Today’s Face of Recovery – please meet Stephanie Baldwin!
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 Stephanie Baldwin – today’s Face of Recovery.
How did your addiction start?
My addiction was to prescription pain pills. It started with legitimate prescriptions for actual ailments, but I also had depression and anxiety that weren’t well controlled. As my depression and anxiety grew, so did my addiction. I could sometimes go long periods of time without using, but would always eventually go back to using. Things got very dark when I had severe post partum depression. It was the worst depression I had ever been in and I just couldn’t get myself out of it…even though I had this beautiful new baby girl. The combination of sadness, guilt, shame and denial turned into a raging addiction.
What was the turning point for you – what made you want to get sober?
I began to realize that all the lies, secrets and shame would never go away if I didn’t get help. Everyday I looked at my daughter and realized that someday I might not be there for her if I didn’t get treatment.
What was your initial treatment?
I went to an outpatient treatment program combined with AA/NA meetings.
Do you do anything differently, today?
When I first got sober I needed an outlet for my agitation and restlessness. I painted, did cross-stitch, wrote…you name, I tried it. I realized fairly quickly that I’m a terrible painter and too impatient for crafts like knitting and cross-stitch. I found that writing is cathartic for me and I’ve gotten positive feedback on it, so I continue to write. I journal, blog, write poems and songs. It feels good to get the feelings out and (of course) feels good when people enjoy reading my work. I still go to AA meetings regularly, have a sponsor, I sponsor others, I do service work and am active at my “home group” meeting.
What is your life like, now?
My life is so much better. I still have hard times, I still struggle, but I have the tools to work through those hard times. I’m a better mother, wife and friend. I’m happier in general and who doesn’t want a little more happiness in their life?
Do you have anything you’d like to share with someone currently struggling with a substance abuse problem or an addiction?
Every addict has a time when they throw up their hands and say “I give up, I can’t do it anymore, I need help”. The problem is that sometimes we forget those moments the next time we use. In those moments of despair: reach out to someone, anyone, and tell them how you feel. Its ok to admit things have gotten out of control. No matter how many bridges you have burned, there WILL be someone who will help you in your darkest hour. If you truly want help with your addiction, just reach out and ask for help. If you can’t call family or friends you can call a treatment facility or another addict (preferably in recovery). You’d be surprised at the kindness of strangers.
How about anything you’d like to share with their family or friends?
Please understand that nobody chooses to become an addict. Whatever circumstances led your loved one to the place they are, it was not a conscious choice to become a drug addict. Everyone makes mistakes and bad decisions, clearly some are worse that others. Sometimes people need tough love and to NOT be enabled, however, sometimes they also need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen or just to hear “I love you”. Don’t give up on them. You don’t have to tolerate their behavior or give them money. You don’t even need to have daily contact with them, but if you get a random phone call at an odd time, just pick it up. You never know when it might be a call for help.
What is the best part about your recovery?
The best part of my recovery is knowing that I am being the best person I can be. I actively work on my flaws, I admit my mistakes and I SHOW UP in people’s lives. I’m am not perfect, nowhere near it, but I know I’m doing what I can to make sure I can be there for my family and friends.
Thank you, Stephanie, so very much for sharing your story, and CONGRATULATIONS on 3 years RECOVERY!
Stephanie now works with myrecovery.com, a website filled with resources for addicts and alcoholics including online AA meetings – check it out!