Insecurity is often the factor that leads to addiction and abuse of drugs. Growing up with Tourette’s, Clara found that smoking weed was an outlet from her illness which then led to drinking and getting addicted to alcohol. At the age of 20, she knew it was becoming a problem when she cheated on the perfect guy and stole money from her parents. She got tired of being angry with herself and the people around her and chose to work the 12 Steps of Recovery. In her early days of recovering from alcohol addiction, she shares how being present means being accountable and also being excited about life.
In this episode of stories of addiction, I will be talking with Clara about her addiction and her recovery from addiction. Clara was a client at the Gault House who relapsed at alcohol. She used alcohol as if she was in army, admitted to it, and was put on an enhanced service contract. She kept using and decided not to come back. After a month in Fresno, Clara decided to come back to the Gault House to get recovery again.
Listen to the podcast here:
Clara Experience with Alcohol, Cocaine and Heroin
Clara is 23 years old and is a student in Santa Cruz. How did your addiction start?
My addiction started when I was around sixteen and I started smoking pot. I always thought, “It’s just weed.” Everybody told me, “It’s a gateway drug,” and I pretty much thought that was bullshit. I basically started smoking because I was always really insecure growing up. I have Turrets and it was really bad when I was young. I didn’t so much yell things as like make small noises. I had a lot of weird twitches and compulsive behaviors. I was very insecure about that growing up because kids pointed it out. When I finally found an outlet through smoking weed, I felt edgy and I found friends through that. Even if you have nothing else in common, if you do the same drug, there you go. That’s pretty much where I started.
I started drinking when I was maybe about sixteen or seventeen, it was around the same time. I always had this obsessive feeling to push myself as far as I could possibly go. I would drink until I passed out and then I’d wake up and just want to drink some more. I didn’t think it was a problem until I was about twenty. I went through a bad breakup when I was nineteen. I cheated on this amazing guy with a mutual friend of ours. The whole situation was fucked up and I felt so guilty and so shameful about it that I decided that I needed to punish myself. That was when I started drinking alcoholically. I wasn’t 21 yet, so I’d get somebody I worked with to buy me a bottle of Jameson or vodka or something and then I would just drink until I passed out. Or I’d go out to a party and drink until I blacked out and end up naked and confused somewhere. I definitely think that my addiction started when I was about sixteen, but it didn’t escalate until I was about nineteen or twenty.
Why do you think you used drugs?
I used drugs to fit in was a huge part. At least that’s where it started. After awhile, it became a punishment. After it stopped being a punishment and I realized that I couldn’t stop, it was to drown out the feelings I had. I hadn’t made amends to anybody. I had done so many shitty things to people when I was fucked up. It became a way to escape all the shame I felt and a way to keep hating other people because if I was always fucked up, I never had to go and deal with things. I didn’t have to deal with the fact that I slept with my friend’s boyfriend and ruin their relationship or all the horrible things that I’ve said to people, just screamed in their faces over petty, small things that weren’t a big deal. I had so much anger that I wanted to get out. I was so angry at myself and I hated myself so much that it spilled over onto other people.
What drugs did you use and how often did you use, Clara?
My drug of choice is alcohol. I generally used every night until I was too hung-over to keep using. With alcohol, it was usually a cycle of drink until I pass out, wake up, keep drinking if I could or wake up and be so viciously hung-over that I was in bed for two days throwing up until I was weak. I felt like a shriveled shell of a person. It was a horrible. After a while, I started doing cocaine because honestly that way I could drink more. That escalated very quickly. I was unemployed at the time, so I was doing it most every night up until the morning until I was out. If I wasn’t too hung-over and sick, I would buy the next day.
I was dating this guy and whenever he bought it, I would pretty much do all of his too. If it was in front of me, I was going to be doing as much as I possibly could. After a while, I went to my first rehab. It was really helpful. I stayed sober for about two months and then I started dating somebody else. He overdosed on heroin. We still stayed together after that. After a while, I relapsed on alcohol. We both were kicked out of our SLEs. That was when I did heroin for the first time and I was really drunk when I did it. He took the needle off of a syringe and he shot it up my nose and I remember begging him to shoot me up. He refused because I was hammered and he kept telling me, “You’ll die if I do that.” I told him, “Who cares? It’s fine. I’m not going to die and if I do, whatever. I’m fucked up. It doesn’t matter to me if I die because I’ll be dead. Fuck my family and all the people that love and care about me.” I wanted to die. I didn’t care about living. At least I didn’t when I was in that state of mind.
