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November 30, 2023 28 mins

This episode of Unpolished Recovery is an exploration of the gritty realities of battling addiction and the transformative power of recovery. We welcome Andrea, a fearless warrior of sobriety and a graduate of our support program, who shares her battle with alcohol addiction and the perils of withdrawal.

 Listen as she reveals the challenges of being a functioning alcoholic, the necessity of finding purpose, and the irreplaceable role of community in recovery. Tune in to this episode to be moved by these extraordinary tales of perseverance and the deep understanding of the essential role that community plays in overcoming addiction.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome back to Unpolished Recovery.
My name is Trey.
Most stories of recovery startwith how bad addiction was, how
they entered recovery and howgreat life is now that's a
polished story.

Speaker 2 (00:13):
My name is Chris.
I'm your co-host of UnpolishedRecovery.
Today we've got a special guestnamed Andrea.
She is a recent graduate of ourrecovery support program.
Andrea, how long ago was itthat you graduated?
I graduated in August and nowyou continue to stay on site as
alumni and a peer leader.

(00:34):
Is that correct?

Speaker 3 (00:35):
That is correct.

Speaker 2 (00:36):
What kind of just starts straight off the bat with
how, what caused you or whatwas the thought process that you
wanted to continue to stay hereeven though you graduated?

Speaker 3 (00:51):
The reason that I want to stay here is right now.
I feel it's the best place forme.
When I am by myself, I have atendency to self-isolate.
I fall back into my old habits,and self-isolation for me leads
me back to my addiction, whichis alcohol.

(01:14):
So I like that.
I have other people in recoverythis is the first time I've
done a program, so I have peoplethat understand where I've been
, where I am and where I'd liketo go.
So if I need somebody to soundoff to or talk to, they're here

(01:34):
and for me that's really saferight now.

Speaker 2 (01:37):
That's great.
That is a big deal when yourealize, when you go back and
see some of the ways that you'vestarted off on the wrong path
and you've identified that andyou're trying to make it
different.
How long have you been cleaningsober?

Speaker 3 (01:54):
My clean and sober date is January 1st, so it was
just 10 months this time.

Speaker 2 (01:59):
Oh, not too far from your first year Now, when you
come in to our recovery supportprogram.
Or, mami, did you come fromtreatment?

Speaker 3 (02:07):
I did Okay.

Speaker 2 (02:08):
You did Dr 28 Day.

Speaker 3 (02:10):
Well, I did 17.

Speaker 2 (02:12):
And then I ended up here, which was better for me
Okay, but that kind of startedthe process going to inpatient.
Did Jeff go through the detoxand everything?

Speaker 3 (02:22):
No, I did that at the hospital.
I was not in a healthy placementally, so I had myself
admitted to the hospital so thatI could get into a better
mindset, and I detoxed there.

Speaker 2 (02:41):
I think sometimes it gets overlooked just how
dangerous it is to withdraw fromalcohol.
My drug of choice is opiates.
Of course it's all poison to mealcohol I made many have many
relapses that started with adrink because I didn't have a
drinking problem, supposedly,but I've never been physically

(03:04):
dependent on alcohol.
But in the working in a field Ihave seen people with dronists
were alcohols legal If you'reover 21 years of age, if you're
going into stores, commercials,whatever the case may be.
That to me and of course, likeI said, alcohol is not my

(03:24):
primary struggle, but it seemslike it makes it that much
harder to be able to sustainfrom it.

Speaker 3 (03:30):
It can be, and the thing is it's widely accepted
and I'm an older person sogrowing up it was even more
widely accepted.
It was always in the household.
You had company, you hadholidays, whatever.
There was always drinking goingon.

(03:51):
It wasn't unusual and in myteen years if we were drinking
and driving and we got pulledover, the cops would just
basically pour it out and sendyou on your way.
It wasn't such a stigma to itas it is today, where there is
such a danger of drinking anddriving, but when we were young

(04:15):
they would just let us go andoverlook it.
So it's definitely different.
It's needed laws, but Thingshave changed.

Speaker 2 (04:24):
I think people have identified addiction and
alcoholism better, that there'sa more awareness of what it does
.

Speaker 1 (04:32):
An understanding of the risk.
Now I'm curious when you say so, you were drinking as a teen.
When, would you say, youidentified that there was a
problem?

Speaker 3 (04:46):
At a fairly young age I started drinking because we
had a bar in our basement, sowhen we had company they were
able to serve drinks or whatever, and so I experimented there
and decided I liked it.
So not that I didn't try otherthings.
I tried marijuana and stuff,but alcohol was always my go-to.

