The Long Road to Recovery
The Long Road to Recovery
Alcoholism and the disease of addiction have been viewed in two strong yet completely different ends of the spectrum for as long as men and women have been losing control of how much and when they drink. One end of the spectrum is the immoralist point of view, which claims the “alcoholic as not having morals”. When describing alcoholics, they have also been known to call them “sinful” or “moral weaklings”. Throughout history, the alcoholic has been ridiculed, as described by Gary Stofle in the article “The Morality of Alcoholism”: “Society has ascribed to these views as evidenced by the fact that alcoholics have been jailed just for being alcoholics in the past. At worst, alcoholics have been killed or left to die because of society’s views and from a lack of knowledge concerning the treatment of alcoholism as well. At best, alcoholics have been laughed at, scorned, pitied, and/or run out of town”.
These views of the alcoholic have caused a great many to relapse, and even die when all that was needed was a little understanding of the disease. The biggest problem with holding this view of addiction is that it can be potentially fatal for the alcoholic of The Long Road to Recovery 3 my caliber. The other end of the spectrum that I hold to be truer, yet still don’t agree completely with, is the view of the Amoralist. “The alcoholic must also understand that he is not responsible for the things he said or did when he was drinking. The physical addiction controlled his behavior, and because he is powerless over the addiction, he cannot be held responsible for it”. My purpose in this essay is to give my first-hand experience of the pain and despair that the disease of alcoholism can cause, and how if you are willing to do whatever it takes to end the pain and the suffering, anyone can be relieved from the same hopeless state of mind and body as I was. My name is Mike and I am an alcoholic. I am responsible for the things that I have done while being loaded. What makes me an alcoholic is that when I drink, I don’t know how much I will drink, or what I will end up doing while I am loaded; what I mean by that is when I consume alcohol or any other drug, I release my addiction all over again, and I am at the mercy of it. I lose my power of choice, between doing the right things and the wrong things. When I am loaded, there are only three places that I can end up: jails, institutions, and death.
The Long Road to Recovery 4
There are three main stages regarding the disease of addiction colon in the early stage, the middle stage, and the end-stage. C. H. Angel writes, “During the early stage of alcoholism an individual becomes more dependent upon alcohol. If a person has a stressful day, alcohol will be consumed to alter his or her mood. Alcohol is used to relieve stress on a regular basis”. I remember this stage clearly, this is when I was just trying to “fit in” and be one of the “cool kids” when I still had the power to control whether or not I got drunk. (Keep in mind that when you cross from stage to stage, there is an imaginary line that you cross. You don’t know when you are about to approach it, or even when you have crossed it, but it comes and then it goes. ) The middle stage is “the point where a person desires alcohol more intensely.
A person starts drinking more alcohol at one sitting. The person clearly starts losing control over his or her drinking”. When I got to this point in my life, my thoughts and actions were controlled by alcohol and drugs; just about all my actions were consumed with the thoughts of using. What I mean by that is everything I did I always had thoughts of when and where was I going to get my next fix. The Long Road to Recovery 5 Angel describes the end-stage as “the individual is obsessed with drinking. The individual drinks to the exclusion of all other people and all other aspects of his or her life. The individual’s problems with alcohol are apparent to everyone around that person. The mental, emotional, and physical health of the individual erodes rapidly in the end-stage. Serious problems are present all around: physical health, mental health, financial, inter-personal relationships, financial and legal”. When I hit this stage, my life, and my family’s life got turned upside down. I couldn’t hold down a job, nor did I want to, I had been to jail countless times, my family wanted nothing to do with me, and my children didn’t even know who I really was. I myself didn’t even know who I really was. But for the grace of a loving God, and a magic place of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was able to gain control over my addiction, and I was relieved from a hopeless state of mind and body. What my life was like I am not exactly sure as to why I became an alcoholic, and I might not even know why I was afflicted with a disease that there is no known cure.
But the fact remains; I am, and I will always be one, and I am ok with it. I had a mother who The Long Road to Recovery 6 loved me dearly, and a stepfather who, as long as I could remember, always made me fight for his approval, attention, and even his love. I am not saying that he didn’t love me or anything of the sorts. But I always felt like I was in a competition with my sister (who is biologically his) to get a piece of him all to myself. I grew up never meeting my biological father, and still to this day I have never met him, and now it is too late because he has been dead for a couple of years now. My mother isn’t an alcoholic, but my biological father did lose his battle with his disease of addiction in 2004, so the only thing that I could safely assume is that I got the gene from him, but since he is gone I will never know for sure. For the most I had a good childhood, nothing too traumatic ever really happened to me, I lived a sheltered, uneventful life. I lived in with my parents up until the day that I graduated from high school in 1997. I was always surrounded by people who loved and cared for me. So I don’t completely understand where I went wrong. When I hit my bottom, I had been battling my addiction for many years. I had been in jail over and over again. “For those suffering from the disease of alcoholism it seems to be an almost universal truth that before things can get The Long Road to Recovery 7 better, they have to get worse — sometimes a lot worse”. That was completely true for me; every incident by itself was never enough to stop doing what I was doing.
