Being a recovering anything is a pain in the ass.
You see it everywhere, even if you don’t ACTUALLY see it everywhere. Maybe it’s because I am pregnant and really really CANT drink (because everyone knows when you can’t have something, you want it more) but all the alcohol related ads on social media just make me angry. The bra you can fit an entire bottle of wine in, the bangle bracelets that double as a flask, necklaces, bags you can strap to your thigh with hoses. All made just for you to be able get drunk at public events or sneak into places like your job.
I spent multiple years as an alcoholic, starting at age 16, I took a break when I was 19 while pregnant with Kali. I spent a year drinking after her, and quit for awhile again just because, then after Izzy was born Damian was in training 2000 miles away, and I would drink with him and the guys on the phone every weekend. When he got stationed in North Carolina, all there was to do was drink. They would work anywhere between 12 and 18 hour days, and at the rank he and everyone else in our portion of base housing was, no one was above the poverty level in income.
Drinking was essentially mandatory, and alcohol consumption among military personnel is almost double the same age group in a civilian setting. We spent 3 years in an alcohol fueled environment and when we moved home we quit drinking; within a few weeks we were looking back and wondering how we had gone down that rabbit hole. That’s the thing about addiction, it sneaks up on you, you never see yourself spinning out of control, you just wake up one day and realize you’ve just had a 2 day hangover after drinking for nearly 18 hours straight.
When the fog lifts and you realize you were a jackass, not only do you have to deal with withdrawals, but when you are talking about alcohol, you also have to deal with something so socially acceptable that drinking at high school age is referred to as a “right of passage” and drinking your way to flunking out of places of higher education is a pretty common occurrence. People relax at the end of the night with a stiff drink or a glass of wine, you can drink in front of your kids; in some countries, your kids can drink. It’s acceptable to drink in the morning if you mix it with some sort of fruit juice or in your coffee, you can even drink to cure your hangover from drinking last night.
There isn’t a single social media outlet you can use that doesn’t have alcohol advertisements; not a magazine you can read, not a TV station you can watch, no airport or bus station you can go to or train you can ride; companies spend millions of dollars for ads to air during sports games and becoming “The Official Beer Of….”. It’s served in almost every pizza place, and restaurant, at a company whose entire purpose is a kids play place, at opera houses, its at family gatherings, and is usually advertised as a way to “deal” with your family over the holidays.
One of my friends is battling addiction to some pretty serious stuff, she has spent years in and out of rehab. She told me once that the hardest thing for her about recovering from a hard drug was that if she changed her social circle and eliminated the people she knew would have the drugs, she could do just fine; it was once she started thinking she could handle seeing those people and being around them again that she would falter. She said recovering from alcohol was different, because the people who have it are EVERYWHERE. You can’t escape it, need gas? Oh there is a crap ton of beer right there.
Being serious about breaking the addiction to alcohol is hard work, sometimes you decide in one day, sometimes it takes years. For me it was simple, when we moved home I could choose cannabis again. When weighing the side effects its always been clear to me that cannabis was the way to go. That’s not to say I replaced one addiction with the other, but I quit drinking THE DAY we got home and had access again. When I would get a craving for a rum and coke I would take a hit and be mellow, and then later would think about how different the experiences were. If I had drank that rum and coke would I have cleaned and done laundry? Nope. Would I have gotten dinner in the crock pot and organized my cabinets? Nope. Would I have spent an hour playing with the girls? No. And that was it. I knew drinking was no longer a thing, I wanted to be PRESENT.
When I quit drinking I reduced my cigarette smoking from over a pack a day (or more depending upon if I was drinking with just Damian or if we were having/at a party, where it was basically a pack a party), to smoking about 3/4 of a pack a day. This is my next addiction to tackle and it has a HOLD on me y’all. This one is going to be hard, I have been a pack a day smoker for 17 years, that is over half my life. I started smoking when I was 13, I would sneak my dads cigarettes and smoke one before school with my friends. It started there and just snowballed. Again, you don’t see it until you can take a step back.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction of any kind, here are a few helpful links:
Please remember to treat addiction with as much seriousness as it deserves, and know that a person truly has to want to stop before treatment of any kind will be effective.
If you are currently recovering, what are some helpful tips you would give to someone just starting their journey? Let me know in the comments!