People get sober in all sorts of ways. Sometimes they just quit on their own. Sometimes they go to rehab. They show up in 12-step rooms, ashrams, churches and their parents’ basements. There is no one right way—something we’ve aimed to show in our collection of How I Got Sober stories. While we initially published these as either first person essays by our contributors or as interviews with anonymous sober folks, we eventually began to realize that there were other stories to tell: yours. This is our reader spotlight and this, more specifically, is Beth.
Click here to see all of our How I Got Sober stories
What is your sobriety date?
May 7, 2013
Where did you get sober?
When did you first start drinking?
2011, my first year of college.
How would you describe your life before you quit drinking?
My life was just stressful. I was a fulltime college student, worked two jobs, was part of the student newspaper and played rugby. On top of all that, I drank. A lot. In the moment, drinking seemed to alleviate any stress I felt, but really it just exacerbated it. I would do or say things while drinking that would add to my stress level the following day. It was a vicious cycle.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was everything I could have asked for, which is often why I feel like I shouldn’t have become an alcoholic. I had incredible parents and loving siblings. I wasn’t abused and I never felt unwanted. However, I did struggle with depression and anxiety from an early age.
Do you remember the first time you thought you might have a problem?
I didn’t think I had a problem until a month into treatment. I was very deep in denial and was only in treatment because my parents were forcing me. I still can’t pinpoint the exact moment I realized that I wasn’t a normal drinker but I eventually realized I did have a problem and needed the help I was getting.
How did you rationalize your drinking?
I told myself that I was a college student and everyone drank like I did—I just had more bad nights. It didn’t help that I occasionally would have an uneventful evening of drinking; it was like I had proven to myself that I could drink like a normal person. Then I would quickly fall back into being the one who was always wasted.
What do you consider your bottom?
On May 7, 2013, I was out at a bar with friends and was underage. I drank a ridiculous amount and ended up trying to walk home by myself. The police picked me up and I had a .35 blood alcohol level. I don’t remember any of this and likely never will. My next memory is waking up in a hospital bed with my parents in the room and knowing that I was in a lot of trouble. I still didn’t think I had a problem though. In my mind everyone ended up in the hospital once or twice after overdoing it. I didn’t know it at the time but this was my bottom. I haven’t had another drink.
Did you go to rehab?
Yes, outpatient treatment.
Did you go to 12-step?
Yes, I still do.
What else have you done—and do—to help you stay sober?
I blog. I’ve always loved writing but I never thought it would be the thing that saved me. Blogging gives me a way to express what I am feeling and going through, a way to connect with others who feel the same way. Two and a half years after getting sober, it is still what I turn to when I have a hard day.
What do you hate about being an alcoholic?
The obvious answer is that I can’t drink. But more than that, it’s just feeling like I can’t be like any other 23-year old. Most of the time I handle this well but occasionally it really gets to me.
What do you love about being an alcoholic?
I love having a story to tell. Sobriety has been such a blessing, it has gotten me to this exact moment in my life. Today I am so happy and I have no doubt I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had kept drinking.
What are the three best tools you have acquired to stay sober and happy?
Writing before reacting, seeing the bigger picture and taking life one moment at a time. Before getting sober, I was always a million miles ahead of myself. I reacted too quickly and looked too far ahead. Now I try to think things through and remember how hopeless I felt early in sobriety. I remind myself things are temporary and that the big picture is what matters.
Do you have a sobriety mantra?
“An alcoholic is anyone whose life gets better when they stop drinking.”
What is the most valuable thing that has happened to you in recovery?
I met the love of my life, I have my dream job, I met my sobriety date twin (Kelly Fitzgerald, Sober Senorita!), I connected with my sponsor and I even met Luke Bryan (I was totally calm during this interaction…not). None of these things would have happened had I still been drinking. Events would not have unfolded the way they did. So many valuable things have happened; I can’t pick just one.
Have you worked the 12 steps? What is your opinion on them?
I have. I don’t live and die by them by any means. I know I can be a bit skeptical. I think they are good guidelines for anyone to follow in life. They really work for some people and others need to find their own paths. I fall more into the latter category.
If you could offer a newcomer or someone thinking about getting sober any advice, what would it be?
Take your days one moment at a time and know that emotions are temporary. As Charlie Chaplin said, “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.”