I remember feeling separate from other people from a young age. I was quite shy and found it hard to make friends. I often felt different, awkward and embarrassed and this made me feel alone. Like no one else really felt like me. Growing up I was always bullied at school as well as in my home life and so I never really felt like I fitted in anywhere. I felt like this was my fault, that there surely must be something the matter with me. I would escape into fantasy where I would imagine myself different from the way I was. The first substance I picked up was alcohol. When I drank, it was like the world changed, and I changed too. I felt a part of life. It gave me confidence to be the kind of person I always thought I wanted to be. Later, I was introduced to other substances. This again gave me a sense of ease and comfort. At twenty one I was using drugs every day as part of my daily life. This continued for another seven years before I found recovery. I used to look down my nose at some of the people I used with. I always thought I was better or more clever than anyone else because I was able to use the drugs I did and still manage to make it to my work the next day. I thought that as long as I could keep my job and my family didn’t find out then that meant that I wasn’t really an addict. I tried quitting many times unsuccessfully. I would just end up in the same place every time. I would pick up the same substances again because I hated myself and the way I felt when I was clean. If I couldn’t use before I went to work in the morning I would wake up and sit on the end of my bed and cry because it was so hard for me function without drugs in my system. I just couldn’t cope. On the outside looking in you might have thought that my life was pretty manageable. I still had my job and I had hid my drug use from my family. On the inside I felt awful. Then had a moment one day were something inside me just snapped. I knew that I was beat. I couldn’t go on living the way I was living. I curled myself into a ball on my bathroom floor and cried. After that I felt better, because I knew that things had to change. I contacted members of my family who were in recovery. One of them took me to my first meeting of Cocaine Anonymous. I was welcomed; people in the room were happy and laughing. Which I found confusing because anytime I had put drugs down I was miserable. I got a sponsor and was introduced the 12 steps. I can honestly say that my life has changed as a result and is better than what it was. I no longer feel alone as I can identify and help other people. I am able to feel a part of something that is greater than me. Most importantly, I’m able to live a normal life and be happy. That’s all I ever wanted.
My name is Linda and I am a recovering addict. I got to the fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous three years ago as I knew I had serious problems with my drug use and in my life, however, I did not stay and now know that I wanted the problems that drugs were causing in my life to be taken away but not my drugs! The carnage and destruction I caused to myself and others until I got back to the rooms of CA via a treatment centre 2 years later proved to me that addiction only gets worse never better. Today thanks to CA, people at meetings and the 12 step program I live a life beyond my wildest dreams alcohol and drug free one day at a time. Drugs were always in my life, I had an accident aged 11 and abused prescribed medication throughout my teenage years. At secondary school I took acid regularly and drank alcohol. When I passed my driving test at 17 I started abusing amphetamines, I lost my 1st good job after falling asleep in the toilet after a week long bender. I got involved in the club scene, working and partying as well as holding down a full time job, training at college and throughout all of my twenties did not think I had a problem despite the fact I could not leave the house without being stoned, I used to criticise people that did not live the way that I did. I always thought, work hard, party hard. – that was the way I lived and I did not have a problem. Cocaine and Crack became a daily habit, and by the time I was 31 I still thought I was OK as I usually made it to my work. I was self employed, I lied, cheated and stole from clients, partners, family, and friends to fund my habit, until eventually I was a paranoid wreck sitting at home alone smoking crack, taking cocaine and dabbling with heroin, it took a further 4 years of this before my health started to deteriorate badly and then I realised that I did not have a life and had lost EVERYTHING that was important to me, relationships, material possessions, financial gains, jobs EVERYTHING I cared about including myself.Eventually I admitted defeat, I believe I had a spiritual awakening when a friend took me on holiday and when sitting on a hilltop I burst out crying announcing that I did not want to die.Â I got admitted to a treatment centre and spent 6 months there, afraid, lonely and very confused.Â I did not know who I was, what I was, where I was. I had the same feelings when I left that treatment centre but thanks to the people in the rooms of CA who loved me until I could love myself I am now 18 months away from my last drink or drug and that is a miracle, there is a life beyond addiction and it is beyond my wildest dreams. I am glad to be clean and sober and have so much gratitude to feel reborn and no longer a slave to a mind altering substance.
