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Addiction Recovery Research Center

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

2 Riverside Circle

Roanoke, VA  24016

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Phone: 540-315-0205

Email: iqrr@vtc.vt.edu

Media Inquiries:

John Pastor, FBRI Director of Communications

Phone: 540-526-2222

Email: jdpastor@vt.edu

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Alissa's Story 

“It seems like everyone has a story to tell. My social media news feeds are littered with links to blogs describing stories of wedding planners gone mad, and crayons melted into car seats. Well, I guess you can say I’m hopping on that wagon, in more ways than one. The only difference is, I’m sharing a less glamorous portrayal of life. I don’t have kids, I’m not a cook, and I don’t have the end all cure for cellulite. I’m writing for those of us who struggle with something a little needier and much less cute than a crying two-year old. I’m writing about my story of a relationship that is high maintenance, kicks you when you’re down, but you can’t seem to leave it. A relationship that goes by many names, and manifests itself in people of all shapes and sizes. I’m writing this with the hopes of helping anyone out there, who stops and says, “That sounds just like me. I’m not alone!” I hope that you can learn, find comfort, or just sheer entertainment from my stories. In return, I hope to find comfort in knowing that there are others out there like me. Now here I am, ready to show the world, me in progress…


I’d officially hit MY rock bottom. For years I’d struggled with a drinking problem. The thought of alcohol slowly trickled into my daily thoughts. Thoughts like “when will I get my next drink, do I need to stop on my way home and restock, when will this movie end so I can get a drink, should I take my car or will I be able to ‘drive’ home”. Eventually, these thoughts expanded to include the overwhelming guilt about the amount I drank, “how many calories did I just consume, what permanent damage had I caused my body, I needed to cut back, did I have enough money in my bank account to pay the bar tab, and I’m so embarrassed for acting like that last night”. These thoughts took up so much real estate in my mind that I didn’t have much room for much else.
Throughout my adult years, I engaged in the typical twenty-something activities: attending college, spending time with friends, hanging out at local bars and restaurants. I always viewed my behavior as the typical behavior for someone my age which usually consisted of consuming alcohol at nearly every event. It seemed like every activity included drinking alcohol in some form, whether at a sporting event, backyard BBQ, holiday party, and the list goes on. This behavior continued until I realized that it was not normal. And then I swept those thoughts under the rug and continued down the dark path. I realized that alcohol was beginning to become a priority in life and was my crutch to processing emotions, handling responsibilities, and addressing the stresses of everyday life. The numbing effects became my go-to answer for dealing with anything difficult or anxiety inducing. That was my solution until I found that the more I drank, the more unmanageable my life became.


At the end of last year, I started making some major lifestyle changes. I’m not just talking about a healthier life with my physical body, but a healthier life for my mind and soul. I started eating cleaner, making my own bath and body products, and trying to eliminate many of the toxins in my life. After years of smoking, I kicked the habit to the curb…we all know that’s not easy. Finally, I made a huge step to reduce how much I drink. I realized that my healthy efforts were flushed down the toilet with my 12 pack of Miller Lite. I began with switching the type of drink I consumed, avoiding aluminum cans, and purchasing trustworthy brands. This change lasted only so long, and before I knew it, I was back to my Miller Lite, and catching up for lost time. As my path became darker and darker, I began to draw a clear line between my relationship with alcohol and the stress in my life.


This understanding flipped the switch, so to say, that the only way I will achieve my full potential in life is through the complete abstinence from alcohol. I knew that in order to be successful in sobriety, I needed to reach out to those in recovery who have gone before me and who are going through the same changes as me. So, after many hours of Googling, I joined various online communities where the experience of sharing my story, as well as learning from others has provided more comfort and a feeling of belonging than I can ever describe.
So, here I am, days shy of my one year soberversary, to tell you that it is possible. And life is so much better on the other side. Sure, you’ll have your ups and downs, but nothing worth having is easy. So, for those of you who have read this and said, “that sounds like me!”, ask yourself: Why am I here? Who do I want to be? I’m a work in progress, but I’m finally figuring out the answers to those questions. And that’s why I won’t drink today!”