When people think of addicts, the first unfortunate inclination is to lump them all into the same hopeless category. The one that silently says they are a lost cause.
They are junkies. Pill heads. Crack heads. Coke heads. Dope sick. Alcoholics. Losers lacking ambition.
The media depicts addiction in the worst possible way painting a horrid portrait of what it’s like to be an addict. While some do live extreme lives of addiction, riddled with homelessness and complete loss of self, there are so many who silently live with it inside the guise of a high functioning life. One where they are able to carefully tuck it away from all to see.
Addiction does not discriminate.
It doesn’t care what color you are, what your substance of choice is, your age, your religious affiliation, if you’re male or female, young or old. It strikes anyone at any time.
So, it’s about time we stop discriminating when it comes to how we view addiction.
The truth of the matter is no matter what addiction looks like on the outside for someone, it looks and feels the same on the inside for everyone.
For the longest time I thought I wasn’t like “them,” so therefore I must not have a problem. This misconstrued mindset fueled my bad habits and played a leading role in keeping me chained to my addictions for longer than I’d like to admit.
I wasn’t homeless.
I didn’t have track marks on my arms.
I wasn’t a junkie nor was I stealing money.
I went to work. I paid my bills. I even went to the gym.
With this, I justified my drinking and cocaine use because I drank wine at night and vodka Red Bull on the weekends while taking bumps with friends. Everyone does this, right?
I went on grand cocaine benders and somehow I always recovered. I got back up, dusted off my utter exhaustion and went back to “normal” life.
No one knew…
Except then I started taking cocaine out with me every night. If I didn’t have it, I was going on a reverent mission to find it as soon as the alcohol hit my lips.
I would hide it, sneak it and hoard it unapologetically. Mainly because I didn’t want to share it, but also because I didn’t want anyone to find out about me.
I would take key bumps to clean my house. I took naps under my desk at work. I told myself it was no big deal.
Because no one knew, but me…
As I woke up into my own groundhog day, pangs of anxiety began to greet me, which quickly escalated into full-blown panic attacks.
My depression and shame became more torching with each line I’d snort up my damaged little nose, like gas to a fire.
My dirty little secret was starting to out itself.
People were on to me. They were telling me to slow down. They were worried about me.
But I didn’t have a problem. Not me. It couldn’t happen to me. An addict? No way.
I began hearing this faint, small voice inside me saying it’s time to make a change. But I didn’t want to listen to it just as I didn’t want to listen to my friends.
So, I suited up for combat.
“I will start to moderate. I can do happy hour and go home. I can have just two drinks and call it a night without the booger sugar.”
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it.
Every attempt turned into a cocaine spree of sunrises and chain smoking. Every happy hour turned into a frantic escapade to find an eight ball. Every night turned into a self-centered cocaine episode.
I slowly began to realize they did know. I did have a problem. Moderation wasn’t in the cards for me.
By now, I had grown weary of always disappointing myself. Set up, after set up of “I’m never drinking again,” and “I’m not doing coke anymore.” Defeat, after defeat.
My life had become a tattered story on repeat like a broken, warped record.
Come down, after come down began to weigh heavily on my self-worth. The voices of shame became unbearable as they told me what a horrible person I had become. That I would never be good anything except failure.
On August 17th 2008 these voices of terror turned into an agony I could no longer tolerate sending me to my knees as a virgin to prayer.
Instead of frantically trying to find my next high, this time I was frantically begging for a miracle from a God I had never talked to before.
I didn’t want to live that way anymore. I didn’t want to hide anymore. I couldn’t take the shame and guilt of the comedown that had ruthlessly started bleeding into all areas of my life.
I needed help. I needed a miracle. And I clearly couldn’t do it on my own.
So, with salty, toxic tears streaming down my face, I desperately prayed for help that day. I wasn’t even sure I was doing it right, but I was doing it nonetheless. In that moment, a wave of calmness came over me.
And from that day forward I never drank alcohol or did cocaine again.
My recovery story began the moment I accepted that addiction had it’s grip on me. Not because I looked like the people I had seen on T.V. but because I felt it: a paralyzing chaos inside of me.
I wasn’t some homeless, beat up, stealing, lying “junkie” laced with track marks down my arm. I was just your average party girl who had taken it too far. My family didn’t even know this was going on. I never lost my job. I never lost my home.
But what I did lose was myself. The high I was constantly chasing became the thing that was actually chasing me.
Sobriety put an end to my self-fulfilling suffering and it helped me find who I really am, sans the booze and party favors.
I’ve been sober for almost 8 years and I’m here to say, we do recover. I used to be an alcoholic and an addict, but not anymore.
Now I’m Carly Benson: A sobriety ambassador working to break the stigma of addiction and help others realize who they truly are underneath their crippling habits, while showing others how to live the sober life and get in tune with their most epic selves.
I’ve intimately faced off with addiction, but I’ve also experienced the saving grace of a miracle. And I can tell you the power of miracles can undoubtedly supersede the shackles of addiction.
We must flip the script. We must show everyone it can be done. We must deconstruct the stigma of addiction by reconstructing it into the miracle of recovery.
Miracles Are Brewing, one voice in recovery at a time.
Addiction = 0, Miracles = 1 & Counting.