What Does It Take to Stop Abusing Alcohol?
When Do You Finally Hit Rock Bottom?
Is It When You
- Run away from home?
- Destroy a 22-year marriage?
- Compromise relationships with your children?
- Are required to undergo random monitoring to keep your professional RN license?
- Complete multiple treatments for alcohol dependency?
- Are placed in a sober living house?
- Receive numerous DUI arrests?
- Spend nights in the county jail?
- Nearly lose your RN career, or
- Are placed on a 24/7 monitoring program for an entire year?
It is only when you are desperate enough to surrender and seek help that a changed life starts.
Twila is an alcoholic.
She went through each of these experiences and losses trying to control her drinking.
Early Onset Drinking
Twila grew up in a rural North Dakota farming family the middle child with two brothers. In high school she participated in basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, volleyball and track, along with FFA-Future Farmers of America.
She was social outside of school. She started drinking at age 13.
Like many students in her area, she partied on the weekends, easily getting alcohol supplied by the older siblings of her friends. “We met on the section lines and gravel pits in the country. Sometimes I drank to the extreme.”
Her dream of going to college, getting married and having a family came true. And then it all fell apart as alcohol played a growing role in her life.
Alcohol was often a part of their married social life. “We entertained other couples with children so no one had to get a babysitter. We hung out with sports parents who wanted to have a few beers after the events. There were times I wasn’t done drinking when the event ended for the night.” But being a parent and having a job often curbed her drinking, when it needed to.
The effects of alcohol helped Twila feel like she was “fitting in and being a part of.” It helped her feel comfortable in her own skin. “I was never told growing up I wasn’t good enough or that I didn’t fit in. I told myself these things. I was always trying to be somewhere else, as someone else, doing something else.” Alcohol was her solution. It worked right up until it didn’t work.
She spent many years trying to control her drinking so it would not go to the extremes. She felt guilt and shame by her behaviors around her drinking. “I knew I might have a problem when I drank to black outs or when my husband had to take care of me after I drank too much. We often had arguments about my drinking.”
She’d trick herself into thinking everything was okay because she still had things like a house, a car, a job, etc.
But she wasn’t.
Abusing alcohol cost her a lot, including her
- And most importantly, her relationships with her children and her 22-year marriage
Twila’s desire to keep her RN job defined “rock bottom” for her. “I couldn’t compromise my professional career. It was the last thing I was holding on to. I’d already failed as a mother, wife and family member.” She often felt embarrassed for not showing up to work after spending nights in the county jail for DUIs. Losing her job was too much to bear.
Rehab to Sobriety
Twila’s been to treatment for alcohol dependency twice-both at Heartview Foundation https://heartview.org/ in Bismarck, North Dakota. The first in January 2014. By this time, she’d run away from home, her marriage and her children. It was intensive outpatient treatment that lasted until March. She then attended an Aftercare program once a week. This was to last for five months.
She couldn’t stay sober.
Twila attended 12-Step Recovery meetings. She could string up a few months here and there. “I honestly didn’t want to stop drinking.” She wanted to be a ‘normal drinker,’ to control her drinking and to drink socially.
She was angry. “I was angry at the hurts I’d caused and at the life I’d destroyed for myself and others.”
Twila entered outpatient treatment again in June 2015 because her drinking had compromised her job. She took time off from work-the first time in 20 plus years. She still couldn’t stay sober.
Sober Living House
A third DUI in October 2015 resulted in Twila spending a couple months in a Bismarck women’s sober living house. “I couldn’t trust myself. Alone time was drinking time.” Consequences of that DUI required 24/7 monitoring for a year and random monitoring for her professional license. “The combination of these two monitoring programs slowed me down enough to do the honest inside work that 12-Step recovery asked me to do; as honestly as I was able to at that time.”
AA is Twila’s solution. “AA has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin. In addition, I’ve learned to be grateful and humble, and to be of service every day, especially to the next suffering alcoholic.”
There are three innate traits all addicts need to recover, according to Twila.
- Willful surrender to the disease and to a program of recovery
- Attitude of gratitude
- Humility without humiliation
Twila believes the #1 thing all those in recovery need is LOVE. “In AA, it is said that we will love you until you can love yourself.” Those still actively using need “a chance to suffer enough to seek a life in recovery” and those incarcerated need “a message of hope that life can look different. That they can press the reset button anytime.”
North Dakota Resources
Twila participates in her state’s efforts to reduce recidivism https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/recidivism and decrease incarceration for crimes involving addiction and mental health issues. Several of these organizations include:
The F5 function key on a computer keyboard is the REFRESH button.
F5 https://www.f5project.org/ is a non-profit organization headquartered in Fargo, ND. It’s founder, Adam Martin, is a five-time felon turned entrepreneur.
The organization’s mission is to reduce recidivism and to erase the stigma of being a felon and a person with an addiction.
It preaches that one’s past does not have to define one’s future and that you are your own greatest asset. You can refresh!
Twila is actively involved in this growing organization that today has men’s houses in four cities. In addition, F5 has care coordinators and peer support specialists in eight anchor cities. And, holds jail/institution meetings at facilities in seven anchor cities. “Most of the people working with the F5 project have lived the experience either as a felon, as someone in recovery or as someone with a mental illness.”
Free Through Recovery
Free Through Recovery is a North Dakota community based behavioral health program designed to increase recovery support services to individuals involved with the criminal justice system who have behavioral health concerns.
In addition, it’s worth noting that North Dakota’s First Lady, Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, https://www.governor.nd.gov/first-lady-kathryn-burgum a person in long-term recovery, has made tremendous impact on recovery efforts in North Dakota through her addiction platform.
Recovery Reinvented https://recoveryreinvented.com/ is an ongoing series of innovative practices and initiatives to eliminate the shame and stigma of addiction in North Dakota. They seek to find solutions to help people affected by the disease of addiction with proven prevention, treatment and recovery approaches.
One Day at A Time
Every night before she goes to sleep, Twila says prayers for those needing healing and forgiveness. She awakens with a prayer of gratitude and asks God how she should show up for the day.
Sending Twila prayers for strength in her continued recovery and patience and understanding in her search for purpose and self-worth. Deep gratitude for all she does for those seeking to refresh their lives.
Keep it simple. Remain grateful.
https://aa.org/ Alcoholics Anonymous
https://al-anon.org/ Loved Ones of Alcoholics
https://drugabuse.com/alcohol/ Alcohol Abuse
http://www.aahistory.com/prayer.html Serenity Prayer
https://www.alcohol.org/faq/am-i-an-alcoholic/ Am I an Alcoholic?
What Can You Do?
- Leave questions & notes of encouragement for Twila below.
- Donate to the organizations listed above.
- Encourage loved ones to seek help.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- SHARE this post with others who will be inspired & encouraged by Twila’s story.
©February 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.
Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.