(05:08):
At 15, a month before I turned16, my father passed away and I
had already been drinking beforethat, but that really set me on
a definite course of drinkingat every opportunity At 19 years
old.
I had just turned 19 inSeptember and in November I put

(05:31):
myself in the hospital.
All I had known I had a problemfor a while.
I mean when I was drinking,guys under the table and this
was my life and I knew I had anissue.
I went to college and when Ifound out they had a bar on the
campus.
As soon as the bar opened Iwent to no more classes.
I was at the bar.

(05:52):
So obviously that didn't workout too well for me.
But at 19, I did put myself inthe hospital to stop drinking.
The first time they recommended,of course, aa and working some
type of program, getting asponsor, but at 19 years old I
knew everything they couldn'ttell me.

(06:14):
I knew I didn't need a sponsor,and the AA meetings were to me
something that just reminded meof the alcohol, so that I just
didn't go to those either.
Then they recommend you don'tget in a relationship, but at 19
, you own the world.
So six months later I got in arelationship, not realizing

(06:37):
quite at first that the personhad a drinking problem of their
own.
So I stayed sober.
I got pregnant very quickly,and I stayed with him and ended
up marrying him after our sonwas six months old.
So now I lived with analcoholic.
I was sober, but I lived on theother side of it, and he was a

(06:58):
very abusive alcoholic, andeventually, I'd say in my mid to
late 20s, I relapsed with him,because it was to the point
where it was join him orcontinue this fight.

(07:21):
If you can't beat him, join himkind of mentality, and I
started drinking again.
My mother passed away.
That put me back intofull-blown addiction and stuff,
and it seemed, though,unfortunately, we got along
better when we were drinkingthan when we did when I was
sober and he wasn't.
But I stayed in that marriagefor 16 years before I finally

(07:44):
got the courage and the help.
I'm sorry.
I did get sober in my early 30sso I had maybe about four or
five years of drinking again,but I did go back into the
hospital and get myself, helpingget sober.
And then through that I gothelp with counseling and they

(08:04):
started planting seeds aboutwhat I could do To get away from
him at some point.
You know, we owned a home, wehad cars.
He wouldn't let me work, so Inever had to work.
I was always able to be homewith the kids.
So there was the fear of finallygoing out on my own.
How was I gonna do this?
I haven't worked since I wasyounger and he could, you know,
made sure that I didn't have theability to leave.

(08:27):
But they planted the seedsabout a battered woman, shelter
and Eventually situationhappened which led me to make
that phone call and that's whatI did and it was the best place
I could have ever gone in mylife.
I mean, it really was.
I was one of their successstories.
Most women go back to theirabusers because that's all they

(08:48):
know and I did not.
I Got a job at a bank and I wasdoing pretty well for myself,
but every time I feel like I'mdoing too well and I can handle
it.
I Start the self-sabotage.
You got it, you know, and it'sthe loneliness I'm by myself.

(09:08):
And so to meet people, you goout and you go to a bar, and one
thing leads to another.
It starts as one night a week,and to two into three, into
every night, you know, until Isabotage myself again.
So it's been a roller coasterfor me my whole life.

(09:28):
So you know you'd mentioned thatyou went into Hospitalization
on multiple time, like what'sthe longest amount of time
you've been able to remain soberalmost 15 years, and this last
one, it seems, when I have a bigchange in my life and most of

(09:50):
those have been somebody passingaway Instead of reaching out
for help I go back to what Iknow and the depression and the
alcohol which leads to moredepression.
So my husband passed awaysuddenly two and a half years
ago At 61.
I found him on the bathroomfloor and during the course of

(10:14):
our relationship he didn't drink, but he would always say to me
I had gotten sober a year afterI met him.
He'd always say you know, yougot to promise me, andrea, if
anything ever happens to me,that you won't pick up a drink.
And I tell him I can't promiseyou that.
No, you have to.
No, can't promise you, and youknow time would go by and he'd

(10:34):
bring it up again.
Got to promise me if anythinghappens to me.
Well, as soon as they wheeledhis body out, I was gone.
I was up at the store becausein Ohio that's where I'm from
you can buy cheap vodka at theconvenience stores and I Was off
.
So in the course of two years,that first time I I relapsed.

(10:59):
I probably drank about sixmonths.
Thank God for my brother.
I had some money and stuff, buthe helped me with my rent and
my car payment.
My car wasn't paid yet and we Ihad been in that apartment 18
years, so what I knew and I Went.

