Lectures at the fralin biomedical research institute
Lectures at the fralin biomedical research institute
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“My name is Ginny. I’m a 37 year old mother, wife, daughter,and friend. I’m also an entrepreneur/business owner and many other things, but most of all I’m a recovering ADDICT. The only reason I tell people this is because I think I can help by sharing my story of addiction, struggles and constant recovery and how it’s helped mold me into the person I am today. What do I get out of it, you ask? Feeling good about myself , which makes me want to help other people achieve the same thing and more.
For many, many years, I have struggled with addiction. Who knows why, but here’s what I think. For me I think it was a combination of things like extremely low self-esteem, diagnosed by age 4yrs with ADHD, so then being medicated with ritalin 3 times a day and meleril at night. My parents both worked, my Dad worked 2 jobs most of the time, though I wasn’t left alone.
I guess my problems didn’t get worse until I entered high school. I experienced my first illegal drug at the age of 16yrs old. To begin with, it was just pot. I smoked on and off, ( whenever I knew someone that had any) until I started working and could afford to buy it myself.
I got married in 1990 and had our first child in August of the same year. Eventually, it got to the point where I was smoking every day, then all day every day. Then I decided I wanted to try cocaine. So, my husband got us some. Eventually that turned into the same thing, but by now, I couldn’t breathe through my nose. So, what do you think I did next? You guessed it! I started smoking it.
Well, to move this story along a little, by late 1998 early 1999, by then we had a daughter, we were doing it all the time, oh that’s right, my husband and I were both doing it. This nonsense went on until my husband didn’t have a job any more. By this point, we were in the process of being evicted, none of our bills had been paid , the only reason we had food was because my parents bought it. We were stilling smoking crack.
Then, on July 31,2002, I woke-up and it just clicked. Don’t know exactly what it was,but it was time to come clean and stay that way. I’ll save what happens next for the next installment, but for now I just want everyone to know that it can be done and that includes bettering your self-esteem. I’m coming up on my 6th year of sobriety and I have to say,”It feels amazing” to accomplish something you didn’t think you could.
Now, I run 2 businesses from the comfort of my home, always available to my family. If you’re here reading this, won’t you check out these 2 wonderful companies and what they can offer you personally and professionally.
This is one of many installments, so please subscribe or keep checking back. I’ll continue to share my story and also be making some recommendations on businesses, products, programs and many more.”
I am 49 and live alone. Like NO One is more alone than me.... Like Kung-Fu, I walk the earth alone. I have never been married or have children which in retrospect is a good thing. I thought the assessments were a good idea because I never really kept track of my using or the consequences. I've never been charged with or convicted of a drug offence. I assume it is because I look sort of BO-PEEP ish. I was abused and neglected as a young child. It started at 3 (I don't remember anything before that and 3 is fuzzy) and at 6 I told my mom, and she took no action. A psychiatrist I had, told me once that she's a narcissist. She was very passive aggressive and dismissive of my feelings. Days would go by, and she would not speak to me and was upset like I caused the abuse like I enjoyed it and participated in it, and it was my fault basically that she was divorced. We were forced into counseling when I was 8 years old when she left the child molester. By the way she didn't know him before, she married him after knowing him for 24 hours. Couple with the fact that I have zero siblings, so it was just me and her alone all the time.
I cut my mother off in 2020 because I realized that I have to for self-preservation. I started smoking marijuana when I was about 13 or 14. I was extremely promiscuous, and my mother put me out when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school made me go live with my dad which actually was a pretty good thing because for the first time in my life, I understood what love was and I met a real man for the first time. We had a neighbor that sold cocaine and he was always trying to hit on me all the time despite the fact that he was married. He would give it to me on credit and by that time by the time I was 16 or 17 I was already turning tricks, so I'd have his money right back for him I remember the first time I snorted cocaine. Sergeant Pepper's lonely hearts club band was on TV, and I thought I was the greatest movie ever ..... It was not. I graduated from snorting the smoking and then by the time I graduated from high school I was totally strung out. I was stealing from my father lying to people to get money. A lot of these years have kind of went by in a blur because I have brain fog and I do so much stuff that I just forget day to day what I do. I receive disability because I'm HIV positive and I'm in stage 5 kidney failure to which I have to go to dialysis three times a week. I don't have friends and I don't have anyone to support me doing dialysis. Funny note my mother also text dialysis and was doing so one calendar year before I started. We share the same nephrologist and when I told her that he put me online for the transplant list she said, and I quote "oh you don't want to do that" then she ruminated on whether or not she's too old to have one..... I've had seven surgeries since I started dialysis in October of 2021.
