I moved from Dallas to Naples, Florida when I was fourteen years old. It was the biggest change of my life at the time and when I landed there I was nervous about not knowing anyone.

Quickly after, I met a football player who would become my boyfriend for the next several years. I started hanging out with that crowd and we drank and smoked weed on the weekends out of both boredom and curiosity.

My typical teenage drinking followed me along through high school and by the time I had gotten to college I had also tried acid, mushrooms and ecstasy (a LOT of it).

However, when I arrived to my Freshman year of college, I slowed down on the heavier drugs and went back to drinking and smoking weed for the most part. Although my college career was peppered with many nights of binge drinking and blackouts, to me, there was nothing alarming going on. It would be many years before that happened.

I made it through to my senior year of college before I tried the drug that would become my nemesis – cocaine. It was one of those situations where I had turned it down plenty of times out of fear. My mother had always told me that cocaine could kill you the first time you try it, which played a big role in my hesitancy.

But, as life would have it, I caved and tried a bump one night as it was being passed around. The first time, I didn’t feel much because I didn’t do very much. So the next time, naturally my curiosity peaked because I didn’t die -and I tried more. Then a little more. Then more.

Then I was hooked.

Cocaine became a necessary companion for every night that alcohol was involved. At first it was a “harmless” party accessory convincing me that I could drink more, be cooler and that I had found the key to unlock a sense of (false) connection I had been searching for.

In my mind, I subconsciously believed that cocaine was the gateway to real connection to others and myself. I felt invincible on it. I felt higher than high. I felt fearlessness, a tolerance that made me able to drink more for longer and it made me feel like I was a leader of the secret cocaine society.

That’s why cocaine is so addicting. It makes you think you’ve just opened the door to a new world. Once you start using, you know all the people in the scene and before you know it, it’s always around you.

I thought I had it all under control because I was a high functioning alcoholic and addict. I went to work, paid my bills, owned a house and I even worked out at the gym.  This kept me in the loop for a long time.

However, over time, I started experiencing the feelings of the come down – anxiety, shame, guilt, fear, restlessness – when I wasn’t using. I started having anxiety and panic attacks that crippled me. I continued to have seeds planted along the way from friends and my own internal voice that I, indeed, did have a problem.

I tried to change my patterns to drinking just wine. To only going to happy hour. To not using cocaine when I went out. But none of it worked. No matter how hard I tried.

The voice inside me grew louder, the anxiety grew stronger and I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

On August 17th, 2008, after yet another failed attempted at going to happy hour and it turning into sunrise, I reached my breaking point. I finally admitted I had a problem. I knew in my bones that something had to change and there had to be a better way to live.

On that day, out of desperation, I dropped to my knees in prayer. I wasn’t a religious person. I didn’t go to church. I believed in God, but I certainly didn’t know what it meant because I was way too occupied with partying. But that day, something came over me and I decided to pray.

I begged for help. I asked that if He was real, to show me. That I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. That I needed a miracle.

From that day forward, I never drank or used cocaine again. A miracle was set into motion.

 

That day I unlocked a willingness to do things differently. I became open to divine assistance. I made a resolute decision that things had to change and I needed help.

I tried AA that very night, but decided it wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to trade one vice for another, which would mean meetings all the time instead of my beloved cocaine. I didn’t want to answer to a sponsor.

Subconsciously, I believe I was terrified of doing “step work,” so I convinced myself that “I wasn’t like those people.” Later I would identify, I was exactly like them; I just wore it differently.

At first, I just wanted to be sober and see if I could do it for 30 days. I had someone close to me at the time basically laugh in my face as they told me “I give you 2 weeks, tops.” This fueled my fire and was exactly what I needed to set my determination on high.

I started going to church. Reading the Bible. Praying. These were my version of meetings. I started going to the gym, working out and reading books. I forced myself to remain social, with healthy boundaries in place. I was determined that my relationship with alcohol would not affect my ability to have fun.

I went 30 days. 60 days. 90 days. 6 months. A year. And by that point, I realized I didn’t miss it. I felt better. I looked better. My bank account was bumping. I was sleeping better. I had clarity like nothing I had experienced before. My competitive nature wasn’t about to let me cash in my chips for alcohol or a cheap thrill after all the hard work I had put in.

That was it – I knew that alcohol-free was my new lifestyle. 

From there, I began to use my money to travel, take adventures and truly felt like I was experiencing life for the first time. I didn’t need substances anymore to enjoy anything.

I started to notice tiny miracles happening all around me. My intuition grew stronger. My faith grew stronger. My thirst for personal development and learning more about myself grew stronger, too.

I wanted to know what made me tick. Why I even drank or used drugs in the first place. I started studying with teachers such as Mastin Kipp, Kute Blackson, Gabrielle Bernstein, A Course In Miracles and began to tap into who I was as a person.

From there, I took a writing class and as part of that class we had to write essays. So, I wrote about what I knew best – my sobriety, what I was learning and life lessons I had learned along this path.

I put a blog up, called Miracles Are Brewing to share my writing. A few people read it, shared it and the next thing I knew my inbox was getting pinged on the regular for advice on how to quit drinking.

My calling became clear.

I went on to get certified as a Life and Sobriety coach, as a yoga teacher and studied Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I began coaching people and the Miracles Are Brewing community continued to grow into something much bigger than me.

This level of learning and accountability has kept me sober. My faith has kept me sober. My willingness to do things differently has kept me sober. Self-care, prayer, yoga and understanding what I need to stay peaceful and keep anxiety, my obsessive mind and the voice of cravings in check, have also kept me sober.

A lot of people want to know how to get sober. The truth is: there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone’s path to recovery looks different and therefore their recovery path is going to be different too.

It takes determination, showing up and willingness. It takes a higher level of awareness to your thoughts, to yourself and to your intentions. It is hard work, but it’s worth every bit of it.

You CAN change your life. You CAN live without substances. Life CAN open up to you like never before. It all starts with a decision backed with an unwavering willingness.

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From Addiction to Recovery: Carly’s Story
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Carly Benson

About Carly Benson

As an avid traveler, yogi & confessed self-help junkie, Carly writes about her adventures in life & sobriety on www.MiraclesAreBrewing.com where she offers inspirational concepts for enlightenment, spirituality, and embracing epicness.

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