Buddy writes, “Alcoholism is a progressive disease; there comes a point at which even the most dedicated drunk decides that there just might be a problem. Alcoholism does not stay in one place. It doesn’t hit a certain stage and then levels off. It keeps deepening, affecting him physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. On all of those levels he keeps getting worse until finally, he hits bottom”. Then after years of abuse, to me and my family, it all came to ahead. On October 2, 2002, my house got raided for the manufacturing of methamphetaminescomma and that was the end of life as I knew it. As a result of the house getting raided, my kids got taken away from me and placed with my parents, because I had failed them miserably as a father. Warped lives of blameless children” is what my sponsor used to tell me; and, boy, was he right about that. My daughter was a year old and my son was two months old when they were taken away from me because I was a danger to them. It is only by the grace of a loving God that nothing had happened to them that I couldn’t repair. The Long Road to Recovery 8 As a result of mine and my ex-wife’s addiction, my son is autistic. He is high functioning, yet he is still autistic, so the poor decisions that I had made, will affect him for his whole life. I spent 110 days in the county jail until I was released from jail on February 26, 2003.
Even after I was released from jail, I still continued to drink and use drugs, until I quit trying to mask the pain that I felt, and tried to do something about the pain I had caused. So on March 20, 2003, I quit trying to control my life, cause my best decisions got me into the situation that I was in, from that day to this one, I have not taken a drug or a drink to hide any longer. What life is like now. When I quit trying to control my life and let someone else take control, my life got better, I am not saying that it got better overnight, but it got better. On June 6, 2003, I was checked into inpatient treatment at a place called American Behavioral Health Systems, in Spokane Washington. That is when I started to get control of my demons that I had been struggling with for such a long time. That is where I had learned about myself, and my disease of addiction. I spent 3 months there working on the things that brought my life crashing down around me.
The Long Road to Recovery 9
While I was in treatment, I took responsibility for my actions and the damage that I caused. I quit trying to blame my circumstance on the people around me, and I came to the realization that all of the things that went on in my life, had one common denominator, and that was me. Once I found out what made me tick, what I wanted out of life, and how drugs and alcohol played a detrimental role in ever attaining any of those things. I learned what I needed to do to get all of the things that I wanted out of life and most importantly how I could do it without drugs and alcohol. Too much personal testimony for this research-related paper. While in treatment, I started to repair some of the damages that I had put my children and my family through. In most cases, it took time to heal the wounds. As for my children, I had supervised visits with them, while they still lived with my parents. Once I had completed impatient treatment and moved to Yakima, I had visits with them once a week till, in February 2004, after 18 months of living with my parents, they came to live with me again. The only reason that they were able to do that was that I was no longer a danger to them. The day they came back to me was the greatest day ever. I have to admit, that I was really scared about the whole deal because I wasn’t sure how to be a father, a sober.
The Long Road to Recovery 10 father.
Then I came to the realization, that when I was loaded I wasn’t a father anyways. Today, I repair the damage that I have caused by not creating any more pain. I am the best father that I can be to my children today, and as long as I don’t get loaded today, they will never have seen me or remember seeing me loaded. As for going to jail, I haven’t been back since the last time that I got out in 2003. I took me to get clean, to realize that the only time that I had ever gone to jail was because of drugs and alcohol. So for today, I am a single father of three beautiful children, who love me with all of their hearts, no matter what I have done in the past. They know what I have done because I don’t lie or hide who I was from them. They know that I have made mistakes, and they have forgiven me, and they love and accept me for who I am, and not who I was. If you think that you might know someone, who is suffering from the disease of addiction, as outlined in the DSM-lV.
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- Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e. g. , repeated absences or poor work performance related to alcohol use; alcohol-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children household).
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous
- (e. g. driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by alcohol use)
- Recurrent alcohol-related legal problems (e. g. , arrests for alcohol-related disorderly conduct)
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the alcohol (e. g. , arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights). If you see any of these signs, don’t be afraid that you are going to hurt their feelings, because it is not about sparing their feelings, it about saving their life.
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The most important thing before an alcoholic can be approached is that they show signs of readiness to change. If the signs are not there, any attempts to make them change will fail. The readiness to change doesn’t just happen, it takes time, and the time that I talk about is presented in steps. “Precontemplation (not ready for a change), contemplation (ambivalence about change), preparation (planning for a change), action (the act of change), and maintenance (maintaining the new behavior)”.Not everybody stays off of drugs and alcohol on their first try. Relapse is common in the recovery process. This usually occurs when the alcoholic doesn’t feel as if he or she had a problem. But if they are truly an alcoholic, they will eventually realize that they are, and they will ask for help. There are many places that a person can get help to solve the problems of addiction. You can go to inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or just go straight to the rooms of alcoholics anonymous. Here is a list of some places where you can go to Washington for help: Good!
- Retrieved Feb 28, 2010, from mentalhelp.net Angel C. H. (2007)