Tag: personal stories

Long-Term Sobriety: How to Stay Sober from Drugs and Alcohol

How to Stay Sober in Recovery

Katie’s Story About Learning How to Stay Sober From Heroin

How to Stay Sober

I remember the moment I realized I didn’t want to live anymore.

Everything had stopped working. I asked my psychiatrist to prescribe me something else. At this point, I was on at least eight different prescription medications. This one, I remembered, made me sleep. I took it, hoping not to wake up again.

I did wake up…with the EMTs there.

Finally, my mom had worked up the courage to face my addiction. At this point, I was only addiction. No shred of “me” was left. I was put into a psych ward and stayed for a week. I was still in complete denial about everything. I was given the choice to go get help at a women’s addiction treatment center or to stay in the psych ward. I took the first option.

Maybe There’s Hope

Two weeks into treatment, my therapist asked me to write down a history of my drug use. Every drug I used, how often I used, the age when I first tried drugs. For some reason, seeing my drug history on paper allowed everything to click into place. I was an addict and I think deep down I always knew. A wave of relief washed over me. I knew what my problem was. Maybe I wasn’t so hopeless after all. Maybe there was a solution. Maybe there was hope.

Was Rehab Worth It?

For me, attending an all-women’s treatment facility was necessary. It allowed me to have a safe detox and separate myself from drugs. I’m eternally grateful to the therapist who gave me that assignment.

I found I was able to relate to other women. We all shared this mutual problem. It was the first time I was completely honest with my peers and nothing bad happened. The women’s addiction treatment center also instilled in me how grave my situation really was.

“Go to a meeting everyday,” I was told.

“Get a sponsor,” “don’t get into a relationship,” “get a job,” “become independent from your parents,” “do the right thing when no one is watching,” I was told.

So I did.

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How to Stay Sober after Rehab

Working a twelve-step program is essential for my sobriety to be permanent. You see, I have a disease that tells me I don’t have a disease. I need to be reminded of this through the support of a twelve-step fellowship, or else I could see myself slowly floating off on my own.

The peace and the happiness which came through working the twelve-steps is priceless. I always thought happiness was obtained by swallowing a pill or sticking something up my nose. Turns out that’s not the case. It’s usually the small stuff where I feel the most joy. Only a sober me notices the color of the sky or the smile I get when I speak to my mom.

Connect with other women in sobriety

Does Katie’s story sound familiar to you? Are you or a loved one suffering from addiction? At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we’ve been there.

In fact, many of our staff are in long-term recovery. We know what it’s like to be unable to stop binge drinking or compulsively using drugs. Let us show you another way, a sober way.

Call Lighthouse today at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015. You’ll be connected to a caring and expert outreach and admission coordinator who can help start the process of recovery.

Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Guiding You to a Brighter Tomorrow

Laura from The Sobriety Collective

My Name is Laura & This is My Story

the sobriety collective
Sober karaoke via The Sobriety Collective

On July 13th, 2007, I was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning–AGAIN (read: the second time in my life). I only drank for six years–first year of college until right after my 24th birthday–but those six years were action packed.

My drinking started out as fun. Growing up, while absolutely adorable, I always felt like something was off. I struggled to fit in. I was constantly teased and bullied. I was the nerdy type in middle and high school, not entirely socially awkward but definitely insecure and hyper-sensitive–which made me a perfect target.

I battled with anxiety, OCD, and panic attacks throughout my childhood and teen years, and when I got to college, I wanted to shed that old identity and become a more “fun” version of myself. Whatever that meant. So naturally, underage drinking appealed to me–and I fell into a crowd of kids who liked to have a good time. (At the time, I didn’t think their–or my, for that matter, behavior was dangerous.) We had lots of fun and I became the life of the party. I was me–but I was a me that wasn’t anxious and fidgety. Hallelujah! Self-medication (I didn’t have the language then to know that’s what I was doing) didn’t feel so bad; I didn’t know that I was hiding from my problems but I felt alive, and I wanted to sustain that feeling.

Problem Drinking (From Bad to Worse)

Soon, though, fun for me often turned into fun with problems. Losing phones, drunk dialing (before I lost those phones), hazy memory. Then just problems. Going home with random guys, blacking out entirely, injuring myself (the infamous broken foot incident), embarrassing myself and my friends, over-sharing personal secrets, becoming “that” girl that had to be babysat, and waking up with dreaded hangovers cocooned by feelings of shame, guilt, and terror.

