500 Days Sober

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My day job is running a business. My night job is teaching communications courses at a local university. And my passion job is building the OYA Community. One of my students recently shared her story with me and I’m sharing it with you today because Nov. 4 is 500 days of sobriety for Kayla Fosse! MWM

Reading Midwestern Mama’s blog post about the three R’s (Recovery, Relapse, and Ready) in regards to addiction definitely hit home for me, as my story includes all three. When I meet new people now, the look on their faces when I tell them I’m in recovery is always one of shock. I’m an attractive, outgoing, responsible 24-year old-woman, and it surprises everyone to learn that I suffered (still suffer) from an addiction to alcohol.

In July 2014 I lost my job because I got drunk and didn’t show up. I was newly 21 and I just wanted to party with my friends.

I brushed it off, used my bubbly personality to get a new job, and kept drinking.

In November 2014 I totaled my car under the influence of alcohol, taking out another car in the process. It was a frigid Tuesday afternoon, and for some reason the cops didn’t suspect anything. There were no consequences, so I kept drinking. In January 2015 I lost that new job because again, I got drunk and didn’t show up. Two days later, after an encounter with an ex-boyfriend, I went on my first (but not last) three-day drinking bender which ended up landing me in my first (again, but not last) detox, with a whopping .33 BAC.

It was a mandatory 72-hour hold, due to the fact that in my blackout state of mind, I threatened suicide.

During those three days I was urged to go directly to an impatient treatment program and start on anti-depressants. Instead, I got out and continued drinking.

In just 8 months I was hired and fired three times. I would shut myself in my basement with a bottle of alcohol and stay there for days. I suffered withdrawals when I stopped drinking; insomnia, night sweats, and brain zaps were becoming normal for me.

I had graduated from drinking and driving to drinking WHILE driving and I had mastered the one-eye-shut technique, always managing to make it home.

Until September anyway, when my actions finally caught up to me and I was charged with DWI in the third degree – having blown .24, three times the legal limit.

I spent two nights in jail before I was released on an at-home alcohol monitor. I thought I could “beat the system” and still drink at certain times. I was wrong, of course, and due to my violation of probation, I got picked up on a warrant. I spent six days in jail before being released. Due to my violation, and my mom’s admission to the judge that I was a severe alcoholic, court didn’t go well and I was given the condition that I couldn’t drink alcohol. I used this excuse as to why I wasn’t drinking, often complaining to people who asked about my “bullshit” probation conditions, making promises to throw a huge party when I got off and was able to get drunk again.

I was angry, at first, but after being sober for a few months I started to see glimpses of my old self again.

I had gotten hired at a new job that I absolutely loved, I was making great money and paying off all of my fines, as well as setting up old debt payments. (A lot of bills pile up when you spend all of your money on alcohol). I was working out regularly.

I was spending more time with family that I had spent a long time shutting out.

The puffiness in my face was gone, my hair was shiny again and my skin wasn’t dry and cracked anymore. This lasted six months exactly, before I decided that I wasn’t on probation’s radar and drinking a few beers here and there wouldn’t hurt.

I thought I could keep it under control.

But, as I’m sure most relapse stories go, I couldn’t keep it under control very long.

A few beers turned into 7. Then I added in hard liquor, and before long I was on another drinking bender. This time it lasted an entire week, resulting in the loss of the job I loved so much. I was ashamed and embarrassed, wondering why I was the way I was. My manager urged me to go to treatment, telling me that if I completed a program he’d give me my job back.

So, on June 22, 2016 I woke up and decided I could never drink again. This time, I was actually ready.

I completed a six-week outpatient treatment program, learning a lot in the process. The room was filled with men and women in their forties and fifties, who all pointed at me and said, “If I had figured this out when I was 23, I wouldn’t be here today.” This was motivation for me. These people had lost their children, freedom, houses, and careers. I didn’t want to be like that. I wasn’t like them. I had a great childhood, a big, supportive family, and plenty of amazing friends. I was ready to stop with the excuses and own my problem.

Now, if people ask why I’m not drinking, I’m honest and say that I can’t control myself when I drink and I’m better off without it.

Honesty is the biggest thing I’ve learned in recovery. Owning your actions, admitting your faults, and asking for forgiveness. I used to lie so much. “I’m just going to a friend’s tonight.” “I’ve only had one beer.” “I won’t be able to make it into work today because my car won’t start.” While I don’t work any type of program, I do follow the “one day at a time” mantra. I lay my head on my pillow every night and thank God that I didn’t drink alcohol that day.

