At the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine, we work with people of all ages to safely get off addictive substances like alcohol, Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Roxicodone®, Dilaudid®, fentanyl, heroin, or methadone. Our patients tend to be highly motivated and ready to do the inner work required when the grip on a substance is loosened.

What follows is an essay written by a young woman who is choosing a sober path. Her story is inspiring. I asked her to describe her last few months:

“In the beginning, I understood sobriety as something that would take over my life and consume me. I imagined it would become my identity, that I’d have only the absence of drugs and alcohol in my life to focus on – a one-track mind. A 180 from doing drugs to not doing drugs. Black and white. I figured I would need to get an entirely new group of friends, that my sense of humor would change, that I would feel compelled to start attending church on Sunday.

Basically, I was afraid I would turn into the idea of the person I had in my head who at the age of 29, doesn’t drink. But this has, thankfully, not been my experience with sobriety. Despite casually tracking the days every week or so on a 2019 contemporary art calendar my stepdad gave me last Christmas, I often forget how many days it’s been since my last drink. (Since I looked, it’s been 117.)

Much to my delight, the fact that I’m sober has all but fallen into the backdrop of my life, being an important but not overwhelming detail of who I am today. It’s something I’m proud of but not obsessed over. Without much effort, sobriety is turning me into a more interesting person. A person who reads more, listens better, explores harder, and most importantly, a person who is more genuinely interested in other people. I think the saddest part about addiction, or at least the one I feel the most guilt over, is the selfishness aspect. Millennials and addicts are notorious for being selfish.

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In the past, when I've centered my life around drugs and alcohol, I had both of these factors working against me. And it was true. For example, I was good at accepting birthday gifts and snail mail from friends and family and would feel inconvenienced by the pressure to respond back. This is a sort of addict entitlement issue that I was plagued with and that I definitely don’t miss.

One of the greatest gifts of sobriety is the time – I have my mornings back. I used to think other people had more time in their day, that must be how they managed to be more productive members of society. And this was literally true. Sleeping until noon or later everyday limits what you can tackle in daylight hours. I’m making up for lost time these days, using my mornings to send the people I love snail mail, to exercise, to write, to read. The funny thing about sending snail mail is the natural high I get when I put a postage stamp on a letter and put it in the mailbox – it’s better than cocaine.

I can live without the artificial highs of uppers and the glorified lows of alcohol, all things that in a combined effort have brought me to my knees with anxiety and depression. Now when I’m feeling down, I entirely own that sadness and I have the clarity to deal with what’s bothering me effectively.

More good news, I’ve found a steady increase in my happiness as a result of sobriety. Navigating the world with a clear mind is a drug in and of itself. It just doesn’t make you pay a horrible price for enjoying it.”

If you or a loved one is looking for some help to restore yourself safely and comfortably to the kind of life you have begun to think is no longer possible, please give our office a call. It is more than possible, it is waiting for you. We would love to be part of your journey.

Joan R. Shepherd, NP

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