Meet Recovery Rockstar Shawn

I remember sitting in a conference room in early August of 2012, accompanied by my than therapist, two siblings and my mother. The reason for this occasion was to figure out what exactly it is that’s wrong with me, and what I should do about my drinking problem. This meeting was to solve absolutely nothing because at this time, I had no knowledge on what it is that I suffer from.  My family suggested treatment and my therapist quickly dissuaded them because she felt she could fix me. I disagreed because I said “what is treatment going teach me that I don’t already know”? My therapist was trying to “fix” somebody who was dying of untreated alcoholism. There were no therapy sessions, medicine, or relapse prevention plans that were going to prevent me from taking my next drink. 1 week after this group session, I was hospitalized for the 11th time to medically detox from alcohol.

WHY DID I START MY STORY BASED ON THIS DAY?

Because it shows how sick I was, and unbeknownst to me, I knew little to nothing of what I was truly suffering from, untreated alcoholism. For me, drinking never even crossed my mind until the age of 17 (3 months shy of my 18th birthday). Yes, I experimented with marijuana for about 11 years on and off, but nothing like the constant torture of alcohol. That summer of 2003 was a summer that I pretty much began drinking 3-4 days out of the week. Every chance I had to drink, I was game. I remember that summer very vividly somehow. I was arrested twice that summer for underage drinking. That didn’t faze me. I was young, immature and thought I had the world on a string. I remember my father paid for my attorney fees repeatedly throughout my constant debacles, and I never said thank you once for helping me. As I tell my story you will see the progressiveness of this disease, and the implications directly associated with alcoholism.

I remember before I ever picked up drinking, I always felt a bit inadequate. I could never understand why I felt that way. Maybe it was getting kicked out of high school for 2 and a half years, and sent to an alternative school. This school created much of a barrier for me in terms of experiencing high school life. I was only smoking weed occasionally at the time, but to me it wasn’t a problem. In terms of social life, I didn’t really have one like other guys I knew. I had friends from my neighborhood I grew up with, and I would hang out with them usually during the weekends. This consisted of smoking pot and playing video games, typical 15 and 16 year old behavior. Still, drinking was something I never thought about. It was laying dormant in me, waiting for me to awake the sleeping giant.

I was sent back to my regular high school 2nd semester of junior year, and to me this was it! I finally had some peace and excitement instilled back in me, and I finally got my license when I was 17. Things couldn’t have been better. Than a scary moment happen on the night of February 23, 2003. I was getting high with a few buddies at a friend’s house. The 3 of us left, and I’m the one that drove. To make a long story short, all three of us were in a really bad car accident that was my fault. My two friends were hurt in the wreck, but I got the worst of it. I fractured my left arm and ended up having brain surgery because I hit my head really hard against the windshield. This was a blow. I really mean that. For me, life was going good, than this unfortunate set of circumstances had to happen.

FAST FORWARD A FEW MONTHS TO THE SUMMER OF 2003.

 As I previous stated, this was the time I began to truly experiment with alcohol. I began to drink because marijuana was causing me so much anxiety after my accident I chose to try something different. Alcohol did for me what weed used to do for me, with the exception of feeling lazy. I saw that alcohol was paying dividends for me early on. I was starting to make more friends. I wasn’t afraid to talk to girls. I felt like I was 10 feet tall and everybody noticed me. People were like “wow, I never knew Shawn was this much fun to hang out with”. Was I really that fun to hang out with? I don’t know, but it made me feel wanted. I was able to sweet talk any girl because booze gave me such confidence. I said to myself one night, “man why didn’t I start drinking at an earlier age”? I made this assumption based on what alcohol did for me. Alcoholics essentially drink because they LOVE the effect produced by alcohol, and man did I love the effect. But with the great effect produced by alcohol, I also would always forget what alcohol did to me. It wouldn’t allow me to grow. I remember my father asked me when I graduated high school if I wanted to go to college, I quickly responded by saying NO!  I chose to follow the party scene right out of high school than follow the path my father intended for me. College was the last thing on my mind because I thought I was too good for that (self-centered). Nightclubs, women, “friends”, and BOOZE were a common thing for me after high school. Every opportunity I had I would drink, and I would rarely go to an occasion that had no booze. For what? I needed booze to always have a good time. Or at least that’s what I convinced myself.

I can’t even count on one hand the amount of times I went to a social event and only had 1 or 2 drinks. Because I learned in AA, I am bodily and mentally different than the normal drinker. Once I put any amount of alcohol in my body, it craves more and more. I have this physical craving that doesn’t satisfy the EVER craving, it intensifies it (physical allergy). But to my dismay, I had no idea what was going on with me than, because I really didn’t care. I had a great girlfriend during this time, but my faithfulness was only relative towards her as long as I was sober, and boy was I was extremely deceitful to her. Every opportunity I had to cheat on her, I would. (selfishness/self-seeking). She rarely drank, and if she did, she would have maybe 1 cocktail. And I thought something was wrong with her, that’s how twisted my thinking was.