I actually had to pay someone to come and pick me up one time because my mother or anyone else was there to support me during any of this. Lately I have not worked. I'm 2 months behind on my rent but I'll make it up later in the month. I've been evicted from places before, but I don't have a car to stay in anymore. I like to read. I started reading books about stoicism and find Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius to be my favorites. Even though I've run my life off the rails, I try to look at things like they might today if they were here with us. I don't really do friendships or relationships because I can't seem to handle them. I was told by someone I did a lot of work with that I have borderline personality disorder. We work the dialectical behavioral therapy books, and she did cognitive therapy on me. I think she helped me somewhat but it's very hard to try to gauge if something is happening that's actually happening, or it's something that I think is happening
“I blended several substances. Mainly cocaine, alcohol, food, and tobacco. After periods of clean time from cocaine and alcohol I’d go back to drinking and smoking. I found it necessary to address my eating disorder to stay clean. I had to address my tobacco addiction to stay clean. I have had to address my personality disorders too. There is no hiding for me. I have had to also address my honest feelings about God since the 12 step programs worked for me but I did not believe in God. There is no pretending for me. I have to be honest with what I really think and to be honest I have had to think about what I actually believe. I don’t like religion period and I don’t really believe there is a God. So I had to admit that and be true to myself. I have had a lot of therapy and still see someone twice a week. I have depersonalization disorder pretty badly. But I am in recovery from all the addictions that were killing me one day at a time. I know I walk a razors edge as do all seriously addicted people. I have been clean from cocaine and alcohol 21 of the past 25 years. The times I added these addictions back with my other ones, I almost died many times. I am free of tobacco 6 years, and eating addictively, and no sugar, no flour, for 3 years continuously now. I have not used cocaine for at least 15 years and haven’t had a drink in nearly 10. Life is difficult. Good luck to you all.”
“I started at 13 with cigarettes, beer and pot. Little did I know at that time that that would progress until I got to the end of the road at 49. I liked the idea of escaping from reality. As I tried stronger drugs, I enjoyed the high more: hashish, mushrooms and LSD. I went on regular ‘trips’ for about 6 years. Regular use of LSD ended about 1989. However, I still see (from time to time) tracers and other hallucinations last for a couple of seconds. Then I went on to powder as LSD got scarce. In 1999 I was diagnosed with AIDS and thought I was going to die for sure. I started smoking rocks shortly after until 2006 when I found myself homeless and penniless. I moved to Wisconsin thinking that would solve the problem only to find they had crack here too. I went to my case manager and she hooked me up with an AODA counselor and a friend suggested to go to an NA meeting down the street. That was the best thing I did for myself in a long time. NA has helped me save me from myself. I realize now how bad my addiction problem was and how it started way before age 13. Today I have over 5 years clean and stopped smoking (squares) almost three years ago. I am very involved in service work in NA. If you are struggling with your addiction, try NA. It will improve your life far beyond your problem with drugs!”
“In 1989, I was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder. I disagreed and fought all forms of treatment until 1993. Standing on the curb to unlock my car, the voice that I had heard for about 2 years told me gently, “Take your medication.” This voice was the only thing I trusted in those days. I was too detached from the reality of life to believe in anything else, especially people. I had been hurt – maliciously – both emotionally and physically, to the point I trusted no one. This day was a turning point in my recovery. I began immediately taking the medications and in short order, I noticed a change. While the voice never disappeared, the paranoia lessened as did some other symptoms.
