There are numerous reasons why I quit drinking. Even though I was told I would always be an alcoholic, I successfully overcame my addiction to alcohol. Although I hate the word “addiction” many people thrive on it; it’s their excuse for the life they have been living. I was told I was sick and I had no choice, no voice, no self-control; alcoholism made me feel like a stone, thrown out to sea. I couldn’t control my own destiny or my life and I would eventually wash up wherever the alcohol had wanted me to. I know many others are out there, feeling just like I had—like a stone with no thought, drive, power or motivation. That is why I want to share my story of how I overcame alcohol.
My story began when I left a 12-step program which shall remain nameless, I needed to get away from the damaging mentality they gave me. It was so negative and never made me feel good. So you may be wondering, why did I leave? It wasn’t easy, but I figured after five years of being in and out of recovery, that I had had enough. I work up one day and realized I didn’t want this life anymore; it’s not the legacy I wanted to leave behind. So I kept things simple and created a plan with realistic goals in a journal. I knew since I was drinking for hours a day I couldn’t go cold turkey so I slowly dropped down my drinking each week, tracking when I drank and how much. This slow process didn’t leave me feeling extremely shaky or with extreme withdrawal. It took me a few months to eventually fully stop but I had never felt so liberated.
I started being proactive about my choices and tried to keep busy on making plans for my future. Once I had my goals in order, drinking didn’t seem like it had to be such a huge part of my life. I always kept my goals small so I could achieve them easier. It felt so amazing to check things off in my journal, such as get out of bed before 10 a.m. or work on my resume. The entire process brought such positive energy to my life. By doing these small steps I learned from my past mistakes. I also tried not to look back on my former life in the 12 step program. I knew if I truly wanted a fresh start I couldn’t focus on the past and what I could have done differently. I was living in the present and planning for the future.
This process of self-awareness worked incredibly for me but only when I realized I did have control of my own life. It’s been three years since I stopped drinking and I couldn’t be happier. My life is now consumed with my job, family, friends and fun, no longer alcohol. If you’re struggling with alcohol or drugs, my advice to you would be to stay strong, surround yourself with the right people, focus on yourself and start off slow. Most of all never give up on yourself— anyone can do this. You just have to be strong enough to endure the process.
Melissa Kluska is the Saint Jude Retreats Online Public Relations Manager and specializes in non-12-step drug and alcohol programs and alternatives to addiction treatment. She currently is researching non-12-step and non treatment programs as the only effective way to stop a substance abuse programs.