November 4 will be 500 days sober, and while I’m sure my friends and family are proud of me, I’m the most proud.

I love the person that I am today. I went back to school, and I’ll graduate in April 2018. I’m fixing my credit score. I’m healthy. I’ve more than accepted the fact that I’m just someone who can’t drink alcohol, and I’m happy to share my story.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

 

From Rock Bottom to Recovery – A Young Woman’s Story

Our guest blogger this week is Maddie, a remarkably smart young woman in recovery. Through Maddie’s story, parents and licensed professionals might better understand youth substance use – and more importantly, recognize that it is entirely possible to progress from rock bottom to recovery and why family support is key to that. I have known Maddie and her family for many years and am so pleased to share her story with the OYA Community. Thank you, Maddie, for courageously writing this week’s guest post. MWM

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On April 20th, 2012, I hit another bottom. It wasn’t the first bottom I had hit and it wouldn’t be the last.

I had reached the ‘jumping off place’ where I couldn’t live with alcohol and drugs, but I couldn’t live without it. Sometimes, it surprises me that I couldn’t see my addiction sooner, but the compulsions and denial of addiction were incredibly strong.

My addiction escalated slowly enough to be inconspicuous to those around me for a time, but quickly enough for me to hit several serious bottoms before I graduated from college. By the time I turned 22, I was on a consistent, daily rotation between marijuana, Adderall, Klonopin, and alcohol.

Occasionally, I would use cocaine or other drugs I deemed ‘recreational,’ but by the end of my addiction there was nothing ‘recreational’ about my drug use.

In the beginning, I would have considered myself a ‘binge drinker.’ I would only smoke pot, experiment with pills, and drink copious amounts of alcohol on weekends. By 15, cocaine had became an integral part of my problem. I remember ducking in the back of my mother’s BMW X3 as my sister and her boyfriend drove through Cabrini Green and the other Chicago ghettos bathed in blue lights from constant surveillance to pick up cocaine from some low-level drug dealer. I was afraid of getting shot.

This began the constant cycle of tearing down my life and building it back up, ad-nauseum. While I began experiencing the consequences of my addiction immediately, I was unaware of them until my illness had destroyed everything worthwhile in my life: my relationship with my friends and family, my self-worth, my physical safety, my emotional stability, my independence, my sense of humor, my integrity, and the list goes on.

My emotional stability was the first to go.

In November of 2004, I had my first major suicide attempt at age 15. I swallowed an entire bottle of bulk Tylenol P.M. a few days before Thanksgiving. I would have died that night if my sister hadn’t heard me stumbling around upstairs trying to make it to the toilet – dizzy from all the sleep aid. My parents took me to the hospital down the street. In the waiting room with my mom, I had not yet lost consciousness, but I could barely keep my head up.

Once admitted, they tested me for drugs and pregnancy, even though I was not yet sexually active and I had barely kissed a boy. They found cocaine in my system and deep cuts on my left forearm that I had made with a dull pair of scissors and occasionally one of my mother’s gourmet cooking knives.The doctors gave me an IV and forced me to drink charcoal. I slept for over 24 hours and when I woke up, my mom was in the corner sobbing. It’s hard for me to think about the pain I caused her that night and for many nights to come during my active addiction.

I spent most of junior and senior year grounded, which was great for me. I was able to study and take care of myself, get good grades, and find friends outside of the party scene. I spent a lot of time with my parents and their friends during this time; we would go to Steppenwolf or out to dinner. My mom and I would work out together like fiends. Things got better. Without alcohol and drugs, I was able to put my life back together for brief periods of time. Inevitably, I would drink and use again; everything would begin to fall apart again.

To self-medicate during my dry periods,  I started smoking pot. When I smoked, I wasn’t blacking out and falling face first on our stoop or throwing up in the elevator shaft or getting in random cars or going near Cabrini Green to pick up drugs. I was sleeping, reading, watching movies, and studying. It took away that persistent and aching longing I always felt (and sometimes still feel).

When I was accepted to a prestigious liberal arts college in Southern California, I found friends who drank and used just like I did. Often, we went through two or three handles a night between five of us 130-pound girls with the aid of Adderall and cocaine. We were the blackout crew: high all day and incredibly smart. During my freshman year, I went out 6-7 days a week to party and my health suffered. I had Bronchitis over 3 times that year.

