Five years, 7 months ago, I was drinking four bottles of wine and a handful of pills a day. I’d become my own pharmacist: feel an ounce of pain, take a pill or a chug of wine—problem solved. I had a pill for every eventuality. Except, it didn’t solve anything. It destroyed my life and led to a full-blown addiction—where I could not stop using in spite of the devastating consequences to myself, my friends, my family and my life (or what was left of it).
After a monumental binge, in March 2012, I reached my long-awaited rock-bottom. I found recovery that week and—despite many prior [failed] attempts—I haven’t used since.
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A friend asked me this weekend how I knew when I’d had enough. After a little contemplation, I answered: When my awareness of the consequences and my desperation became greater than the level of escapism. I reached a place where alcohol and drugs had stopped working. Sure, I reached oblivion and passed out, but I couldn’t consume enough to escape my existence. I kept waking up and facing the mounting consequences—needing more and more each time. As the consequences piled up so did my awareness that I couldn’t keep doing this—my soul had become so fragile that it broke.
Physically, I was 150 pounds overweight and suffering with terrible side effects of consuming so much—from abscesses to frequent chest infections. Mentally, I felt destroyed. I suffered with acute depression and paralyzing anxiety.
The pain had become unbearable. I knew I had to do something drastic because I couldn’t continue the way I was. I didn’t want to exist.
Faced with choosing to die, or getting help, something finally changed—I describe it was some kind of grace because I have no other words. I don’t believe in god, but I cannot fathom how I had otherwise not managed to stop and suddenly I was able to this time.
With the help of AA (initially), I got some solid footing in recovery and days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and here I am at 5 years, 7 months sober.
Around two years sober, I dealt with the other aspects of my addiction: my relationship with food. You could classify it as addiction or eating disorders, I guess. I call it a facet of addiction: just another substance I used to escape my existence and the world. I engaged in some professional help, with a health coach, and learned how to unpick my unhealthy relationship with food—and in a way that I hadn’t expected.
My life needed an injection of fun. My world, while it was great being sober, was so heavily revolved around meetings, recovery events, and work that fun and enjoyment had completely escaped me. I used food for enjoyment. In fact, I didn’t even know how to have fun. So I learned. I started trying new activities that fulfilled the creative in me—art galleries, jewelry making, painting, drawing, cooking, website design, blogging. What my coach did was make food smaller and my life bigger.
With a more fulfilling life, and the insight into addiction that I had gained, I made better choices. I lost weight. I added exercise into the mix and in a way that was also enjoyable—I found something that gave me joy and a challenge: I started running, I bought a bike and cycle everywhere, and I discovered that I love lifting heavy weights!
I shared my journey with the world on my website, and I received such positive feedback that I trained as a health coach too so that I can help others on their journey.
My life today is a world apart from that bloated, sad, depressed, broken and hopeless soul. She was completely lost in addiction. Now she is living a fulfilling life of her dreams and helping others achieve theirs. Anyone can recover.