July 21st 2022
It’s been 2 stressful and intense weeks. Just 2 weeks ago today I had my last beer before going to rehab. I was so nervous that day that I woke up at 5am to finish packing, went to Walgreens for some last minute items, and checked to make sure I had paid all upcoming bills for myself and my parents for the next few weeks before I left my house. I remember I was at Walgreens around 7:45am and the cashier telling me they didn’t sell alcohol until 8am. You see I was having my last beer before and yes I’m fully aware of how bad things are if I’m having a beer at 8:30 in the morning.
My aunt drove with me the hour and a half; I drove my car there and she was going to drive back on her own. I was so nervous and distracted I honestly don’t know how I drove without an accident. I was only at the facility from Thursday to Tuesday but it was the kickstart I needed to begin my recovery. While I was on the waitlist for 3 weeks I went back and forth asking myself if I really had a drinking problem and if I could just stop and limit my drinking on my own. I decided when I got there and listened to some of the women’s stories that yes I have been abusing alcohol and for the first time I identified with having an addiction.
I had been hearing that withdrawing from alcohol is the toughest even more than cocaine and hard drugs so I decided I would not stop drinking until I was at rehab where I could see a doctor and nurse in regards to helping me with my withdrawal.
Today 2 weeks later after a few days of rehab and an unexpectedly week of being hospitalized for a severe manic episode I’m home. Before I was discharged at the hospital this past Tuesday (more details on that to follow) I discussed a treatment plan with the social worker. I attended my 1st AA meeting during those few days at the facility and although it’s a great organization that’s been around for years I just didn’t like it because of the religious aspect. I was raised Catholic but now identify as spiritual so I called the nearest hospital by my house 2 days ago to see if they had an opening in their IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). Luckily there was no waitlist and I was able to start today.
For the next 3-4 weeks I’ll be attending this IOP Monday through Friday for about 4 hours every morning. I will be seeing a psychiatrist during that time as well. I’ve already reached out to my therapist and will be seeing her this coming Saturday morning. Going to rehab was a difficult decision but admitting I have a problem and confessing that I have been abusing alcohol was even harder. As I told them the day I arrived at the facility, I decided to take this giant leap to change my lifestyle because I don’t like the power alcohol has over me right now.
I’ve been a social drinker since I was probably 20. I was never concerned about it or thought anything of it. Since the pandemic started and I was teaching from home though I started drinking more to help calm the anxiety and stress I was experiencing. In the last few months I have been drinking almost on a daily basis and a lot of it was being done alone at home.
I love my parents, they are my rocks, but being 1 of 4 daughters I was raised by 2 loving parents; a Bipolar mom who often suffered from depression and a hardworking functional alcoholic. Growing up my dad as well as my extended family would drink and it was just part of our culture and our family gatherings so it was just accepted. My dad retired after 30some years of working in a factory as a sink polisher at the beginning of the pandemic and I have mad respect for him! He is 70 years old now and for as long as I know he would come home every afternoon around 3:30-4pm, change clothes and sit on the couch to unwind and relax watching the tv with a few beers before dinner. We’ve often discussed his drinking but because of the respect I have for him I’ve never called him an alcoholic to his face. I often just tell him I’m worried about his health. Seeing that he was able to function on a daily basis at work and at home made me think me drinking on the couch having a beer or a glass of wine while watching a show was not a concern especially after the pandemic started.
In the last 2 and a half years with the pandemic it’s been safer and more accepted to just have a drink at home. At one point though I started drinking daily this year and waking up thinking of when I would have the opportunity to have my 1st drink. I didn’t drink with the intention of getting drunk, but I would drink a few beers because to relax, calm my anxiety and a good buzz.
Today I’ve been sober for 14 days. That might not seem like a long time but this is the longest I’ve gone without drinking or thinking about alcohol in the last few months. I’ve realized from the time I started thinking of limiting my drinking to deciding just to stop drinking all together that this will not be an easy feat. I most likely will relapse at some point to be honest because I’m human so for now I’m just taking it day by day.
What’s changed in the last 2 weeks? Well I’ve recognized that I have been abusing alcohol, that I’ve been using it as a bad coping skill for my anxiety and stress as well as realizing that I will need a lot of support to stay sober and be able to continue with a happy fulfilled life without alcohol. Not drinking will be extremely hard not only because I live in the same house with someone that drinks but because most of my friends and acquaintances also drink socially. I refuse to end friendships but what I plan to do is make those friends aware that I’m not drinking and that I prefer to go out to restaurants instead of bars for example. Because I have great friends I know they will respect my not drinking. I don’t expect others to change and not drink around me.
In the next few weeks while attending the intensive outpatient program I hope to learn positive coping strategies that will replace the drinking as well as finding ways to reduce my anxiety since that has been an issue since my mid20’s.
To be continued, my recovery is just starting!