Today’s Face of Recovery – please meet Tina Levene!
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 Tina Levene, author of Let Your Lessons Be Your Blessings, and today’s Face of Recovery.
How did your addiction start?
At the age of 9 years old, I picked up someone’s cigarette butt and smoked it. Both of my parents were smokers, so I modeled their behavior from a young age. At 14 years old, I drank wine that was in our refrigerator for at least one year. My father got sober when I was 4 years old and my mother was a social drinker, hence, why the wine was so old in the frig. I drank most of the bottle of wine out of curiosity and defiance. From that point on, my drinking career began. I remember being in high school and my girlfriends would get a 4 pack of wine coolers to share among the 3 of them. I, on the other hand, bought a 4 pack for myself. By the age of 19, I was drinking alcohol everyday and using drugs in college.
What was the turning point?
On January 30, 1998, a college buddy and I began drinking at 4:30pm. By 5:30am, the alcohol ran out and I was still not drunk, craving alcohol and very frustrated. I screamed at my friend and his look of fear for my life frightened me. Drinking for 13 hours straight and not vomitting or passing out scarred me sober. My father took me with him to A.A. meetings when I was younger, so I knew that A.A. was a safe place to get sober. My first A.A. meeting was with my father.
What was your initial treatment?
I attended 116 A.A. meetings in 90 days on my own. And old timer told me to spend all the time I spent in manipulating others, lying, using alcohol and drugs and put all that energy into my sobriety. I did.
I had started Al-Anon in 1997 for my codependency as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic/Addict. While working my 4th step in Al-Anon, I discovered I was an alcoholic.
Do you do anything differently, today?
If I attend A.A. meetings, I try to go to women’s meetings only. I attend Celebrate Recovery today. It fulfills my spiritual needs as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.
What is your life like today?
I live a honest, pure life today. I do not gamble, drink, take pills, smoke or anything addictive. I am a recovering addict and an addict is an addict is an addict. I pray 3 times a day: morning, night and all day. I am a loving, responsible daughter, mother, wife, sister and aunt today. I work full-time helping others recover from their addictions and prevent their future criminal behavior.
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?
I would like to share that you are worthy of a life without addictions! If you are an addict, getting sober is the first step to a beautiful, freeing journey. I would suggest going to Al-Anon Meetings as well as a 12 step program for your addiction. Too often I see people get sober and relapse over the hurt from others or their own shame & guilt! If you endured abuse, it was NOT your fault. Do not do the time, if you didn’t do the crime…forgiveness is sooo important. It truly sets you free!
For family & friends of addicts, do not enable the addict, get yourself in a 12 step program and focus on your needs and getting yourself healthy.
What is the best part about your recovery?
The best part about my sobriety is that today, I live in the moment; not in the past with past hurts and no worry for the future. I have accepted that I am an alcoholic and addict, I have lost the ability to ever drink alcohol or use drugs again. If I was to use again, I will die. Today, I want to live! My life is manageable today and without God, I am nothing. First step: I can’t. Second step: God can. Third step: I’m gonna let Him.
In March 2013, I published a book, Let Your Lessons Be Your Blessings. You can purchase it at www.hopewillheal.com
I have also started a ministry for females called Truthful Movement for Females. It gives hope to the hopeless and direction to lost females in need (jail, prison and drug treatment) and the website is: www.truthfulmovementforfemales.com
I am a keynote speaker for RiseUp Coming Alive! Women’s Conferences. For information, please visit: www.riseupconferences.org
Thank you, Tina Levene, so very much for sharing your story, and CONGRATULATIONS on 15 years RECOVERY and 11 Years Nicotine-Free!
To learn more about Tina Levene, please visit her website, Hope Will Heal. You may also wish to “meet” others sharing their recovery stories with BreakingTheCycles.com by clicking on this link, Faces of Recovery.