A 20-year study has concluded that abstinence from alcohol rather than controlled drinking has proven to be the most beneficial method of recovery for alcoholics. It makes sense to me. When I first entered adolescent drug rehab, it made sense to me that I should probably stop using drugs, but alcohol? I wasn’t even old enough to drink legally. I wondered what I would do when I went to college, or turned 21, or got married. What would I drink on New Year’s Eve? How would I ever have a normal life? Some of my friends and family shared similar concerns. Not even a glass of wine at dinner? None of Nana’s famous eggnog? The decision to remain completely abstinent from alcohol and drugs was made after I realized in adolescent drug treatment that it didn’t matter what the substance was. If everything was taken away from me, I got creative and abused over-the-counter medications and inhalants that I could find around the house. If left to my own devices, I found myself taking heroin and nearly dying.
Understanding the root of my addiction helps me to make the decision to remain abstinent one day at a time. I know that if I were to drink, all of the work I’ve done will go out the window, and let me tell you- that work was painful and difficult, so I’m not going to just toss my progress away! It is rare that I encounter a situation where I feel like I wish I was drinking. In my age group now, my peers in Manhattan Beach still like to binge drink, and that never looks good to me. I don’t want to puke on my shoes anymore, you know? In day to day life, I feel proud of my teen recovery. I don’t tell everyone I know about it. Many people think that maybe what I went through was just a phase and that I’m being dramatic. It doesn’t matter what they think. I learned in teen drug treatment to put my recovery first, no matter what. I have watched peers relapse and end up worse than when they started, and I don’t want to trade the life I have now for a life of shame, guilt, and puking on my shoes.
I don’t worry anymore about what my life will be like without alcohol. I worry about what it would be like with alcohol. I continue to take the steps to protect my sobriety that I learned in adolescent rehab. I stay connected with my support group. I attend 12-step meetings. I don’t spend an unnecessary amount of time around alcohol and I don’t hang out with people who are using drugs. Sometimes these decisions make me feel awkward, but I can deal with awkward. I will take awkward any day over the despair and hopelessness I felt when I was drinking and using. Teen drug and alcohol treatment gave me an opportunity to honestly look at the destructive force drugs and alcohol were in my life, and showed me a new way to live, one day at a time.
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