Fast forward to 2006, I bought my first car, a 2003 Cadillac. I was 21 years old and I felt like I was achieving good things, or at least I convinced myself that. Than in November of  2006, my dad had a really severe stroke. This really hurt me inside. He already had a traumatic event happened to him in summer of 2005, and now this? I literally felt heart broken.  3 months later I was busted with my 1st DUI. This didn’t prohibit me from drinking and driving. I continued to drink and drive. My drinking became worse. Not because I was 21 (well maybe that had something to do with it). I started to drink in the morning time to calm my nerves and rid myself of my hangovers. My overall illness was progressively getting worse. I periodically drank before work, and this prohibited me from working on multiple occasions because, to me, it was more important for me to call off work and drink all day. (Insanity). The hangovers became worse as I was soon to lose my job for the 2nd time due to my drinking. I was a car salesmen, and I lost my job once before because of calling off, and I didn’t learn my lesson. The progression of my disease continued. In January of 2008, my car was repossessed, because I had this belief it was more important to stay home and drink than be responsible and look for a job.

I remember my girlfriend saw this slow demise of myself, but I was completely blind to see because addiction had me at full force. She soon broke up with me in 2008 after 4 years because of my alcoholic tendencies. But I didn’t care because I was so numbed by alcohol. In the mean time I was losing one job after another. My family is starting to recognize that I had a severe drinking problem. With the hidden bottles, slurred speech, sleeping all day (passed out), and isolation. This was a common occurrence, and I was only 22-23 years old. The depression and anxiety had a choke hold on me, and what is the best way to feel better? I think you know the obvious choice. I was enrolled in college at this time and that turned out to be a complete mess. From 2009-2012, I was only able to accumulate 30 credit hours. I was consistently withdrawing from classes every semester due to my drinking. I couldn’t recognize the problem, as it would only become worse. In January 2010, in a blacked out driving episode, I was arrested for my 2nd Dui. This didn’t teach me a lesson, so I began to drink harder and more frequent. And yes, I continued to drink and drive because I just didn’t care anymore. I was hospitalized for the first time in January 2011 to detox from alcohol, but this wouldn’t be the last time. During a year and a half span, I detoxed in a hospital 10 times, and I continued to drink after that 10th time. I soon lost my 2nd relationship due to my drinking, and internally I was a complete mess. I was waking up every single day felling; shameful, guilty, remorseful, and fearful. This feeling would never go away when I was sober, well that if I could even stay sober.

LOST OPPORTUNITIES

From the ages between 24- 26, these are the things I lost and or the consequences I faced directly associated with my drinking; jobs, relationships, family, friends, jail, college, drivers license ,  self-esteem, confidence. Get the picture?? Because I could not differentiate the truth from the false, these things kept on piling up, and this list can even be expanded even more. FINALLY, 10 days after my final detox , I checked myself into rehab, (with a little help from Dupage County Porbation). This saved my life. I was dying of alcoholism, and finally was able to get help. I found out what separates me from a normal individual. It is that I suffer from a 3 fold illness, mind, body and spirit. My whole life I convinced myself I could fix, manage and control everything in my life, but that was furthest from the truth. I couldn’t fix my alcoholism nor could I control my drinking. I COULD NOT stay away from alcohol, nor could I stop drinking once I put a little bit in my body. Like most addicts and alcoholics, I lost the power of choice and control over my addiction. I was ALWAYS obsessed I could drink safely or I could control it, but this obsession always prove to be false, hence my 11 arrests, 2 stints in county jails. No matter what debacle I left behind, my mind always led me back to booze, and EVERY SINGLE TIME, it always led me to pitiful incomprehensible demoralization.

I REMEMBER BY MY THIRD DAY BEING IN TREATMENT, I WAS ABLE TO SURRENDER.

I was laughing again. This is something that was non-existent in my life for years. Man, did it feel good to feel again. I spent 28 days in treatment, but that wasn’t enough. After years of abusing alcohol, I didn’t know how to live. I essentially pressed the “reset” button on my life at the age of 26. After treatment I checked into a halfway house for 90 days. The halfway didn’t keep me sober but I learned a lot from the counselors that were in there. They taught me to be more responsible, accountable, and to forgive myself.

Living in a house with a bunch of guys that share same problem as I did helped out a lot to. I could confide in these gentlemen. This is something I couldn’t do with family members because they don’t know what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic. After the halfway house, I checked myself into a sober living house. This was another building block for a faulty foundation to my life. As my foundation to my life is starting to be repaired, these building blocks are preparing me for life I lived in this sober living house for 20 months. During the course of the 20 months I restored relationships in my family. I made amends to individuals I once hurt. I held a job for once. I saved money. Went back to school. And I learned to love myself once again. I became responsible, accountable, and became trusted once again. I no longer wake up feeling ashamed, guiltful, shameful, fearful, or stressful. In my 20 months of being in a recovery home, I incorporated a 12 step program in my life, AA. This essentially saved my life. God, and the steps made me become such a different individual. I have had a complete psychic change due to working these steps. I no longer feel, act, or think like I once did, and its all thanks to AA and the solution outlined in the book of AA.

I am eternally grateful for writing this piece about my life. I hope to apply to medical school in about 2 years to pursue my dream in addiction psychiatry. I want to say thank you for reading this story and hope to carry the message to the next suffering addict/alcoholic. My name is Shawn, and I’m a alcoholic.