When I first accessed outpatient treatment for Alcohol abuse at the age of 27 I thought that I was the only one with the problem and that my Alcohol and Drug abuse wasn’t affecting anyone else but myself. I started drinking in my teens, going to parties and then into the clubbing scene, but most of my drinking towards the end had been in the confines of my own home, unable to predict my behaviour after a few drinks and often in blackout it was safe to drink at home, alone. So I justified to myself that I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself.
I remember waking up in hospital after being on a binge for several days with my dad sitting beside me.
It had been a horrendous year. I had been abusing cannabis, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine ice, GHB, prescription medications and alcohol. My dad was worried sick. He had flown in from interstate after my flatmate had called him. I was heavily medicated on valium but I still clearly realised that this was serious. Over the next week, I left the hospital and moved back into my childhood home as it wasn't safe for me to return to my flat. My parents spoke to me about seeking professional help and we made the decision, somewhat reluctantly on my behalf to access professional support and the services I needed. I didn’t really want to stop drinking, I just wanted the consequences of my drinking to stop. I agreed to participate in an outpatient Drug and Alcohol treatment program. It turned out to be the best decision i have ever made.
During the program I was so angry, confused and bewildered at how I had managed to stuff my life up so badly, I felt like a complete failure, without hope. I had always carried so much shame and guilt about my addictions that I had lied and pretended as best as I could that I had it all together. I didn’t know how to ask for help but having finally been desperate enough to enter treatmentI realised that I couldn’t do it alone. I learned that it was okay to be an alcoholic and met other people who were just like me.
After completing the program i felt like a new person. I started family counselling with my parents and brother. At first, it was very confronting as I came to the realisation that my drinking had actually affected them deeply. It was the most profound experience for us all. If it wasn’t for my family picking me up and pointing me in the right direction when I was broken I don’t know where I would be today.
Including my family in my addiction treatmentnot only meant that I had their support and they understood better about the nature of my addiction and so were better equipped to go through the journey of recovery with me, but also meant that they too had the opportunity to heal as well. Over the years they had faced heartache, worry and a sense of powerlessness faced with the baffling and often incomprehensible nature of my behaviour in the throes of active alcohol and drug addiction.
Together we healed, we learned that we could change our thinking and our attitudes toward one another, that we were not stuck in the same toxic behaviours and we learned to speak to each other with respect and love. My family was given the help and resources they needed to change and recover and the therapeutic process has allowed us all to be free from the evil and corrosive effects of addiction.