Let's also begin this by saying NO, I have not relapsed. I'm still looking forward to celebrating four years clean this November, and two years sober this December. But I would like to talk about my relapses and the affect they had on my life and well-being.
I have no qualms talking about my addiction. By the time I was seventeen years old I was a full-fledged coke addict, using daily. On June 18, 2007, I decided that was going to be the last day that I did cocaine. I had sampled my cart of drugs and coke was the one that got to me - it made me feel high on myself. I did way too much, got way out of control, and ended up in a terrible position mentally. I knew that I had to quit. Even then it wasn't a conscious decision. I remember getting my first paycheck after I started work again and thinking to myself, "Hey, I'll get a half gram and have myself a night to myself." At that point I was living with my parents again and I realized I had been clean for almost two months. I figured, why the hell not keep it up? So I bought a bottle of wine instead. This would go on to cause another addiction, but for then hey! I wasn't doing coke!
I kept this up for almost five years. June 18, 2012 should have been my five year anniversary celebrating my abstinence from cocaine. I was drinking daily and feeling reckless with myself. I ended up at a house party and walked into the kitchen and there it was sitting on the counter, like a lost lover, and I caved. I wish that I could say that I had only that night but oh, I went crazy for that summer and into the fall. It got worse when a person in our group received an incredibly insane large inheritance and suddenly it wasn't half grams, it was ounces - it never ended. At the end of one crazy week of partying I looked at myself in the mirror and went home and got some sleep. This was the last time I used.
After that I stuck to drinking. For November and December of 2012 I power-drank my way out of my cocaine addiction and used alcohol as a crutch, furthering another addiction. It didn't take too long for me to realize that I had just another problem, with a different substance. On December 29, 2012, I quit drinking.
This round of sobriety was short-lived. I never made it to six months sober. Somewhere between four and five months I was at a friends' house and received some unsettling news and flew back into my old habits of "we can drink this away". It was a situation I blew out of proportion and control and used it as an excuse to drink. The same way I had cracked before to my mind and relapsed with coke, I relapsed with alcohol. I told myself that I had it under control this time, and that I could drink responsibly. I had no idea that drinking responsibly meant not every day, or not to get drunk. I still don't know if I ever can drink responsibly - so why gamble?
As an addict, relapse is constantly my worst fear. It lingers in the back of my mind. When I start to feel socially anxious I have that little devil on my shoulder saying "we can drink this away." My brain plays tricks on me. It's been nearly four years since I touched blow and I still get cravings. It's been nearly two years since I quit drinking and I still get cravings. I have resigned myself to this for the rest of my life.
So what's the difference between now and then? How am I so sure that I won't relapse?
To be honest, I'm not so sure that I don't keep my barriers up. I don't want that gamble. I simply believe in myself and celebrate myself. I never want to lapse into a form of confidence where I believe I'm invincible - I'm an addict, and I always have to have my guard up.
It's fairly well-known that I still remain in a party/music scene - festivals, shows, trips, parties. I can't pretend that drinking and drug use don't happen around me, and I remain aware of it. To me, this has become a form of self-support. I had to do it. I had to prove to myself that I could keep my old life, my old self, without any intoxicants. When I started going to shows again after only a few months' sobriety under my belt, my dad said to me, "You're playing with fire." Every time I do it, every damn time I go out and I don't drink, I don't use, it normalizes it and reinforces it in the back of my mind. I've been to Lucky Bar sober now far more many times than I ever had drunk. To me now, being at a bar without booze has become normal to me. I won't pretend it wasn't hard at first, and I won't lie and say sometimes it isn't still hard. When it gets hard, or I feel that craving, that temptation, I distract myself. I go and order a ginger ale. I find a friend and chat myself through a few moments. I duck out and go sit in my car and listen to a song. I get away from it, and I come back, stronger than ever before.
Relapse is always a possibility. By keeping myself aware of this fact, I take the power away from the possibility. Instead of pushing the idea away, I remind myself, "this could happen. Be stronger than it," and so far, I have been.
I'm an addict. I will always be an addict. Maybe my form of recovery isn't a conventional approach - playing with fire, testing my limits, remaining stronger than my temptations - but it is what has worked for me. I have the utmost confidence that with the relationships I've built with my friends and myself, and my strength and inner belief, that this is the life that I have chose. I am sober, I am clean. I do what I do, and I do it my way!