How I Got Sober: Tom L.

By Futures of Palm Beach 08/22/16

I guess it was a rationalization that it was okay to drink again because I had proven to myself I could stop for a period of time if I wanted to—but then of course I got to the point where I couldn’t stop.

How I Got Sober: Tom L.
Finding my future.

I have been sober since August 1, 2015. I drank occasionally in high school but didn’t start drinking heavily until college. I’m 50 now so that’s quite some time ago. My life before I quit drinking was very chaotic because I constantly found myself trying to remember what I had said or done and sometimes I wasn’t successful in that. There was always a fear that those moments I couldn’t remember would come back and bite me. My children didn’t want much to do with me either and that’s really tough when they’re a young age.

My childhood was pretty normal. I was an only child, my mother didn’t work and my father was an attorney. I grew up with them always having cocktails before dinner and wine during the meal and when I was of age, I’d join them. As far as I know, it was very standard.

Approximately ten years ago, I started to think I might have a problem with alcohol. I would taper off or stop drinking when my ex-wife was pregnant with our children. I wouldn’t drink because she couldn’t have anything during her pregnancy, but when the pregnancy was over I would drink again. I guess it was a rationalization that it was okay to drink again because I had proven to myself I could stop for a period of time if I wanted to—but then of course I got to the point where I couldn’t stop.

My lowest point during my addiction was being in the hospital for the fourth time in a six-month period for dehydration, which was caused from vomiting as a result of my over-drinking. One of the doctors said, “I don’t know how many times Humpty Dumpty can be put back together.” I had a cousin who passed away from drug and alcohol abuse and I was determined not to be the next one. I didn’t want them to try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I went to three treatment centers, including an inpatient rehab in 2013 and two IOPs. When I realized I still needed treatment, I found Futures of Palm Beach through an internet search. I liked the fact that it was a non-traditional approach and didn’t focus on the customary 12-step program like other facilities I had visited or talked to (even though they are 12-step friendly). That type of program hadn’t worked for me before and I needed to find and try something different.

I felt a sense of camaraderie with the other clients at Futures, and also felt that the staff really cared about me and my well-being. I wasn’t just a number; I was a person who wanted, needed and sought out help, and they were going to do everything they could to provide me with that. They do a significant amount of treatment with DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). The explanation of how the brain works and particularly the mindfulness aspect of DBT training still resonate with me. I remember that information and now I don’t just speak based on my initial reaction or just act out. I think about being in the moment and being aware; it was a different approach.

I have had some experience with Human Factors training professionally—this enhanced that. We call it crew resource management in aviation—working with my mind and myself. I also liked the variety of the groups. I know during my time there, people saw me grow and improve from the day I walked in. It’s great to see other clients have the same experience from their first day with that initial ‘deer in headlights look’ to how they looked at the end of their 30 days. I liked the variety of other treatments and approaches that were blended in to the program also. For example, Tai Chi was an exercise program but it helped me bring more focus to paying attention. Hypnotherapy was wonderful! I had never done that before and it helped me get into a daily meditation routine. I wasn’t going to the same group session everyday which helped keep me interested and focused.

As a recovering alcoholic I hate that I wasted so much time focused on drinking and finding the next bottle of vodka, as well as the time spent recuperating; time that I could have spent with my children or generally doing something else I was interested in. I lost the respect of a lot of people who trusted me. But I am fortunate to have learned that it’s not my fault. I can’t drink normally. It’s not blaming myself—it is the understanding and acceptance that this is the card I’ve been dealt. I just have to deal with it and grow from the experience. I no longer dwell on things to the point that they become detrimental. I am able to let things go.

Part of the weekly aftercare program that Futures help set up is with Legacy Freedom and their modified continuing care program. They are also non-traditional with a more holistic approach, and I’m still going regularly. Futures and Legacy could not have been a better fit for me and my needs. I also see a therapist every two to three weeks as well.

The most valuable thing that’s happened in my recovery is regaining the trust, respect and love of my children, who are now 10 and 14. Getting sober is most definitely worth the commitment, hard work and effort required because on the far side of the initial change, life actually does get much better. And as life continues to get better it becomes more enjoyable because a lot of the worry I had about covering up what I had been doing while I was drinking is now gone. I don’t have to worry about it anymore. My mind is free.

Want to learn more about Futures of Palm Beach? Reach Futures of Palm Beach by phone at (866) 351-7588 or by email. Find Futures of Palm Beach on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+.

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