I was a sophomore in college when I started to question whether or not I was an addict and alcoholic. Sure, I partied like any college kid but my grades, passion for life, and time in-between drinks seemed to decrease each week. I had been using substances excessively since I found them in high school, but I always feared that I might be enjoying them too much. I wondered if my peers longed for oblivion and blackouts the way I did; I wondered if my relationship to these drugs was “normal” or if it was something else, something darker. It wasn’t till years later when I sobered up, that I realized my relationship to drugs and alcohol was anything but normal.
Drinking to Black Out
I remember freshman year in high school I was at a party with my lacrosse team. I loved lacrosse, it was my life back then. Being the team captain, I was proud of both my performance on the field and my ability to lead my team. I felt worthy, almost important even if just for a fleeting second. Despite several responsibilities (including an important youth group event for which I was in charge of) I couldn’t help getting blackout drunk. I smoked weed in front of my teammates and then made out with a random guy from the party. When the cops arrived to bust up the party my teammates had to come find me upstairs hooking up with a stranger. The next morning, I had to get up early for the youth group event, my grandmother picked me up to drive me and she kept asking if I was okay. I was still drunk, and I proceeded to lie on the floor on my back throughout most of the youth group event. I could tell everyone was concerned and disappointed, but it never occurred to me that maybe I had a problem.
When Kids Don’t Grow Out of It
Fast forward to college. I had decided to stop playing D3 lacrosse after I tore my ACL for the second time. I went back home to study at my local university. I said I would join the club lacrosse team at the new school but when I found out that their training schedule was just as rigorous as the D3 team, I bailed for a five-mountain pass and a two-day class week. By junior year life began to blur. I was drinking till puking at least three times a week and smoking weed every day. I had a raging eating disorder and puked up anything I was forced to eat by those watching. Bulimia, cocaine, weed, and booze were my closest friends. I mostly kept to myself and only hung out with the neighbors next door who partied like I did.
As I was walking back from smoking all day with my neighbors who also happen to be my dealer, I passed an open window. I overheard them talking about me. They were talking about how concerned they were for me and how scary skinny I had gotten. You know it’s bad when even your dealer thinks you look bad.
That summer my boyfriend (a guy I barely knew) found me on the bathroom floor and took me to the ER. I woke up the next day, clipped the hospital bracelet off and smoked a bowl. Then I called my aunt and told her I needed help. She quickly came up to Boulder, where I was living and offered help. We even did that cheesy scene of flushing all my drugs down the toilet.
Here’s the thing. I had what some people call, a “high bottom”. My best friend who I got sober with will tell you that. I still had my car, my family, fairly good grades at school, food to eat (on not eat) and a home to live in. I’d never been evicted, I only drove drunk once and I’d never sold my stuff for drugs. That’s not to say I didn’t abuse financial privileges. I asked for help not because I didn’t have anywhere to go, I asked for help because everything hurt, because I was so spiritually broken I didn’t want to go on. At 22 years old, I was exhausted. I was tired of running from myself. Tired of hiding and lying. Tired of being the shadow of the person I once was. I asked for help because I knew I was done.
Treatment in Colorado and Recovery
I consider myself lucky to have gotten sober in Boulder County, Colorado; there is an amazing community of people here. People that walked with me and eventually became lifelong friends. Don’t get me wrong, getting clean and sober was no cake walk. I messed up a lot and I cried what felt like an endless supply of tears. I was angry and scared all the time, but I did what I was told. I followed direction and I listened. For the first time in a long time, I closed my mouth and opened my heart. The amazing thing was there were so many people who surrounded and supported me. I wasn’t alone anymore. As painful as it was, I didn’t have to walk this walk alone and that made all the difference.
Do YOU have a problem?
I can’t answer the question for you because I don’t know. Only you can answer if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Only you can decide if you have a problem. There are a ton of surveys on the internet, each suggesting their own algorithm of questions to supposedly help out. Most likely if you willing to take a survey on whether or not you have a problem then you might want to seek out a professional to help you answer that question.
It Takes Courage to Seek Help
If anything I’ve said resonates with you, don’t hesitate to give us a call or stop by our office. Our commitment to you is to offer help in any way that is appropriate; whether that is exploring your options here, elsewhere or to just be a confidential, listening ear. Located in Longmont, CO we offer out-patient and day treatment services for both youth and adults. Many of us have travelled this road ourselves and together we can break the silence and shame of addiction.
There is always hope,
About the Author
Jen Gardner has over 10+ years of experience in the behavioral health field and extensive experience with substance abuse disorder and other co-occurring mental health disorders. She has served as a case manager, family advocate and admissions director as well as marketing director for several local Colorado treatment programs. She believes compassion, patience and transparency is key when helping families and patients find the right treatment program. She understands the difficulties of attaining recovery at a young age and is an advocate for treatment options for young adult populations. When not working, Jen enjoys family hikes and adventure travel with her husband and two little girls.