I did not have the slightest clue about what the term, “being sober,” meant when I made the phone call to my two best friends asking them for help. I just knew that I needed help.
I had known Mark and Anthony for my whole life, so of course they were there within a few hours to come pick me up and comfort me. I attempted pretending like everything was okay, but I immediately broke down and started crying. I remember them trying to lighten the mood by cracking a joke about the fact that I looked like a caveman. (Addiction had taken a toll on personal hygiene during those preceding few months.)
Mark and Anthony already had some clue as to what was going on: I had slowly been disappearing from their lives, and many of the red flags had been hard to miss. I was not around like I used to be, and I rarely accepted their phone calls. Despite this behavior, they were still there to support me—and I told them everything.
We went to one of their houses, where they sat me down on their couch, and, ironically enough, handed me a beer. As the three of us sat around drinking and smoking, they discussed their concerns about my use of pills, and suggested I reach out to my parents for help. We were under the impression that I would go to treatment, stop taking pills, and then return home where I would drink and smoke again … I would soon learn the process was not that simple.
The next morning I called my father and told him what was up. To this day, that remains one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do, because having seen this coming, he had previously warned me about the dangerous path I was heading down. We cried, embraced, and discussed the plan. He reminded me of my first cousin, who after dealing with an almost identical substance abuse issue, went into treatment and got sober.
I had spoken to my cousin a few times over the past year, and every time we spoke, he seemed incredibly happy. I had never asked him for details about what happened, but I decided I wanted what he had.
A few hours later, my flight was booked for Florida, where I would attend the same drug and alcohol treatment center that had helped my cousin. At first, I refused to leave the state for treatment, and tried to bargain with all involved to send me to a facility near by. I was told, however, that a change in my environment (“people, places, and things”) would give me the greatest chance of recovery. I also did not really have much of a choice: I knew my family was supportive right now, but if I did not do what was suggested to me I would lose that support quickly.
I was extremely nervous leaving behind everything I had established in Massachusetts. I had a great group of friends, a secure job, and I loved everything about the city of Boston where I was living. It took a lot of soul searching to realize that despite these great things, my life was completely unmanageable.
Embarking on the journey to sobriety was complex and draining, but also a source of great relief at the same time. The last few days before flying down to Florida felt as though a massive weight was lifting from my shoulders. I was finally free of the secrets I had been carrying around the last few years.
Going to treatment is not what kept me sober, but it certainly gave me the foundation I needed to find sobriety. I had no idea how it was possible to live a life free of any substances and yet be happy. I thought I would smoke marijuana for the rest of my life and nothing would change that.
While in treatment, my therapist addressed these issues, and educated me on the disease of addiction. I learned why I was self-medicating and relying on substances to cope with life.
Aside from an amazing facility and great therapists, the peers around me are what made the experience so great. We were all different ages and from different backgrounds, but we all could relate to each other’s desperate hope to be free of drugs and alcohol. For each of us, the pain of using had finally surpassed any cold comfort we had found in drugs and alcohol. It was at that breaking point that we each had made the call for help….
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