Celebrating 7 Awesome Years of Sober Life
7 years, 2556 days, one-day at a time. It’s mind-boggling really. How the hell did that happen? I remember a time when I could not go 24 hours without a drink.
My life is so completely different today, that I am starting to get a feeling that people do not really believe that I was ever a hopeless alcoholic… LOL!
My soberversary lands on the day which is known in the United States as the Tax Day, but I sure did not plan it that way. When I woke up that morning, I actually did not know what day it was, and I did not know that it was going to be the last time I would be drunk for the next 7 years.
I did however know that something was terribly wrong. I was in the depths of an addiction that was so unpredictable, so consuming, and so dangerous that I could not imagine how I was going to get out of it. EVER.
I first tried to quit drinking back in 2002 after I was convicted of a DUI (Driving Under Influence) and lost my license for a year. What followed was many failed attempts to moderate my drinking – no, I could not just have one, or two, or three. After the fist drink, I drank all that was available! So after realizing that it was probably impossible for me to stop drinking, I miraculously stayed sober for an entire week, and concluded that I was not an alcoholic… because clearly an alcoholic would not be able to stay sober that long!
I made this kind of barter all the time – if I can do this, or that, or if this does not happen, or if it does happen, then I am not an alcoholic. I never looked at the things that had already happened, that were pretty good indications that I was an alcoholic; drinking daily, blacking out most of the time, having to detox because I drank too much, not being able to show up for work because I was still drunk in the morning, and getting a DUI with 3x the legal BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). These events never seemed odd to me because I still had a place to live, and a job to go to most of the time. I was just too smart for it all. This crazy thinking never seemed to worry me, and it was not until I was sober for a while that I realized that thinking was a part of the disease. (You can read my entire story of journey to recovery HERE.)
Today I am trying to fully integrate myself in the world around me as a person in long-term recovery from alcohol use dependence. This has been a slow journey as it has been hard for me to “out” myself as an alcoholic to people outside the 12-step fellowship. The social stigma associated with alcoholism as well as recovery is still alive and well. But I kept meeting people who were absolutely open about recovery and it had a huge impact on me! There are many of us out there! We are not alone and I can see how the openness benefits all of us. So I believe that for me, by not speaking out and being open, I was harbouring that stigma myself – the very stigma that kept me from seeking help sooner.
Drinking is so socially acceptable that most people don’t even think twice about their use or abuse of it. But according to NIAAA, 16.6 million adults ages 18 and older had an Alcohol Use Dependence in 2013. This includes 10.8 million men and 5.8 million women. (Source National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
That is a staggering number.
You know what is also staggering?
There are over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs! (Source Faces and Voices of Recovery)
Yes, you read that right! There are more of us in recovery than those still in addiction. That means that if each one of us helps just one person, we can kick this thing in the butt! Recovery works! It’s time for us to start talking about how life in recovery is possible for all of us.
My recovery has been, and continues to be, a remarkable journey – sometimes easy, sometimes not. As the time goes on, I have learned to embrace life on life’s terms and do be an active participant in my life. However, I did not do all this on my own! Many people have helped me along the way. They carried me when I was weak, they loved me when I could not, and they let me know that things were going to be OK. There is a special kind of love shared between all of us, from my 12-step network, to the amazing sober blog world, and the wonderful #recoveryposse on Twitter and Facebook. You are all amazing and I am so very grateful that our paths have crossed. I most definitely could not have done any of this without all of you! Thank you!
Change is not a bolt of lightning that arrives with a zap. It is a bridge built brick by brick, every day, with sweat and humility and slips. It is hard work, and slow work, but it can be thrilling to watch it take shape. –Sarah Hepola
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).