By Aaron Emerson
Well, it has been quite a while since I have posted anything on my blog, let alone shared anything about my story. It has been a very up-and-down, chaotic past year for myself in my life of battling addiction. Now that I am doing better, I felt the need to tell the newest chapter of my story, as I am striving to start writing and blogging again.
As many people who read this blog know, I am a recovering heroin addict. When people with the disease of addiction stop treating it, we usually relapse. I knew that before, but rationalization and denial got the best of me and I indeed did relapse, and pretty bad.
It all started with alcohol. Once I stopped going to meetings and doing the things that helped me stay sober, such as meeting with my recovery coach and talking with others in recovery, I opened the door to temptation and cravings. One beer led to many more, which led to a severe alcohol addiction.
Us addicts can’t just “have one” of anything, including a beer. Even though that was in the back of my mind, I still tried it. After several months of drinking on the weekends and occasionally at night after work, I started drinking during the day. Pretty soon, I was drinking everyday, going at it from sun up until sun down. I couldn’t stop. Each day, I had to have 5 to 10 beers just to get rid of the shakes and many more to be able to eat.
That lasted for about a year. For a while, I was still able to hold down my job, one that I worked hard for, as I was the Editor in Chief of a college newspaper. I was also able to stay competent in school. That all changed, however. I had to drink to be able to work, and though my boss could tell something was wrong, I was never able to admit what it was. He trusted me with an important position and I didn’t want to let him down. But I did and eventually I just gave up. The alcohol had total control of my life and I could do nothing to stop it. I also started to use drugs again, including a lot of pills, some cocaine and heroin. I was in full blown addiction again. I was hurting my loved ones and ruining my life I worked so hard to build after getting clean from heroin.
That is when I once again hit my “bottom.” I knew I had to do something. The alcohol was doing to me what heroin did! How could one beer at a social event lead to this?! That was what I kept telling myself, in denial that alcohol, something that the average person can control, was destroying my life. But hitting that bottom finally enabled me to open my eyes, and that opened the door to me reaching out for help.
I made the call to a treatment center called Sacred Heart, located in Memphis, Michigan. After waiting for a bed for two weeks, I made the drive with my mom and checked myself in extremely drunk, as that was the only way I could gather the courage to walk in. Sacred Heart is a pretty large facility that has separate wings for detox and residential. I was in detox for four days. They had to give me Ativan – a drug in the same class as Xanax – to safely wean me off the alcohol. It was rough but I got through it, and then I was transferred over to the residential part of the treatment center.
I was in the residential part of the rehab for three weeks. It was amazing. After a week or so, I started feeling a lot better and gained hope for the first time in a year or two. I can honestly say that those few weeks in rehab turned out to be the best time I had in a long time. They kept us extremely busy, with classes, groups and therapy pretty much all day long from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. A lot of the groups became a little repetitive, but I got a lot out of them. I gained quite a few new coping skills and also enough confidence to believe in myself again.
I successfully discharged from Sacred Heart on Friday (May 19) and came back home. I immediately went to an AA meeting. It felt amazing to be able to go to a meeting outside the doors of the treatment center. I have been to a meeting at least once a day since I was released, and I am going to continue that trend. I am also going to intensive outpatient therapy to continue treatment. I feel great, and so far I haven’t even had an urge to get high or drunk. I know it will happen, though. There will be bad days, there will be depression, hard times and, yes, triggers and cravings. I am confident that when the time comes, I will be prepared to handle and battle them the right way.
As for now, recovery is at the forefront of my mind and focus. I am most likely going to go back to school in the fall and am considering finding a part-time job this summer, but right now I am leaving everything in God’s hands. I feel great and I am so grateful for everyone who has supported me through all of this. I am also excited to start blogging again and spreading hope, something I love doing. This is my passion and am very proud that I am now in a position to be able to do this again. Thank you everybody.