My Road to Salvation (and Sobriety)
No one plans on becoming an addict, but it’s given me a powerful story to tell.
By Mary Kiser, Trident Technical College
In my eyes, my addiction was a curse, not a blessing.
Who wanted withdrawal’s shakes, sweats and shits? Who wanted recovery’s stone-cold sobriety? Who wanted society’s stigma of a weak, pathetic loser? Who wanted to be an addict?
I was certainly unprepared for the challenge, as were my family and friends. After all, I was the golden child. I was reliable, respectful and reserved. My friends loved me, my teachers commended me and my parents were proud of me. On the outside, I was close to perfection, though my inside was screwed up.
I had to walk a certain way, talk a certain way and think a certain way. I was less like a child and more like a robot. If I made any mistake, whether it be mispronouncing a word, sassing my mother or having a fit, I had to reboot. Like magic, my entire slate was wiped clean. My former blunders were irrelevant because I was an entirely different person.
When I was eight-years-old, a professional provided an explanation for my behavior. She typed a five-page report detailing my diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and suggested therapy. My parents ignored her advice. Why? “Well, you were a very happy child,” my mother says (a little too emphatically).
She raised me with only the best of intentions in mind, but she was in denial about my disorder. Each year brought with it an onslaught of different anxieties. I was convinced I owed everyone an apology, needed to leave the state or was going to hell. To be honest, I felt like I was in hell. There was no escape or exit, and I finally crumbled under my worries. The weight was too much to bear.
In October 2012, I got high for the very first time. I had taken two Ambien (a sedative) pills from the kitchen cabinet. Within fifteen minutes, I was transported into outer space. My room was pitch-black, and wispy-like stars were attached to my walls and blinds. Like an astronaut, I defied gravity. I was in the dark and floating, completely gone from my mind. The experience was amazing, and it was only the beginning.
I was hooked instantly. Despite outward appearances, my inside was screwed up even more. As three years flew by, my fears stayed the same. Due to my drinking and drugging, I owed everyone an apology, tried to leave the state (a couple times) and knew hell was an overdose away.
M y struggle went beyond anxiety (and depression). I had the gorilla of addiction on my back. I fought more than the cravings and withdrawals. I fought anxiety, depression and trauma too. It was almost impossible to tackle everything at once. Through prescribed medication and therapy, I was able to heal. On March 4, 2016, I was reborn.
Not every addict is as lucky. “The most thorough attempt to understand what happens to addicts and alcoholics who stay sober is an eight-year study of nearly 1,200 addicts. Only about a third of people who are abstinent less than a year will remain abstinent. For those who achieve a year of sobriety, less than half will relapse. If you can make it to five years of sobriety, your chance of relapse is less than 15 percent,” according to Omar Manejwala M.D.
I thought alcohol and drugs were the solution, but they expounded my underlying problems. My anxiety grew into panic attacks, and my depression grew into suicide attempts. As the discomfort and pain increased, my usage skyrocketed. It was a vicious cycle.
When 2016 began, I had little hope. Recovery was a far-out concept, and I was only focused on my next fix. By some miracle, I managed to set, and maintain , a sobriety date. Although I rarely attended AA or NA, I attributed my success to a team of professionals, my loved ones and myself.
In less than a month, I’ll celebrate my one-year anniversary.
I was ashamed of the past three years and how I treated others, but I am proud of my sweat, blood and tears. I worked hard for my sobriety, and it was definitely a labor of love. My addiction really was a blessing in disguise. No more sloppy texts, drunken conversations, hazy nights or dangerous situations. The freedom I had chased was now the freedom I possessed. I am high on life.