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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    New York City and Dallas

    Default One year sober for the first time since i have been ten yrs old

    Hi, I am Jeff. I grew up in a drug household and my birthdays were celebrated by introducing me to new drugs. I started smoking pot at age five or six, nine~PCP, eleven~cocaine, twelve~morphine soaked thai sticks, thirteen~we bought fifty hits of LSD just for me to eat, seventeen~ I was taught how to freebase cocaine using ether before crack existed. The exact dates are fuzzy because I was so young and I was so high while my brain was still developing.
    I walked into my first AA meeting when I was sixteen and have never been sober for more than ninety days since I was around age nine or ten when I went to summer camp. I have wanted recovery for a long time even when I was not actively pursuing it; I knew there was a better way to live. Back in the eighties, I was severely suicidal and acting on the plans to do myself in because I was told that “I was the problem” by several AA sponsors and that only God could save me and I had to accept that I was powerless over alcohol. That left me, who did not believe in God, with no one to save me and doomed to live a long and nasty life of slow poisoning by alcoholism. I ended up in the suicide ward of a few mental hospitals to stay alive and a few rehabs in an effort to obtain sobriety to no avail.
    On June 24, 2004, when I was forty years old, my Stepfather died and I did a whole lot of growing up real fast. At the time I was a daily crack cocaine user and had already stopped shooting the methyl amphetamines in my arm. I had been on crack for so long I cannot tell you exactly how many years it was eight maybe twelve? Anyway, I had been trying to quit for five years using AA/NA and stopped using those methods when I started buying dope from the people at the meetings. The traumatic event of my Dad’s death made me realize that I could not blame my family for raising me up in a drug household, society for making drugs so prevalent and reality so hard to face, or anything or anyone else for my using crack cocaine. The only person I could blame for that was me. And the only person who could stop that was me. So I did stop it.
    On my own, just me. No God, no rehab program, no meetings, only my decision to stop. The Power of Choice.
    I was going to school part-time at the local community college and the professor pulled me out of class and I am thinking uh oh, here it comes, “I smell alcohol on you, and you cannot be on campus like this you must leave.” But, what I heard was “What is wrong? I saw you crying in there.” I told her my Dad had passed and she told me about the schools free psychoanalysis just across the hall from the class I was in. So I went in for the counseling thinking this is going to be six weeks of grief counseling and then I am going to be done here (I am still in therapy and it is eleven years later). I never told her I was still doing crack but, I broke down in the counselors’ office and told her my family story and my previous diagnosis of bi-polar in the 80’s (which I had refused medications for) and she pointed me to a free psychiatric clinic where I could get medication. I was resistant at first and made several appointments that I did not keep until I found myself weeding the cracks in the sidewalk in front of my house in the rain while I was crying.
    I went into the house called the psychiatric clinic and when they answered I said “Uncle” they said “what?” I said “UNCLE.” They said “I don’t understand?” I said “UNCLE, I give in get me in to your office TODAY I need meds for my mental illness and I was seen that afternoon and finally started on meds that I had been refusing for twenty years.
    My Dad died June 24, 2004. I stopped sometime in the fall of 2004 can’t be sure of the date but I have only done crack cocaine once since so I consider myself 11 yrs clean off of crack cocaine and methyl amphetamines.
    I continued drinking and smoking marijuana until just recently.
    A fellow smartie asked me, about fourteen months ago, if I thought it was possible for me to quit drinking at all? I told her no, I thought it was completely irrational to believe that I could quit because I had tried all the tools in SMART and ended up drunk every week anyway. Further I said that if I continue to push this idea that I must become sober I am going to end up on the suicide ward of a mental hospital I did in the 80’s when I tried using AA to quit drinking. I had been coming to SMART Online for about fourteen months and without much success. Then I started using a hybrid tool of sorts… a combination of the urge log from the SMART workbook and the drink log from Rational Recovery.
    On the left I had the date and then a blank rectangle where I recorded each day that I was sober with a big fat smiley face for zero drinks. And each day I drank I made hash marks for how many drinks I had in an effort to reduce the abstinence violation effect and give me a visual record of how much I was actually consuming. On the right side of the page I had spaces for moods during the day and evening and comments about why I started drinking or what I did to stay sober.
    At my weekly psychotherapy sessions we would go over these sheets and see if we could find patterns in why or when I drank as well as giving myself big credit for each of the individual sober days even though they were not consecutive. At the end of each month we looked back at my progress or regress and could visually see which way I was moving. Some months I would only have ten or twelve smiley faces but, I had to admit that SMART was working at least for those ten days so I could not say that SMART was not working at all because I had evidence it was.
    I kept on having patience with myself, practicing the tools, and being persistent in pursuing recovery. Things were not going so well at the end of September 2014, I was regressing a lot. Buying wine by the case and using my benzodiazepine drugs with the alcohol as well as smoking a lot of marijuana. By this time my hybrid tool had two blank rectangles one for pot and one for alcohol. I wish I could say the SMART tools alone got me to stop but it took a traumatic event to get me to stop drinking just as it took a traumatic event to get me to stop using crack cocaine.
    To make a long story short, I woke up drunk on the September 22, 2014 and began drinking wine straight out of the bottle very fast and smoking marijuana immediately upon awakening. By six p.m. I was passed out lying face up on my living room floor and my girlfriend could not wake me up. She was scared and called the Crisis hotline and I woke up at some point while she was on the phone with them. When I woke up I went into a psychotic rage and wanted to fight everyone, except the police. I tried to fight my girlfriend and two of my neighbors and one their visiting friends. Once I came back inside my apartment the crisis line is still calling and trying to calm me down and I am telling them I am not going to hurt me or anyone else and hanging up on them repeatedly so they called 911 and sent the ambulance and police to my home.
