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Professional Mother Struggling With Addiction
I’ll be talking to Andrea about her addiction and her recovery from addiction. Andrea is a client at the Gault House Sober Living Environment in Santa Cruz, California. Andrea is 43 years old and has eleven days clean. Congratulations, Andrea. Welcome to the podcast.
Andrea, how did your addiction start?
It was basically a party scene type of thing. It was Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and when all my friends went to work on Monday. I only did that for a little while. I couldn’t go back to work because I would carry my partying into my weekdays and I never stopped. I was different from my friends in that way.
How old were you when you first started your addiction?Andrea works as an Executive Assistant in Silicon Valley, but this did not protect her from addiction. Andrea is 43 years old and shares her journey. Andrea has eleven days clean from alcohol, meth and marijuana. Click To Tweet
I was about 23 years old. I was a young mom at nineteen when I had my first baby. I’m married as well. When my first one was one year old, we found out I was pregnant with my second. They’re only twenty months apart. I had two kids at the age of 21.
Why do you think you used drugs?
I didn’t realize that I had addiction problems while I was in it the first go around. I’ve been in the program for a while. I realized that it had a lot to do with my upbringing. I was raised by my stepdad and my mom in a church that was pretty much a cult. I was unable to have a normal life as the kids did that I went to school with. It had an impact on me as far as my happiness. I was miserable as a child. I had fun sometimes, but looking back now I walked on eggshells. I was not a normal kid. I moved out of the house when I was seventeen. I was working full-time while the rest of my friends were in college, but I was okay with that because I could not live by my parents’ rules anymore. I ended up getting married young and started around 23 when my husband and I got a divorce or at least separated. I started meeting new people and going out. I hit the San Francisco party scene pretty hard and I got to know a lot of people. It was easy to get out there and to party with them. Everything was readily available so I never had a hard time finding a good time.
It started out with drinking, weed and coke. It got a little bit more hardcore with the methamphetamines and the GHB, Special K, a lot of ecstasies. For some reason, the meth was something I could not put down. I gave it several years of my life from about the age of 23 to 32. It was a while and I was a daily user. I got to the point where I couldn’t even function without it. I lost many jobs. I’m a very dependable employee when I’m sober, but that stuff got me. I was not able to even hold down a job. I was skinny at the time. I had expired tags on my car. The first thing that happened was a bicycle cop was in the parking lot waiting for me because I had expired tags on my car. He called back up. They searched my car. They found meth in my car and I went to jail for the first time.
That was not a wakeup call. I didn’t even show up to court. I could have got a deferment the judge says. Instead, I had to end up hiring a lawyer because I had a warrant out for my arrest and they gave me Prop 36. In Prop 36, I had to go to these meetings. At the time I’d only snorted meth. I ended up meeting people who are more hardcore who shot it and smoked it. That began my smoking run with methamphetamines and it was a good one. A lot happened during that time. My kids’ dad and I were in a custody battle. I thought I was fooling everybody, but the only person I was fooling was me when I’d go into the courtroom looking I was strung out. The judge was good to me in the fact that he gave me half custody of my girls. We shared physical and legal custody of the girls. I couldn’t stop it and I would be late to pick them up. I was not reliable.
It got to the point where they didn’t even want to be with me. There was a time where I couldn’t pay my bills and the electricity was shut off. I ended up getting an eviction notice and I lost my place. That resulted in me having to give the kids up to my ex-husband and living in a car. I did that for about a year and I did not want help. I wanted to stay in the life where I knew that I’d be able to get high every day. I never resorted to selling myself or anything like that. It was an embarrassing situation. I wouldn’t even call it humbling because it was ugly. I was hanging out with whoever I knew had it and I had no morals, no dignity and I’d lost who I was. I ended up going to Turlock into this home and you had to be sober to live there. It was different than the Gault House. It was run by some jerks and it was unhappy. I stuck it out for three months. Even when I got out of there, I still used.
My parents wouldn’t take me back in. I didn’t have anywhere to go, but I had this one friend who is still in my life now. He was loving enough to take me in. He lived in Modesto at the time. I went ahead and lived with him and his mom and his stepdad. It was humbling for me because I felt low and I still didn’t want to stop using. I managed to find it wherever it was that I went. We at one point ended up at his sister’s place in Mountain House and I continued to use. If I go back, there was a man in my life or a guy in my life that I was seeing while I was using. I felt funny and I went to the doctor. I was stepping on the scale and I was 85 pounds. This was at the age of 30. It ended up I was pregnant. I didn’t know what to do. There’s no way that the baby was going to be okay. I had used every day, all day for years. I had a decision to make, which was one of the hardest ones in my life. I know a lot of women go through it, but I couldn’t go through with the thought of bringing somebody into this world that I had hurt already before they were even formed.