Believe it or not, it got worse after graduation. That was when I made my first hospital “visit.” Not a glamorous walk-through but an ambulance-driven, paramedic-carried, shame fest. And after that, I vowed never to drink again. I went through several dry periods but couldn’t commit to taking the leap to sobriety. None of my friends were going through this–how could I possibly not go to bars and parties at 22? How would I ever have fun again? So I slowly crept back into drinking, and I picked right back up where I left off. And that’s when the night of July 13th happened.

I was in New York City for the first time with a previous coworker. We drank airplane bottles all the way up from DC, drank some more at his friend’s place, drank some more at Madison Square Garden (MSG–not the preservative). Did I mention my sole subsistence for the day was a bagel? Before I knew it, I was running around in the lobby, one flip flop dangling, the other foot bare, without my purse, crying and begging for help. But the language that was coming out wasn’t English. It was drunk-babble. And no one could help me. Fortunately, the kindly MSG police officers called an ambulance and they whisked me away to a busy NYC hospital. When I came to, seven hours later–yes, this implies I blacked out–I was still drunk. But I had no way to find my cousin, who I was supposed to stay with post-concert (Dispatch, for those interested–amazing band–and I don’t remember a thing).

Unbeknownst to me, while I was passed out on the hospital bed, someone had turned in my purse to the MSG security guard. Everything was intact and my phone still had battery. So he called a recent number–either my mom or my cousin–and told whomever he spoke with that he had my belongings but I couldn’t be found. Yeah, that sounds like a fun call. I can’t imagine the sheer PANIC and TERROR my family went through as they listened to that man tell them they couldn’t trace back to me. And of course, when I came to, I didn’t have my phone and didn’t know any phone numbers by heart (my parents had just moved back to the States from living abroad and I hadn’t memorized their phone number) so the only thing I could think of was to call my Grandma. I lied to her–which I’ve had to forgive myself for–and told her I arrived late and needed my cousin’s phone number. Which she gave to me. (My lovely grandmother, who passed away in January of 2012, will always hold a dear place in my heart. Not only did she help save me that day, but she constantly believed in me and knew I would do something good with my life. Even though she never knew about my struggles with alcohol and my road to sobriety, I believe she could see that I changed my life for the better.) So I called my cousin, took the subway to her apartment, bathed in anxiety for the rest of the day, and the next day took the bus back to DC (remember, my bus ticket, along with everything else, was miraculously still in my purse!) feeling like I had escaped from my body and mind.

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Recovery (Free at Last!)

laura sobriety
the author as a sober woman of grace & dignity

The only thing I could think to do was take a few days off of work with a bad excuse because I needed space to breathe. I called my health insurance company’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health division and asked for help. I met with a counselor who had me take the standard “Are you an Alcoholic” test, and I naturally answered “yes” to most of the questions but still couldn’t admit to a problem. Hell, I was only 24 and didn’t live under a bridge with paper bag-covered bottles of booze. I never drove drunk. So how could I be an alcoholic? Still though, I took that lovely woman’s suggestion and gave the group counseling sessions she led a try, and that was the beginning of my journey. Five weeks, three days a week for two hours each, coupled with 15 hours of Alcoholics Anonymous (that’s 15 separate times I had to sheepishly walk to the front of the room and get my paper signed). All of us were breathalyzed at the beginning of every counseling session–it was intense. We would always recite our sobriety dates at the beginning of “class,” and while mine continued to stay the same, many from my cohort changed each week. Somehow, mine miraculously didn’t change. I started to like not having alcohol as a crutch, but I still couldn’t think in terms of “forever.” It’s only when I read Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (Koren Zailckas is brilliant, by the way) that I felt an internal click–something (my newfound sobriety?) was churning inside of me. It was like living my life, in book form.

Soon my recovery started to become a source of pride for me. I would celebrate each month, and then each year. Lo and behold, by doing this “one day at a time” (one of the 12 step-isms that I will always love—and have, literally, tattooed on my back), with constant support from my family, friends, and a sense of spiritual attachment to the universe/nature, I will be celebrating eight years of continuous sobriety in July. Don’t get me wrong, I still have OCD. I still have panic attacks. I still have regular problems that regular people have.

But I face them all head on, and SOBER.

 
 

Connect with Laura on her amazing recovery site The Sobriety Collective or follow her on Twitter @wearesober!

Are Steroids a Relapse?

Can I Use Steroids in Recovery?

The quick answer to whether we can use steroids in recovery is no. As recovering addicts and alcoholics we cannot safely use drugs or alcohol in any form, including steroids. The long answer is, well, it’s a bit longer!

