If you ask me, addiction is about the worst path you can walk. It’s a disease, but in my humble opinion, it’s the most nefarious disease around.
Many people suffering from other diseases would argue that point, but I stand by my statement. Addiction is the only disease that tricks you into thinking you’re fine. You live in a constant state of denial, and that only helps the addiction grow. Find also about why we get addicted in the first place.
When my addiction seemed cool
I was always a big partier. Well, since my teenage years, anyway. I was the life of every party I attended, and you can bet I was there for the last call at the bar every time.
In college, I guess this was considered cool. I had a tolerance that other people only wished they had. But it’s so silly when you think about it. When your body processes alcohol, it creates toxins. Alcohol simultaneously tricks your brain’s reward center into thinking you’re having a good time. So, when you binge drink, you’re essentially poisoning yourself. This means that other people wished they could poison themselves at the level I was. Man, I wish I could handle more of that toxic stuff…
Then things got real
Soon after college, I landed my first real job in finance. And that’s when I realized this industry wasn’t for me. It was high stress with low appreciation, or at least, that’s how it was at this job. I found myself working long hours and getting some very major stress headaches.
In the morning, coffee would help. At night, it was a beer or a glass of wine. But my old binge-drinking habits came back with a vengeance on my particularly difficult days. And then, I was downing a bottle of wine or more every night on the regular. Alcohol became my comfort because it numbed all the noise. I didn’t have to stress over work while I was drunk. The only trouble was that I was becoming addicted, and I didn’t even know it.
I just knew I was drinking in larger quantities, but I rationalized my behavior. It wasn’t a problem, and I could stop at any time. Except I proved myself wrong again and again. I couldn’t stop at any time. So, I convinced myself that my attempts were lame and I could stop if I really wanted to. I just hadn’t reached that point yet.
What I didn’t know was that I was sinking further and further into addiction. I was quickly moving from a “problem drinker” to an alcoholic. By the way, if you’re a problem drinker, you’ll have trouble quitting alcohol, but you won’t have physical symptoms. When you’re an alcoholic, you can’t stop without physical withdrawal.
Hitting rock bottom
I thought if I was truly an alcoholic, I’d bottom out at some point. But I persisted. I powered through each day with vodka in my coffee and wine in my glass at night. No one seemed to notice. So I persisted.
I later learned that the whole “hitting rock bottom” thing is a bit of a myth. Some people do get there before getting sober, but not everyone does. For me, all it took was a good look in the mirror.
After years of abusing my body, I looked a lot older than my friends of the same age. I had dark, raccoon-like circles under my eyes, and my pores seemed more like craters. I even noticed a few visible blood vessels on my nose. I couldn’t deny it any longer. Alcoholism was written all over my face.
How I found my path after battling addiction
From here, I took some time off of work to detox (with medical supervision). And then, I checked myself into an outpatient rehab program and started attending group meetings regularly. In one meeting, I met a young man who reminded me a lot of myself at his age. Talking to him felt almost like talking to my younger self. It was almost therapeutic for me, and I know it was helpful for him too.
He and I still keep in touch today as brothers in sobriety. And I’ve made it my personal mission to help other young people overcome their addictions too. I now believe this is my purpose, and it’s what kept me from using again. I need to be sober to spread my message.