Coby got sober when he was 22, which means he was barely over the legal drinking age (in the US) before he had had enough. Like many alcoholics, he thought he had a mental health problem before finally facing up to the fact that he was an alcoholic and stopped drinking. However he didn’t get any help and had a pretty miserable time ‘dry’ before he finally realised that there was more to recovery than just putting down the drink… Now he is back in school and studying for his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology whilst working at the Salvation Army. He loves music (is a wanna-be rock star!) theatre and avid gamer. Basically just a walking, talking miracle….
1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
I was at a pool party that one of my college friends had every year. I brought my own beer, 5 beers. I told myself that was all I would drink that night. Then a couple of other friends brought in a cooler filled with Kool-Aid and God only knows how many different types of liquor mixed into it. I only felt slightly buzzed and I figured one small cup of that mixture wouldn’t hurt. That one turned into…I actually don’t remember how many.
I staggered drunkenly into their kitchen where my best friend and her mother were talking. I was so drunk I crashed into their kitchen table; giving me a terrible scrape on my side (the table was fine). Apparently, I had then puked in the bathroom and made a terrible mess. My friend and her mother, whom I had both come to love and care for were so upset with me that they told me I was not welcome in their house any longer, and a friendship that had grown over 4 years was seemingly over. I drank alone for 3 months after that. After being carried out of a pub after blacking out and puking in the corner, I woke up the next day with people explaining to me what had happened. It was then I felt I had finally lost control of myself around alcohol. Even with that realization, I still had thought it a matter of mental health and went on to see a psychiatrist and a psychologist trying to figure out what was really wrong with me. I was fortunate enough to meet a very smart doctor who prescribed me an antidepressant that she said would give me seizures if I consumed alcohol while taking it. I had resolved to prove everyone wrong and show them that I didn’t need booze and that I wasn’t an alcoholic. So began my miserable dry time.
2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?’
Depression/anxiety and drinking had formed and endless cycle for me in college and after I withdrew from school, I stayed with my parents briefly. I quickly burnt that bridge after I had been dry 6 months. I saw no future for myself, and without alcohol that was an impossibly hard thing to accept.
Strangely enough, my “moment” happened long after my last drink. Although I had been dry 10 months my thinking and behavior had not changed at all. This made me and everyone around me miserable. I was so caught up with my selfish desire to live a certain way that I drove everyone who ever cared about me out of my life. I thought they were the problem and now that I was on my own with nobody telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my life, nothing could get in the way of what I wanted.
The truth was that I didn’t know how to live life without booze, so I reacted to life with anger and rage, when really it was me that I was angry at. My emotions were so strong that I felt on edge all the time and ready to pick fights with whoever and whatever came my way. During one of these tantrums I punched my own laptop, cracking the screen. At that moment, I did not like who I was, I did not recognize the person I had become. I was alone and nothing I had tried to do made me feel any better. I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed help.
3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
I was more scared than I think I’ve ever been. I felt like having fun was over, now its time to be a boring adult! I was only 24 at the time (23 when I went dry) and I thought it quite impossible to be that age and not drink, because so many of my peers did. I didn’t realize that maybe I needed to surround myself with different people. Inevitably, I gained new friends in recovery, the “drinking buddies” slipped away, and my true friends supported me, and I felt very lucky to have that. I also felt very lost and desperately sought direction because my way of doing things wasn’t working.
4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
I was able to go back to school and I’m nearly finished with my degree in psychology. I was able to enter into a healthy relationship with a woman for the first time in my life. I was also able to have that end and not have to drink about it! I have recently been able to change jobs from something that made me pretty unhappy to a job that allows me to be of service to other people. Some of these people even have a problem with drinking, like I did. It pays quite a bit less, but the peace of mind is priceless! I think the best thing I’ve gotten out of this process is awareness of my condition and being accountable for my mistakes, while acknowledging the successes.
5) If you could go back in time to you when you were dinking/using what would you tell yourself?
I would probably ask me if I’d like another drink. I really don’t think I would dare change the path that I walked because if one of those things didn’t happen to me the way it did, I may not have ever sought help. I would probably be dead or wish I were.
6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
That I’ll never be perfect, and that’s ok. Having bad feelings sometimes is better than running from all feelings all the time. If I’m honest about my motives I can usually head off trouble long before it happens. Even when I make mistakes, I’m not a terrible person and there are people who love me, and I can now love them in return for the right reasons.
7) What are your favourite recovery slogans?
This too, shall pass.
8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
I’ve had more fun sober than I ever did drunk, and I can remember it all! That’s a plus. If I knew so much could be gained from not drinking and learning how to live life without it…and be happy…? I would have done it so much sooner in my life. When I first quit drinking I felt my “fun” life was over, but in reality it had only just begun!