At this point in time, I was drinking quite heavily. For the better part of 6 months, I had settled into a routine of picking up a 12-pack after work. By nightfall, it was gone. Again, the voice said, “Quit drinking.” I still trusted this voice; attributed it to God the Almighty, Father of Jesus. Wanting to honor him, I immediately quit drinking, until my sister called a couple of weeks later asking me to go out to the bar with her for a few drinks. It was a crossroads. Whom do I serve? While I considered my commitment to God, I bargained that this was not a big deal. A few social drinks, what could they hurt?
I said, “Yes”.
God said, “No!”
The ensuing fear of God shook me up as a televangelist immediately reported, “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that turns around than in 100 that never left.”
I looked at the TV and saw a woman smile a sinister little smile at the camera and felt it was directed at me. I made a call to my sister and that nearly ended my drinking career.
We were raised on alcohol. It was present for Christmas, baling days, at parties, and we drank it with communion one Sunday a month. It was prevalent. Therefore, that Christmas, I drank with my siblings. Not drunk. I drank with a friend in the next town and drove home on New Year’s Eve at 3 a.m., sometime after the usual bar crowd goes home. I was plastered. The next morning, so shaken by ‘what might have happened’, I resolved never to drink and drive again and I haven’t.
I finally gave up drinking in 2009, the day we gave my son a going away party as he left for war. Guilt over what I was doing to God and my relationship with Him overcame me. It was the end. I didn’t attend meetings. I didn’t follow any of the twelve steps as they are ascribed. I followed Jesus. I do believe in the 12-step program and as I sought to quit smoking later, I joined a group to assist in that department. Still, it was God that gently/fearfully/wonderfully made the road smooth. I haven’t smoked in nearly a year.
I am currently seeking a degree in alcohol and drug counseling. Therefore, I occasionally attend AA meetings.
I was addicted to alcohol. I’ve overcome gambling in the same manner; with God’s help. It’s not to say it was easy. The fear of God – righteous fear – changes a person. The devil tried to depress, frighten and conquer my resolve at the same time. God is and always will be the Victor. I seek now to lose weight I’ve gained since quitting smoking. I seek to limit or eliminate caffeine from my diet. I will do this – by following Jesus. And in the meantime, I will be strengthened inwardly.
I look like a person who may not be all there. I may not have every hair in place and on my lot not every weed is picked or mowed, but inwardly my garden is well-attended. I still fear and have concerns, but I know when this life is over who it is that will take me home. Jesus.”
“I became ill in 2004 with several serious ailments, for almost the whole year. Just when I was starting to feel normal again I developed some neck/shoulder pain. I tried seeing a chiropractor. After three unsuccessful months, I finally went to a Orthopaedic doctor.
The Orthopaedic doctor sent me for some testing and I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet and no-lateral Carole tunnel. My shoulder pain steadily increased and I was not interested in surgery anytime soon. To help with the consistent pain the doctor put me on 5mg Percocet. Up until that point in my life I took very little medicine. Ever.
Over the years my pain got progressively worse while I developed more health issues. Bursitis in my shoulders and very painful fibromyalgia. Over the next few years my tolerance grew and so did my dosage. Then I developed Osteoarthritis in my knees. Ibuprofen only helped a little. Sometimes coming down my steps was so painful, I’d cry.
Well nine years later I found myself still taking prescription pain meds and I was still not open to the surgery for the thorasic outlet. By this time my tolerance had built until I was at 30mg of oxycodone, 2 at a time. I could usually take 2 in the morning, usually my most painful time of day and maybe get by with only needing one more later in the day. Two if I had a really physical day. My doctor was prescribing me 180 pills a month but I was only taking between 90 – 120 a month.
It wasn’t until the last year on the prescription pain meds, that I started to abuse them and it wasn’t the amount but the way I was taking them. A friend told me if I crushed them and snorted them they would work faster. During that time my husband had been having problems and we had separated. We were separated for 18 months. When we got back together, the first few months, we were friends and roommates. He is the reason I decided to come off the meds and reevaluate my medical issues. I knew I wouldn’t be able to just stop taking the meds cold turkey so I did my research and found a doctor to help me.