I still feel it was the right thing to this day and decided not to go through with having the baby. That is something that haunts me all the time. The reason I go back to this is that I was still using when I was living at his sister’s house in Mountain House. He and I were still together off and on. We were off and on for years before that. I’ve known him for many years. He was not a user. He was normie but he loved me. He would take the bad and the good, whatever I could give he would take. I was using and thin and a rack of bones again years later. I should know because I already had two kids and they’re healthy and they’re wonderful. I thought I knew my body. I’m a hypochondriac, so I think something’s wrong with me all the time. I don’t know why I didn’t know, but I was cramping badly. There was no sign of pregnancy at all and this is years later. I went to the restroom and miscarried right at that point. The fire department came first. The ambulance came. I had to go to the hospital. All these things were going on that I was doing to myself, self-sabotage because I could not stop using methamphetamines. It was killing me. It was making it so that nothing happy was happening in my life.
For somehow, some way I cleaned up for about a month and I got a job. I was getting over that trauma. I worked there and I was clean for a while, but it would be weekends or whenever I could get my hands on something, I’d still use that meth. I basically was working for this company in the accounts payable department and I had a company credit card. This is one of the most embarrassing and shameful things I’ve ever done and I’m still paying for it to this day. I got caught up using the card for personal purchases and ended up getting caught and going to jail. I served some time for that. I knew I needed to be bailed out because I had court on a certain date, a little bit after I was booked. It was to get my youngest daughter back. She did not want to stay with her dad and his girlfriend anymore. I knew I had to get out of jail in order to be able to make it to court and to get her back. She was depending on me. I was able to get bailed out and make that court date. I got her back and that’s when I got clean. It was a miracle to me that I was able to get her back that easy, one court date. It was honored and I had nothing but happiness and thankfulness in my heart.
At that point is finally when I got clean from methamphetamines and never used again. It caused me to lose my children. It caused me to lose several jobs. It caused me to lose my place. It caused me to lose myself. It caused me to miscarry and have to give up a baby. It caused me a felony for embezzlement. It still impacts my life now because I’m paying restitution on that felony. It’s on my background. I can’t go and get a job, that’s why I need to keep doing that. I was doing pretty well for a couple of years. All of a sudden when I got into this seat I’m in right now. I’m in a stressful job. I don’t need to go into how I got this job. It was a startup. I knew I needed to get into a startup because they don’t do backgrounds. We ran out of money. We got acquired by an established company and it happened that I got in through the back door. I’m in a seat that’s pretty stressful. It’s high energy. There’s a lot of responsibility that goes with it. I’m blessed that I have the best boss with much compassion ever that I could ever ask for. It is stressful and I found myself going home and having a cocktail every night.The Twelve-Step program shouldn't just be a thing for addicts at all because it makes you a better person. Click To Tweet
I was big into working out for a few years there. When I got into this seat, this role, the working out went by the wayside because I didn’t have time to work out when I needed to get home and make a drink. That was first and foremost for me. Even when I was sick, I was like, “I need a drink. I’m going to drink,” because it’s all that made me feel better. I was a jerk in front of my daughter that lived with me. She ended up moving out. All the while I’m like, “It must be her.” I literally would drink until I was so intoxicated, I could not walk. I’d pass out. I would be hung over but the hangovers totally stopped it. I remember a friend asking me, “You don’t drink at work, do you?” I go, “No. If I drink at work, that’d be a problem.” All of a sudden, without me even realizing the way my disease was progressing, which at this time I did not even believe it was a disease. As far as me drinking, it was an all evening thing and that was it. Either I was hung over the next day or I wasn’t, but I would drink every night and on the weekends.
Eventually, I drink in the mornings before I went to work because I felt like a mess. I drink all day long at work, to a point where I wouldn’t even get drunk anymore. I forgot what it felt to feel good from alcohol. I know it’s a cool buzz and all that good stuff in the beginning. Eventually, alcoholism turns into a mess. There’s no fun in it. Not for me anyway. There were no hangovers because I needed it to function. I was eventually completely addicted to alcohol. I would drink vodka straight. No mixers because that was extra calories. I started missing work. I was driving under the influence. I never got caught up. There never was a wakeup call. I was a little bit pressed. My best friend and my sister showed up at my house one morning. It was 9:00 AM on a Tuesday, September 11th, 2018. They took me to Kaiser because I have Kaiser. I had been drinking for a few days and I’d missed work. My boss knew what was up, he’s not stupid. I went to Kaiser with no appointment. We show up there around 10:30 AM and the woman or the doctor who the one was taking non-appointments, it’s called a crisis line or something like that. She comes out, ends up being the person who is the main decision maker with residential.
