- Mental Health
My name is Jacob, and I am a recovering alcoholic and addict. I began using cannabis in high school to have fun and establish a friend group. While I thought I was making a lot of new friends back then, I now realize that our only common interest was getting high. Very rarely did we hang out and not use drugs and drink.
In college, I discovered alcohol, and it quickly became a problem for me. I am innately shy and introverted, and alcohol relieved me of all of the social pressures and anxiety that I tend to experience. I was also uncomfortable with who I was, and alcohol and cannabis allowed me to feel comfortable in my own skin.
For a while, it was solely fun and games, going to parties and meeting new people, but the drinking and drugging eventually became debilitating. I started to black out, became physically ill, and found myself getting in trouble with the law as a result of drinking too much. I had a hard time fulfilling obligations at school and work, and became lazy and apathetic.
It was at this point that I discovered prescription painkillers and immediately fell in love. They took away my depression and helped me feel good with a minimal hangover. Towards the tail end of my addiction, however, I struggled to get up in the morning and function. I was isolating myself from friends and family because I didn’t want to be around people; I simply wanted to get high or drunk and drown the world out.
The depression and apathy that resulted when I didn’t have drugs or alcohol in my system impaired my ability to live a normal life. I had always thought that, because my antidepressants don’t work as well as I had hoped, I was destined to self-medicate my entire life. In retrospect, while I still struggle with depression today, alcohol without a doubt worsened my symptoms and prevented my medications from working.
While my “rock-bottom” was not as severe as many other addicts and alcoholics, my sponsor told me, “You reach your bottom when you stop digging.” This really hit home for me. Addiction is a progressive illness and typically gets worse and harder to beat the longer one stays in it.
I entered treatment on January 8th of 2014. It was my introduction to the 12-step program and a serious test of patience, as I had lived with the instant gratification of drugs and alcohol for years. Today, I can sit with my thoughts and feelings without using substances to numb them. I also have a lot more motivation to wake up in the morning, live my life, and work towards goals. I am still struggling to feel happy but I believe that, with time, this will come back for me.
Today, I can focus my energy on positive things—like making sober friends who care about my well-being; working towards goals; and improving relationships with family and friends—as opposed to acquiring and using drugs and alcohol. The 12 steps and my group support program continue to provide me with an immense amount of wisdom and insight, in addition to showing me how to live a balanced, fulfilling life.