Trevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
Trevor tells his personal experience and strategies for recovery.
My opioid abuse, constant drug use, and alcoholism are the things that will always bring me the most shame. Outright refusing help or seeking out rehabilitation programs is a close second.
I carried over a lot of insecurities from elementary school into high school. I had childhood ADHD and terrible social skills, which made me both painfully shy and socially anxious. Naturally, I isolated myself from everyone because I felt inadequate and weird.
My addictions started in high school where I experienced drinking at a party for the first time. Due to my shyness, I never really learned how to make friends. Therefore, I figured, “hey, drinking usually loosens people up so it might do that for me.” It did, and unfortunately so much more. When I was drunk, I was hyper-social, always ready to crack a joke and frankly, make a fool of myself because I thought that would make people like me. People didn’t like me; they just thought I was entertaining.
Eventually, gaining attention from my peers and losing the feeling of loneliness drove me into drinking continuously and heavily. When I discovered drugs, things got worse. Everything inside me felt hollow and I sunk into a very deep depression. The truth is, I was never a real person when I was drunk or high – I was a hollow entity of something I wished that I was. I was someone that had no substance except for making themselves the joke of the party and pretending that I was actually making friends. This cycle continued into my young adulthood: go to a weekend party, get drunk and high, talk to everyone, cycle through the weekdays, and then do it all over again. I was a functioning addict, which is more common than you think.
I finally decided enough was enough when I had lost my job, blacked out from an accidental opioid overdose, and watched my parents cry as they witnessed me recovering from the overdose on a hospital bed.
However, I knew I couldn’t stop abusing substances for the sake of other people. I needed to get better for myself. You can never justify living your life for other people or hope you can live up to some sort of self-inflicted standard. Otherwise, you will never live your life at all. And honestly, I wasn’t living for those five years when I was always drunk and high. After that epiphany, I checked myself into rehab and haven’t looked back since.
Today, I can proudly say I’ve been sober for over five years! The struggle to stay sober is still ongoing, but I believe I’ve had a complete psychic change since the time I started abusing drugs and alcohol to now. Lastly, I have friends from my support group that encourage me and offer support whenever I need it.
The following are my personal strategies that helped me during the recovery process, and I hope they can help you or someone you love:
1. Maintain as much contact as possible with genuine family, friends, and loved ones.
These people are pillars of strength for you. If you feel there is no one genuine you can turn to, immediately tell yourself that is a lie. Strangers in this world care about your well-being – it’s the reason why recovery clinics exist! The people there only seek to help you get life back on track and stay on it. Believe it or not, some of the individuals who run a recovery clinic were addicts themselves once.
2. Embrace your past but use it as motivation to create a better future.
It’s okay if you’re afraid of confronting your past and emotions all at once. Over time, you will come to acknowledge it all. Therefore, be utterly transparent with your therapist and psychiatrists about your concerns, listen to the stories told at support groups, and learn as much as you can from the support and resources around you.
3. Erase any evidence of a trigger from your life.
Cut ties from relationships that were only destructive and fueled your drug or alcohol abuse, and make sure they stay severed. Furthermore, eliminate anything in your life that triggers or tempts you to return to the past. That means throwing away memorabilia of any kind and removing all sources of drugs and alcohol from your home. There isn’t any room for anyone or anything that interferes with your recovery.
4. Remind yourself that you are taking steps forward even if you make mistakes along the way.
Realistically, you will mess up and might cave into a drink or smoke; but remember, no one’s recovery journey is perfect. Don’t beat yourself up for being human. Don’t sink into those self-deprecating affirmations you told yourself when you were addicted. You’re in the process of changing from what you once were, and it’s working.
Connect with Trevor on his Website