In my last blog post, I wrote about Wired In To Recovery, the online community that my Wired In colleagues and I developed in 2008. This website provided a forum for people to write about their recovery and/or addiction, treatment and the treatment system, and a wide variety of other matters. They could express their thoughts, feelings and aspirations.
I loved reading the blog posts, as did many other people. Posts pulled emotional strings, generating positive and sometimes negative emotions. Many posts were inspiring. Some generated a large number of comments and you could see how people were trying to help others who were struggling. Here is one of may favourite posts, written by Maddie from Sydney, Australia.
‘I’m almost nine months into my recovery journey, during which time I have not had a drop of alcohol. I’ve been reflecting back to my past, the time that I was drinking very heavily. Today, I can’t imagine drinking every day as I did, waking up with a hangover every morning. My mind just can’t seem to go back there.
It’s almost as if I have forgotten my past, but at the same time so much of it is very fresh. But the past ‘me’ is so different to the person I am today. My past does not hurt me anymore. I can walk past a pub or bottle shop and not even think about alcohol.
One thing that keeps me sober today is the thought of my heavy drinking days. I was so full of shame, guilt and self-hatred. I couldn’t stand looking at myself in the mirror. The only way to deal with these feelings and emotions was to have another drink or pill.
I‘d wake up feeling disgusting and nauseous, and with a headache. I didn’t want to get up, but I had to face-up on workdays. I’d white knuckle it until my first drink, which was normally after work. As the clock got closer to my drinking time, I’d get more and more anxious and easier to set off into a rage.
Sometimes, I couldn’t get to the office without resorting to a drink or two of vodka. Sometimes, I’d have my first drink at seven in the morning. Or I’d take Valium or Xanax to help me get to the magic hour. At that stage of my drinking career, I did not think about the next day. All thoughts were focused on getting that first drink, today!
When I got home, I’d drink until I fell asleep. I’d often wake up in the middle of the night with severe anxiety or sweaty panic attacks. When I woke in the morning after such attacks, my thoughts were on that first drink, anything to get rid of the anxiety, and the shame, guilt and self-hatred.
I couldn’t think of my work responsibilities; everything was focused on my immediate needs. I knew the anxiety and other symptoms were a result of alcohol withdrawal, but I was past caring about making resolutions to stop. I just had to alleviate my pain… fast.
It’s hard to imagine how I could have lived like that in the past. How did I keep working effectively? How did I keep my job? I guess I was a high functioning alcoholic, able to draw on resources to keep going and keep my secrets from other people. I was also very lucky!
On Friday night, I’d drink myself stupid and then be at the bottle shop at 10.00 next morning, waiting for the doors to open. I’d drink all weekend. Since I was isolated socially, only having the occasional casual relationship, I drank alone.
Towards the end of my drinking, I began to drink so much in a day that I couldn’t drink the following day. Subconsciously, this was a deliberate decision. I was battling my addiction so hard by this stage, that all I wanted was to prove to myself that I could go for one day without drinking.
At this stage, my body had also started to reject alcohol first thing in the morning. I’d drink and vomit immediately. I’d have to do this several times before I could keep any of the alcohol down. I would then keep drinking until I passed out.
I experienced blackouts over the last few years of my drinking. I’d remember some embarrassing things, but how many others were there? I’d wake up with all kinds of injuries (e.g. burns, blood and a dent in my scalp, etc), having no idea how they occurred.
One day, I feel asleep whilst cooking and woke up with the fire alarm going off. I charged out, only to lock myself out of my apartment—and I was starkers! I knocked on my neighbour’s door and he answered with, “Holy fuck!” He threw out some clothes and we ended up spending several hours smoking dope until a locksmith arrived.
After one blackout, I found myself in hospital as I had cut my foot badly. I had to have the week off work, during which time I was high on painkillers. One day, I discovered Wired In To Recovery [my earlier online recovery community—DC] via Google. I read some content, got drunk and then became very emotional. As I was crying, I started to realise how much I was captivated by Wired In To Recovery. I started to access the website every day and it became a best friend. I was either reading Wired In To Recovery or drinking, or doing both.
I read many stories and articles about heroin users. These Stories really affected me, as I discovered that people were overcoming heroin addiction, the hardest drug to get off (or so I thought). These people had often lost everything—family, home, job, money—but still managed to recover from heroin addiction. And here was I with a job and a home. If they could do it with heroin, surely I could stop drinking?
When I read a blog, it was like the spirit of that person was with me for the rest of the day. I would sometimes print out the blog or story and carry it around me in my back pocket, so that it would give me help and support during the day. And I knew I could always go back to Wired In To Recovery and find more blogs and Stories.’