There is a very good reason that after over three years alcohol-free I still blog about sobriety most days. I’m going to do whatever it takes to hold onto my freedom because alcohol addiction is serious business. The risk of relapse is high even after years of sobriety, but I believe the key is to stay aware. To never forget or diminish my last bottom and to take time every single day to support, reflect and learn. Luckily, I enjoy the process because the rewards are HUGE.
Elizabeth Vargas, who wrote the book Between Breaths, has become a vocal spokeswoman for the traditional perspective on alcoholism as a disease and the twelve steps as the cure. I found that a less traditional take was essential for me to break my addiction. I had to focus on reaching for empowerment rather than accepting powerlessness. I had to focus on finding my own way. I had to focus on finding the unique voice that I had lost while drinking away the “stress of the day”. Working through my recovery by writing freely in a supportive community, has been a journey of self- discovery that for me, could not have begun by following rules or steps, although that system does work for many people.
From my personal experience of recovery, I don’t agree with many of the “absolute truths” that I have heard Vargas and American medical specialists discuss concerning alcoholism, but I enjoyed reading Vargas’s book and did find common ground with her on many issues.
In this interview with Diane Sawyer Vargas says
“ It doesn’t matter how much you have or how little you have…alcohol addiction is an equalizer. It takes everything ”
” I would die for my children but I could not stop drinking for them”
Like Elizabeth Vargas, I started hiding how much I was drinking. One bottle in the fridge always half full and another in the garage to keep my glass topped up. I didn’t suffer from anxiety, which is something that she talks about quite a bit in this interview, but I could not control how much I was drinking and it was getting dangerous.
Like Vargas, even though I would die for my kids, I couldn’t stop drinking for them.
Elegant, articulate, privileged, and refined, she almost died, with the same blood alcohol level that killed Amy Winehouse. Many women in my generation are familiar with what it feels like to be in an alcohol-induced blackout, but we haven’t quite wrapped around the danger of it yet. When everywhere you look, you see encouragement to take down the stress of the day with Mommy’s Wine Time, it can become easy to forget that habitual binge drinking is addictive, and addictive behavior by nature, cannot be controlled. Elizabeth Vargas didn’t drink thinking that she would put herself in danger, but was found staggering through Riverside Park in New York city blackout drunk with a blood alcohol level of .4. She is only alive to tell about it today because a woman whose name she never learned, picked her up and drove her home.
Although I don’t have anxiety issues, and my rock bottom was not as deep as Elizabeth Vargas’s , her book reminded me of exactly how I felt four years ago, and of how precious my sobriety is. She reminded me that whether or not I thought I started drinking too much for good reason, once I started hiding bottles, once I started lying to my husband about how much I was drinking, and unsettling my children with my memory lapses and bizare behavior….it was game over.
It took me over six years to accept that I had to stop drinking, but luckily within a few months of living life consciously, creatively, alcohol-free, I found that life is far better without the booze.
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