Before I go any further, I’d like to tell you all a story. It’s about a sponsee of mine who relapsed on steroids and then relapsed on heroin. If you think this colors my opinion on steroids and recovery, you’re probably right. I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effect they can have on sober men and women.

steroids and recovery

So, with that disclaimer aside, read on to learn about the dangers of using steroids in recovery.

Speaking of if certain drugs are a relapse – what’s the deal with kava?

The Anatomy of a Steroid Relapse

When I was about three years sober, I began sponsoring a man named Jake (that’s not his real name). A few months later, after taking Jake through most of the twelve-steps, he confided in me that he hadn’t been completely honest. He’d started taking steroids around the time he asked me to sponsor him.

I can’t say his admission shocked me. Jake loved the gym. He loved working out and looking good. Vanity is a killer character defect for many addicts and alcoholics! Anyway, Jake told me he’d been using steroids to boost how he felt and to pack on muscle mass quick.

That first part, that steroid can actually alter your mind (aka get you high) was news to me. I thought they were simply a way to build muscle without working out as hard or as long. It turns out, according to Jake, that they have a psychoactive effect.

After Jake admitted he’d been using steroid, I asked him to stop. In order to be truly sober, we need to be free of all mind and mood altering chemicals. I explained that to him. He told me he’d stop, but he never did.

Not long after that, Jake relapsed on drugs and alcohol. Again, that wasn’t a huge shock. After all, he wasn’t really sober to begin with. Rather he was dry and biding time until his next drink or drug.

After going on a particularly nasty run, he came back into the rooms. When I saw him at a meeting, Jake told me he thought steroids had caused his relapse. Putting aside the fact that steroids themselves may be a relapse, I think he’s completely right.

Before explaining why steroids and recovery aren’t compatible, I’d like to clear up what exactly steroids are.

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What are Steroids?

Steroids are a class of drug that promotes muscle growth. Okay, that much is fairly obvious, but how do steroids work their magic?

Well, let’s look at anabolic steroids. These are a class of synthetic drugs that mimic the male hormone testosterone. They expedite the growth of skeletal muscle tissue and male sexual characteristics (hormone levels, hair growth, etc.).

While bodybuilders of the amateur and professional variety mainly use anabolic steroids to bulk up, they’re actually a prescription medication. They’re prescribed for a limited range of conditions. These include “delayed puberty,” impotence, and muscle atrophy related to immune system diseases (think HIV).

Steroids can, and often do, produce physical and mental withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopped. These are things like fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, agitation, depression, and drug cravings.

Now that we know what they are, let’s turn our attention to how steroids impact recovery.

Are Steroids a Relapse?

Are steroids a relapse? Absolutely! I say this because of two things – intentions and behavior patterns.

are steroids a relapse

Behavior patterns are probably the easiest one of these to explain. Basically, people using steroids often behave the same way as people using drugs. That is to say, they spend money they don’t have, they’re dishonest about their use, they’re preoccupied with the drug, and they continue to use despite repeated negative consequences.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an addiction to me!

Second, a person’s intentions matter. That is to say, individuals generally use steroids for a quick fix. They want to gain muscle without putting in all the work. This type of thinking is common to active and “dry” addicts and alcoholics. Remember, sobriety is about much more than abstinence from substances.

So, when gauging the effects of steroids on someone’s personal recovery, it’s important to consider these two factors. I’d say they’re a relapse. Everybody’s recovery is different though.

What do you think about steroids and recovery? Let us know on social media!

This new medicine makes it impossible for addicts to relapse on meth!

My Experiences in Addiction & Recovery

An Addict Comes Clean

By: Tim Myers

From now on I’ve decided to write my stories, my experiences, and trials. In my recovery, I’m governed by the idea that I can only pass on what’s helped or hurt me. I’ve never and will never tell or “suggest” something to another male alcoholic if I haven’t done it or experienced it firsthand.

So, based on that guiding theme, I’ll write these articles as full, uncensored, non-fictional accounts of my fifteen year journey from a drunk on the bar floor to a happy and smiling man in recovery.

Read the heartwarming story of a man and his uncle getting sober!

Experience, Strength & Hope

What has my experience taught me? Well, it’s taught me everything. Bruce Springsteen said, “You learn more from a three-minute record than you ever learn in school.”

experience in addiction

He was right. My mother’s been on the school board for over twenty years and hates that quote, but it’s true. Music has taught me that it’s okay to be different. It’s taught me to find spirituality when I didn’t know where to find it. I used to have a list of ten songs that could keep me from a drink.