I met with the doctor and told her everything. Even how I had been taking the medicine. We discussed the two options I could use to wean off, Methadone and Suboxone. I chose Suboxone. I asked my doctor if I could wean off in about two months and she stated she thought it would probably take me three months due to how long I had been on and how high of a dose I was on. Well lo and behold I weaned off in three WEEKS. I had no side effects during the three week wean except maybe a little less energy. I did have some side effects after the three WEEKS but it was only diarrhea and a lot of yawning. Those two side effects were completely gone in less than six months.
So that is my experience with getting addicted to prescription medicine and getting off the medicine. There really is a lot more to my story. Enough so, that I could write a book I’m sure but it’s late, and I’m tired. If you want to know the rest, like how my husband is in Recovery too and has been since 2006 or about my DWI, I got in 2012, I’m willing to share. The funny thing is I didn’t drink a lot and I don’t miss it. Or how I am in a 12-Step program, my choice, and I like it. Please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ve always been a open book.”
“I was 47 when I suffered my first heart attack. I knew I had to change the way I was living or I would die. I didn’t go to the doctor. I went to my first AA meeting.
I didn’t drink heavily everyday, but when I did drink I drank to black-out. I wanted Scotty to beam me up and out of here. If I didn’t black out I felt like I wasted a whole lot of time and money. I got to where I couldn’t sleep until I drank a pint of scotch. I got a new boyfriend who had 20 years sobriety in AA, so I hid my booze from him and after he left my place I would pull it out of hiding. He didn’t have a clue… until I couldn’t stand it anymore and I wanted desperately to go have a good, long black out.
That’s when I had my heart attack. It scared the beegeebees out of me. When I went to my first AA meeting I still wasn’t sure I was an alcoholic, but I wanted to find out. They gave me a Big Book and told me to read it, so I did. (Sometimes I do what I’m told.) I read pg 32 where it said something about if you’re not sure you’re an alcoholic try going to a bar several times and see if you can just drink one or two drinks on a regular basis. If you can’t, then you’re an alcoholic. I didn’t have to try that. I already had. I had broke numerous promises over the years by saying I was only going to have a couple of drinks and then leave. I always had every good intention of doing just that, but good intentions fly right out the window after an alcoholic has that first drink. I knew right then and there I was an alcoholic.
I wasn’t too sure I could go the rest of my life without a drink. That took me some getting use to. Even though I grew up in a family that taught me how to have a lot of fun without the aid of alcohol, I suffer from a metabolic disorder besides alcoholism, so I have anxiety problems associated with that. The alcohol helped calm that down and let me rest. I still couldn’t imagine not being able to drink to calm my nerves. But, someone in that first meeting said “Just do the best you can one day at a time.” And that’s what I have done for over 6 years now.
I have been through the death of my brother whom I was close to, the long lingering illness of a boyfriend, two relationship break-ups, ill health myself, and 2 major job losses and I have been able to stay sober through them all with the help of my higher power and by following the 12-steps program that AA offers.
When my anxiety kicks up, I get feeling sorry for myself, or I get feeling like life sucks my sponsor showed me what I have to do. I go to meetings and/or I meditate. It works every time. With the help of my fellow alcoholics we are able to stay sober no matter what.
And life just keeps getting better and better all the time.
I currently have a job that I love writing from home. I have a new, wonderful boyfriend who is 23 years sober. And I have some of the best friends a person could find who love me no matter what, unlike my fair weather friends I had while I was drinking.
Sobriety really is rebirth to a new and better life.”
“My story begins like many others who have been either randomly plucked, lucky, blessed, or in my case desperate enough, to find themselves in recovery. As a child, I didn’t fit into my own skin. I felt less than everyone and everything from the beginning; I was a stranger in my own family.
My father was abusive, physically, emotionally and sexually. I am aware now after many tears and years in recovery that because of the abuse, I never learned how to feel my feelings. Of course, even if I had felt my feelings, there was no way I was allowed to communicate them.
Even as a small child, I always felt like I was the problem – that somehow, I was flawed, defective, that there was something wrong with me. I saw how other children reacted spontaneously to life and was acutely aware I wasn’t one of them. At the age of 5, in the playground not long after starting school, I made the conscious decision whilst watching them play in this spontaneously joyous, alien manner that I viewed with both curiosity and a sense of dread, that if I was going to survive I was going to have to learn to act like one of them.
