My alcohol and drug counselor asked me one simple question upon our first meeting. The answer would be the turning point in my life. I had become addicted to alcohol. I had just hit rock bottom. I was unsure, scared and lost. All I wanted was a quick and easy cure for this affliction. I wanted to have the instant gratification of healing. I was finally sober. I had finally walked away from that bottle and never looked back. Here was this stranger in front of me asking, “Why did you quit drinking?” I thought, What an odd question to ask someone who just quit drinking. My bewildered response was “I want a better life." I didn’t know it then, but that simple answer was the foundation of what was to become my recovery.
At the time I thought the question was absurd. How could anyone ask an alcoholic why they would quit drinking? I thought, Wasn’t it obvious? I also thought, What more do you want from me? I went into counseling to get all of the answers. I wanted that quick fix and the instant gratification. When I look back at my drinking days, I realized that that question was the perfect one to ask. It forced me to look at myself. It challenged me to think beyond the moment.
There were so many reasons as to why I drank. The main reason was because I was in pain. It sounds so simple because everyone has pain but not everyone becomes a full blown addict. I do not think anyone can predict who will become an addict or who can handle what trauma. All I can say is that I chose alcohol to cover up that pain. I did not believe that I would become an alcoholic. The pain still hovered like a fog around me and remained suspended. The alcohol had unplugged me from myself and rewired me to only be able to function with it. Alcohol had now set up a home inside of me. I could no longer find any reasons to quit.
The reason to quit would eventually find me. I had hit a rock bottom in my life. I was seeking a connection to myself again. I craved becoming a better person. I wanted to be more than just alcohol. I needed tools and guidance to help me obtain the change I was searching for again. I needed to start filling myself up with new ideas, new ways of thinking, new language skills, and self-love to heal the old wounds. But how do I go from zero to a hundred over night? I sobered up and knew I needed help to stay that way. I was sober but not yet healed. The pain I had been drinking away was still there. I remember what someone told me and that was the ‘pain could not hurt you the same way it did the first time’. That is how I found my way to alcohol and drug counseling.
The counseling helped me to realize the difference between being sober versus recovery. I could quit drinking but still carry on the same dysfunctional behaviors that kept me in alcoholism. I knew that I needed to recover from what alcohol had put me through. I also knew that process would not be easy. I had to learn about myself, seek out resources I might not have thought about, and connect these new tools to my life. I had to get out of my comfort zone and learn what worked for me. So many things helped me along the way, such as culture, spirituality, self-help techniques, research, Alcoholics Anonymous, meditation, lists. I was an active participant in my recovery. I embraced my pain that once used to hover around me. Then one day I realized that I became an active participant in my own life again and that I was in control.
I don’t feel better because of my sobriety. I don’t feel like I am better than the "drunk" or "drugged-out" person I encounter on the street. Sobriety does not automatically make me a better person. The act of taking alcohol or drugs out of my life does not make me the judge and jury of anyone else. I feel better about myself because of my recovery. All I can do is share my personal experience. I feel like I am in recovery from my addiction but I also feel like I’ve recovered myself from the wreckage of my own life.
My recovery makes me better than I was and not better than anyone else. I feel empowered by what I’ve found and I want others to feel that way too. I never thought I’d become an alcoholic but while I was drinking I never thought I would ever quit .So why should the average person care if they’ve never had a drinking or drug abuse problem? What is the difference between my addiction articles compared to all the addiction articles out there? The difference is that maybe you and I will walk passed one another on the streets of Prince Albert. Maybe I could be someone you already know.