“Jokes on me but it’s gonna be ok if I can just get through this lonesome day! It’s all-right, it’s all-right” The Boss

My drinking taught me that there’s evil in this world. Alcohol and drugs took me to hell. I lay in a hotel room, with a gun to my head, as my car was stolen and as I was fed drugs to keep me restrained and under control. I looked into the eyes of the men holding me down and saw nothing but dark, black nothing. I looked to the ceiling and thought to myself, “hell is a place on earth and I’m there.”

My recovery taught me that I’m not alone. Not now, not ever. It also showed me that I never was. If God wasn’t looking out for me, how did I survive getting hit by a train? How did I survive the overdose? How did I survive jumping off a building? How did I survive a suicide attempt? How did I survive a car accident?

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It was God looking over me. It was every person I can call my friend. I t was Brian who texted me, “let me know if you need anything.” It was my therapist who didn’t give up. It was my family who held my head above the water and it was every member of AA who shared their story. My sponsors, sponsees, and everyone. They all made me feel a part of something that was so warm, so comforting, and so perfect.

I wasn’t a cast out rebel reject in my twelve-year old bedroom. I was, and am, a healthy, honest, happy man in recovery. On March sixteenth of 2014 I asked my fiancé to marry me. We were at the top of a lighthouse I’d been to so many times as a kid.

As she said yes, the sun was setting and a rainbow filled the sky. It was that day that I realized, “heaven is a place on earth.”

That’s also a song, and that’s where recovery has brought me.

So, these are my experiences. These are my stories. They won’t always be happy. They won’t always be funny. At times they’ll make you sad and maybe mad, but they will always be true.

Does this story sound familiar to you? Learn how to get sober once and for all today!

The Blessings of Sobriety

The Many Benefits of Getting Sober

Even if you gave me 100 notebooks and all the time in the world, I wouldn’t be able to write the many ways my life has improved as a result of getting sober. I don’t think any of us could.

Part of this is because of all the blessings I’ve received in sobriety. More importantly, though, sobriety’s given me something that’s hard to talk about. It’s given me my soul back.

blessings of sobriety

Jesse Schenker talks about how sobriety changed his life and took him from homeless to famous!

Looks are Deceiving

Long before I picked up a drink or drug, my life was out of control. I can remember being in second grade and refusing to move my desk. I sat in the back and couldn’t deal with moving to the front of the room. Then people would be sitting behind me!

That’s just one example, but trust me when I say that I was messed up way before drugs entered the equation. I made sure everything on the outside looked good, though. I thought if other people liked me, my life would be okay.

So, from middle school on, my life looked great. I had a ton of friends. I got good grades. I played sports. I always had the hottest girl on my arm. I volunteered. Everything was awesome.

Except for the fact that, on the inside, I was dying. I was always a nervous wreck. I was anxious, depressed, scared, and arrogant – all at once. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but I managed to pull it off. I felt like someone was going to find out I was a fraud, that I didn’t deserve my friends or girlfriends.

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Drugs Were My Solution…Until They Weren’t

I was a nervous, depressed wreck. Then I got high. It wasn’t any kind of instant fix, but smoking weed did relax me. It took my mind off of everything I thought was wrong with me.

So I smoked as much as I could. Then I took as many pills as I could. Then I did as much dope as I could. All those things worked…until they didn’t. I’ve said again and again, drugs worked for me. They offered me a solution to all the crap in life. Of course, over time, they became less of a solution and more of a problem.

Once that happened, once drugs stopped working, I didn’t know what to do. I was still that scared little kid, but now I also had an addiction to worry about. I was still depressed, nervous, and scared of life. I was also strung out on heroin.

The Blessings of Sobriety

With no options left, I got sober. The blessings and benefits started coming almost immediately.

I asked a God of my own understanding to help me. I humbly asked him to remove the obsession to drink and use drugs. The obsession was lifted shortly after I said that prayer.

I stopped being nervous all the time. My life started to seem worth living, rather than some sort of hellish endurance test. I also started to make friends, real friends. I started to meet men who wanted nothing more than to see me recover. They helped me and I helped them. Together, we got better.

I got back into school. A few years later, I graduated with a B.A. I got a job and held it. I saved money. I got a new car. In short, material possessions came my way. Still, those were a distant second to how I felt inside.

See, for the first time in my life, I felt like I had a soul. I wasn’t putting up a façade. I was able to be myself around others. I was able to share honestly about my problems, fears, and triumphs. I was able to be a man, a real man, for the first time.

That’s the biggest blessing sobriety has given me – the ability to look the world in the eye. Through getting sober, through getting into contact with a God personal to me, I was given the gift of life. In turn, I help new men get sober.

To go from a shell of a human being to a man of integrity, well, all I can say is – what a life.

Learn the amazing places sobriety will take you!

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