Twenty-four years ago today I awoke to my first (intentional) day of abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
As I sit and write this in my comfortable living room I can’t help but consider where I would be if I had made a different decision that day.
Reduced to my carbon atoms is the most probable outcome. My wonderful son Jack would never really have known his father, he was two at this point, and so he would have forgotten about me. My amazing daughter Emily would not even exist.
I would not be sitting here in this great little house that we, my wife Ana and I, own, waiting for a team of builders to show up and begin to build an extension that we have been dreaming about since we brought this place in 1999.
Even if I had escaped the grim reaper I would have lost Ana and Jack and been back on the cobbles desperately attempting to negotiate terms of release with my addiction.
While it is axiomatic that the decision to commit to abstinence that day begun my journey to today, it’s by no means the whole of the story. Getting clean is easy; ask any addict or alcoholic, most have done it many times. My challenge was to stay abstinent, and even though my resolve that morning was strong, I had no real idea about how to maintain and support my… my what? I didn’t even have a name for it, I learned one later.
I was in a hospital bed when I awoke that morning, a specialist ward in a much larger psychiatric hospital. I kind of wish I could say that the staff and the program there were what gave me the tools that I needed. I had been there ten years earlier and the program was no different the second time around, I was back using three months later. As I recall I was just as determined the first time.
There was one key difference, though. This time round I was taken to my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting. It was there that I discovered that it was called recovery and that there was a way of maintaining and supporting it.
So twenty-four years on, I rarely attend meetings and have little contact with the recovering community but there is no doubt in my mind that without Narcotics Anonymous I would not have my life as it is today. Ah, the digger’s arrived; time to get on with living.
Have a nice day.