Recovery is possible for anyone

Andrew Paisley, Columnist

Imagine yourself in a dark hole, a deep one that you want desperately to get out of, but you just cannot seem to do it on your own.

This was me just three months ago when I was suffering from addiction.

It all started 2 1/2 years ago, when I turned 21 years old. I had started drinking, and over the next two years it escalated into a huge problem.

You see, I could not seem to have just a drink without drinking to excess and becoming completely inebriated.

Deep down I think I knew I had a problem; I just was not ready to accept it, as I am still young and was not ready to give up a life of what I thought was “fun.”

Last summer, I was introduced to recreational drugs. It took one try at using them for me to become full-blown addicted.

At that very moment, my life became completely unmanageable.

I came back to school in August and had quit using. No one knew about my addiction except for close friends.

In September, coincidentally I met someone who had the drugs I had used.

This was when my life became complete and utter chaos.

I was using drugs every day in order to stay awake and accomplish my daily tasks, besides the fact that I was so heavily addicted that I craved the high I was getting.

There were weeks that I would be awake at least five days in a row and I had not eaten a bite of food.

I had turned into a completely different person. A person who needed help but could not figure out how to get it.

There were days and nights I prayed to God to either let me overdose or to magically get rid of my addiction, because I was in a true mess.

I was truly sick and I knew I had a problem, but I was so afraid of telling my parents and asking for help.

By the grace of God, on Oct. 28, my parents finally discovered what was going on.

It was a Saturday night, and when I told my parents on the phone, all I could hear was the screams coming from my mother, who was absolutely devastated.

My parents told me to come back home the following day. They told me I was heading to a treatment center.

This absolutely terrified me. I did not want to leave my family and friends. I was scared, but I knew it had to be done in order to get my life back together.

On Oct. 31, I officially dropped out of school temporarily, and I entered treatment at Rosecrance Harrison Treatment Center in Rockford.

In rehab, I was not allowed to have my cell phone, I was expected to wake up by 7:45 every morning, go to bed at 10:30 every night and I was only allowed four smoke breaks a day, one cigarette per break.

I thought this was going to be awful.

I was in a unit with men around my age who became some of my closest friends.

We spent practically every hour of the day together, and we all were there for each other when we needed support.

I was allowed to use a landline phone in the unit to call friends and family, and my parents and grandmother even came to visit one weekend.

The hardest part was knowing that I would not be discharged until the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I was devastated, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable and greatest Thanksgivings I have ever had.

I spent the day with my new friends who are still to this day near and dear to my heart.

On Nov. 25, I was officially discharged from treatment, and I headed back home where I started outpatient rehab four days a week at Gateway Treatment Facility in Springfield.

I started attending 12-step meetings, which I continue to do to this day.

As of now, I have 80 days under my belt, and I cannot seem to possibly imagine what my life would be like had I not quit drinking and using drugs.

Everyone makes mistakes in life, sometimes the worst of the worst, but we can choose to become better people.

I know that until the moment I take my last breath and leave this Earth that I will be an addict, and I have learned to accept that.

However, I also learned that my addiction does not define me.

I am still a good person and I still have my entire life ahead of me to do good things and continue on this glorious path of sobriety that I thank God every day for.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, I urge you to seek help; in fact, you can even reach out to me.

Some people have criticized my decision to go public with my addiction, but it is my choice, and I want people to know that there is help out there.

Everyone needs to know that it is possible to live life and never have to pick up a drink or drugs again.

It took me a while, but I finally am the sober and clean person I needed to be, and although it is a daily struggle, I could not be happier or more proud of who I am today.

Andrew Paisley is a senior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at

[email protected].