In the spring of my Junior year, I was sexually assaulted. While I had been struggling with my depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts for some time, I had never had symptoms this severe. Once I started crying, I would beat myself with my fists or a hammer until I could get myself to stop – often an hour later. I withdrew from all of my friendships and started isolating. I began blaming my friends and family for being unable to save me from myself. Looking back, this was the point where my addiction stopped being a choice: I could either use or kill myself.

Everything after that was a blur. I would have periods of okay-ness (not happiness) where I could get my work done, take care of myself, and was moving forward. Then, about every 3 months everything would come crashing down again and it felt like I had to start completely over.

I remember throughout college I would keep a post-it note on my mirror that said “no smoking before 4 p.m.” Eventually, I crossed out the 4 and wrote 2. I never was able to make it. I remember I would leave my drugs at home while I was studying in the library. About 30 minutes into studying, I would have to drive home – the anxiety so overwhelming I felt like my skin was crawling.

During the spring of my senior year, I was trying desperately to graduate. My mom flew out three or four times that semester to help me pick up the pieces of my disintegrating life and to help me finish my Economics degree. On April 20th, my senior thesis was due and I couldn’t turn it in. I remember people coming to my house to celebrate 420 and sobbing in my room. I kept taking Klonopin to soothe my anxiety, but it stopped working so I kept taking more.

I don’t remember this, but  I called my sister that night and told her I was suicidal. I don’t remember this, but she showed up later that day to find a bottle of Klonopin spilled all over the floor. She panicked and called my mom, who showed up the following day. My roommates found out I was suicidal and kicked me out of the house because they were scared about what I might do. While I worked on finishing the last requirements of my degree, my mom cleaned the bile, piss, shit, and blood of the walls of my room so I could move out. Through sheer luck, they let me graduate.To this day, that entire month is blurry; I was in so much pain and had been ingesting so many drugs that I have lost most of those memories.

Two weeks after graduation, my behavior had become increasingly erratic and my parents kicked me out until I agreed to get help. My relationship with my parents was all I had left and I believe that setting that boundary saved my life.

The next day, I committed myself to a 7-day inpatient treatment center in the next city over. They took my shoelaces and locked-up all of my stuff.

This is where the healing began.

Often, there is a tendency to ‘make sense’ of an addiction by blaming certain people or circumstances for causing this behavior, problem. For me, I blamed my addiction on bullying, sexual assault, depression, being bipolar, or tumultuous family life. In my opinion, I was born an alcoholic. I always drank and used differently than those around me. From my first real drunk, I seemed to drink with a purpose: to get drunk. Each time I drank, I almost always would puke, black-out, or both. Today, I am grateful I only faced some of the consequences associated with addiction and my family has stayed by my side through my sickness and my recovery.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

 

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

Sober at 17

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One of my former students at Metro State University was especially supportive and informative when we were worried sick about our son’s addiction – because she had firsthand insight. We became fast friends and later colleagues at work. Today, she’s our guest blogger sharing her experience with addiction, sobriety and recovery as a young adult. Please welcome Lisa Grimm! MWM

Six shots of Bacardi Limon, I threw up and fell in love all in the same night. I was 15.

And I would fall truly, madly, deeply in love with alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine over the next two and a half years.

Up until this time my parents, sober alcoholics since before I was born, had said things like, “Don’t drink or do drugs. It won’t mix well with your body chemistry.” My body chemistry? Without further explanation that statement was awkward enough to keep me away, for a time. I was also acutely aware that most of my deceased lineage had died because of the bottle, which legit scared me.

My childhood was difficult for many reasons. Out of respect to my family I won’t air specific grievances. I will say that my parents were battling some significant issues. I was exposed to some very grown up things at a very young age (mental illness, anger management, financial struggles, legal proceedings of epic proportions, and the list goes on) and endured mental, emotional and physical abuse along the way.

My parents divorced when I was four. My dad remarried shortly after. I attended eight schools before high school making it difficult to cultivate meaningful and lasting relationships.

As an only child with emotionally unavailable parents (P.S. I love them so much), I spent a lot of time alone (and lonely) leaning on movies, my imagination and wandering the streets to help me process my surroundings and teach me about the workings of life and the world. While I knew something was deeply wrong, I accumulated survival tools wherever I could find them and carried on. I deflected the hard stuff and became a chameleon of sorts, blending into my surroundings.

