By Jim deVarennes – President & Founder Sober Living America
Are you thinking that you want to stop drinking or using?.
Is the fun of the old days gone? Has the dope quit working? Are your problems starting to pile up on you and becoming ever more difficult to solve?
If you are like me, I loved drinking and using. I really, really did. But after a while, it started to kick my butt. I wanted to quit- well, sort of. I was tired and beat up, that was for sure.
My family and friends tried to help me – Ah the lectures. Their help went something like this (some of you may have heard these before):
“If you loved me, you wouldn’t do this.”
Or, “If you cared about your family, you would stop”,
Or, “If you loved your kids, you would quit.”
Or, my personal favorite: “If you cared about your life, you would stop living like this.” By the way – I always agreed with all of these.
They told me this after I had totally messed up and already felt like an awful human being. This usually made me feel much worse. I know my family and friends were just trying to help. I would promise to quit, they believed me. I really meant it. God I wanted to quit, but I had no clue how.
How does a person stop this insanity? That’s the million dollar question.
If you are reading this, I assume that you are either thinking of quitting, or you have a loved one that is in desperate need of help. I know how sad it is to look out the window and watch other people living their lives, going to work, playing with their kids, and enjoying themselves. I wondered, why can’t I be like them? If you are like I was –you feel lost and hopeless, but there really is hope.
So, how can I presume to answer such a serious question?
As some of you may already know, there is much wisdom about this in the rooms of AA & NA. Certainly, there are many people more “qualified” than me to write an article on recovery. With that in mind, I want to invite all of you with years of recovery, to add your voice to this, and share your personal experiences and advice. Perhaps together we can help some people and their families to smile again.
How I (Tried To) Quit
So, how did I quit?
I could lie to you and say; “It was easy, just don’t pick up and you can’t get high”. But that was not going to work for me, I had another plan. Let me try to some control drinking & using.
The idea struck me that if I would just drink or use on the weekends, I would be okay. It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.
To solidify my resolve, I made the announcement to all my family on Christmas Eve. They seemed pleased and supportive of the idea– I liked that, so I told all my friends. Some were happy; my hard drinking friends were not. I was ready for a fresh start in the New Year.
I made it for 4 days. Then on Thursday, I was so pleased with myself, I thought I would celebrate my success. I ended up staying out all night after deciding some cocaine would go great with the booze. I missed work on Friday and when I came too, I realized, hey it’s the weekend again, I can blow it out! And boy did I ever. No need to go into details, but I was not smiling Sunday morning.
In my heavy cocaine days, I would leave most of my paycheck at home, and only take $50 to the dope man’s house. Once I started using, I heading straight back to my house to get the rest of the cash.
I tried many things to control my drinking and drug use, but I could not seem to muster enough will power to quit. I was out of control and desperately needed help.
How I Got my Life Back
Here’s what finally happened.
First, my wife started going to Alanon meetings. Soon she quit believing my stories, my lies. I was upset with that group; they were messing with my using.
I could tell I was losing her, because she was taking care of herself instead of me.
Second, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was tired of the high cost of low living. Drinking and drugging was just not working any more. I liked being high, but I did not like the consequences.
I think I was finally beaten to the point I was willing to ask for help. I felt hopeless and was full of guilt.
Third – I called my older brother. He was in one of those 12 step programs. I called for two reasons, I knew I needed help, but I also wanted to get my wife off of my back. When I called I was braced for the lecture – remember how it goes? “If you cared about your family, you would quit”.
But he didn’t give me that talk. Instead he asked me if I really wanted to quit. My answer even surprised me; “Chuck, I’ve wanted to quit for years”, and I meant it! He told me to meet him at an 8:00 pm meeting, and I actually showed up.
I have no idea what was said, nor do I remember what I said, but they told me to keep coming back. Most people didn’t invite me back, so I was impressed.
Things you can do:
I’m going to end Part I here. We’ll put Part II up soon. Please know there’s hope. Again – you folks in recovery, please add your suggestions. Millions of you live with peace and happiness without the booze or the dope – One day at a Time so please SHARE.
We’ll expand on Part II, but in the meantime – here’s a suggestion from a friend named Bill B. He calls this the Six Things:
- Go to Meetings
- Get a competent Sponsor
- Work the 12 Steps
- Learn to Pray
- Work with Others
- Have FUN
For those of you who have questions, go to several 12 step meetings (AA, NA, Alanon) and ask – they will help. We are writing a blog to offer more suggestions to you family members so stay tuned.
Feel free to call me or the great people at Sober Living America – they will help too.
Be good to yourself today, your life is worth it, it really is.
Love ya & God Bless,
Why this Blog: Looking online I discovered a lack of good and often misleading information. For those in recovery, please share and contribute your experience, strength, and hope.
About the author:
First a disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I hold any type of counselor’s license. Also, all of the information I am sharing with you I have learned from the “old-timers” in the recovery rooms or read in a recovery book.
My name is Jim deVarennes, president and founder of Sober Living America. For the past 20 years, I have had the privilege to operate and serve Peachford House and Sober Living America. During that time, we have served over 50,000 people and housed as many as 750 people daily in 11 cities.
We are an organization dedicated to reaching out and educating students through our “Friends – Say Something” campaign, as well as offering individuals & students affordable sober living facilities. Our Vision is No Money/No Problem.
My story comes from my own personal trials and tribulations, and my experience guiding thousands of others through recovery. For the past 29 years, I have met some of the most wonderful old-timers in the recovery rooms. Taking the actions suggested by these great folks, has somehow kept me clean and sober “One Day at a Time” for 20 years (I didn’t listen too well – that’s why it’s not 29 years). (BTW– one day at a time is an amazing concept).
We love you and care about you – stop beating yourself up, you’ve been beat up enough. CALL SOMEONE – GET HELP.
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