Priya’s Battle With Addiction Blog Series: Part 11 of 12
Posted by Reboot
I was forced to try a 12 step programme of recovery from addiction at the young age of 23. Yes, my loved ones could tell the crux of all my problems very early in life. In retrospect, their vision and concern was a real blessing. I, on the other hand, had an inkling of my problem with alcohol but reluctantly I had agreed to seek help only because I was simply exhausted of the emotional and depressed wreck I had become.
Honestly, I didn’t want to quit drinking or using drugs, after all, I had experienced an exciting inning of life thanks to booze and dope even if it was for a few short lived years. I always hoped to get those days back and continued to chase that very high. Later in recovery, I was told that once an addict and alcoholic- I will always be an addict and an alcoholic and never again could I drink or use safely or socially. By this time I was convinced that there was no concept of social drinking or using for me and so I bid good bye to former friends- alcohol and drugs and began my journey of recovery with enthusiasm.
After my very first meeting, I knew I had finally found a place I truly belonged. At the meeting, everyone went around shared their stories one at a time. As I listened on, even though they were all much older in age than I was and had varied life experiences and drinking stories, I was stunned at how similar our emotions and the pain and chaos drinking caused was. The more I listened, the more I began to connect with them. Towards the last share, I even started to picture myself as they narrated their very personal stories. This was strange and uncanny. How was it that people with such different educational, personal and professional background spoke of all that I was struggling with? I enquired about this right after the meeting and a wise old-timer simply said: “that we were all too similar because we all have the same problem with alcohol”. I was convinced. This was now my lot of people and I would try and relate more and more. Walking out of that meeting, I believed that if I was to have a chance, only this lot of people can help me make it!
A few more meetings of just listening, I was ready and willing to give all of me to the programme. At one meeting I confessed to the fellows that I was ready to take their help. I realized that it was not just their struggles with alcohol and drugs that inspired me but most attractive was what they had become through the process of recovery. Never in my life had I met a group of strangers speaking their heart out without fear, guilt, shame, and remorse. They smiled and laughed at their own madness, then spoke of everyday struggles and working on faith. It was the glow and the positive vibe that they all carried that attracted me to their way of life. I wanted that sense of ease and comfort, I wanted the joy and peace they radiated and I was ready to go to any lengths to be just like them.
At the end of the meeting, two members shared their phone numbers with me. They asked me to call whenever I felt overwhelmed with emotions or felt like picking up a drink. “Call us before you drink and not after”, one of the other fellows handed me a thick piece of literature and said read a paragraph every morning. This piece of literature is today one of my most prized possession from the rooms.
A few fellows once suggested that to ensure strong and continued sobriety, I must start by doing 90 meetings in 90 days. Those days I was on a short sabbatical from work and decided I would take up their suggestion as I really had nothing to lose. Those 90 days prepared me well for a beautiful journey of recovery. I’m glad at that point some good sense prevailed and I just kept going back.
Early recovery was a roller-coaster ride. Between emotional outbursts and physical withdrawals, I wouldn’t have been able to come through alone. I’m grateful for this amazing fellowship that quickly became my biggest source of strength and guidance. Whatever I was told to do, I would simply action. I was told that, when it came to battling addiction and alcoholism, my intellect would serve no purpose. I was to put my intelligence aside and for once follow directions from those who had traveled the path before me.
I made a commitment to myself, I was going to do all in my power to not drink or use. My family gave away all the alcohol we stored in the house. We didn’t host any drinking parties at home for the next one year. I began to excuse myself from social gatherings and hanging out with my old using and drinking buddies. It was difficult at first but my instinct told me, this would be a small price to pay in order to get well in the long run.
To work through withdrawals I was told to keep candy and sweets in easy reach, and indulge whenever the craving for a drink or a drug came up. It worked like a miracle and the minor weight gain was the sheer delight! Next, I was also asked to watch out for three other triggers; feeling angry, lonely or tired. I found myself indulging in leisurely afternoon naps, hanging out with the programme fellows and picking up the phone to vent to a fellow member about anything and everything that bothered me. Finally, they told me just to keep coming to meetings and listening with an open mind, be willing to do whatever I was asked to and be rigorously honest to myself and the fellows. I admit it was all too overwhelming at first but then someone simply said- I could do it all just one day at a time. So I did!
Through these simple tips and tools and with the strong support and encouragement from my family and the fellowship, I found myself making it to 90 days of staying sober and clean for the first time in my life. It was unbelievable but I was thrilled! On my 90th day, I picked a sponsor, a lady who had been instrumental in me sticking to the 12 step programme and together we have been walking the road of recovery for the last five years.
I have no words to describe the adventure it has been, and without a doubt been worth all the pain and sacrifices. I feel that very sense of ease and comfort within me that I remember seeing in fellow members when I had just come into the programme. Today, whenever there is a newcomer, I push myself to be there to represent the power of 12 steps. Today I don’t tremble and shudder at the sight of alcohol or drugs, I look at it with respect knowing that they have nothing to offer me anymore. One day at a time, my life is now an amazing journey of growth and learning with experiences far more valuable that anything I would have learned when I used drugs and alcohol.
Priya is an Addict and an Alcoholic who came into recovery at the young age of 23. She continues to work a 12 step program closely with a sponsor and has been sober for 5 years since 2011. Priya lives in New Delhi-India and has a joyous and fulfilling personal and professional life. In her free time, Priya enjoys reading, listening to music, bake and watching movies. She strongly believes that for her to keep what she has learned in recovery, she must share her experience, strength and hope with other recovering Addicts and Alcoholics.