by Joe W.
I drank for the first time when I was 13. I didn’t get drunk, but I felt a sense of connection with the people I was drinking with (3 friends of mine) and even though I didn’t like the taste, I couldn’t wait to do it again. That was the first sign looking back that I had an alcoholic frame of mind, obsessing about the drink even when it wasn’t around.
Fast-forward to age 15 in 2006 when I tied a load on for the first time. That experience was life-changing. I felt a sense of comfort, ease, and inner peace. Alcohol and drugs made me feel comfortable in my own skin. I drank fast and as much as my body would let me.
By the time I was 16-17 years old in 2008, I was drinking/getting high daily. It occupied 99% of my thoughts throughout the day. I began to experience blackouts (times when I would not remember things that happened while I was drinking/using drugs). My grades slipped, I began isolating myself to only hanging out with people who liked to drink and use drugs the way I did, and I began to distance myself from my family.
At 18 in 2009, I began to have manic/depressive episodes. I would punch my garage door, break cell phones, and drive around wanting to smash my car into a wall. I began to go see a therapist, but when he began to try and ask me about any substance abuse, I lied about my drinking. I stopped going to see him shortly after that. I was in community college at the time and I was failing miserably. It took me only 2 and a half semesters before I was on academic probation and was not going to be able to return for a 3rd semester.
One of the 3 friends I took that first drink with died. He was driving home from a party the morning after and smashed his car into a tree. Another 2 close friends of mine went to rehab and got sober. I got to see what sobriety looked like through them, and it was really attractive, but I knew they didn’t drink or do drugs anymore and I was not willing to stop doing what I was doing.
In June 2010, I got pulled over with a case of 40oz hurricanes in my trunk and lost my license for 3 months. I was able to obtain a special license so I could drive to school, and I lied about the hours I was taking classes and I continued to drink and drive while on a suspended license.
Fast forward to October 31, 2010. I went to my first AA meeting a mile outside of Shippensburg University (I was not a student there, but I did a lot of partying there because I dated someone who went to school there. She drank a lot and ended up getting sober on that date) I went to meetings to try and salvage that relationship. I managed to stop drinking on my own for 13 days before she broke up with me for good, and that was a good excuse for me to pick up again.
On November 14, 2010 I ended up getting sober and I don’t know why. I can only say that something out there was working for me when I didn’t want to do any work for myself (November 14th is the birthday of that friend who died). Since getting sober, my life has dramatically changed.
I have been sober for a lot longer than I planned on. I am active in AA and try to attend 3-4 meetings a week. I have since found a real, healthy relationship and this upcoming September 2017 I am going to marry the woman I have been with for the last 2 1/2 years. I am in my 2nd year of graduate school and I work in a treatment center to help people who struggled like me on the path to recovery. I have not had to hurt from alcohol or drugs since becoming sober and as long as I am willing to make meetings, talk with other alcoholics and addicts in recovery, and humble myself then I can live this life that I never would have imagined possible.
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. I have since settled in North Carolina. I have experience working with various stages of addiction, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stages of life concerns and relationship concerns.
I tend to use a person-centered approach which simply means that I meet you where you are and work collaboratively to help you identify and work towards accomplishing goals. I will often pull from CBT when appropriate. I do encourage use of mindfulness and meditation and practice these skills in my own life. I believe in treating everyone with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
I recognize that reaching out for help is hard and commend you for taking the first step. We have professionals available who would be happy to help you move closer to reaching your goals related to your drinking concerns. You may reach these professionals by calling 877-322-2694.