I don’t even know what it was because I was always drunk. I could basically go to bed, wake up and go to Kaiser for a CDRP, which I tried before that. I tried outpatient three times. My boss put me through it. I wouldn’t go to meetings. It never worked for me. I’d be drunk there or I’d get drunk after. I’d test dirty there. They were pressing for residential. I’m like, “No, I can’t do that.” Finally, it was either that or I was going to probably drink myself to death. I knew that. The doctor that ended up taking those without appointments that morning was the decision maker for residential. I didn’t even have to go through the approval process. It basically was like, “I’ll call the camp and I’ll call the MPI in Oakland.” I remember her saying, “One’s a hospital setting and one’s outdoors,” and I was like, “I don’t care what they are. I’m hoping that they don’t have a bed available for weeks,” because I knew it was inevitable but I was not ready. I wanted to go home and drink. That morning I’d run out of alcohol, so I did some cocaine that I had left over for months ago. I smoked the rest of my weed. I was pretty lit when I went in there. I didn’t even know what was going on. Twenty minutes later, they hadn’t even finished taking my vitals and they got a call from the camp saying there was a bed available. I needed to be there that day by 2:00 in order to check in and get my bed.
I had 25 minutes to pack. I was in total denial. My sister’s like, “That’s all you’re going to pack?” I’m like, “Yes,” thinking I’m not going. I’m not going to waste my time but I went. I was there. At the camp is where I learned that addiction is a disease. I never believed that. I thought I was weak. I thought I couldn’t handle life, which is true. With the right tools, knowledge and program, if I work it the right way and stay with the right type of people, go to meetings and do what they say, I can handle life sober. I’m learning that. There wasn’t a bed available anywhere when I got out of the camp. I was there for 45 days. We tried to find one and it wasn’t happening right away. I went home. I was okay for a few days. It was a wrap. I missed a day at work, which is crazy because I had gotten back after being gone for a couple of months. I drank all day until I passed out. I wake up, drink more, pass out, wake up and drink more. This happened all day Thursday night, Friday and Saturday. It would have continued through Sunday night. I probably missed work on Monday because that was my routine, but it just so happened I had some sisters that love me.
One was in the Gault House and one is at Lotman, and there were girls that I met at the camp. We only knew each other 30 days and they came all the way to Hayward, picked me up and brought me out here to Santa Cruz. I got a room at the Gault that Sunday night. I’m forever thankful because that’s where I’m at now. I know for a fact I was sick from drinking. If I had stayed home, I’d have continued. I probably would have been hospitalized because I had not been hungover in at least two years because I needed the alcohol to function. I had gone through withdrawals and I had come out of that at the camp. When I got out, I thought I could drink as much as I could before I went in. It was a no-go because I was ill for at least two days. I have eleven days clean now. I’m grateful. I have my job. It’s still the same stress level, but I am coping because I come home to the Gault House and I go to meetings everyday or evening. My family is supportive. They’re proud of me. They’re happy. I feel healthy. My kids love being around me. They call me all the time. My life has changed now. I’m thankful.
What did your early recovery look when you were at the camp?
I felt every emotion that you could possibly feel. The first few days I was a little bit timid. I was taking it all in, not scared but a little bit. I was soft, where I was nice to everybody. The second week I was happy. I have a problem with people telling me what to do, authority figures and I have a feeling it’s because of the way I was brought up in such a strict home. We had family weekend the second weekend that I was there. It’s the tail end of my happy week. My sister and my eldest daughter were there for a family day on Sunday and we had communication that day. We all talked. About two out of the twelve clients that were in there with their families said they extended. All of a sudden, “Everybody’s extending, mom. You should extend too.” I was looking forward to getting out of my 30 days. Also I don’t like things to be other people’s idea. I wanted it to be my idea. If I was going to extend, it would be my idea and I didn’t like that. It sent me into this depression for a few days. It was turmoil. I could not even be myself. I was unhappy. My sisters were concerned. At the camp, my counselor got me through it. He lit a fire under me and got me to break down in the process group. We had a process group every day. That’s when I came out of that depression and I decided on my own I was going to extend because he said, “Now that you took your mask off, it’s time to get to work.”
What do you think about the Twelve-Step Program?
I’m new to the Twelve-Step program. I don’t even have a sponsor yet. I believe that from what I hear and from knowing what the steps are that everybody should do the twelve steps. I don’t think that it should just be a thing for addicts at all. It makes you a better person and I look forward to starting the work once I find somebody to do that with.
What does your future look like?Sobriety first. Click To Tweet
I could go one way but I won’t even entertain that thought. Let’s say the sober Andrea, I want to go back to school. I’m in the legal department at work and I want to learn everything there is to learn about the legal system and the job that I do corporate law and in-house council anyway. I want to be the best employee and I want to be stellar. My boss is stellar and he deserves a stellar employee. I want to be an awesome mom. I know that both my daughters will one day get married and have their own kids. I want to be an awesome grandmother who’s healthy and able to play and has the means to spoil my grandbabies. I’m not married now. I am in a relationship. I don’t know where that’s going to take me. However, I’m not worried about that. All I’m focused on is my sobriety and my job. Sobriety first, without that I’d be a mess at work. Unfortunately, my boss knows me now. I can’t get by with anything even if I tried, but I don’t want to. It’s all about sobriety, but my future looks bright.
Andrea, thank you so much. Thank you for joining us on the show. To our audience, we wish you to stay sober and be happy.
Andrea is 43 year old, female from the San Francisco South Bay Silicon Valley area.
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