5 Things You Lose When Getting Clean And Sober
Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Addiction Campuses.
5 Things You Lose When Getting Clean And Sober.
September is National Recovery Month. We celebrate the 23 million people across North America living in recovery. Community and transparency promote healing and support. Isolation and secrecy enable addiction. It’s important to note, addicted people aren’t bad guys with weak wills. They are sick people deserving of becoming well. By the time someone is thinking about addiction treatment, they’re not having fun. In fact, they’re using to feel normal. They don’t get the euphoric high they once did. Drugs/alcohol become part of their daily routine to stave off withdrawal. Addiction is hell. It truly is a demoralizing illness that plays out through every aspect of one’s life – dishonest thoughts, unhealthy actions and painful emotions.
I used to lie in bed at night and pray to God. I asked him to make me well. I desperately wanted to be free from the chains of addiction. When I imagined getting clean and sober, I thought of a country song being played backward. Meaning I hoped to get everything I lost back. But I never imagined losing a few things in the process…
No more guilt. Guilt says I made a mistake. It’s a message from your conscience. It’s appropriate to feel guilty when you’ve done something wrong. Addiction changes the chemical composition of your brain. It numbs emotions and clouds reality. To not feel guilty, may be a sign of psychopathy. In active addiction, unless high, I felt guilty all the time. I regretted hurting my family. I regretted losing my job. I regretted spending all our money. I regretted pawning my grandma’s heirlooms. I regretted stealing. I regretted lying. Changing my behavior was the first step in omitting guilt. Giving back, was the second. Although I couldn’t go back and change the past, I could go forward and change my future. When you live life at your personal best, there is no guilt. Only health, happiness and hope.
No more shame. Shame doesn’t say I made a mistake. It says I am a mistake. To stop hurting yourself, your self-value needs to be greater than the rewards you get from being high. When you hate yourself those rewards are simple. For a brief window of time drugs take you away – from you. The little voice that whispers in your head – I’m not good enough – goes away. But it doesn’t stay gone. When the buzz wears off it comes back louder than it was before. For recovery to occur you must find a safe, supportive community that shares in your journey. In other words, it’s important to find your tribe. They will help you disclose thoughts and feelings, which expose shame for what it really is… A big liar.
No more procrastination. I was always waiting for my life to get better. ‘One day’ things were going to change. When the time was right, I’d quit alcohol and drugs. A decade passed and I was still waiting. I had living problems, relational problems, emotional problems, psychological problems and financial problems. It seemed like everything about me, was a problem. Abusing alcohol and drugs exacerbated it all, ten-fold. When I got clean and sober my problems were still there. But I wasn’t alone. I had people who walked with me through those strange and new beginnings. They held me up when I made amends. They stood beside me when I wanted to run. They wiped my tears when I got real. They showed me how to live fully in the present moment and that the best time to deal with problems, is right now.
No more broken promises. In active addiction, I lied to everyone. I made promises I never kept and hurt a lot of people along the way. But none were hurt as deeply as my family. I’ll never forget the look in my child’s eyes as I pinky swore I would stop using. Her eyes were old and young, at the same time. She warred within herself. My little girl wanted to believe her Mommy, but her experience told her not to trust me. Truthfully, my words didn’t match my actions. Today I keep my promises. If I say I’ll be there, I will. Getting clean and sober allowed me to prioritize what’s important. My family used to come in last. Today they’re number one.
No more bar stool. As a barmaid, I partied at work. Many of us in the hospitality industry do. We pour drinks – one for me, one for you – and as our customers get more inebriated the bar atmosphere begins to change. Things get looser. Talk gets louder. Stories get repeated. After work, you’d find me on ‘my’ bar stool. I’d be holding court talking about all the things I’d do with my life. I would travel. I would own a home. I’d be the perfect parent. I’d have money and buy a new car. Trouble was, I didn’t get off my bar stool long enough to accomplish any of that. I’d weave stories on my bar stool and it all sounded so grand. But it never happened. At least, not on my bar stool. It wasn’t until I got off my bar stool and reached out for help, that I stopped talking about what my life would look like and started living it.
If you’re struggling with addiction or love someone who is, you’re not alone. Millions of North Americans struggle with substance abuse disorder. Only one in ten will receive help for it. Denial creates hardship, pain and suffering. But there is hope. Recovery is possible. To start your new life all you have to do is pick up the phone and call the number below.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance 1-888-614-2379.