Addiction 101: Recovering from addiction is a lifelong process
“Recovery is harder than my job sometimes.”
These are the words of 26-year-old Drew Sedwick who has been “clean and sober” for just over six years.According to Alcoholism.com, people who have been successful in overcoming their dependence on alcohol and other drugs usually refer to their new lifestyle as being in “recovery.”
“Oh yeah. Recovery is definitely a lifestyle,” Sedwick said. “[When] the people I meet invite me out for a drink, I have to come up with an excuse so as to not give the first impression that I am crazy. ‘Uh yeah sorry, I know we just met but I have a drinking problem and tons of baggage…but I still want to be friends’, I don’t know. It just comes out wrong.” So who does Sedwick share his struggle with?
“I also go to AA meetings constantly. This is a small town so I have really gotten to know the people I see three times a week,” he said. “This truly is a lifestyle because I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to just be myself.”
He continues, “Between work, meetings and time with my sponsors, I don’t have a lot of time to think. Which could be looked at as a good thing.”
According to Sedwick, a sponsor is someone who has been in the recovery process longer and advises another person on their twelve steps. “There are rules but not everyone follows them. For instance, people say that sponsors should be the same gender, which I actually agree with, but some people I know have girl sponsors.”
Sedwick relates his alcoholism to his long term depression. “I was sad all the time. I couldn’t put my finger on why. I was never self-involved enough to go to a therapist or anyone of that sort. When I got my third DUI, I was court ordered to a rehab center here in Arizona. They split us up into different color groups. There was an orange group and a silver group and so on. I was in yellow, which meant that I had long term depression.”
“Now that I am clean, I feel I must do things to occupy my time.” Sedwick works at a retail clothing store here in Prescott. “I like my job. I get to meet new people. Like I said before, I like to keep my mind busy.”
While there isn’t a lot of free time for Sedwick, others in recovery suffer from the opposite problem. Yavapai College student Greg Apfel said, “I can’t find a job. The economy sucks. I need more to do to curb my addictive personality.”
Apfel has been sober for just over a year. “I still think about using all the time. Some weeks are worse than others. If I don’t get a lot of homework, I have more free time. More free time for pondering life and thinking about using.”
Apfel is studying Biology at Yavapai. “I live off an education fund that my parents set up,” sand Apfel. He used to attend Arizona State University but moved back home halfway through his sophomore year.
“I just couldn’t handle it. I was abusing drugs and never went to class. I knew I had to come back to Prescott if I wanted to survive.”
Apfel doesn’t go to meetings. “They just don’t do anything for me. I mean, I have a sponsor and all that, but you want to know my real motivation for staying clean? My looks.”
Apfel reaches in his wallet and pulls out a picture of himself.
“This is what I looked like when I was using. Gross huh? Look at my face. Look at how skinny I am!” He flexes and points to his bicep. “Look at that. I work out before school everyday. This is my real motivation for staying clean.”
“I smoke cigarettes though. I started in rehab. It was nice to take a break from talking about those we hurt from our addictions. I still smoke because I see it as a comfort thing.” He continues, “I will quit eventually. I just don’t feel it is necessary just yet.”
“I also really enjoy music,” says Apfel. “I don’t play an instrument or anything. I used to DJ before I didn’t care about anything but drugs. I am thinking about getting back into it.”
Sedwick also speaks of music very highly as an alternative to using.
“I play music with the little free time I have. Me and my rehab buddies keep in touch and when we get together every few months, we play music,” he says. “I play the drums. It is really great to appreciate the little things in life. And I really do now.”