This post is part 1 of a 4-part series featuring the unique stories of recovering alcoholics. Read more about their struggles and victories as they learn to live sober again.
Q: What made you realize you had a problem with alcohol?
A: I didn’t realize I had a problem until everyone around me did. I am a 52-year old professional woman with two children and a granddaughter. I thought that because I was still functioning in life that my drinking wasn’t a problem.
I drank most of my life. And in what was almost the end of my life, drinking became a vicious cycle. I was drinking all day, every day. I couldn’t brush my teeth in the morning without drinking. Finally, my family organized an intervention and off I went from Connecticut to Utah for detox. Then, I entered a 28-day treatment program.
Once I returned to Connecticut, I relapsed after a month. I learned that when “you go back out (into drinking),” you go down fast. Fortunately, I was able to re-examine my recovery program and pull myself back up. I began attending Alcoholics Anonymous regularly and started taking Antabuse, which is a drug that makes you violently ill if you drink alcohol. For 19 months now, with the grace of God, I have been sober and living a life I never imagined.
Q: What are some common stumbling blocks you witness on the path to long-term sobriety and how does one avoid them?
A: Some people in my life were definite triggers of my disease. People like my father and my ex-husband, who seemed to relish in my weakness. Recovery has helped me re-examine those relationships and to handle situations differently. My program has given me the daily strength to stay sober and to speak publicly about a disease that many people who knew me didn’t know I had. One of the biggest roadblocks for people suffering from addiction is thinking people will judge them if they seek help. I have found just the opposite.
Q: What hope can you offer people looking for help?
A: If you are looking for help, you are not alone. Regardless of where you are at geographically there are groups, organizations, and programs out there that will support your recovery. Many of us relapse, but even then we all have the ability to pick ourselves back up and start again. This is a disease, and it’s not our fault!
Step 1 is admitting to yourself and others that you have a problem. Step 2 is finding the help, support, and guidance you need to get well. I can tell you from experience, life is so much better now! I am forever grateful for not only my past, but for my continued journey.
Ann Baldwin is a mother and grandmother from Newington, Connecticut, who is in long-term recovery from alcoholism.