“My name is John and I am an alcoholic.”
I must have said that one sentence hundreds of times prior to entering The Watershed, yet never truly felt it to be fact. I spent the four years leading up to my admission to treatment in and out of detox facilities, outpatient programs, and the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I always thought of myself different from all the other people that I encountered, minimalizing my own problems by comparing them to others. I figured my abuse of drugs and alcohol was just a phase I was going through as a young man-something that I would be able to just grow out of. I lived under a delusion that someday I would wake up and things would just be different.
But things never changed-they only got worse and worse. I began to see the consequences stemming directly from my overuse of drugs and alcohol. The more I fought the recovery process, the more my drug addiction and alcoholism snowballed out of control. Everything I was warned of happening to me actually started to come true, and the internal pain grew each and every day. Who knew this pain could go away if I could just fully accept and admit that I was an alcoholic?
Even after countless arrests, the lost career, and all the struggles I caused within my family, I still felt I had control over my life and where it was going. I was unable to realize my life was unmanageable until another alcoholic taught me that alcohol was equipped with a double-edged sword against people like me. First, I had this overwhelming and debilitating mental urge to put that first one of the day in my body. Then, after consuming that first one, I would not be able to control the amount I would take or foresee the people I would hurt or the lengths I would go to maintain that feeling. The unknown of where this day may go is what still scares me away from that first drink or that first drug today. After being made aware of this stark truth about myself, I began to believe that I was an alcoholic and that my life was unmanageable. Only at this point was I ready to move forward.
In my personal experience, drugs and alcohol had beaten me down into such a submissive state of hopelessness that admitting my powerlessness was a last resort. However, this does not need to be the case with every individual. Rather than comparing ourselves to others, it is imperative to focus on ourselves and our own journey and how we can relate to other people. Not everyone needs to hit their bottom in order to find a new way of living. This is a progressive illness, and if treated at an earlier stage, much of the unnecessary pain and anguish associated with this disease can be avoided entirely.
No one desires or cares to admit complete defeat over anything. Personal powerlesnesss is probably the toughest thing I have ever had to accept. I felt admitting personal defeat indicated I was a weak person. Upon entering this program, however, I was taught that only through admitting utter and total defeat would I be able to make any progress toward growing stronger day by day. Little, if any, good can be done until one gathers enough strength to accept our weaknesses. This one act of humility is the foundation for recovery and is the basis upon which we are able to move along and grow as individuals.
Written By:John C.