No matter where you might be with substance misuse, you are not alone. The following are local and national resources to help individuals, friends, and family members get help with substance misuse:
Wilmington and North Carolina Resources can be found at the UNCW Virtual Recovery Fair.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a research dissemination center. It provides research based information for parents, teens, teachers, health and medical professionals, and the criminal justice community.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services. They can help with finding treatment centers and providers. There are also links to the National Helpline and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
My “drinking career” spanned 2 decades of my adult life and went relatively unnoticed by my family and friends. Please understand that I do not say this in a boastful manner. I am appalled that I was able keep up the charade for almost 20 years. To hide the fact that I drank every single day (other than a rare 2-day dry spell) took an immense amount of effort. Now that the first layers of alcoholic fog have lifted from my mind…I can reflect on the extensive lengths I went to hide my addiction. Hiding in dirty bathroom stalls to chug wine, drinking on the job, stealing alcohol from others, carrying wine in my purse daily…always terrified I was going to run out. Terrified to be sober. Terrified to be alone with my thoughts, my feelings, & myself.
By the grace of God and through a commitment to 12-Step work, I am sober today…and just for today. I try not to worry about tomorrow or get bogged down in thoughts of yesterday. Either of those will lead me right back to a drink. I try to live in the present day – which is not always easy! But I have learned that living in the NOW is the only place I find true joy and peace. Enjoying the little moments and focusing on gratitude.
For most of my life, I thought the world revolved around me. It started in childhood and continued through adulthood. I loved being the center of attention. I was an expert at people-pleasing…not out of genuine concern for the happiness of others, but because I wanted the praise for being “so helpful”. I was self-centered, self-seeking, and all too eager to wallow in self-pity. Conversely, I was also extremely bossy and always had to be running the show. My relationship with alcohol began when I was 25 years old and was like fuel on the fire for both characteristics. I became increasingly more selfish, controlling, manipulative, bossy, and perhaps more importantly…. AFRAID.
Underneath all the achievements and attempts to people-please, I was afraid of never being good enough. Alcohol gave me self-confidence and freedom from self-criticism. When I was drinking, I finally felt good about myself…I felt free…I felt accepted. However, as soon as the buzz wore off, I felt even lower than the day before. Anxiety attacks were a daily occurrence and I lived for 5:00pm…when I could leave work and start drinking again. Every day between the hours of 7am-5pm I had to pretend that I was a functioning adult…a responsible mother…a competent employee. I smiled the smile and talked the talk…but on the inside I was a frazzled mess. Every night I would wake up around 3am shaking and sweating from the alcohol exiting my system. I had difficulty concentrating and always felt overwhelmed by life. The more overwhelmed I felt…the more I tried to control and micromanage my life. Until one day, I just gave up from sheer exhaustion. I finally reached the point of being “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
The best analogy I have for my “awakening” is to imagine a person is standing in the middle of a frozen lake…and the terrifying moment when they start to hear the sound of ice cracking beneath their feet. They know if they do not act quickly to get to shore…the ice will give way and they will plunge into the cold, dark waters below. That is where I was with my drinking. Alcohol had ceased to be my friend and I could not drink enough wine to escape myself any longer. It simply was not working. The more I drank, the worse I felt…and I knew I was heading for disaster.
Walking into a 12-Step Recovery program and seeking additional therapy were some of the best decisions I have ever made. Today I am grateful for my experience with alcohol because through my recovery I have been able to gain true confidence, peace, joy, and acceptance. I have taken a long hard look at myself in the mirror and admitted where I needed to change…and then prayed for the willingness to make those changes. I used to be terrified of living life without alcohol…but today, I wouldn’t trade one minute of my sobriety for a drink. There is no greater gift you can give yourself than freedom from addiction and a chance to live your beautiful life wearing new lenses! If any part of this story hits home for you, please reach out for help NOW! You deserve to be free…