Addiction does not care what you think!

Addiction does not care what you think!

Addiction is a bloodthirsty predator. It will find victims of any age, any gender and with any color skin. Addiction is a disease that is partly physical, partly psychological and partly spiritual. Anyone who is drawn to using alcohol or drugs to change the way they feel is a candidate.

When I first got into recovery I was SO RELIEVED to learn that my habit of drinking way too much was not entirely my fault. Yes! Thank you addiction experts for that piece of important information. All this time I had been blaming myself for never knowing when to put the plug in the jug. Why couldn't I just have one drink and then stop? Why did I crave more? I believed I was a person with no self discipline. A lazy slob who, even though I had a job and raised two kids, was a secret slacker who could not control her drinking.

In recovery I was told that we alcoholics are actually hard wired this way. Our brains are very short on the "feel good brain chemicals" that normal people use to navigate our challenging lives. We addicts did not come into the world with a normal amount of serotonin which helps to balance our mood. Nor do we have the proper amount of endorphins which help to relieve pain and stress. Nor do we have then right amount of oxytocin and dopamine to allow us to experience happiness and pleasure.  

So that's the good news. It wasn't my fault.....entirely. The bad news is that my strong survival instinct drove me to seek comfort somewhere else. Since I was low on the Happy Hormones I needed to soothe myself somehow. When I discovered sugar as a kid I used it way more than other little girls...sneaking cookies from our kitchen cupboard yada yada. But when I discovered alcohol at about 15 years old.....well damn! I found nirvana. The coolest thing ever. I rarely had access to booze at that age..... but when I did, all my problems went away and everything was perfect. This is my personal story and how it affected me, and it's amazing how many fellow addicts in recovery tell a similar addiction story.

This is why I say I have been an alcoholic since just took me 15 years to discover my favorite drug. And the thing of it is, addiction doesn't care if you're a middle class girl from New Jersey, or member of the British royal family, or a felon serving a life sentence at Florence Penitentiary, Colorado. You could be rich or poor. Male or female. Any race or religion. You could have won the Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award or a Medal of Honor. You could be physically disabled or wounded in the war. You could be a priest or a plumber. You could be a transgender woman or a terrorist. Addiction is not fussy. It couldn't care less. As long as you have this particular vulnerability you are easy prey.

The part of this disease that is not physical is the habit part. This is the psychological part.  Once I discovered that alcohol was my key to happiness I was drawn to using it....USING IT. (Not just "having a drink.") USING IT for my own comfort. It became a habit. At first just to party....but eventually I became a daily drinker because I needed it. It's how I coped with life.

It was all down hill from there and I did not want to examine this behavior. No no no....too scary. I told myself that most people drank the way I did. It's normal to want to relax at the end of the day, right? After decades of drinking alcoholically I noticed how quickly I was spiraling down hill. I found myself guzzling wine that I used to sip. My hangovers would last all day until I started drinking again. And I wasn't as sharp as I used to be (that part always makes me chuckle because we learn to laugh at ourselves in recovery). I was deteriorating and I finally admitted it to myself.

Saffy Baldwin Owner Designer Celebrate Sobriety

One day I woke up and realized that I might be willing to consider trading what felt good at night to what might feel really great in the morning. Waking up with a clear head and energy to do my job (I had to make a living...duh!) WILLINGNESS. Where did this willingness come from? It hadn't been there the day before. Looking back on this experience I definitely see this as Grace. The Universe that has the power to lift the sun above the horizon every morning may have just intervened in my little life and brought me Willingness.

Willingness opened the door for this alcoholic in 2008. There are many ways to get clean and sober. Any addict who is willing can seek a rehab program, a detox method, a religious approach. There are choices. Me? I chose Alcoholics Anonymous because that's all I knew about. So far it has worked for me. I have maintained my sobriety without relapse for many years and have learned something about living a sober life. I have learned life skills that have allowed me to find self forgiveness, flexibility, peace and serenity.

We in recovery are the lucky ones. Addiction is a killer. A rapacious predator. When I designed the logo "Recover or Die" I was not exaggerating in order create a cool/scary shirt. I was telling the truth. I find that maintaining a healthy FEAR of relapse helps me walk the razor's edge of addiction.

Thank you for reading my story.

Sending love and blessings to you all -

Saffy Baldwin, Grateful Alcoholic

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