Alumni Spotlight: Tammy
This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences on their path to sobriety. This story may contain behaviors or information about use that is triggering. Please use your own discretion.
Hi, my name is Tammy and I am an addict.
The first time I said those words aloud to anyone was when I entered the substance abuse treatment program at Lakeview Health. I felt several emotions: shame, anger, frustration, fear, and disbelief. I had never taken a street drug and I didn’t like the taste of alcohol. How could I be here?
The path that got me here started out easily and innocently enough. I had 19 surgeries in 18 years, most of them serious. When I first started taking the prescription painkillers, everything was fine and I rarely took them. Then, it happened. I realized that I could sleep really well when I had them and did not have nightmares. So I started taking them every night, and it was on. My addiction reared its ugly head and I was on a decade-long run. I am dyslexic when it comes to prescription labels: I take four every hour instead of one every four hours.
If you look up the word “unmanageable” in the dictionary, you would find my life before recovery. All I did was lay around and I never left the house except to go get more pills. I was taking a huge amount; I couldn’t work, I couldn’t go anywhere, and using was all I thought about. I thought I would die without it. I thought I wasn’t hurting anyone except myself, but that wasn’t true. I was hurting everyone around me. I would rob you blind for “ways and means to get more.” My life was total chaos and I couldn’t stop. I pushed away everyone in my life: my family, my friends, children, grandchildren. I constantly made excuses why I couldn’t make events, dates, or holidays. My addiction made me do things I would never have dreamed of doing if I had been in my right mind.
I looked for treatment in my home state for two years and it wasn’t until I found Lakeview in Jacksonville, Florida that I had some hope. I was excited about the “possibility” that I could get clean and boarded the plane for the first time ever, totally alone, not knowing where I was going, or what to expect.
My first few days there was a blur. I had to do some heavy detoxification work and I honestly don’t even remember much except for sleeping. When I finally got upright, I listened to everyone else talk, but I didn’t really think I was “like her.” Then, around the second week in, everything I heard was making sense. All the things the other people were describing were ME! They were just like me or I was just like them. So, I started paying attention and I learned things. How to take care of me, how to set boundaries, and most of all how to make my life manageable and live drug-free.
That’s what I learned at Lakeview Health and am still learning in my home group. I chose to do sober living in South Florida after leaving Lakeview. I was at Lakeview for 63 days and I needed it. I am now just a few days away from 9 months clean. I have a decent job and have just been made house manager of my sober living. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am not where I was either. Life is actually manageable now; I can do things, I can go places, I can keep commitments. I go to work every day on time and have even gotten a promotion already.
My advice to you is this: Listen! The people who bring meetings know what they are talking about. Follow what is suggested to you and pay attention to the meeting materials. It really works! I recently had a hospital stay and did it drug-free. It was triggering, but those same words that I heard over and over are what immediately came to mind and saved me. If you really want it and really work it, you never have to pick up again. That’s my plan and what I’m working for.