I am an only child, raised by my single mother in a small town. My mom sometimes drank alcohol when I was growing up and I hated it. I thought my hatred for it would make me immune to it, but boy was I wrong!  My problems with alcohol started in my 30s. I started drinking for fun and as a reward, I wanted to go out dancing and have a good time. I liked the escape and eventually, I began using alcohol as a way to cope with stress. The problem became once I started drinking, I couldn’t stop. One drink became two, two became four, four became six and by then I was in a cycle of use and abuse which lasted several years.

"Drinking like this led me to my first assessment at Journey Mental Health Center in 2011. I was referred to a 30-day outpatient program. After I completed the program, I came back to Journey for my follow up care. I did a few sessions of counseling, but I wasn’t ready to quit drinking, so I quit coming to Journey."

It didn’t take long for my drinking to ramp back up, but this time I was ending up in the emergency room with alcohol poisoning and was diagnosed with acute Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. It’s a digestive disorder. At the advice of my primary care doctor I came back to Journey for another intake and began services for alcohol dependence again, this was in late 2012. I didn’t really want to quit drinking; I wanted to control it. Meanwhile my life was unmanageable.

At Journey I started to attend group and individual therapy consistently. I was getting a lot of education on addiction and was beginning to understand what was happening in my brain and body that kept me drinking. I spent some time clean and some time relapsing, but every time I drank after not drinking it was worse. I wanted “absolute abstinence” from alcohol and after my final relapse, I joined a 12-step program and got a sponsor. I have not had a drink since Nov.17, 2013.

For me alcoholism was a bankruptcy of the soul. I felt like I was literally the walking dead. I was hopeless and terribly sick with alcohol-related ailments. Despite this, I kept attending my groups and counseling at Journey. I went to 12-step meetings and worked with my sponsor. I began going to the gym, getting into the pool and exercising helped a lot! I learned how to start taking care of myself again. It was a slow and painful process at times, but I have done it one day at a time.

My life in sobriety looks nothing like my drinking days, and I am so grateful for that. I am now employed full-time as a Peer Support Specialist. I am able to assist others on the path of recovery, helping people with their own health goals. It’s a career that came directly out of my lived experiences with depression and alcoholism.  How I stay sober today is by avoiding the first drink, attending 12-step meetings, and continuing my therapy. I create art and spend time in nature. I take care of my family and I make my bed every morning, which was something I couldn’t do before getting sober because I never got out of bed. I have hope now and a life worth living and that is how recovery has been for me.