It is my great pleasure to introduce Nancy L. Carr – today’s Face of Addiction Recovery, who has graciously agreed to share her story of her alcohol and cocaine addiction and the recovery journey she’s taken.
There is a great deal of confusion, stigma, shame and discrimination surrounding addiction and addiction treatment and recovery. Yet those who have the chronic, often relapsing brain disease of addiction 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. Please meet…
Nancy L. Carr – Today’s Face of Addiction Recovery
Sober since May 11, 2004, Nancy shares her story with BreakingTheCycles.com readers…
How did your alcohol addiction start?
I got drunk for the first time at age 13 at a teenage drinking party in Avalon, NJ. There was a large punch bowl filled with grain alcohol jungle juice and I was eager to try alcohol, as it was a constant in our household growing up. I wanted to be cool and fit in. But it was never the taste that made me chase it, it was the alcohol buzz. The effect that it produced was one that I loved and craved. Then, when I tried cocaine at age 16 for the first time and that combination together, it was like BAM! I’ve arrived! Within a few years I was dating a drug dealer and my usage increased. My 20s were a bit of a blur and wild, but by 30 I had become a “recreational” (3 day weekend) cocaine user and a daily drinker. I also had a thriving career so I was considered a high-functioning alcoholic. I was able to make my weekend drug use and daily drinking work within my lifestyle as I only hung out with others that drank and used the way I did. I thought I was a typical “party girl” and weekend warrior. By 32, I had racked up my first DUI. I also moved over 22 times during these years and kept jobs for 3-4 years until I knew they’d find me out. I was able to maintain pretty well. But I knew I had a problem, I just didn’t really care. Alcohol and cocaine were the two things that made me feel normal and happiest.
What was the turning point for you – what made you want to get sober – seek recovery?
At age 37, I received my 2nd DUI in San Diego – a town I had been living in for the past few years – and sitting in that jail cell for 11 hours really made me think and made me think that I needed to do something different. At first, I didn’t think I’d have to quit drinking all together, I wanted to see what my DUI attorney had to say. It was highly suggested to go to an AA meeting. I waited 6 weeks to walk into a meeting and while I was sitting in my first meeting I knew I needed to be there and I knew that my problem was pretty bad. I left that meeting and went out and drank for a week – during that week I had my moment of clarity. I realized that everything bad that had happened to me during my life was from drinking and drugging. I may want to give the sobriety thing a try. So, that’s what I did. I had heard hope in that first meeting and I walked into recovery with complete blind faith. I had no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about sobriety.
What was your initial addiction treatment?
I got sober the AA way; 90 meetings in 90 days, I got a sponsor, I worked the steps and I did what the woman in recovery told me to do. I didn’t want anyone in my family or corporate life to know what I was doing, so treatment wasn’t an option for me. I’m grateful I got sober the way I did and I’m so appreciative of the Fellowship where I got sober. I wouldn’t change a thing. AA doesn’t work for everyone, but its just what worked for me.
Do you do anything differently, today?
I pretty much live my life the same now as I did in early recovery. I go to meetings weekly, I still practice yoga, I take care of myself, and I work with a sponsor. I also sponsor other women and do service work – I try to help others as much as I can. In order for me to keep it, I have to give it away. That’s what works for me.
What is your life like, now?
I’ve been able to live life today free from the bondage of alcohol and drugs. I don’t hang out in seedy places, I don’t get DUIs anymore, I don’t wake up in stranger’s beds and I don’t have to wonder what happened the night before. I’m completely free from the wrath of alcohol and drugs. I can save money and be a contributing citizen to my community and I get to work in a job that I value and like! I have had so many great things happen in recovery because I make clear choices today. I was able to get married in recovery and share my journey with someone else who gets me and who is also in recovery. I rescued my constant companion and dog, Lucy, and she brings me so much joy. I have been able to maintain and make new friendships – I get to live and participate in my life today. I wrote a Memoir recently about my experience, strength and hope in recovery and its been able to offer others some hope and inspiration, and that makes me feel so complete and blessed. You can find it on Amazon Kindle. “Last Call, a Memoir”
Do you have anything you’d like to share with someone currently struggling with a substance abuse problem or an addiction?
Get help. You are never too young or too old to stop. Others want to help you, just let them in and people want to help you! You have to want to get clean and sober for yourself first and for others second. The biggest step is to get honest and ask for help. Being sober is such a better way to live.
Do you have anything you’d like to share with family or friends of those who struggle with substance use disorders?
You aren’t alone and there is help for any disorder or problem you have – but you need to speak up. No one will judge you as harshly as you judge yourself, so be easy on the hammer you keep hitting yourself with and just take a chance on recovery.
What is the best part about your addiction recovery?
The freedom I have today is just amazing and the fact that I get to live my life today without lying, manipulating, cheating, stealing, etc., Is all just gravy to me as I am just so happy I don’t HAVE to drink today. I am grateful I don’t need a drink to manage my life and I’m grateful I’m not waking up with a hangover. I’m happy that I get to have choices today – healthy choices on who I want to be, not who alcohol and cocaine want me to be.
Thank you so very much, Nancy, for sharing your story, and CONGRATULATIONS on almost 11 years RECOVERY!