Women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction face unique challenges in their journey to sobriety. At Get Treatment, we want to highlight some of their stories of success in hopes that we can better understand their struggle, as well as what motivates them to stay clean and help others who are battling addiction.
Eventually, Mary’s drinking habit got so bad that her sister would go around to all the local liquor stores and beg them not to sell to her, but even that didn’t stop Mary. Undeterred, she would simply call a cab and buy her alcohol at a store a few miles away. Her alcohol dependence became so severe that even several hours without a drink would cause her to begin shaking and vomiting. During these periods of withdrawal, eating and sleeping were impossible. “The only way to stop it was to pour myself a drink. I’d maybe throw up, but the next drink would go down smoother.”
Things got tougher when she began to have children, and taking care of five kids was difficult for someone so consumed by addiction. “They felt abandoned… I put them through a lot,” she says of her children, ranging in ages from 15 to 28. Mary recalled one time when she arrived drunk to her daughter’s school and had to be taken away in an ambulance. Unfortunately, not even an incident this serious was enough to stop her from drinking and using drugs.
Mary first sought treatment in 1999, and sought help again several times within the next decade. None of the attempts, however, was particularly
successful. “Sometimes I got out of treatment and drank the same day,” she recalled.
By mid-2010, Mary had hit another low point in her life. She divorced her husband and began living with her father in St. Louis, MO. Several of her children no longer spoke to her due to the impact her addiction was having on her life and theirs.
In October 2010, an accident occurred that changed the trajectory of Mary’s life forever. While walking from her home to a nearby grocery store, Mary experienced a powerful seizure, likely related to her alcohol abuse. By the time she woke up, she was in the ICU of a nearby hospital with a massive gash across her forehead and two black eyes. Her clothes were torn to shreds and doctors had attached a breathing tube to her mouth. Mary says that despite this seemingly dramatic incident, throughout the ordeal, all she could think about was pouring her next drink.
Within an hour of being discharged from the hospital, Mary was at it again. Wearing sunglasses to conceal her black eyes, she was back in a liquor store, but even though she couldn’t stop drinking, she knew she needed to make a change.
Finally, in November 2010, with the encouragement of her sister and father, Mary entered rehab for the last time. This time was different. For one, she got out of her hometown of St. Louis and went to a rehab center in Florida. She was finally able to complete the 12 steps of her Alcoholics Anonymous program following her stay at the drug treatment facility, something she says she failed to do during all her other attempts. “I would complete two steps, three steps, but I would never finish. The last time, it took me a year and a half to finish the steps, but I did it.”
Now, Mary’s life is different in every way. She now works as an addiction treatment admissions coordinator in Florida. She has a relationship with all five children, and they have come to visit her on multiple occasions. Her daughter Kelsey, who had stopped speaking to her by the time she entered rehab, now calls her every single day.
Mary credits her experience with addiction and recovery with allowing her to understand the pain of other addicts. “It’s important to show them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They’re in a deep, dark place, and they need to be as honest as they can.”
In terms of advice for other individuals suffering from addiction, Mary urges them to be honest. “We don’t want to share our pain,” she says, “but secrets keep us sick.”
Mary struggled to be a caring and good mother to her children despite her incredibly destructive addiction to alcohol. And, while it’s true that many addicts need to try treatment more than once in order to achieve life-long recovery, Mary’s numerous attempts to get through rehab are a testament to her willpower, determination, and motivation to change her life for the better.
In the end, Mary was rewarded for her hard work with newly strengthened relationships with her family. She’s also been able to hold down a stable and rewarding job that allows her to give back to others who are in the same position she once was: confused, desperate, and in need of serious help.
While Mary’s experiences reinforce the fact that recovery isn’t easy, they also show us that recovering from addiction can lead to an incredibly fulfilling life with new relationships, new friendships, and exciting and gratifying professional opportunities. Most importantly, however, Mary’s story shows us that two traits, perseverance and honesty, can make the difference between failure and success in recovery. If we stay honest and never give up, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.
Mary didn’t get sober her first time in rehab. In fact, it took more than seven attempts, but when she finally did, she didn’t do it alone. She did it with help of licensed counselors, therapists, teachers, fellow patients, and other recovery addicts. Each of these individuals provided support in different ways throughout different stages of her recovery.
Mary’s experiences show us that, to have the greatest chance at achieving lasting recovery, an effective treatment program must be based on creating a caring, compassionate community based on trust, empathy, and the shared goal of continued sobriety for every patient.
At Get Treatment, we’re passionate about connecting patients in need with caring, community-based drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs. When identifying the best treatment programs for a patient, we examine a variety of factors, including treatment needs, age, history with addiction and treatment, and co-occurring medical and psychological disorders.
At Get Treatment, our clinical professionals and addiction specialists understand that every individual’s addiction is different, and that effective addiction treatment isn’t a one-sized-fits-all solution. That’s why each of the accredited addiction treatment centers in our network creates customized treatment plans for every patient, combining traditional and holistic therapies that address their particular treatment needs.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction, there is hope for recovery. Our goal is to provide you with the skills, tools and support you need to thrive in your recovery. We will help you find the addiction treatment program that’s right for you.