Any of us who have gone through alcoholism and addiction, know all too well, the miserable hell of coming down from our drug of choice. With some drugs, alcohol included, coming down can be deadly. The physical misery is enormous, but the mental anguish of it may be one of the hardest part. The anxiety that floods in, like the dam burst, is paralyzing. The sudden explosion of depression, fear, sadness, and all the other negative emotions, crashes through the door and runs you over. The weight of this, combined with the horrible additional anxiety of feeling trapped in a detox facility is crushing.
Half of my alcohol and drug use was self-medication for the shame, paralyzing fear, guilt, self-hatred and all the other baggage I was carrying around resulting from PTSD from childhood abuse and a general anxiety disorder, that was probably inherited. The other half of my addiction was simply an easy escape from reality through alcohol/drugs.
I had three final relapses. One put me in a coma where the doctors said I would not survive. Another landed me in a mental facility where the court determined I was a danger to myself. The very last relapse was the least eventful of all of them, but had the most profound effect on me. I had isolated myself so much with my alcohol and drug use that, by this time, my family had disowned me and my wife was in the process of filing for divorce. I had checked myself into a rehab facility, because I knew if I didn’t, I would not survive. Before I could be taken to rehab, they sent me to the hospital to detox.
When I got into the hospital, they hooked me up with equipment to monitor my hear-rate and blood pressure, etc., put me on a gurney, wheeled me out into the hallway, and shoved the gurney with my ass on it, in between the carts that were filled with plates of half-eaten food. I had panic and anxiety, that was now off the charts from coming down from the galactic amounts of alcohol I had consumed in the last 36 hours, plus post acute withdrawal syndrome from a year long addiction to heavy doses of benzodiazepines (24 mg per day BEFORE I started abusing them). I sat on that gurney in that hallway for six hours, shaking with anxiety, filled with shame and despair as my life had crashed all around me in every direction. People were walking by, trying not to look me in the eye, but looked at me out of the corner of their eye as they walked by. The look on their faces was a combination of pity and disgust.
I cannot say I had a “moment of clarity” or “white light experience” or anything like that. But that was a defining moment for me. Because it was in that moment that I realized that all my general fears that came from childhood forward, fears of being abandoned, fears of being rejected, fears of disapproval, were now a complete and actual reality. I was completely all alone and rejected by the world, on that gurney. I had no more value to anybody on this earth than the plates of half-eaten food that were my roommates in that hallway. It was in that very moment that successful recovery began for me, because that was the beginning of a three-word mantra that would become my battle cry throughout recovery – “PLEASE HELP ME”. I was no longer concerned about what anybody thought of me, I wasn’t worried about approval, and I wasn’t trying to be liked. I just wanted help and I could not stand to be alone anymore. I was now willing to ask for that help with my arms open a mile-wide, and accept the help that was offered, and not just on my terms and in my way. I was willing to do whatever I was asked or advised to do, by the people who were offering the help for my alcoholism and drug addiction.