Does the past lead to addiction? Will I become an alcoholic or addict? How uncovering my past trauma helped me understand and recover from my alcoholism
These questions are so common and I do not believe there is anything wrong with asking them. I can only speak for myself and my personal experience, but every story I have heard from countless alcoholics and addicts all have similarities to each other. The substance is not important. The length of time using is not important. The amount used is not important. Some people like to obsess over their “drunk-a-logs” and focus on the amounts, the situations, the arrests, the crazy happenings, and that is all well and good in the right context and with the right intention.
I know where I was. I know what I have done. I also know that I cannot go back and change the past, nor would I wish to. Without my past choices, I would not be the person I am today and I love this person more and more as time passes. I am amazing. I am worthy of a great life. I have so much to offer others. I have talents to share. I have support and care I show to the world on a daily basis. I am worth it. I focus instead on the future and how I am living life in a positive and productive way today. What I have done is simply that, events. They are not who I am nor do those choices define who I am. I try to focus on the cause and the solution. The cause tells me what led me to where I was and helps me to prevent going down that path again. The solution allows me to continue to live in sobriety and grow in my recovery.
With that being said, will someone become an alcoholic?? Are there any signs or symptoms or checklists to warn us ahead of time?? Speaking for myself and looking back to my 3-year-old self, I had an alcoholic mind before I ever knew what liquor was. “Self will run riot” is talked about in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous many times and I absolutely had “self-will run riot” from the time I was born. As far back as I can remember I was a liar. I do not know why, but I was. I was a story-teller and part of my lying was creativity and the longing to use my imagination to entertain others, but as time went on my lying became more about how it could benefit me. It became a game. I was challenged to see if I could convince others of anything that I decided I wanted them to believe. I was very good at this and it gave me much pleasure, but it did not make me an alcoholic. My inability to deal with life on life’s terms, my “self-will run riot”, and my selfish, self-centered mindset qualified me as an alcoholic. I was restless and discontent. I could not differentiate true from false. I lived in my own world of obsession and spiritual malady.
I was an alcoholic long before I ever took the first drink and honestly the substance could have been anything. Fortunately for me, I was never interested in drugs and never dabbled with them. Each person is different and similar and when dealing with alcoholism and recovery I always try to look at the similarities in stories and not the differences.
My alcoholism took 10 years to form and it was little by little, but the drinking was a tool I used to try to heal the pain and suffering that had developed from traumatic events I suffered when I was in my childhood. It was not until January of this year, after requesting permission and furlough from the judge to attend a treatment program, did I discover/uncover this catalyst even existed. I had made no correlation between the sexual and psychological assault I had endured as a teen and the severe and paralyzing depression and anxiety I was using alcohol to cover.
For myself, the severe trauma of this type of daily abuse is directly related to my psychological and emotional suffering which resulted in alcoholism rearing its head in my life. How I wish I would have known how to deal with these feelings. How I wish anyone else, my parents, teachers, counselors would have stepped in and realized the severity of abuse and the seriousness of healing and processing that needed to take place long ago. That was not the case and as a result I have found myself and am so thankful to know who I am.
I do believe there are events we can experience that absolutely lead to problems within ourselves and the desire or need to self medicate to find relief from those feelings. This is part of my story for sure. Alcohol was a small piece of the pie. The larger problem was why I had turned to alcohol. I used alcohol to quiet the negative thoughts in my mind that had been planted when I was 11 and then again when I was 13 and 14 years old.
The self medication worked for a while until I could no longer drink enough to stop the negative thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are killers. I was convinced I was worthless and if I was worthless I should spare my family my existence. The horrible people who haunted me in my younger years and pushed me to the brink of suicide back then had now manifested as these internal thoughts I could not get rid of.
I absolutely believe that abuse can lead to addiction problems, but it doesn’t mean it always will. I think it is so important to put a stop to abuse as soon as possible and if it does occur, treatment and therapy should be sought to process the pain and gather the constructive tools you need to continue on through the rest of your life. I had never developed any tools to deal with these issues and although it took some years, the trauma began to surface until it had completely taken over my body and mind. I have finally had the opportunity to address and confront these events from my past and process them. I have finally been in a place of willingness and open-mindedness to adapt some tools and learn how to use them effectively when coping with situations in life. I am so happy to be an alcoholic and to have been put in a position I could finally see the forest for the trees and grab ahold of the chance to get help. In the end it was still my choice and is always the choice each person has.
I urge anyone who has suffered any type of abuse, traumatic experience, or anything so severe to seek help in learning how to effectively accept the events, process what has happened, and develop the tools needed to move through life despite the circumstances. I will no longer let those very sick people from my past control my life. I will no longer let anyone in my present or my future have that kind of power over me. I have found my worth through recovery and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and I have learned acceptance, forgiveness, patience, healing, and how to help others.
I have chosen the gift of a new life and anyone who wants to be a part of it may join, but there is no room for sick, negative, evil people anymore. Evil people try to control others using fear and I will no longer allow anyone to have that kind of power over me. I have found my courage again and I do not fear anymore. My faith has grown through working the 12 Steps of this program, talking with other alcoholics and addicts, living in gratitude daily, and finding a power greater than myself I can understand.
“When I am willing to do the right thing, I am rewarded with an inner peace no amount of liquor could ever provide. When I am unwilling to do the right thing, I become restless, irritable, and discontent. It is always my choice. Through the Twelve Steps, I have been granted the gift of choice. I am no longer at the mercy of a disease that tells me the only answer is to drink. If willingness is the key to unlock the gates of hell, it is action that opens those doors so that we may walk freely among the living.” Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Pg. 317