The first drug I took was alcohol, I was 11 years old. I remember having a feeling that I was missing out on something and couldn’t really wait much longer. From that first time I took more than I intended, at the time I reckoned this was because my friend didn’t want his due to not liking the taste. I never liked the taste either but the effect was what I was after, I felt comfortable. The rest of the evening was told to me when I came to. I had been very sick and felt terrible. I decided then that this would not happen again and certainly I never drank that brand of alcohol again. However I did go on to learn, as I thought, how not to be sick every time. For the rest of my teens and my twenties getting out of my face became my hobby. My life, apart from the problems I created myself with drink and drugs, was really not too bad but I felt there was something missing. Something to make me feel better, contented. When I went to work I worked really hard because I didn’t know what was missing in my life, but whatever it was money would surely buy it. In November 1989 I was about to open the doors of my first business and everything was in place including a good buffer of money to get me started. A friend of mine suggested we get some cocaine and we did and it was crap. I decided that the real stuff must be a lot better and I found some elsewhere the following week. My head was completely turned. I bought an expensive suit to show everyone how I felt and spent the rest on booze and coke. I soon lost interest in the business, making excuses to not go in, hiding away in my bedroom in my parents house snorting coke. When I took cocaine I felt like I was a big shot and that somehow just by taking this drug I would be better at everything and better than everyone else too. My reality was that I had no money and lived at home with my parents and wee sister. sometimes I would come home from work [missing dinner] just to wash and change to get back to my bag of coke and my mother would tell me to do the dishes. That wasn’t part of my trip. I felt like Al Capone. I would think to myself I could get her shot; I’m the top man! The business went bust after 14 months and by this time I was down the road with ecstacy as well. I remember when it arrived in Glasgow. One week lunatics were growling at everyone looking for a fight then the next week they had their arms around me telling me that they had always loved me and by the way what’s your name? for the next 10 years I tried to live with drink and drugs and I tried to live without them. I really loved getting high, but there were too many lows mixed in with the highs. I tried to reverse this, but it got worse, not better. I moved to Australia for a year but my problems just followed me, I just drank heavily. I entered into relationships; worked a lot of hours, tried getting fit then back into business. Nothing succeeded and my problem just kept following me around. The more I tried to live successfully and the more I failed the more despair I felt. I would get over another big episode; find another place to live, another scam and give it another try. I always thought it would be different this time. But It wasn’t. Sometimes I took the first line thinking I hope its not just as bad as the last time. By this time I had lost the power of choice, I had to take cocaine to function properly. For most of the last of my using I didn’t venture out much, just for supplies. It all became the same. I would arrange skins, remote control, coke, CD cover, pipe, fags, hash, bottles and pills in a semI circle in front of me and put porn on the tv with the sound turned way down. Sometimes I would just listen. Listen like no one had ever listened before. Other evenings it was as if my face was superglued to the window pane. I was paranoid about catching them watching me. I found cocaine anonymous through someone in AA where I had began to attend. I found it when I was meant to; at the end of my road. I had a house, a job, and a car, but I had no hope of stopping. A term my fellow addicts and alcoholics used was ‘spiritually bankrupt’. That was me. There was no hope in my bank – just despair. I didn’t take on the suggestions I heard at meetings and I used again. I got back from that at the beginning of July 2001 and I have been sober and clean since then. I took on the suggestions at meetings and the program on offer there and it worked for me. I no longer believe the lie that it will be different this time. For all the trouble drink and drugs were to me I always thought life without them would be terrible, really dull and boring. This has not been my experience. This past nine years, has been the life I always wanted. I got married and now have two beautiful kids. I was right about one thing though; there had been something missing in my life that kept me feeling restless, irritable and discontent but I have found it now. Grateful alcoholic and addict, Glasgow, Scotland.
Addiction for me is principally about loss. Through it I lost my key relationships, my job, money, my health and almost my freedom. The biggest loss though was of my values. As a youngster, I had spirit and enthusiasm for life. I was brought up to tell the truth, never to steal, to care for myself and others and to maintain my own integrity. It all went. Not all at once, but bit by bit as drugs slowly became the focus of my life. Alcohol was my first drug of choice. Everybody drank, didn’t they? At first it lubricated my social life, then it became useful to ease the stress of my professional life, finally becoming necessary to live. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t stop drinking when it was costing me everything. Earlier in my career I’d learned about alcoholism, yet that information was useless to me. I understand now that I couldn’t stop because I suffer from the disease of addiction. When I did stop drinking, I did it the hard way. I sought help from a psychiatrist who detoxed me and sent me to a nurse therapist. He mentioned the twelve step programme but said it wouldn’t be suitable for me. I didn’t know any better. They wanted to teach me controlled drinking; inviting for an alcoholic! But even then I instinctively knew I couldn’t drink safely again. I found my replacement in drugs. Opiates took the craving for alcohol away in minutes. Stimulants gave me energy and confidence I had never known before. I could be whoever I wanted to be. The problem was that the more I used, the more I wanted to use. It took me years to become an alcoholic; I really had to work quite hard at it, but it took only weeks for drugs to get a grip on me. They soon replaced alcohol as the focus of my life. Within months, all my time was taken up sourcing or using drugs. Nothing else mattered. My relationship of ten years seemed meaningless, my partner destroyed by my behaviour, my responsible career finished. Friends phone calls went unanswered. The answering machine overflowed with messages. The curtains were drawn, both in real terms, and on my spirit which was dying. Then the best thing happened: I got caught. Getting reported to the police was the reality check which broke through my powerful denial. I escaped to the safety of a treatment centre where I was introduced to the twelve steps which have turned my life around. Despite having worked professionally with addicted people for years I found I knew little about addiction and recovery. As I recovered, so did my partner through a programme for those affected by addicts’ behaviour. The programme of recovery I practise in Cocaine Anonymous has opened up a way forward out of a seemingly hopeless situation. I met people who are like me. Not bad, weak or pathetic, but people eager to rediscover their values, their identities. One of the ways we do this is by telling others our stories, and telling them what worked for us. If addiction is about loss, recovery is about gain. Now my spirit soars in recovery. I am no longer controlled by drugs or alcohol. My focus has moved onto my programme, getting to meetings, trying to apply the principles of recovery in all my life. I have found meaning and purpose through CA and gained so much more than I ever lost.