“My past does not define me. It has refined me. It has molded me. It has changed me. I am no longer who I was. I am who I have become. The very best version of myself”
Winning the Battle Against Addiction:
My personal story.
For many today, addiction is all all-out war. The battle is the same whether you're drinking or using drugs. There's a constant pull between what you know you should do and what your body craves and therefore drives you to do. I am all to familiar with this vice. I spent 20 years of my life caught up in a whirlwind of chaos because I was dealing with addiction, bi-polar depressing, anxiety and betrayal. Despite all this, I was able to face it head on and beat it. I fought the war and I finally won. I was defeated for many years but I kept at it until I was finally able to make some headway. It was not the easiest thing I've ever done but it was definitely the most rewarding. The struggle to reach sobriety might sound overwhelming. It may even feel impossible. Something only a strong person can actually achieve.
In reality, being strong is only half the battle. Those struggling with addiction would probably agree that strength alone doesn't get you very far. The factors in your life that actually move the needle may end up being the weakest things you can identify about yourself. Perhaps its something simple like knowing your falling short when it comes to being a good parent. Especially if what you want more than anything in the world, is to be the best parent possible. Maybe you have identified a weakness and you have an overwhelming desire to make improvements. Many people say play with your strengths. In some cases, the weakest link is the one that can take you to the finish line.
If you are struggling with any of these feelings, I can say with 100% certainty, I understand what you're going through. Just a few short years ago, I was trapped in a downward spiral that seemed to have no end. The photo below shows me doing 2 things I loved. Playing in a band and drinking.
Drinking started out as a cool way to be social when I was in high school. I would hang out with friends who loved the same music I loved. As time went on, I began to think music was better with whiskey. Actually nearly everything seemed better with whiskey. I felt more alive, more creative and I was having the time of my life.
My weekends became filled with free flowing alcohol. It seemed every activity in life was better when I was drinking.
Drinking felt like my superpower. It gave me the courage to face the day. I really didn't know how to survive without it. When I was drinking alcohol, I felt unstoppable. If you ask my family, they will agree some of my unstoppable traits were not very positive but that didn't make me change any of my habits. I was hooked and felt there was really no way out.
I lied to myself and buried the fact that I was slowly self-destructing. Actually I tried to drown those facts. But oddly enough, facts never really drown. They just take a nap and wake up the next morning with blazing anger. They are ready for a whole new war as soon as your feet hit the floor.
I also had some other factors in my life that were hovering in the background and mentally digging holes in my sanity. I was bullied and beat up many times when I was young. Studies today show there are devastating effects when you're bullied at a young age. Unfortunately, I wasn't born in the time when there were resources to help you through it. I had to make it through the hard way with a few black eyes and some new routes home from school every day.
I also found out I had Bi-Polar depression and Anxiety. Not to mention I was robbed, violently attacked and left for dead on the way home from a club one night. When you add all that together, drinking did sound like a way to take the edge off so I could breathe easier each day and put one foot in front of the other.
Somehow you find a way to rationalize and convince yourself it's really not that bad. Other people do things that are far worse than me. Drinking is not even illegal so It's not that bad....RIGHT?
Coping with all these things was hard. Somehow alcohol seemed like my solution. I even wrote a song about how alcohol could solve any problem I had in life. Well it did seem that way at the time however none of my problems ever really went away when I was drinking. If anything, they were getting worse while I was lost in the delusion that things were calming down. Honestly, it was hard to figure it out at the time because I was filling my body up with liquid pain killers from morning until night.
I say all this to assure you, I have walked in your shoes. I know the grip alcohol had on my life. I know the pain I saw on my wife's face when I put alcohol before her and our family. I will never forget the moment she tried to tell me I was throwing our life away. I knew I had to change but I didn't know where to start. Perhaps you are having similar feelings.
If you want to read about my personal journey and how I finally broke free from addiction, click here to be taken to my memoir
With that said, here are 8 things to consider 👊 This will help you determine if you are ready to break the cycle of addiction.
Addiction my feel like something you're dealing with alone. Maybe you feel like you're not hurting anyone but yourself. In reality, anyone in your life is likely to be affected by your addiction whether you admit it or not. Parents, spouses, children, friends and co-workers are woven into our daily lives. These are the people that love us and are concerned when they know somethings wrong. If anyone in your family has expressed concern about your addiction, there's proof it's causing them some kind of concern or stress. Sometimes the biggest motivation to beat addiction is to do it for someone you love. Be a better mom or dad, a better son or daughter or just a better version of yourself.
Most people with an addiction tell themselves they can stop anytime. However the reality is, the dynamics of addiction create a strong desire to keep feeding the beast so to speak. Drinking or using may start out only occasionally. Eventually the volume increases as the cravings get stronger. Before you know it you're drinking or using twice or three times as much to get the same high. Ask yourself a few questions to see how much of a hold this has on your life. Do you look forward to leaving work so you can get high? Do you feel better just pouring the drink or getting the drugs before even using them? Are you tempted to take just a little something at work to take the edge off? Have you ever lost a job because of addiction? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to do an honest self-examination.