I did heroin maybe four or five times. It’s honestly hard to keep track. I never shot it up. He always pumped it up my nose. Every single time, I begged him to shoot me up. After that, we went to his parents’ cabin. I got really drunk and the next morning, we were supposed to meet up with his parents but instead, I decided that I would steal their bottle of vodka and drink until I blacked out again. We left and did not meet up with his parents. We drove back to Santa Cruz and this is when I started to break down after this run. I woke up and we were somewhere in Santa Cruz. I didn’t know where we were but I knew exactly why we were stopped there. I turned to him and I said, “What are you doing? Why are we here?” He said, “I’m buying drugs.” I remember screaming at him, calling him like a worthless drug addict. I punched him in the face and it was unbelievable that I could say these things while being drunk, after everything that I had already done. Eventually I calmed down and after I calmed down I said, “Go buy drugs because I want to do them.”
How did you afford your drugs? What did you do to get your drugs?
I spent all my savings on cocaine. That was pretty much how I did it at the time. After that, I had to slow down. That’s why I always went back to alcohol because it’s cheap and I can always afford alcohol. I could always get together enough money or change. My Dad has this huge bowl of quarters in his office and I would take all of his quarters and go buy alcohol. As far as the cocaine went, I spent all my money on it, ended up getting another job, spend everything I made at that job on cocaine. I stole from my parents and I felt so guilty about that. I only did it the one time and then a maybe a couple of weeks later, that’s when I went to my first week. When I was doing heroin, my parents had given me a little bit of money. They were supporting me at the time because I was supposed to be in recovery. I spent all the money that they had given me on alcohol and drugs. The guy I was dating also spent all the money his parents had given him. It’s like we were these spoiled, loved children that took what their parents had given them and proceeded to destroy their lives. It was really, really unfair to my family. I would work as much as I could. I still called out a lot because I was hung-over. I worked as much as I could and I spent pretty much every last dime on getting fucked up.
What caused you to turn around your drug use that you do?
I was tired of wanting to die. I thought a lot about killing myself for awhile. I had a lot of prescription drugs and there were multiple times when I looked up how many pills is going to take to kill me. There was a night where I half-assed try to hang myself. I wanted to die but I just couldn’t do it. I was tired of that. I was tired of feeling like a piece of shit all the time. I was tired of not living up to the potential that I know that I have. I’m a smart person. I’m a hard worker. I’m kind and I’m good to people but only when I’m sober. I knew that while I was fucked up. Just knowing that, that I had that potential, that’s what drove me to go to the three rehabs that I went to.
What did your early recovery days look like for you?
I’m in early recovery now. I’ve got a few days. I’m anxious, afraid. I have a lot of those obsessive-compulsive tendencies that are coming back because I can’t drown them out. I’m focused and I’m not flaking on people. I’m able to see a future for myself.
What do you believe are the keys to recovering from addiction?
I think honesty, being honest with yourself, being honest with others, owning up to the things that you did wrong. It takes a lot of courage to recover. Courage can falter and that’s when you relapse and that’s okay. Relapse is definitely a part of my story but it’s having the courage to keep coming back even though it didn’t work before, not giving up.
What’s your opinion of the 12-Step Program?
The 12-Steps are awesome, honestly. People don’t understand them. I definitely didn’t before I was in the program. I thought it was a cult. I was raised very religiously and I had a lot of resentments against God and anything concerning God. Coming into the program and really seeing the kinds of people that worked the 12-Steps and the way that you can work them and do them right but also be true to yourself, it’s a god of your own understanding. In my opinion, you can be an atheist and work the 12-Steps.
What worked for you in recovery?
For me, the tenth step is very important; doing a daily inventory. I’m looking at the things that I did or thought or felt that day that could possibly be a risk. It’s important to catch things early. I isolate, personally. When I start to catch myself isolating, I try to nip it in the bud. Self-awareness is extremely important because it’s you. You’re in control of your program. Nobody’s going to force you to be sober. You can get a sponsor and they’ll support you, but that’s all they can do. It’s you. You have to be accountable.
Tell me what your future looks like for you.
I’m looking forward to starting school. I’ve been wanting to go to school for years and years and I’ve dropped out four times because I had other things to do. I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge, challenging myself, challenging my intelligence. There are so many things that I’m interested in and so many things that I could be capable of now that I’m sober, now that I’m present. Who knows, political science or archeology or literature. These are things that I love and care about but I never had time for before. I’m excited about it.
Clara, thank you so much for joining us on the Stories of Addiction podcast. To our audience, we wish you to stay sober and happy.
Clara is 23 years old and she is currently a student. Clara has been to 3 Residential Treatment centers and this is her second stay at Gault House in Santa Cruz, California.
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