My battle with addiction began early in life. I experienced depression in my teens, even though I wasn’t “officially” diagnosed until my 20s. I also struggled with food addiction for many years. My alcohol addiction arose later, after I had lost 180 pounds with the assistance of weight loss surgery.
I felt a bit more confident about dating after losing the weight. The pressure of feeling good ‘enough’ though triggered me to seek relief. And I decided, ‘How about a glass of wine before the date?’ Within about three to four months, I realized that one glass of wine turned into many glasses of wine. Several months later, I knew I was really in trouble. At that time, I sought inpatient treatment for alcoholism.
When I made this decision, the Center for Healing Arts did not yet exist. My therapist, Lisa Seif, throughout recovery was in private practice. I was a client of hers for years before she started working for the Center for Healing Arts. Once she began to practice there, I was privileged enough to follow her.
Many individuals really struggle when they first seek out treatment for addiction. For me, it was a welcome journey. I also had the benefit of having worked in a treatment center for five years. This helped me know the signs of when my drinking started getting out of control. It was a relief to find a path out of the darkness and isolation of alcoholism.
That said, recovery is never “easy” for anyone. Oftentimes, addicts thrive while in the inpatient environment but find themselves returning to old habits. Recovery takes daily support; something I found at the Center for Healing Arts.
After treatment, you go home, you're by yourself, you have a lot of time on your hands. It was like I was climbing the walls. I still had cravings and I felt anxious. So, I felt like going to support groups and I did it daily. That was really the best thing I could do—be around other people with similar issues and be supportive of them and receive it back as well.
Recovery Is a Journey, No Matter the Root Cause
In some cases, individuals can’t connect their addiction to a root cause. Perhaps they weren’t aware of a genetic predisposition, or there simply wasn’t an identifiable reason for developing the addiction. In my situation, I was very tuned in to why addiction came into my life.
I can absolutely say childhood trauma, emotional abuse and neglect, sexual abuse. My father was an alcoholic. So, there's a genetic predisposition. I carried those issues into adulthood along with low self-esteem and a lack of self-love. I had a lot of body image issues, and it made it difficult to be comfortable around people.
Having that understanding has helped me progress through my recovery journey—which is literally a journey.
It’s hard to look at it as one ‘big thing’ because it becomes easier over time with the help of friends, family support, and just realizing the triggers that got me started in the first place. It involves accepting the challenges I had earlier in life, the difficulties being able to identify when some of those thoughts are coming up and having other avenues to stay in recovery, to stay sober.
For anyone living with addiction, let me offers a key piece of advice: Don’t be afraid to put yourself first, to believe in yourself. That also includes asking for help.
Believe in yourself and your abilities to go through the process of becoming sober and staying sober. Family and friends are also important. You need to remember how much they mean to you and how much you mean to them. Get to know yourself. Therapy is wonderful. It really helps to open up the window and see where some of these issues began and how they affected you and led you down the path of destruction.