What I've Learned in My 7 Years of Sobriety

Are you the same person now you were seven years ago? Physically speaking, this is impossible because many cells in your body are changing all of the time. Things even change on a day-to-day basis as our lives are all so fast-paced now. It sometimes feels like I either get with it or fall behind — this is the nature of the world we live in. Seven years ago, I was in a very dark place and today, my life is a thousand percent different. I have learned many things throughout the years as well.

My sobriety date is April 21, 2010 and before this date, my life was a mess. I was addicted to Adderall, alcohol and prescription painkillers. Seven years ago, I was in a drug rehab where I was still getting high. I was miserable and completely broken down both mentally and physically. I thought the world was collapsing in on me and I had no hope for the future. I hit a point when I realized I was absolutely miserable while I was high and when I was sober, I was even more miserable. I knew I had to do something and recovery was my only option.

My first year of sobriety was one of the hardest years of my life. For as long as I could remember, I relied on drugs or alcohol for everything. If I was in pain, I took prescription painkillers. If I couldn’t focus, I took an Adderall. If I needed to relax, I smoked a joint and if I wanted to have a really good time, I got hammered drunk with my friends. I had the perfectly medley for every situation. But in sobriety, I quickly learned no mood-altering substances were allowed in my body.

After the painful withdrawal, it was time to finally do something about my addiction. I started going to AA meetings and abruptly immersed myself in the program. I got a sponsor, started going to a meeting or two meetings every day, started hanging out with sober people and most importantly, got honest for the first time in my life.

The first year of sobriety was a lot of work. I made it my goal to go through all of the 12 steps as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Up until this point in my life, I had never done any character-building work like this before. Now all of a sudden, I had to “make amends to people I had harmed” and “admit when I was wrong,” two things I barely even knew how to do.

As I continued to work through the steps, my attitude and outlook on life changed. The more time I spent without alcohol or drugs, the more happy and content I became. And somewhere in between six and nine months of sobriety, I realized I no longer obsessed about getting high.

It is amazing to be able to make the claim I am recovered from addiction. I say this with the utmost humility. I know I will never be cured from this disease, but I can soundly say I am recovered. Most people don’t know the difference between recovered and cured. Recovered means the disease is in remission, and will remain in remission as long as I continue to go to AA meetings and continuously work on myself. Cured means you are completely relieved from the disease.

Every day that goes by when I do not get high is a miracle. So, imagine how I feel about having seven years of clean time. When I stopped using drugs, I simply just wanted the pain to go away. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I would receive such a beautiful life.

Within a couple of years of sobriety, I got everything back I lost. Regaining control of my life wasn’t about getting materialistic things back such as money, cars, phones or clothes. For me, it’s about repairing relationships with not only other people, but myself. Today the most important part of my life is the fact I have great relationships with the people close to me.

Seven years ago, I was in a hopeless state of mind, I was spiritually bankrupt and could barely even muster any sobering thought. Today, I wake up with purpose and meaning. I know people are counting on me to be sober and I take this to heart. My word means something today and I will do anything to keep it. Sobriety is a gift, a gift not everyone receives. I am incredibly lucky.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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Thinkstock photo via Pinkypills.

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