My name is Crystal and I am an addict. I have always been and will always be an addict. The difference is that today I am a recovering addict. The reason that I say I am a recovering addict, and not a recovered addict is because addiction is never something you are “cured” of. It is something you work at everyday in order to continue to stay sober. For me those days have turned into months, and those months have turned into years as I continue in my journey in recovery. As a recovering addict I am constantly growing and changing, each day I strive to be better than the person I was the day before. My success is not measure in comparison to others, this is my own individual journey and the progress I see in myself is the greatest gift!
Relapse is a huge part in my recovery process! The first time I got sober I stayed clean for two and a half years and was convinced I was a “white chip wonder”. This means you have only picked up one white chip in your life, have long term sobriety, and have never relapsed. Unfortunately I was disillusioned and thought that after a year of sobriety and working a program I was “cured” and didn’t have to continue doing much but attend a few meetings a week. After about eight months of this I stopped going to meetings completely or being around my sober support. I hung on for about another six months but was completely miserable and inevitably relapsed. For the next three years I struggled to get sober and could not get more than sixty days clean.
The last few months of my drinking and using were the darkest time of my life. I was so lost in my addiction, and in life. My anxiety, and depression were the worst they had ever been. I was lost in emotional, spiritual, and physical pain and didn’t know how to ask for help. I was in and out hospitals and psych wards several times, and had pushed all of my family and friends away. I was very sick, and very alone by my own doing. I couldn’t stop drinking on my own and that’s when I attempted to take my own life. This was the final straw for me and I realized how many people I was hurting, and how selfish I had been. This was definitely my emotional bottom that brought me to my knees, and I just could not continue living the way I was. I thank God everyday that I was not successful and am alive today.
My mom and my step dad stepped in and got me into an inpatient treatment center that focused on dual diagnosis and I began the process of healing. I am not going to lie my first ninety days of sobriety were very difficult for me. I had isolated myself so much for so long in my active addiction that I did not know how to live life sober. I had a lot of guilt and shame over the things I had done and it took a long time for me to forgive myself. Being in treatment for three months there was a lot of intense work that was done but I was save from the outside world.
When I got out of treatment it was a huge adjustment moving into a halfway house, connecting with others in the program and getting plugged in, and starting a new job. I continued my treatment in a intensive outpatient clinic that gave me the tools and support that I needed in making the transition back into the world. It was definitely an adjustment but it got easier every day.
The reaction I had from my family and friends when I first got sober was supportive, but cautious. I had told them many times before that I was done and promised them over and over I would stay clean, and didn’t. They wanted to believe me but they needed to see the action behind my words.
When you are new in recovery they say you have to change people, places, and things. It was really important for me to form new friendships and relationships with other people in recovery. I had to give up my “using buddies” and stay away from places that I had used. Avoiding bars or places where there was drinking was really important for me in early recovery. After about a year I was able to go to but always took sober support with me. I also always make sure I bring my own car or make sure I have a way to leave if I am in a position that jeopardises my sobriety. Socialising in sobriety is amazing, and the best part is you will remember everything that happened the next morning!
My life has changed in so many ways! I have a great relationship with my family and friends. I have been in a loving and supportive relationship with a man who is also in recovery. I am now able to help others in recovery with my experience, strength and hope. That has the greatest gift and privilege I have ever had in my life!
The main benefits that have emerged from me getting sober are the peace I have in mind, body, and spirit. I am able to show up for others, and extend a hand to other addicts and alcoholics. I have saved myself and everyone in my life from the pain I caused in my in my addictive addiction and am able to make a living amends to them every day I am sober. Make sure your home or where you are living is a safe environment free from any mood or mind altering substances. To give yourself a chance! Relapse is a huge part of my story, and you can never give up! Be good to yourself in early recovery. It is not easy, but it so worth it!
At this point I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and that everything that has happened led me to where I am today. I wouldn’t change any of it! Never give up on yourself no matter how many times you fall down! Brush yourself off and continue fighting for your life! Be good to yourself and I promise it will get easier!
Crystal Hampton is a 37 year old avid writer from South Florida. She loves snuggling with her teacup yorkie Gator and boyfriend Adam. She works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.
MS- Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis
B.Ed.- Bachelors in Elementary Education
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