

“It’s like finding the perfect mix for your muffin.” (Recovery)

“I grew up in recovery.”

“I was born with faulty coping skills. I’ve learned the map. It’s incredible.”

“The frustrating part of recovery is I want to give it to everyone. But I’m least helpful to those closest to me. I’m too close to them.”

“I envelop myself in recovery activities.”

12-Step program (several times a week)
12-Step Home Group
Recovery Activities as much as possible
Community Support Center
Community Activist
Women’s Community Activist
Recovery
Cross Fit (devote athlete)
Meditation/Prayer
Church (active member)
E is currently completing her undergraduate degree in human services

Legacy

“Change the way you feel about yourself. Practice recovery though the everyday living process, instead of the outcome.” E

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