    By the time first responders got there my knuckles and knees were bloody from jumping up to punch the ceiling and then falling when I landed. The firemen did their job and went into my apartment locking me out to make sure the two women inside were not hurt and I was pounding on the door yelling for them to get out, when I turned my head and noticed the two cops shaking their heads and scratching their chins looking at me from their car. That made me calm down. I realized I was not going to be staying in my apartment that night so I walked over to them and asked them where they were taking me and they told me I was going to go to the psychiatric hospital. I was cuffed and committed to Green Oaks Mental Hospital by the state for psychiatric evaluation and detoxification, where I remained for about six days.
    Once I came home, I asked my girlfriend where the whiskey was because I wanted to pour it out and she said she had already done that. About two days later I realized my glasses were scratched beyond usability and dug out an old pair to wear. On day eight I decided to drink again had 1.5 liters of wine and was very upset with the hangover and with myself for risking going back to the psych ward again because now I know that drinking can put me in that psychotic rage state. But I marked it on my calendar and counted two day eights, I lapsed once more on day 75, had about four or five glasses of wine very quickly and was physically ill almost immediately. So I marked it on my calendar and counted two day 75’s. About that time was when I noticed on the gas pumps they say 10% alcohol and decided alcohol is meant to be burned in engines not go in my body.
    At the time I was still struggling to quit smoking pot and that was difficult for me as I had been smoking since I was five or six years old and learned to roll a joint at age seven. I used the same calendar method to record my marijuana usage (just added a rectangle for pot usage to the existing calendar) and abstinent days and wrote a CBA and a change plan worksheet which I kept handy on my desk and I was able to stop this drug without a traumatic event on February 6, 2015.
    So here I am now at 4 days (if you count the two lapse days) shy of one year sober off alcohol. Seven months off of marijuana.
    I have a few vitally absorbing creative interests or hobbies on steroids, as I like to call them. I love to ride my bicycle; bake sweet banana, pumpkin, cranberry breads; meditate; grow houseplants and give them away as gifts to friends.
    I had asked the Pastor of my church for monetary help one month about sixteen months ago and he was able to supply me with $300 from the minister’s discretionary fund for paying my bills. It was about two months into my sobriety that I had a two week long bake sale at my church to raise money for the minister’s discretionary fund. I baked 18 loaves of pumpkin raisin walnut bread the first week and sold out. Then two weeks later I baked 22 loaves of banana raisin walnut bread and sold out. The church reimbursed me for supplies. I did the labor out of love and it raised about three hundred dollars for the minister’s discretionary fund.
    A lot of things are easier now that I am sober. Handling my bi-polar disorder and anxiety disorder is much easier and the medications seem to work better without the interference of alcohol. I have more money to pay my bills. And bills I do have from buying all those cases of wine and sacks of weed on credit. I am able to understand and respond to my girlfriend’s requests and emotions better. I am able to set boundaries for our relationship and express myself in a more gentle way that is more effective. I like the PIUS (be Positive, use I-statements, be Understanding, accept and Share responsibility) communication method from Friends and Family and have found it useful in my personal relationship with my girlfriend.
    One special note about my girlfriend, Sharon. My ex-wife would have rolled me over onto my stomach so that if I got sick I would not choke to death and left me to sleep it off and I would have woken up and started drinking again the next day. Sharon got scared and called the crisis line. That phone call changed my life. I have thanked her a few times for it and did again night before last as we were getting ready to celebrate our third anniversary as a couple last night. I wanted Sharon to know how much I appreciated her making that call.
    One thing I have to say is that life is not all roses and tea parties now. Life has its ups and downs just as it always has. To expect fireworks and super happiness all the time is unrealistic. Most of the time, I feel mediocre and that is ok. It sure beats the swings of untreated bi-polar on crack and meth and any other drug to cross my path, I smoked heroine a few times, that I had pre 2004. It beats the craziness that was my life 14 months ago.
    I am getting some unexpected benefits of sobriety, things that were not on my CBA when I wrote it but showed up later when I got sober. For example, I began meditating at around three months sober and am now a member of two different meditation groups and have found a whole new group of sober positive friends who don’t know about my past and don’t need to.
    Another unexpected benefit was reconnecting with my sister. I had said some awful things to my sister’s husband, while I was drunk, in 2007 and she had cut off all contact between me and her husband and two daughters because of it. I thought I would never speak with her again. About six months ago she was in Dallas on a business trip and called me and asked if I would like to spend the afternoon with her. I was delighted to hear those words. I met her at a consignment store and we went to a local park where we fed the ducks and talked. I showed her my apartment and all my wonderful plants. All in all we mended fences and she is back in my life again and I am ecstatic about it.
    The best unexpected benefit came three months ago while I was visiting my mom. I was busy telling her how I felt that I was a disappointment to her. Because I failed to become a CPA like I had planned when I quit crack cocaine and went to school full-time (2004/2010), achieved a Master’s Degree in Accounting and Information Management and passed CPA exam only to find out that no firm in town would hire me with my legal history. It was around that time that I had another mental illness breakdown and ended up on Social Security Disability Insurance because of my mental illness. She just looked up at me and smiled and said “I am just so relieved now that I don’t have to worry about you anymore.” She was referring to me not drinking and drugging. Knowing that I have given my Mother that peace of mind is the greatest benefit of sobriety that I have gotten so far.