(11:21):
Then I put myself back in thehospital to detox, knowing,
especially Older, that it's veryunsafe to detox and when you
have the shakes like that it'sscary, you know.
So I put myself back in detox,got out.
I'm now, mind you, I'm stillmaintaining a job through all of
this, you know, because I haveresponsibilities and I Got sober

(11:47):
again, go to work, do my thing.
A couple months pass, relapseagain because I just got stuck
in my head.
I got stuck with losing myhusband.
I felt like I lost my purpose.
So it was a repetitive thingfor about two years and the last
, the last year, I tried tocommit suicide twice.

(12:12):
The second time, when I wasthere, I had to give up my cats
to the humane society, societywhen I was in the hospital.
So when I got out and I gothome, I just felt like I lost
everything.
My husband was gone and he wasthe one that rescued the animals
and stuff.
So now my cats are gone and Ihad nothing.

(12:36):
So I went to the store again andgot me some more alcohol, just
got out of the hospital.
But there I am and I said youknow what?
I don't want to do this anymore.
I just don't.
I don't know what I'm gonna do,but I packed up some clothes,
my makeup, threw it in my car.
I owned my car.
Now it was paid off and Iabandoned everything.

(12:56):
I left it behind all mypossessions and my personal
belongings and I took myself andI got on the road and I drove
down to Clarksville mine that'swhere my husband's sister was
from Just not knowing where Iwanted to go, what I wanted to
do.
I kind of felt like I justwanted to live in my car and

(13:16):
never have to worry aboutanother thing in the Short life
that I was hoping I'd have.
That's how my mentality was.
I just kind of wanted to die.
I felt like there was nothingfor me anymore and After about
two, three months of living inmy car, I just thought to myself
God, do with me what you will.
Now I had turned my back on mybeliefs, but I did.

(13:37):
I said do with me what you will.
Wherever you put me, I'm gonnado it.
I'm just gonna go with it, andthat's what I did, and I ended
up.
I went to the hospital and fromthere to treatment and
treatment.
They knew that I wanted arecovery program this time, and

(13:58):
they got in touch withRestoration House.
And this is where I end up, andit is only by the grace of my
higher power that has put mehere to save my life, truthfully
save my life, and give me apurpose again.
I don't know where I'm going togo from here.

(14:18):
I don't know exactly what I'mgoing to do, but I know that I'm
in the right place.

Speaker 2 (14:26):
Now would you say like that, what I hear and when
you talk about your storygetting to that point to go back
into the hospital for last time, to go to sober living, like
you just can hear thedesperation, like where you said
that you just won't liveanymore Would you say that was

(14:46):
the breaking point, that was thebreaking point.

Speaker 3 (14:50):
Yeah, I mean I tried twice.
There's obviously a purpose whyI didn't succeed, because I'm
obviously good at sabotagingmyself.
So there was a purpose for me,and I may not know what it is
today, but I know there's apurpose.

Speaker 2 (15:09):
If it makes you feel any better.
Most of us addicts andalcoholics, and even some that
struggle with substance usedisorder or good at
self-sabotage, is kind of commontheme, I believe For my own
story.
I hear just bits and pieces ofmy own story, and especially
that point of desperation.

(15:31):
You get to a point like if Ihave to live like this, I'd
rather just die.
There's got to be somethingbetter when you're just willing
to try anything.

Speaker 3 (15:43):
I had to control everything too.
So for all the years I'mholding a full-time job, I'm
paying my bills, I'm doingeverything.
It was a control thing too.
So every time they would tellme that I needed a program, I'd
say I can't do that.
I have bills to pay, I haverent to pay, I have things to
pay.
So it took me abandoning all ofthat and leaving it behind to

(16:06):
find me again.

Speaker 1 (16:09):
Which I'm assuming is a terrifying experience, to
just to leave it all.
But I'm certainly curious whatdo you think is working so
differently this time, besidesrecognizing and giving it all,
putting everything aside andputting this first?

Speaker 3 (16:25):
Well, like I said, I never worked a program before
and I had kind of turned my backon my higher power.
So now I have my faith again.
I have faith in my higher powerPutting me where I'm supposed
to be, and because of that Itake every day a day at a time,
and because of that I'm movingforward a day at a time.

(16:49):
I'm sober another day.
The program has worked sotremendously for me because I'm
actually working the steps.
I have a sponsor and I have anetwork now that I didn't have
before.
Most of my friends were notaddicts, so they didn't

(17:09):
understand.
To them it was just well, juststop.
So I didn't have people that Icould talk to, that really just
knew me without knowing me.

