I had my first taste of alcohol when I was eight. I was at a family wedding, and my cousin and I decided it would be great fun to go around taking sips from the grown-ups’ cups as they talked or were out on the dance floor. We both got totally smashed, but so was everyone else so no one seemed to notice.
By age 11, I was an expert at watering down my parents’ vodka to where they would never even take notice of it. My friends and I would smuggle it up to my room in cans of orange soda with no one the wiser. By the time I was 14, I had made a deal with the 17-year-old who lived up the block and was somehow able to get served; he’d buy me a pint of whiskey every week, and I would write his papers for school.
I had my driver’s license exactly nine days when I got my first DUI. Six months later, my license was suspended, and I was heading to rehab.
Like most addicts, I was scared to death when I first got there. I couldn’t imagine a life without drinking, but at the same time, I also couldn’t imagine having a life while continuing to drink. I wondered how I would stay sober after I went back home to the same neighborhood with the same friends. At 16, I couldn’t just up and move and start over somewhere new. I had to go back and live with my parents.
People, Places, and Things
While I was in rehab, I learned that people, places, and things absolutely do matter when it comes to remaining sober. As a young person new to sobriety, I was being tossed back into the lion’s den, having to return to the same neighborhood and attend the same school.
Fortunately, I also learned that there are ways in which young people, like myself, can thrive in their sobriety despite the unique challenges we face.
- Speak Up – Peer pressure is huge for those of us addicts who are in our teens or even our twenties. Don’t be afraid to say no! The important thing to remember is that all of your friends aren’t walking in your shoes. They are not going to suffer if you relapse. Only you will.
- Get Connected – Find adults you can rely on who have your best interests at heart, such as your parents, and talk to them about your challenges and decisions. Allow yourself to benefit from their life experiences.
- Hit the Books – There are a lot of misconceptions out there about drugs and alcohol use. Doing some research and getting educated on the facts will help you stay sober. Remember, knowledge is power.
- Take Responsibility – What you do is even more important than what you say. Set an example for others by making your life, health, and safety your first priority.
- Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help – If you or someone you know is struggling with their sobriety, contact an adolescent drug and alcohol center for help.
Did you know that 90% of people who are in recovery will relapse at least once in the first four years? It doesn’t necessarily mean failure. It often takes time to fully embrace a sober lifestyle. The most important thing you can do is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, figure out what caused your relapse, and make different choices the next time.
Remember, one of the best ways to recommit yourself to your sobriety is to attend 12-step meetings regularly.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, or you just have questions, please call Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available today.