  2. #2
    LMR555's Avatar
    LMR555 is offline Former SMART Super Moderator
    Former SMART MB Liaison
    Former SMART Online Facilitator
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Southwest Fl


    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for sharing your success story. It really hit me in an inspirational way what you found to be the greatest benefit of sobriety. To give you Mother that peace of mind.
    I also liked to read how you kept trying. You never gave up!

    Best to you and your future successes.
    "Discover the Power of Choice!"

    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

    Join the team as a SMART Message Board Volunteer!! It can encourage growth and joy. Or support with a donation

  3. #3
    Gordon1's Avatar
    Gordon1 is offline SMART MB Co-Liaison
    SMART Online Moderator
    SMART Online Facilitator
    Former SMART Face to Face Facilitator
    Former SMART Online Meeting Liaison
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Melbourne, Australia


    Wonderful Jeff - you did so very well for yourself and those near and dear to you.

    What got me sober was TRYING to get sober. Often when I lapsed, picked up, drank, I FELT thoroughly beaten. I thought at that time "there is no hope for me" Yet, when I had recovered from that thought just a little, I thought "I'll have another GO!" It was a few little sparks, rather than a flame, that got me here!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005


    Hi Jeff
    What a powerful story. It's been wonderful to watch your life unfold here at Smart. You have made courageous choices and put together your own "toolbox" that is working for you including meditation which is top on my list. Well done.
    "The central human drama is not wanting the experience we are having"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    New York City and Dallas


    Thank you all, I am just trying to survive, and with SMART, I am not only surviving I am thriving!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Nebraska, USA


    It's so good to see you finding the Positives in a story full of negatives. Thank you for sharing your success!

  7. #7


    Awesome story man thanks for sharing ��

  8. #8


    Wow! Your story totally brought me to tears. What courage, and what an inspiration to people who feel it's impossible. If you can recover, with that history (so hard), any of us can.

  9. #9


    Another great benefit of your sobriety is that you just gave so many people "HOPE" - thank you!
    I may not be where I need to be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be.

  10. #10


    Thank you for sharing your success!
    It makes me have strength to carry on even if now everything is hard to me.

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