Speaker 2 (17:24):
I can definitely tell just the kind of work you put
in.
It's going on a year.
Like I said before long it'llbe a year that you've been here.
But you can tell here you speakabout the work you've put in to
self-discovery and there may beother ways out there.
I know personally that thesteps did that for me.

(17:46):
It gave me a chance to get toknow and that's what the first
step is.
Right, you said you found you.
I believe that's the very firststep Getting back to just
taking care of yourself.
It would be like Trace said,it's scary to just, but
sometimes the past just holdsyou down.

(18:07):
You've got to get a fresh start.
So I know since you've beenhere you've done a wonderful job
.
Like I mentioned for your peerleader, you help other women
coming in the program, kind ofget off on the right foot.
You share your experience,strengthen hope with them.
But what's been?

(18:27):
Because for the most part yousound like you were a
functioning alcoholic for somany years.
You continue to pay bills.
So what being in sober livingfor the first time?
We were joking before westarted the episode that you're
the oldest person in our program?

(18:48):
I didn't know that, but you wereproud of it though, which I
like it because it shows, hey,if you still got a heartbeat,
you got hope.
This game ain't over, you canchange.
But what was the most difficultpart about coming in a grown
woman into?
And we have such a variety ofclientele's parts that the
demographics like the age.

(19:09):
So what was the most difficultpart of adjusting to this?

Speaker 3 (19:14):
Boy.
I wish I could say there was adifficult part to it.
I mean, it's a new experienceand, ok, I'm 60 years old but
obviously I'm a free spirit.
If I was willing to.
Well, you know they say you'vegot to give it away to keep it.
So I gave it all away and leftit and I will refine it.

(19:36):
But to me it wasn't difficultbecause everybody here was so
welcoming.
It's such an educational processand it doesn't matter how young
you are or how old you are.
There's always room for growthand learning.
You know you're never too oldto learn.

(19:58):
And, like I said, I felt like Ilost my purpose and I want to
find my purpose and I thinkbeing here is putting me on the
road to that discovery of whatmy purpose is going to be.
At the end of the road, I wantto give back to people in
addiction.
Just because I used alcoholdoesn't mean I didn't experiment

(20:18):
with other things.
I did opiates and stuff too.
You know I mean I did a lot ofdifferent things.
It's just part of addiction,you know it.
Just my go-to was always thedrinking.
It was easier to get, you know,but as far as being difficult,
no, when you want it.
This program is not difficult.

Speaker 1 (20:41):
Well, I mean Chris regularly says that the people
who succeed here, the people whowork as hard to say sober as
they worked to not to getwhatever their addiction was and
so it sounds like that's thecase for you is that you're
willing to do whatever it takes.

Speaker 3 (20:56):
I'm willing to, but it's a one day at a time.
I can't promise tomorrow, I canonly promise today.

Speaker 2 (21:03):
Well, I know I think most people are looking for
their purpose, but for what it'sworth.
You know, I've watched youthrough the months, like you're
a very giving person, you'rereally quick to listen to
someone and I know the womenthat have been around you have
benefited from that.
So you know, I have no ideawhat God has in store for you,

(21:26):
but I have a sneak and suspicionit may be.
In helping other people, peoplewith the struggles because I'm
one the, whatever flavor ofpoison it is doesn't really
matter.
When you've been in bondage,and that's what it is, just
straight bondage to a chemicalor a person.
Like it's just when you go overin that line that you know the,

(21:49):
the, the choice is gone.
That's devastating, you know,and it does.
It takes a lot of work, it takesa lot of help to come back from
that.
So you know I know you said itpositive.
That's what we were talkingabout we want to get someone to
graduate just recently to kindof see where they're at right
now.
You know, and I liked that partabout you where you're like,

(22:11):
okay, I'm at where I'm at andI'm good with that.
Like, whatever you know,whatever tomorrow brings, I'll
be ready for it.
So now would you say that nowthat you're graduated, you've
checked off all those boxes thatrestoration house requires to
complete?
Like, what are the thingsyou're doing now to continue

(22:31):
your sobriety, your growth?
Like, what are some of thetools you're using today?

Speaker 3 (22:38):
Well, the tools that I use are still.
When I have a rough day, Ireach out to my sponsor and I
and I, I talk to her and, like Isaid, it's the network you know
.
It also helps me listening tothe other women here.
It reminds me of you know,where I've been and where I
wanna be, and I do like to, youknow, listen and try to help if

(23:01):
I can.
My whole life that's the typeof person I've been, and to help
somebody else in recovery is amotivation for me every day.
You know, I just want more timeand more knowledge and more
experience so that I can shareit.

