Addiction Recovery – there is a great deal of confusion, stigma, shame and discrimination surrounding addiction, addiction treatment and addiction recovery. Yet those who have the disease of addiction (whether to illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol) and are in recovery live healthy, productive, engaged lives — the same kinds of lives as people who do not have this disease. But all the words and definitions and explanations in the world are not as powerful as the people themselves. To that end, we are grateful to the people in recovery who have decided to share their experiences so that we all may put a Face to Addiction Recovery.
Addiction Recovery – It’s real, it happens to real people, and it happens all the time. It is my great pleasure to introduce Mike Arnold, today’s Face of Recovery.
How did your addiction start?
My addiction to alcohol started when i was in my mid twenties, from the age of 15, i had liked to get drunk at weekends, but i never touched alcohol during the week, but when i was about 26, i found myself unemployed with quite a bit of money in the bank, i started drinking in local pubs during the week, and to get rid of the hangovers i started drinking at 12.00 noon, within 2 months i realized i was addicted, and i would always have a half pint bottle of whiskey for the mornings before the pubs opened, things gradually got worse until i could not eat anymore without throwing up, i was in great pain both physically and mentally, and i was admitted to a psychiatric hospital 2 miles from my home.
What was the turning point for you – what made you want to get sober?
The turning point for me was the fact that i was drinking spirits from 06.00am, plus beer on top of that, every waking moment was spent drinking and it was making me very ill indeed.
I had heard through a friend that i could get treatment for my alcoholism, and i just wanted to get rid of the pain and be in control of my life again.
What was your initial treatment?
My initial treatment was in a local psychiatric hospital, i was given Librium to help keep the worse of the side effects of withdrawals away, i never went to AA or any other groups, i just came out of hospital and i was back working within 2 weeks
Do you do anything differently, today?
My life is very different – i am now disabled due to having a mild lung disease called COPD, but it does not stop me going for walks with my dog, 9 times out of 10 i take my camera with me as i have discovered photography since being sober, but i have sadly had to give up riding my motorcycles. I try and eat sensibly (i have been vegetarian all my life ), and i try to get a decent amount of sleep, but walking is my main form of exercise as i love being outdoors.
What is your life like, now?
Since becoming sober, i became a truck driver. I did this job for several years until taking a job as a shift manager for a transport company, which i did for 3 years until i had to give it up for health reasons. I like to think that i am dependable, honest and trustworthy. Alcoholism is a very humbling experience. It takes you too depths that you never thought existed. I spend most of my time with my dog and my camera. It’s exactly what i want to do, and i am only happy when out taking photos, staying sober is easy with my self discipline. I won`t even go into bars and pubs for a soft drink, as i know it won`t be long before i`m back on alcohol again.
Do you have anything you’d like to share with someone currently struggling with a substance abuse problem or an addiction? How about anything you’d like to share with their family or friends?
Alcoholism and drug addiction is an illness, nobody sets out to become an addict, it just slowly creeps up on the user. There is a better life than drink or drugs, but it is hard at first, because it is all new. But every day you remain sober or clean the better your life will become. You will still have bad days, but you just have to learn to accept this and know you are not alone – there are thousands of people in the same situation.
What is the best part about your recovery?
The best part of recovery is not being a slave to a substance, being able to wake in a morning feeling fresh, and not reaching for a whiskey bottle, being able to pursue my hobbies, having money in my pocket, and having a good natural feeling of well being.
And thank you, Mike, so very much for sharing your story, and CONGRATULATIONS on a total of 15 years RECOVERY!