Running Away from Addiction

My name is Ines, and I’m an alcoholic.

I had my first drink at the age of 12 and the last one at 45. I don’t quite know when my drinking went from ‘regular,’ to ‘daily,’ to ‘heavy,’ to ‘at home alone,’ to ‘starting in the mornings’.

God knows I tried so many things to heal myself, but I never addressed the drinking. I thought that it was just the symptom – my real problem was depression, and other mental conditions, and if those were fixed, the drinking would naturally fall away. Alcoholism was for simpletons; and I was oh so complex!

To be an alcoholic sounded so uncool, better to be labelled manic depressive or borderline . . .
I tried to control my disease by becoming a professional working in the field of Mental Health and Addiction. I remember doing a project in a Rehab and thinking ‘these poor guys have to go without drinks and drugs for a full 3 months – let me never get into that situation!’ At the time I was 26 years old.

I decided prevention was better than intervention and changed to working with kids. I wanted to make them strong so they would never end up like . . . me?!? When I was offered a permanent job in the Council kindergardens I turned it down. I was drinking and smoking joints nightly and sniffing coke at the weekends. I could not be that much of a liar, so logically I changed countries and started working in the club scene, where my life-style fit in better.

I did this until I went on my first anti-deppressants, needed because of all the drugs I was taking. Instructions were clear of not combining those medicines with alcohol, but these rules didn’t apply to me. There were hardly any rules that applied to me.

I moved countries again, then continents. On my search for a better life, I could not escape from myself, and no pills, no therapy and no intellectual knowledge could help me.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. From classical psychoanalism on the couch to Indian healers to shamanic exorcism – you name it, I did it. I should have really known when training as a Yoga teacher and still not being able to stop drinking what was going on. But my denial was so strong, it took me another 10 years. I don’t wish that on anybody.

Finally, and thank God, I hit my personal rock bottom, having a breakdown at my parent’s house on a family visit. I admitted myself to the psychiatric ward, addiction and borderline section, and 2 days in, AA visited for an information meeting.

I will never forget the impression one member left on me – this light in his eyes! In fact, there was an indescribable glow to his whole being. An angel, sent from Heaven.

The next day, I attended my first meeting. The group didn’t impress me, but there were more, and I followed a suggestion, finding finally my home group. I got a sponsor that very day and we started working the steps immediately. She asked me to attend at least 2 meetings per week and read the Big Book with me.

Since then, 19 months have passed, and I am grateful for my new life.

I continue travelling, and everywhere I go AA is there too. The groups and fellowship differ, the love and the message remain true. I have another sponsor and I continue discovering myself. The fact that I have no fixed address does not prevent me from being firmly in the fellowship, doing different services, attending meetings, being sponsored and sponsoring.

It is all possible thanks to the internet and Skype. My entire sponsorship happens on Skype and my home group is now an online one. There are no limits to recovery, if you really want it!

Words can not express my gratitude to AA, the fellowship and the program. I learnt that alcoholism is a disease. I learnt that I can either be one arms length away from a drink, or 12 steps. I learnt to take on responsibility for the mess I created and to grow up emotionally and ethically. I learnt to be there for others, without asking anything in return. I came to rely on a Higher Power rather than demanding from it.

The AA program provides so much more than freeing myself from active alcoholism – it is a way of life. It definitely works, if you work it!