This is a heartfelt account from one of our recent members about how he overcame addiction with the help of Turning Point Recovery Center.
I appreciate his honesty and willingness to share his story.
In his words:
I came to The Turning Point Recovery Center (TPRC) in January of 2013, signing up for the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) with some reluctance. Actually, that’s an understatement – I kept trying to convince the staff during my intake interview that I did not need an IOP. I just needed help to stop drinking.
I look back on that day, a year ago now, with some amusement. I had to come to IOP to save my career, or so I thought, and wound up changing my life – in the process, more than likely saving it. I was (indeed, I am) an alcoholic. What TPRC did for me was to provide a springboard into Alcoholics Anonymous, through which I am learning a way to live my life so that I no longer find it necessary or even desirable to consume alcohol.
This is an unbelievable change for a guy like me. I drank like an alcoholic from the moment I discovered the effect alcohol had on me: I thought it made me fun, sociable, willing to take risks, spontaneous, attractive to women, but most of all it hid my fear of so many things from everyone else, even from myself.
I was seventeen years old when I found alcohol. About 25 years later, I was facing losing my career in a prestigious technical field after nearly 20 years of service. I had been arrested for my second DWI and was constantly congratulating myself for the fact that it wasn’t aggravated (it was one point below that limit – big difference, note my sarcasm).
I got here through a slow and sad progression of mini-spirals, or loops as I like to think of them. Whenever I got into trouble (including my first DWI in the late 90s), I changed my behavior somewhat, trying to drink like I wanted but not get in trouble for it. I switched to wine. I did beer only. I did hard liquor only. I tried cutting back during the workweek.
Inevitably, once the heat was off at work, after about a week or three, I would find myself back to drinking how I wanted to – drunk every time I drank, and drinking every night. I don’t know how many times I drove drunk, but I’m certain it’s in the thousands. I’m extraordinarily fortunate that I did not hurt anyone else or myself. And I think now I’m fortunate to have been caught that second time since it forced me to start making a change, even before the courts finally got involved.
No Man Is An Island
I had many friends who were concerned about me, but I purposely kept them at arm’s length (if not further). I had different groups at different bars that I would frequent so that they were only vaguely aware of how much I actually drank in a given evening. Only a few times did people see my full “potential,” on such occasions as a birthday or holiday party, or a camping trip or a multi-day bender in Las Vegas, NV.
I never had a serious girlfriend in all of my life. They either got bored with my aloof attitude, my lack of genuine caring, or my lack of responsibility or both. I never let anyone into my heart – I was afraid of the consequences, and most of all afraid they’d make me look at my drinking as a serious problem.
The last few years of my drinking were bad enough that I actually caught myself saying things to myself like, “You gotta stop this. You need help. Just call someone at work and ask for help, they have psychologists on staff for this!”
On the few visits I allowed my parents to make, they would become quite concerned about my drinking, and that was when I was cutting back with great effort. When they came, I couldn’t wait for them to leave. And I couldn’t wait to leave when I visited them. I needed to get back to where I could drink, where things made sense and I felt comfortable again.
How to “Drink Normally”
So I came into TPRC thinking they could help me “drink normally” … every day. I thought, “OK, ten weeks of being sober – I can do this. Then I can drink like a normal person, just have my three big beers and go home.” For me, that was three 20-oz beers of the microbrew variety which usually meant 6-7% alcohol.
Of course, on weekends and parties and such, I was thinking I would allow myself to add my favorite hard alcohol (whiskey and coke, about five or six) and of course a nightcap drink to finish the fun evening. To me, that was what I thought of as a normal hard drinking guy for a man who was 6’3″ and weighed 265 lbs.
I really wanted to fit in with other people, but I did not understand what that was. Coming into TPRC was like a springboard to a new way of life for me. I first dealt with the immediate effects of not drinking at all. TPRC IOP had some (I thought) strict rules, not just for attendance at the center but at AA meetings, getting and working with a sponsor – what I’ve come to understand as “working the program.”
Facing it Head On
What I didn’t understand was why I was feeling so emotional. Why so many of the things I’d had all my life were now coming forward and center in my mind, my emotional center, and my life. TPRC gave me a place I could trust, a place I had to go to, yes, but a place that slowly became trusting of the others that were there before me and (as I progressed) others that came after me.
The IOP softened the impact of the return of all the emotional issues I had. I began to really identify with people in the group sessions, hearing them talk about many of the same problems I had. It turns out that alcohol wasn’t really my problem – it was my attempt at a solution to my problems, or at least a coping mechanism. I’d quit when things got right, I thought, and by that I meant when I got what I really wanted.
Along with the group sessions, there were the one-on-one sessions with a counselor that allowed me to really get personal, which I didn’t like at first but it was something that needed to happen. It wasn’t that bad, as it turned out, and (typical for me) I had blown it out of proportion in my own head because I was afraid.
For me, most of my problems boiled down to fear: either the fear of losing something I had (job, money, cars, houses, etc.) or fear of not getting what I thought I deserved (I still could not get a steady girlfriend and I wanted a real relationship almost more than anything … guess what the word “almost” is referring to there).
It’s turning out that AA is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my adult life. I do not think I would have come so far so quickly (I might not have made it in AA at all) had it not been for the help and care I got at TPRC. I don’t think I would have been able to truly listen and hear what people were saying, much less even care what they or my sponsor were saying and trying to show me without TPRC. Therefore, I think I would have been at a much higher risk of “going back out” – continuing to drink until I wound up experiencing enough pain to either chase myself back into some sort of treatment and recovery along with AA, or I would have simply kept going until I hit the ultimate bottom and wound up dying of untreated alcoholism, a slow, painful, and ugly suicide that I’d seen happen to more than one acquaintance over the years.
I continue to attend the After Care sessions, not only because my job has asked that I do so, but because there is a huge benefit to having a group counseling session with the same counselors and some of the same people (fellow clients) I’ve come to know at TPRC. It’s not only a form of accountability, but the group sessions are different from an AA meeting. At TPRC I was immensely comforted by the fact that I had professional help, and it was also important that some of them were also recovering alcoholics and addicts themselves – “they spoke my language,” as another early AA member put it.
My Turning Point
This story does not have a proper end because it isn’t over; this is a beginning for me, not an ending at all. What I have come to understand about myself is:
that I had been (indeed still am) incredibly selfish and self-centered
that I was protecting my disease since it did not want to be put into remission
and that I could not have done it alone.
I tried overcoming it alone and I lost every time – almost every damn night, actually.
TPRC didn’t so much save my life or give it back to me or even change it – TPRC gave me the tools, the encouragement, and some much-needed prodding in the willingness department so that I could begin to change my own life. TPRC helped me so that I could bring my own life back, so that I could find a way that worked for me to not only live and enjoy a sober life, but to want to keep going and growing in it.
I had to do the work, but I did not have to do it alone. I love it when someone ends that phrase with, “and why would you want to?”
Almost a year away from when I took my last drink, I think the center has a very apropos name: it was indeed the turning point in my life, when I came into IOP and AA.
It’s Your Turn
If you are ready for your own success story, contact us today and take your next step to getting clean.