The morning after is awful for many. You wake up and realize the hangover has set in. The pounding head, the nauseous sick feeling, the dehydration and the overall ill feeling. The mere thought of eating breakfast is repulsive. Many people are so sick, they have to call out of work. If they decide to work, they do it feeling awful. As the day goes on, the sick feeling starts to fade. When they get home, they feel well enough to do it all over again despite the earlier sickness they felt. Thus the cycle starts all over.
If you've ever heard of the hair of the dog, you know about morning drinking. This concept is to take a drink in the morning to lessen the effects of a hangover. The body is craving what you spent the whole night trying to sleep off. Sometimes morning drinking may start out to take the edge off but before long it has settled in as a new habit. If your morning or even lunch time routine involves drinking, maybe its time to do a bit of soul searching to see if you should consider a change of direction.
Alcohol and drugs can have some strange effects on the body. In order to achieve the same high, you may find yourself drinking or using more and more. The body may crave this but in actuality, its wreaking havoc on the brain. Your system can only handle so much. Eventually you will either pass out, hallucinate, experience alcohol psychosis or some other form of mental confusion. If you ever wake up and have no idea what happened the night before, maybe you are already experiencing this on some level. Some have even been arrested in this condition with no recollection of what series of events landed them in jail. Other factors can include a form of psychosis. This can cause you to lose touch with reality. You may have trouble telling the difference between real events and hallucinations. You may see or feel things that are not real. You may become angry or upset for no apparent reason. Some have even become paranoid or confused with jumbled up and disorganized thought patterns. Ask yourself if this describes you in any way.
Respect is something that's earned. No matter how much you desire it or demand it, it's the direct result of how people feel about you. This is no different for your spouse or your children. Maybe they had a huge amount of respect for you in the past. You treated them wonderful. The amount of love you shared was immense. They saw you do amazing things. You were the rock in their life. Over time maybe they begin to see you do or say things that are not very nice or appealing. Your goals and actions changed. You're slowly becoming different. That level of respect may slowly begin to erode and fade away. The good news is, this can all be reversed. You can earn that respect back. Change your actions if you want to change their mind. Identify things that may have caused a loss of respect and see if it's something you want to change in your life.
The one thing we can all agree on is hobbies can be expensive. It doesn't really matter what your hobby is. If your recreational activity is drinking or using drugs, ask yourself how much it costs you to keep it up. For most people participating in a hobby is something that only happens occasionally, however addiction requires daily participation. Sit down and add up what you're spending each month on your addiction. Do you forgo important purchases to make room for a daily high? Some have even put off serious things feeling they have no money to participate because their daily habits are emptying their wallet on a regular basis. Think for just a moment what you could have if you broke free from your "hobby". Could your life include a family vacation or much needed items for your household? Often times these funds are the difference between being financially strapped and being financially free.
The last thing to consider is how your addiction makes you feel. Sometimes people feel they can't break free. Reasoning its just how they're made. Its hardwired in their DNA. They are trapped. However, these things can be overcome. Its up to you and your desires to make it a reality. Do you want to break free from it? If so there are so many different methods that have worked for so many people. You just have to chose something that will work for you and fit into your lifestyle. If each day feels like you are spinning in circles and making no real progress with your dreams and goals, maybe its time to break the cycle. Examine yourself, do an honest evaluation. If you want to break free there no time like the present to make a change. 👍
Read about my personal journey to free myself from addiction here.
If you answer yes to more than 3 of these questions it might be time to get help.
Often times I have to get a ride home because I know I've had to much to drink
I can never get ahead financially because my habits take up all my extra money
I'm often asked the question " Do you remember what you did last night?"
I have upgraded the size of the bottle I buy because I'm terrified of running out
I wake up often with a hangover and feel I need to drink to make it stop
My health has deteriorated since I've been drinking
I say NO to fun events if I know alcohol will not be served there
I hide the actual amount I drink from my family to avoid being judged
The first thing I do when I get home each day is pop the top on a beer or fill up my favorite glass with a drink.
I want to break my addiction but I don't know where to start.
I've documented my entire journey from start to finish chronicling how I broke free from the viscous cycle of addiction. If drinking is not your addiction, then insert the word that best fits your circumstances to move forward.
The book with all this information is called " Stitched Back Together" I have included a memoir outlining my life and how I ended up with an addiction in the first place. I also have included a survival guide to help you start your journey to healing.
I found what worked for me was replacing something bad with something good. Here is an illustration that might explain this better. Lets say you are going to a special event and you want to lose 10 pounds before the event rolls around. You find a new diet and start the clock.
Now when thinking about losing weight, did you ever consider giving up food all together? NO. You adopted the thinking that you need to make better food choices and eat less of the bad stuff. Giving up an addiction is much the same. You generally don't do well if you just stop cold turkey. Also if you don't replace the time your addiction stole from you, you are likely to fall right back into old habits.
Don't give up everything you enjoy. Add a positive habit to fill the hole where the bad one used to live. For me these holes were filled with art and music. It wasn't the easiest thing I ever did in my life but it was possible. As a result, I was able to turn my love of art into a full time income.
My survival guide has steps to help you decide what your interests are so you can choose a new hobby to fill in the gap.
Your journey to wellness awaits. Let's do it together.
There are gifts within us all
INSPIRE, EXPLORE, BELIEVE
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