This was one of the first coping strategies I taught myself.
‘Acting as if’ I fitted in, always with the fear and dread that I wouldn’t be found out, that my fraud wouldn’t be detected.
This feeling is still with me 14 years into my recovery journey, which has for me been about not using any mind- or mood-altering substances one day at a time.
I am not surprised that this feeling is still with me, as I practiced ‘acting as if’ for many years. I did this in many ways – acting as if I was OK, acting as if I was normal, acting as if everything internally was hunky dory. I went to great lengths to make sure everything externally looked as if I was normal, i.e. doing OK a school, getting a normal job, having a nice normal flat, nice normal clothes, nice normal boyfriend, nice normal everything, until I got into recovery aged 25.
It was then the Nice and Normal had to stop or I was never going to recover.
During the recovery process, I learned that from the age of 11 that alcohol took away the vulnerability I always felt. On top of that, it made me feel as if somehow you could not see how raw, frightened and exposed I was. Alcohol, along with the many other drugs I used until the age of 25, was my saviour, my respite, my solution. I genuinely believe that had I not found that mind-altering substances took away my fear, pain, and complete inability to feel normal, I would not be alive today.
Of course, whilst chemicals gave me something, they also took away any chance I may have had to deal with the issues that preceded their use in the first place. I would ask you to consider the fact that booze, hash, cocaine, heroin, gas, deodorant, speed, LSD, ecstasy and a few other mood-altering substances were truly my, albeit it unconventional and somewhat injudicious, reprieve from a life I had no way of living and coping with.
Recovery for me means that I acknowledge and accept how well my reliance on various substances worked over the younger years of my life – and that I am not ashamed of my previous dependence or need for them. I would also like to point out that at no time did I ever abuse these substances. They were in fact the only tools I had access to, and because of that I held them in very high regard and treated them with the utmost respect.
Recovery has taught me that when I am the abstinent addict, I am looking for a quick-fix for my particular problem with life that day. Whereas when I am in recovery, I have a desire to seek out and I expect to find a new way of living without the need for any substances in my life. For me, in my early recovery, there was a fundamental misunderstanding that abstinence cured problems such as not coming to in a stranger’s house, paying bills on time, and showing up for work on time. But it wasn’t long before I realized that most of the unmanageability of my previous lifestyle was not quickly resolved and I needed to address the underlying causes of using mind-altering substance in the first place.
This is my understanding of recovery and it is an ongoing process. These ‘underlying causes’ infiltrate everything from my attitude and reactions, to my beliefs and values. It is these things that are constantly being re-evaluated and measured against a rigorous self-inventory process, which insists that if I wish to remain in recovery there are no days off.
Yes, it is incredibly hard work, but the rewards are beyond my wildest dreams.
I have a life today that the child in me never even dared to dream about.
I have proved to myself that not only am I worthy of love and respect, but that if I am not getting it then I have to protect myself by sometimes painful actions, like letting go of some family members and old friends. I have learned to love without fear of rejection and for loves own power. I have a level of understanding and forgiveness for human frailties and compassion to oversee and get me though whatever life brings to me today. I have proved to others that I am good enough, and in that proof over time believed in the reflection they project ‘some days’.
I have learned in recovery that anger is a healthy emotion if I channel it correctly, and that the sense of injustice that is always with me can also be used to help others.
I have came through some ‘character building’ events in my 14 years of recovery, including a chosen period of poverty in order to gain a masters Degree, giving birth to a son (who was not planned) on my own, and burying close family members, some who were too young to die and some who’s deaths have left the family without an anchor.
I have also had to redefine friendships from my using days and luckily still having some in my life today. Finally, falling in love several times and finally meeting the kind gentleman and gentle man I hope to spend the rest of my life with. To know that my son will never see me under the influence, and that I can equip him with the tools of my recovery for his life, is probably the most wonderful and valuable gift of all.
In essence, to finally know that I am a clever beautiful young woman who deserves to be happy, and if I want happiness it is up to me to define it and go get it, this to me is my recovery.”