Never Quit Quitting: A Journey of Long-Term Sobriety

September 23, 2022 by chrysalis

TW // Discussions of Drug/Alcohol Use


September is Recovery Month. For this year’s blog, I interviewed an anonymous friend of mine who is soon to celebrate 15 years of sobriety! Special thanks to them for sharing their inspiration, hope, and wisdom. 

Tell me a little bit about your recovery journey. How long have you been clean/sober? What was the starting point for your recovery? What were the turning points/pivotal moments in your journey? 

I believe that I am a person who was born with the genetic predisposition to become an addict. From as young as I can remember, anything that made me feel “different” or “better”, even before drugs and alcohol, like food & male attention, I wanted MORE! There was never enough. When I discovered alcohol and drugs it was the same way. I would create boundaries for myself like, “I’ll never snort anything” or “I’ll never do drugs that make me hallucinate”, but I eventually breached all those boundaries and then some. Over the years, I would use and abuse any substance I could get my hands on but alcohol and cocaine were my favorite. I experienced a lot of awful consequences, some of them legal and social, but most of them emotional and detrimental to my self-worth and self-esteem. My husband went to treatment first. He started trying to get clean in 2005.
I decided I should try too even though I wasn’t “as bad as him.” (Honestly I just thought his drug use was the problem in our relationship). Fast forward two years after he goes to treatment and I am still a sloppy, falling-down drunk who can’t stay sober on her own. I finally surrendered in October of 2007. My sobriety date (and I am 100% abstinence-based sober; no weed, no delta8, no kratom, no nothing) is 10/13/2007. I got into a 12-step program and got a sponsor and was working the steps as best I could, but I was still very sick. About two years into my sobriety I got very into my eating disorder and was underweight with some other health issues due to my ED. I found myself in therapy and soon after changed sponsors and started to work on the steps again but more in-depth. During that process, both through therapy and steps, I started to change and find some peace. I also began medication for my anxiety at around 3 years sober, which has also been an amazing help. Doing a thorough 4th and 5th step, really digging into my resentments and why I behaved and chose the things I did, really changed my life and allowed me to see how I
worked in these patterns. They were always the same, just different characters, and they never worked. I was always unhappy with who I was and how I felt in my skin, and what was going on inside my head was complete self-hatred and chaos.
Working all 12 steps and continuing to do that today, along with the aforementioned therapy and medication, and a strong spiritual practice that my 12-step program helped me develop helps keep me in a place where, at most times, I feel an immense amount of peace, and even if I am unsettled or upset the peace is deep inside of me, I know it’s there and that maybe I am going through it for some time, but as long as I’ve continued this path, the peace has been there, even in the midst of the storms of life.

What do you do to maintain your recovery? What’s most helpful? 

As mentioned above, 12 step meetings (in several Fellowships), I have a sponsor, I sponsor others, and I pray, meditate and read spiritual readings almost every day. I continue to work on steps 10, 11, and 12, which we call the “maintenance steps”. I practice yoga in a way that helps me feel centered, strong, connected, and at peace with my body. I continue therapy and medication. I am transparent about my feelings and I am surrounded by a network of supportive friends and a husband who’s also clean and sober and we support each other’s health.  

Do you ever have any urges to drink or use? If so, how do you handle them? 

I still have a lot of dreams, but rarely ever the urge. Recently I did have a brief urge, it was the 1st one in I don’t know how many years. We had to put our sweet dog to sleep less than a week ago. It was just his time as he was old and very unwell, but it was still incredibly hard. I was in so much pain over his loss and the void he left in our little family. I cried for days leading up to it and days after. On the day we said goodbye my chest was so tight when we returned home and he wasn’t there, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to be in pain and the idea popped into my head “damn I could have a drink and numb this pain”. I know that’s a lie and my disease is just looking for a way to sneak in when I’m vulnerable. I talked to my husband, my sponsor, and other people in my network. I went to a meeting and shared. I prayed about it and found gratitude that I didn’t follow that urge and that it was only a fleeting thought. I emailed my therapist the next day too. I know that I am only as sick as my secrets so I don’t keep any, especially about my alcoholic mind.  

 What advice would you give to a newcomer in recovery? 

Don’t give up. If you drink again, come back to recovery anyway. Never stop stopping. You are worthy, your life can be peaceful and content. It takes time and it takes effort but the time and effort to get sober/clean is much better than the time you may stay drinking and using. It may suck in the beginning, but everyone you may meet has been where you are- so share your stuff, find a trusted group of folks in recovery that love and support your path, and get in the middle of recovery. Leave old people, places, and things alone for a while. One day you may be able to re-engage with some of your old activities as a sober person but for the first bit, let that stuff go and get on solid ground. Don’t give up on yourself. You’re not as bad as you tell yourself that you are. You are a sick person who made some bad choices, but you are not the sum of your mistakes. Those things are what you did, not who you are.

 What advice would you give to someone who has relapsed in their recovery? 

Relapse happens. It sucks, but it’s true. Addiction is a disease, so I try to think about it like this: if someone had cancer that was in remission, would we get mad at them if the cancer came back? Hell no! It’s a disease. Sometimes it takes more than one approach to treat it. Here’s another disease analogy: if you know you’re diabetic but don’t change your diet or take insulin, you will stay sick and probably die. The same is true for addiction; just knowing you have the disease does nothing for you. Self-knowledge will not heal you. Here’s the good news, recovery can and will heal you. Find a recovery path that works for you and follow it. Heal the parts of yourself that cause you to need substances to escape. Treat your disease like your life depends on it.  

Any quotes or mantras you use to help you through hard times? 

“Leap and the net will appear” – this is a quote I use about fear! Just do the darn thing. 

“Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all our problems” – this is a line from the Big Book and I have found this to be 100% true in my life. I got sober because I wanted to stop drinking and hurting, but what I got back was a blueprint for life, and a way of living that is unbelievable.  

“Never quit quitting.”  


Kelly Broadwater, LPA, LCMHC, CEDS-S specializes in working with eating disorders and co-occurring substance use disorders. She has been honored to be a part of many clients’ addiction recovery journeys.

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