Treatment was the Only Option in Order
to Save my Life
By Kailey Fitzgerald
Addiction and alcoholism have both become increasingly popular issues within our society. We see it every day; whether it be a friend, loved one, a celebrity, or even ourselves. The most daunting aspect of addiction is that most people never find recovery, or can’t find a way to remain sober on their own. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017. Also, out of the 20.7 million people who needed treatment, only 19% of those people were actually able to receive treatment. These statistics go to show that we have an addiction epidemic in America, that isn’t just going away. Those other 81% of addicts who didn’t have the opportunity to receive help are still out there using drugs, trying to survive on their own. With the culture of drug abuse around us every day, it can be easy to fall into the clutches of addiction.
Growing up, I remember watching all of my older friends slowly turning to drugs. It started out with the occasional party or tailgate before a high school football game, but overtime it would be an every night affair. The way teenagers passed the time in my town was by doing drugs and drinking. I knew that it wasn’t smart, but I ended up partying right alongside them anyway. I was completely unaware that I was heading down a path of addiction, I was in denial that I needed help. The difference between me and my friends though, was that they would wake up and do what they needed to do the next day. Instead of ensuring my future, I was obsessing over finding the cheapest and most accessible substance to use to numb my feelings. I eventually dropped out of school and lost the friends I had. I fell into a worse crowd, one that catered to my drug addiction. I went from a straight-A, honor roll student, to a high school dropout with nothing but a life of misery and substance dependence.
I had tried to quit on my own, but everywhere I looked there was a trigger. I had no sober friends and was terrified of being alone, so every time I would decide to quit it would only last a day or two until one of my so-called “friends” brought drugs back around me. I was without solution and completely hopeless. Eventually, the drugs stopped numbing my pain. This lead me to such a dark emotional bottom that I wanted to die, but couldn’t kill myself. As crazy as it sounds, I am beyond grateful that I managed to get to that point. Those feelings gave me such a strong sense of desperation to quiet the noise in my head that I called my mother and asked her for help. She sent me to treatment, where I was able to be separated from all of the people, places, and things that kept sparking my obsession and causing me to use.
In treatment, I was given a surplus amount of coping mechanisms that actually worked for me. I learned how to properly process my emotions rather than just reacting, which enabled me to deal with my problems rather than just covering them up with substances. I learned how to trust people and how to begin to form intimate friendships and relationships, which is something I was always terrified of. I received therapy that enabled me to let go of any past traumas or negative experiences that I was holding onto and ultimately getting high over. While I was out of treatment and trying to fix my problems on my own, I would have never gained those skills. I needed to be around qualified people who had shared my experience and had recovered.
Being in treatment led me to meet like-minded people who were seeking the same serenity and peace that I desperately needed. The fellowship of recovering addicts and alcoholics led me to AA, which is what has allowed me to maintain continuous sobriety through their program of the 12 steps. The 12 steps were designed to help people recover from addiction, meanwhile teaching people how to live life freely and happily. These steps showed me how to be the best version of myself, and gave me the ability to live my life without obsessing over how I could numb my feelings; it gave me a solution and a higher sense of purpose in life. Without having gone to treatment, it would have been impossible for me to learn the skills I needed to save my life. According to the CDC, more than 70,200 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017. If I had continued to try to recover on my own I could have become a part of those statistics. Luckily, I made the decision to let people help me to change my life for the better and I am forever grateful.
Kailey Fitzgerald is writer in recovery who works for Stodzy Marketing, a recovery based marketing company that specializes in advocating for mental health awareness and long-term sobriety. Our staff comprises of men and women in recovery who are passionate about sharing our experiences, strength, and hope.