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 so that we all may put a Face to Addiction Treatment and Recovery.
It is my great pleasure to share my good friend and HR Director for Change Addiction Now (United We CAN), Regina Eversole’s, story in today’s post and thank her for joining the Faces of Recovery on BreakingTheCycles.com. Regina can be reached by email at ReginaE@changeaddictionnow.org.
My AA Family — They Loved Me Until I Was Able to Love Myself by Regina Eversole
My recovery started at a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 2000. My drug of choice was alcohol.
By the time I found myself at the hospital my body was already starting to shut down. I had the shakes really bad; I was dehydrated, malnourished and my liver was damaged. The doctors were at the point of putting a feeding tube down my throat if I didn’t start eating. I spent a week in the hospital while they worked to get my physical body working again.
While the doctors were trying to mend my body, they brought a physiatrist in to speak to me. He spent every day talking to me about recovery. To this day I still remember his exact words to me: “There is nothing wrong with you, except you need recovery, you need to leave this hospital and find an AA meeting.” That is exactly what I did. Once I was physically okay, I left the hospital, and the very next day went to my first AA meeting.
I remembered being scared, ashamed and confused. However, it didn’t take long for me to feel right at home. The people in those rooms were telling my story. I finally found those who understood me. They accepted and embraced me. I immediately obtained a sponsor and started working the steps (one thing for me was that I was able to take what worked for me and leave the rest).
I can’t explain it, but as soon as I was able to admit to myself and others that I had a problem, all cravings and desire to drink were gone. (Even today that floors me because I had lost everything to this disease and was in active addiction close to 20 years and all the sudden all those desires were gone!)
I was always told to do 90 meetings in 90 days, so that was my goal. I worked, went to meetings, hung out with those in the groups, and before I knew it, I was going to one to two meetings a day, every day, for almost 9 months.
Fourteen days before my 9 months anniversary, I was hit by a car which left me in the hospital for 7 months and resulted in me losing my right leg above the knee. I remember being more scared of getting addicted to the pain medication then I was living without a leg. They brought a retired nurse who had been in the program for 20 years to talk to me because I wouldn’t take the pain meds. Her exact words to me were, “Your body needs this medication to heal, and if you get addicted, that is what we are here for.” I started taking the meds but still was terrified because I didn’t want to go back to active addiction.
My AA family surrounded me during that 7 months. I literally had numerous visitors every single day. They came to my hospital room and had meetings. I found my strength through those around me. They loved me until I was able to love myself.
I never got addicted to the pain meds (which I think was a miracle!). And once out of the hospital, I continued going to meetings. Before I knew it, those days turned into months and those months into years.
I now have 17 years of continual recovery. I don’t know why AA worked for me and doesn’t for others. I just know it did. I don’t attend meetings on a regular basis these days, but I do work with addiction and recovery on a daily basis.
In closing, I want to remind readers that this is my story of recovery. One thing I have learned over the years is that one path does not work for everyone and that’s okay. There are a lot of different variables that go into finding the right path to recovery for each individual. For me, it was the 12 Steps of AA and my AA family.