Partying stretched from Wednesday to Sunday and sometimes beyond. I was drinking and using against my own will in spite of strong will power in other areas of my life.
When I tried stopping on my own I’d always find a trivial reason to start or I would drive myself crazy obsessing about getting some eventually. It was mental and physical torture, I knew it couldn’t go on but everything I tried failed. I remembered times when it was fun in spite of countless examples that it wasn’t fun anymore; yet I still persisted – health scares, losing relationships, nothing could keep me away for long.
When I went to my first meeting I thought I could still do things my own way, I didn’t want to stop totally, just manage my boyfriend’s using so I wouldn’t keep going overboard. Everyone else was always the problem. When I finally let the new friends I made at CA show me how they got clean, and started doing what they suggested, I finally found freedom from addiction and a new way of living.
I have been clean and sober 28 months now, and I am happier than I could have ever imagined. I feel like a normal human being, I get my bills paid, I’m honest, I have friends. I still go out dancing until the early hours but I’m actually on the dance floor not sniffing in the toilet or stashing gear so I don’t have to share it! I have real friends and a job, my family speak to me again. I’m so grateful I found CA.
There were times in the beginning when drink and drugs did for me what I could not do for myself – they gave me freedom from anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, lack of confidence and misery.
But even in the early days I had to drink and use to feel comfortable before I went out and every session ended in disaster. I careened from one disastrous relationship to another, my drinking and using progressed and I couldn’t understand why I kept on doing it. I made endless promises not to and then would find myself out of my mind and out of control yet again.
At the age of 32 I still had my home and my daughter, but my sanity had gone. My brother 12-stepped me and got me into a treatment centre where my mind was changed around from believing that the drink and drugs were my saviour to seeing that they were killing me. I was broken emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I came to understand that I suffer from a mental illness that tells me that it’s ok to drink and drug when all the evidence tells me it isn’t; and that once I take one drink or one drug I have an inability to stop. My body craves the substance and I keep going until I pass out.
I went to a lot of meetings and, 18 years later, I still do. I worked through the twelve steps and began to practice what I was learning. I have continued to do so and keep a daily practice of prayer, gratitude and service to others which keeps me well. I have experienced both joy and despair in recovery and every emotion inbetween. And through it all it has never been an option to drink or use again. Today I live a life filled with faith, hope and a serenity that I never thought possible.
I hadn’t stolen or lied or hurt anyone but most of all I hadn’t used a drink or drug that day and that’s a miracle.
I started taking drugs in the late eighties after my sports career had come to a sudden halt. I never drank while doing sport but within weeks of quitting I was drinking and within months I was using speed.
It was mainly a weekend thing and when the house music scene started I was taking ecstasy, speed and acid.
I thought I was having the time of my life, but already I seemed to be wanting to do more than my friends and carrying on when i got home.
In the early nineties I was introduced to coke and so started my descent into full blown addiction. I was soon using everyday all day.
I started dealing to fuel my habit financially but used it all and got deeper in debt.I was now stealing, conning people, including my own mother, spending my family’s money and robbing from work.
This went on for over twenty years. By the end I was creeping around in the dark at home with all the windows shut terrified anyone would come round. I would drink to come down from coke then do coke because I was too drunk. I would divide all my gear up into little baggies and hide it in loads of crazy places – garden loft van etc, – then spend all night going round collecting them one at time to use (I was insane).
Finally a friend took me to a CA meeting and after taking the advice of the wonderful people there I KEPT COMING BACK!!!
I felt like i was in a place where i could talk about my using and people were just like me but weren’t using any more. They were happy.
So I got a sponsor, worked the steps as suggested and today I am happier than I’ve ever been.
I still go to meetings, try to help and be there for other addicts, and basically try to be a decent person. I have my family back in my life and have been able too put right the things I’ve done wrong.
All I can say is give this a go. Watch the miracle happen and you can lie in your garden happy and content. CA gave me a way out and all I had to do at the beginning was go to a meeting.
SO TRY IT AND JUST KEEP COMING BACK.
Taking these drugs went hand-in-hand with partying. I enjoyed the experience, the routine, the ritual and the people I met. For a time I felt I had at least a semblance of control. I could keep the drugs just to the weekend and I wasn’t always obsessing about them…
But, slowly, without me realising the drugs became everything.
I lived for taking them. They were all I talked about. They were the reason for looking forward to the weekend. I increased when I used and how much. I started using on my own.
Across the next 24 years my using became more severe, the consequences of my using damaged the people closest to me, and me, more and more as years went on. But, I could not find a way to stop. No matter what I tried – numerous therapies, retreats, rehabilitation courses and drug counselling – nothing stopped me for any length of time.
In February 2015, I’d lost everything… again. Another rock bottom. I felt I’d never change. But, I was desperate to stop. I was out of answers. I didn’t know what to do. I googled “Cocaine problem” and the CA hotline came up listed. I had heard of the programme before. So, I rang the CA hot-line and then found a meeting on a Thursday night.
I was really nervous about going, but desperate enough to drag myself along. I was amazed at what I heard, felt and experienced. There was a lot of positivity at that meeting. Someone shared what they had been through and it was very similar to what I felt and had experienced.
For the first time ever I felt a glimmer of hope that I had found something that could work for me.
I started attending meetings more regularly and found someone who could take me through the 12 step programme and since then I haven’t looked back.
