Beth Leipholtz is a 22-year-old college student from Minnesota currently majoring in Communication with plans to enter the journalism field after graduation. She is the editor-in-chief of her college paper and a committed rugby player.
Beth’s passion for recovery shines through on her amazing blog ‘Life to be continued’ where she is inspiring young people who are trying to get sober.
1. Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
My rock bottom was somewhat ongoing, almost two years ago. At that point, on an average weekend night out with others, I would probably have about 8 drinks in a period of 2-3 hours. Obviously this varied a lot depending on the night and the setting, and whether I was able to sneak into the bar or not. Typically if I was able to get into the bar I had to hold myself together so as not to draw attention since I was underage. If I wasn’t able to get in, I’d just go back to the party house and drink with the people still there, or occasionally just make my way home instead.
While I never drank daily, I did drink excessively and occasionally alone. In retrospect, I have no idea what I was thinking in justifying drinking alone or before class. I liked the buzz because it made my life less routine. I didn’t think anyone could tell the difference when I was drinking vs. when I was not, and it made me feel better, so I didn’t see the harm. Looking back, they could probably tell. To be honest, I’m surprised no one ever confronted me sooner than they eventually did.
My lowest point came on May 7, 2013. I was at a party with friends and I remember sitting by the bonfire smoking hookah and drinking green apple Burnett’s, then going to the bar. I managed to get in even though I was underage, as I had done many times before. I don’t remember anything from being there. Bar close came and everyone left and for whatever reason, I refused to go with my friends and insisted on walking home alone. The police ended up picking me up and my BAC was .34. They took me to the hospital, and the next thing I remember was waking up in the early morning hours very disoriented. I saw my parents in the room and knew I wouldn’t be able to get out of this situation without consequences. I thought my life was over, but in retrospect, ending up in the hospital that day was the best thing that ever happened to me.
(Here is the more in-depth version; http://lifetobecontinued.com/my-sobriety-story/)
2. What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
My first 30 days were really rough. I hadn’t accepted that I had a problem, and therefore I was resistant to getting any type of help. The only reason I went to treatment is because my parents forced me to do so. I took part in an outpatient program that met four times per week, and was about a 40 minute drive both ways. I was resentful of everyone and everything – my parents for making me go, making me drive and pay for gas, the counselors there, the other patients, myself. The list goes on.
The hardest part of my first month was watching my relationship with my mom deteriorate. We have always been closer than most mother/daughter relationships, and maybe this was the reason that I couldn’t bear to open up to her. I thought she would love me less. So instead I shut her out and barely spoke to her, and when I did, it was not kind words. I was probably about a month into the program when my mindset began to shift and I realized that I belonged there. I think I just started to realize that I enjoyed waking up in the morning without a hangover and without having to deal with any consequences from the night before. I read a quote that said, “An alcoholic is anyone whose life gets better when they stop drinking” and it really resonated with me because my life had already begun improving. I realized I didn’t need to be in jail or have lost everything in order to admit I had a problem.
3. What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
My life is fuller than I could have imagined. Once I stopped drinking, everything just fell into place. My relationships are more real and genuine, and I have managed to repair most of the damage I created while drinking. I have gained the respect of many people, something I didn’t know I was missing before.
One of the biggest effects drinking had on my life was obvious in my physical appearance. I’ve never been stick skinny as I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but I was always in shape. I maintained this to an extent my freshman year of college, but I really let myself go my sophomore year (the height of my drinking). Where I came into college at about 140 pounds, I weighed about 170 at the end of my sophomore year. Drinking accounted for a lot of calories, but so did the drunk eating that followed the drinking. It wasn’t only the weight gain though. When I look back at photos, I can tell that I just look bloated and have a yellowish cast to my skin. I just looked all around unhealthy but really did not care. Now, about a year and a half after I stopped drinking, I weigh 145 and look much more like my old self.
One of the best outcomes of my struggle has been the opportunity to help others. Through blogging, I have forged relationships with many other young people in recovery and have been published multiple places, including Huffington Post and thefix.com. If I had still been drinking, I doubt I would have put forth the time or effort required to be successful in blogging.
Fellowship has also been enormous. I have met so many other young people who understand what being sober is like. Some of them have remained sober, others have relapsed. It can be hard to watch friends go back out, but it also makes me more determined not to. It’s hard to believe that people who are such a huge part of my daily life now are people I didn’t even know existed two years ago.
4. If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
Oh gosh. I don’t think I would have listened to anything I, or anyone else, had to say. I guess the biggest thing I would say is tell myself to acknowledge the warning signs of a problem, because they were all present. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had confronted them. But then again, if I had, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I like where I am. I can be totally honest in claiming I would not change anything about my journey given the chance.
5. What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
I’ve always struggled with depression and being a perfectionist, and I’ve learned how that played a role in why I drank the way I did. I don’t think I drank specifically to overshadow either of these things. I think I just honestly thought I was a more likable person when I was drinking, and I liked being drunk, so that high became addictive. I didn’t know who I was or how to act anymore when I was sober in social settings, so I solved that by not being sober. I have no excuse for myself other than I really, really liked the feeling of being drunk and how it allowed me to let my guard down.
Since getting sober, I’ve learned that I am a likeable person the way I am. I embody strength, even if I don’t always feel like I do. I still struggle with seeing myself as the person other people see, but my image of myself as improved immensely.
I think my largest takeaway is just that things can always get better, even when they seem utterly hopeless.
6. Tell me about something wonderful that happened to you recently that never would have happened if you had been drinking.
This is going to sound sappy, but I met an incredible guy and I am in the first real relationship I have been in in years. I would never have met him if I had not gotten sober, for a variety of reasons. While drinking, my “relationships” consisted of random hookups here and there, or having legitimate feelings for someone, but screwing things up when I drank. It’s so relieving to know where I stand with someone today and to be in complete control of every action. My boyfriend is very supportive of my choice to maintain sobriety (he is a normie, he drinks) and I can’t be more grateful for that.
7. What are your favorite recovery slogans?
I’m not sure. As a writer, I’m not huge on the cliché phrases. The two I do like are “Nothing changes if nothing changes” and “The first thing you put ahead of your sobriety will be the second thing you lose.”
8. And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
I could go on and on in answering this, but I’ll keep it brief. It rocks because it works. That’s really all there is to it. If you put the work in, the results are beyond worth it.