Speaker 2 (23:22):
Like you said, you gotta give it away and keep it
right.
Yeah Well, I know Now you workfull time.
You also maintain your recoveryprogram.
You serve as a peer leader.
Does it help to stay busy?

Speaker 3 (23:39):
Oh yeah, absolutely.
I love staying busy and whenI'm not doing all of these
things and I have some time, Ilike to go roller skating still,
and I you know any of the girlswant to go, any of the women
want to go.
They're more than welcome tocome with me and we've done that
.
And they were nice enough atRestoration House to let us skip
a meeting one night for mybirthday and all the women from

(24:02):
the house went roller skating.

Speaker 2 (24:03):
So that was fantastic , because that's the men will
start asking.

Speaker 3 (24:10):
Sorry, but I mean it was a beautiful gift.

Speaker 2 (24:15):
Well, I mean, it is about new experiences.
You know I've shared it beforeand get my own story that.
You know I'm my mid-40s now andI used to worry that I waited
too long, that I'd passed up onall the opportunities to really
do something with my life, andyou know there was my sponsor's

(24:36):
in hang in there.
It gets better.
You know, and I've shared manytimes, that the last several
years of my life outweighed thefirst 75%.
You know the quality I have,the life that I have today.
I believe I live lifeabundantly.
Does that make sense?
Yes, so there's nothing I wouldtrade for the process that I

(24:57):
went through to get to thispoint, and it sounds like you
can kind of relate to that.

Speaker 3 (25:02):
I can and I can't tell you I'm really grateful for
the fact that I am sober.
My first husband, who was thealcoholic, passed away a couple
weeks ago from the effects ofalcohol abuse over the years,
and my daughter, who, her and I,have not always been on best

(25:23):
terms because, you know, theydidn't know, my kids didn't know
when they picked up the phoneto call me or what, how were
they going to get their motheror were they going to get the
drunk you know.
So this time, going throughwhat they're going through, they
were able to know they hadtheir mother this time and that
is the biggest blessing to me,that to finally have my daughter

(25:46):
talking to me today.
I mean, I can't.
I just can't tell you how muchthat means to me, and if I
wouldn't be here I wouldn't havethis.

Speaker 2 (25:57):
That's amazing.
Would you say that who you aretoday is closer to the real you?

Speaker 3 (26:04):
Yes, definitely.

Speaker 2 (26:06):
You are a free spirit .
That's the first thing thatcomes to my mind when your names
mention that's a perfectdescription.
So I always usually ask this ofthe, the, the people we have on
, if there's you know anythingyou could say to a woman or man
and they're thinking about we'regetting into recovery or just

(26:29):
getting in, you know, justtrying to start that process.
You know a lot of people saythe first steps the hardest.
Is there anything that comes toyour mind that maybe your
sponsor told you or that youtold yourself when you were
starting this journey?

Speaker 3 (26:44):
I think the hardest thing is giving up control.
But if you want this, just giveup the control and take it one
day at a time and see what comesyour way.
Things get better.
It doesn't feel like it whenyou're going through the process
.
Once you get through it and youlook back it it's like a drop
in the bucket.
You know people come here andthey're like a six month program

(27:06):
.
What am I going to do?
Six months?
That six months is over anddone with.
So fast when you look back atit.
And six months is a drop in thebucket for you to get on your
feet, have an opportunity to getyour life back, your children
back, your relationships back,just life.
Life on life's terms, but it'slife and it's a blessing every

(27:32):
day.
So it's just take it one day ata time.
If you want this, it's doable.
It is doable.
You just take one thing at atime and you work on it and
before you know it, you knowyou're going someplace.

Speaker 2 (27:49):
Well, I really appreciate you coming on and
sharing some of your story.
I know that people will benefitfrom hearing it.
And that's what we do.
We believe that the storiesmatter.
Just hearing people say, hey,I'm not by myself, this person
went through it.
So thank you for making thetime.
I know you work and I know thatyou jumped at the opportunity

(28:11):
to maybe give someone else somehope.

Speaker 1 (28:17):
So thanks for joining us today.

Speaker 3 (28:18):
Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1 (28:20):
Addiction isn't going to get better with tougher laws
.
It's going to come from peoplelike Andrea sharing their story,
and we know every person'sstory is important and it
matters.
If you're interested in joiningus as a guest, you can email us
at info at crossbridgeorg toour listeners.
Thanks for joining us today.
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