Today, I am comfortable in my own skin. Happy to have time alone to myself. Comfortable being with others. Calm in situations that used to anger me. I am the person I always wanted to be and I am clean and sober now. Which, for me, is the reason I’ve been able to change. Life is beautiful. Give the programme a try. You have nothing to lose!
I spent the next 30 years searching for a repeat of that night in each perfect detail. Each time I went on that search, the drink that I drank and the drug that I used took a little more from me. At first it was slowly; I didn’t notice, but in 2011 everything had gone and my life revolved around a sleeping bag in a burnt out shop and greedily getting rid of everything in my life that had got in the way of drinking and using drugs.
I didn’t want to come to 12 step fellowship, it was a condition of rehab and me keeping certain people in my life. I found the language and the attitude of people strange and beyond explanation. I’m pretty sure folk tried to help but I was too angry and scared to listen.
I’d bumped into a bloke one Tuesday night who came into the rehab to talk about the 12 steps a couple of months before. He smiled, was fairly calm, (not just in meetings but when I saw him on the street too). I’d got fairly desperate, really didn’t want to drink or use but couldn’t stand life abstinent.
So I asked him to help me and he told me about this illness of addiction. My physically abnormal reaction to these chemicals that we call craving; I can’t guarantee how much I’ll do when I drink or use.
My weird head that always takes me back to the possibility of that night round the fire, no matter how much chemicals cripple me physically or take things away in my life. Most importantly the massive dis-ease I feel when straight; irritable and restless, prickly in my skin. Solve THAT he said and jobs a goodun.
I took the 12 steps with him guiding me and I have changed immeasurably (life’s still the same!). I haven’t obsessed, itched or twitched for drink or drugs since I took them. I know there’s something in this universe more powerful than me (dunno whether that’s evolution, quantum physics, or a god) but I do know that doing simple practical things every day offered me a solution and still does. I have a life, a bit of peace, and hope.
That bloke who helped me said “if you’re willing to do these 12 steps then you never, ever need use drink or drugs again”. I didn’t think that was possible, but it has proved to be an amazing way of life.
I have always been a work hard play hard sort of person, I saw myself as a bit of a high flying salesman and eventually I started my own business. Cocaine entered my life in my mid twenties and it fitted in well with the lotus, sharp suits and women. If I’m honest I loved the image but that was my own image of myself and no one else’s.
I found it difficult to hold down relationships, my partners would often say “Im not getting all of you” and I didn’t really know what they meant, we would go on grand holidays, I would buy large presents and take them out often for meals, but they always felt something was lacking. I knew they were right but I didn’t know what it was. It was very frustrating, and the more I fought and the more I tried, the harder it seemed to get.
I did coke with friends casually in the pubs, occasionally ending up for the all night sessions round someone’s flat, three pints down and the call was made. This habit would extend to dates and into relationships. I lost someone I loved very much because of using, which at the time I really didn’t see a problem with. I could quit anytime of course, it was just something I did with friends, everyone does it right?
Eventually I hooked up with someone who liked the live-hard lifestyle as much as me and we began a three year affair fuelled on cocaine and alcohol. Inevitably things went downhill, I lost my house and almost the business. When this relationship ended, I decided I needed to change my lifestyle and quit coke, I found out that I couldn’t, I always found an excuse to use, I sought out company of people who used, and started using a lot on my own with internet porn or calling prostitutes, unable to pluck up the energy to find another partner.
Eventually down to my last friend and almost bankrupt I walked into Cocaine Anonymous utterly exhausted and out of answers. I had been using drugs for 20 years on and off but mostly on.
That was six months ago and since then things have changed, I am no longer scared to wander out the house and face the world. I can look people in the eye, and friends and family I once thought gone are back in my life. That ever elusive feeling of being whole has been realised and it is a relief to know I am not alone and I can promise nor are you. This isn’t perfect, don’t expect it to be, but it is the solution for so many of us, from company directors to housewives we are addicts and we can help each other. The most important thing I have back is my character, I once again like who I am with all my flaws and dents but most of all I now appreciate the good bits that I was never really able to see.
I started taking drugs to fuel longer and bigger parties, I knew I was often the last one standing but I didn’t see this as a problem, sitting in some strangers living room alone at 10am after a big night became standard. Then after a time I was using by myself and was attracted to darker places, I found it harder to spend time with people that didn’t use or drink like me. I wasn’t at peace until I had some gear in my pocket and a quiet place to use it.
The gaps in between my using and drinking became non-existent, my life became small and dark and my friends became acquaintances that would tolerate me.
On another heavy night out I found a card with the Cocaine Anonymous helpline number on the counter of a pub amongst fliers for clubs. By this point I knew I had a problem and would try anything to stop.
After another bender I called the helpline the next day and found myself in a Cocaine Anonymous meeting on a Sunday night.
In the meetings I was told that I had an illness and that it wasn’t a question of will power, I wasn’t just weak and pathetic. I learnt that I had lost the power of choice over drugs and alcohol. It was hard to accept a life of abstinence until I realized through experience that I could never safely have just one. After experiencing the painful reality of this time and time again I could no longer pretend.
I worked through the twelve step programme and was given a sober, happy and peaceful life in return. Through practicing the 12 step programme and attending Cocaine Anonymous meetings I can be a useful member of society, my fear and insecurity about the world has all but disappeared. This is something that I never, ever dreamed possible. It works, it really does!