When I took that first drink my surroundings expanded far and wide. I had a new group of friends and a full social calendar. It felt like anything was possible.

Those warnings from my parents still had a hold, so I declared almost immediately that I would just drink and never do drugs. Two months later I started smoking pot.

Experimentation continued and within a few years I was smoking pot several times a day had dabbed in hallucinogens which led to ecstasy and cocaine, and boy oh boy what a joy they were.

As Josey Orr says, “The typical progression for many drug addicts goes something like this: 1. Fun 2. Fun with problems 3. Just problems.” Well, the problems began almost immediately with a rapidly plummeting fun quotient. There are so many details I’d like to share with you, but this isn’t a book nor are there pictures so I’ll cut to the chase :).

On November 3, 2000 at the ripe age of 17 I experienced my last of a long list of consequences related to my alcohol and drug use.

I had become careless and sloppy, as evidenced by the sizable bag of pot hanging out of my brand new winter coat as I was leaving the house to go party that Friday night. My stepmom, tired of it all and one to always call the kettle, called me to the living room and along with my dad offered me three choices. I could:

 

  1. Go to the Bloomington Police Station and take a possession charge (she wasn’t kidding), OR
  2. Go to treatment, OR
  3. Go to 90 AA meetings in 90 days

 

I was living with them after being kicked out of my mom’s house for the last time. Despite my family banding together through group therapy and other means to confront my use and problems, by this time I had been arrested twice, kicked out of flight school at University of North Dakota (the day before my solo flight) due to one of those arrests, nearly kicked out of Cretin Derham-Hall High School for disciplinary issues and declining grades, and a slew of other damaging things to my body and mind, and others—namely my family.

As with most addicts, it’s a long and varied list of shittiness.

I knew deep down that I was killing myself. I knew that the young woman I had become was someone not only unrecognizable, but someone I didn’t want to be. But the gravity of the emptiness and pain I felt inside had become so pervasive sedation was the most effective option to deal. So… I chose 90 meetings in 90 days. Not only was it was a far better option than treatment (or spending some time in a cell, even if brief) it was the easiest to manipulate. “Sure” I thought. “I’ll go to these meetings and carry on with my routine and they’ll never know.”

Naturally, I got good and high and went to my first meeting on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. at Uptown House on Summit Ave. in St. Paul, Minn. I didn’t know these people, they weren’t trying to tell me I had a problem. They were simple sharing what it had been like for them, what happened and what it’s like now. They didn’t look like me or talk like me, but for the first time ever I related to this group of people in the most real and authentic way I knew existed. I saw myself in them and it gave me a lot of hope. It also scared the shit out of me.

After an evening of tears and getting honest with myself, I made the decision that I would go to 90 meetings in 90 days and do what was asked of me. If I didn’t like what I found there I would continue as I had been and write the whole thing off.

I got a Big Book, a sponsor, went to meetings regularly, worked the steps, and found a wonderful group of young sober people to hang with. I told my friends at school that I had to take care of some things for a while and if there were still there when I got back that would be great.

I said the serenity prayer from my car to the door of school every morning and periodically throughout the day, just to make it through.

I showed up at meetings early to set up and clean up. I participated in leadership roles in my home group meeting. I took meetings to women’s treatment centers and detox facilities. When I had thoroughly worked through the steps, I shared my experience, strength and hope with other women. My family supported me, but continued to enforce strong checks and balances until I built up trust.

I’ve been sober ever since. I was a senior in High School a few months shy of my 18th birthday.

My life is better than anything I could have imagined, and it continues to get better. Even the shitty moments in life are better because I have the tools to deal with all of it, like a grown up. I have accomplished so many things because of my recovery, but the most lovely and dearest to me is restored relationships with my family and the relationships and love recovery enables. There is no greater gift in this life than being able to have true intimacy and love with other humans. No amount of money, material, professional or personal accolades will fill your soul like this does, at least this is true for me.

I’m beyond grateful for the people in that room that night, my family for loving me through the good, bad and the ugly, the amazing community of sober pals I have and the friends I have that don’t treat me/act differently because of it.

Cheers to another day!

Bio:

Lisa Grimm (@lulugrimm) is a Minneapolis native who recently relocated to Austin, Texas, where she leads social media for Whole Foods Market. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and American Bulldog, snacking, traveling, watching movies and documentaries, and volunteering at Healing with Horses Ranch.

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.