Tag Archives: rehab

Recovery Rocks – Chip Somers

Chip Somers is the co-founder and CEO of Focus12 Treatment Centre in Bury St Edmunds UK. Focus12 was the first treatment centre I worked in, and it really did teach me everything I know.
Focus12 Treatment Centre
It’s an inspiring place, where no matter what they have done or how low they have gone, addicts and alcoholics are treated with the utmost love and respect.
For 16 years they have been putting lives and families back together.
Although they get lots of support from their patrons Russell Brand, Boy George and Davina McCall. As a charity they are always need to raise extra funds which is why I’m donating 15% of the proceeds from my book: ‘Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom’ to help support the marvellous work they do.

One of the highlights of working at Focus12 is seeing all the former clients and families at the annual reunion.
I’ve attended these over the years and it’s extraordinary to see how former clients have turned their lives around. People change so much physically when they get clean and sober, that I often see former clients and can’t physically recognise them.
When an addict or alcoholic gets clean, it not only transforms their own lives, but the lives of the people who love them also.

I read about the statistics of recovery all the time and they paint such a miserable picture of failure. The percentage of failure is high, and yet when I go to a Focus12 reunion I see hundreds upon hundreds of people whose lives have been transformed.
So something’s working.
In fact, it’s working so well that Focus12 have had to regularly move the reunion to larger venues because they don’t accommodate all the people who have got clean and sober there.

There is a plaque on the wall when you enter Focus12 and it sums up the phillosphy of it’s program and the ethos of it’s staff:
“Treat a man as he were what he ought to be and you help him become what he is capable of being”

When you know Chip it’s hard to believe he was a hard-core addict who lived on the streets and would do anything for his next hit of heroin.
I’ve only known him as a respectable and humble recovering addict. Since getting clean and sober several decades ago he has tirelessly helped addicts and alcoholics turn their lives around

I’m so glad I can share some of his story here.


1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
I was supposed to be looking after my daughter who had come to me saying she was hungry.
This was quite difficult for her to do, she was 8, I eventually managed to borrow a tenner of someone and went straight away and bought drugs with it.
Came home a few hours later to find my daughter crying and frightened as I had not only left her alone but without food too. I had met a few people in recovery by then so this action hit home hard.

2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?’
Doing Step 1 in treatment and seeing clearly for the first time in my life the way that my drink/drug use had devastated every area of my life and never benefitted me in any way.

3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Good. A bit scary, I found social situations hard but I was so thrilled not to be using and having to hustle every day.
I felt a huge weight lifted from me.
I was desperately self obsessed but everything was novel, every experience was new and I started to realize I was not a piece of shit. People were kind to me and identified with me – that was very important

4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
I have life. I have an amazing career. I have left a legacy of good things. I have a stable home. I have an amazing marriage.
I have incredible friends. I am never alone. I travel freely. I am the man I always wanted to be.

5) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
“You’re not useless! You’re actually quite a capable man and people like you for you’

6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
That it is OK to be flawed. That actually knowing about my flaws and almost finding them humorous has relieved me of trying to be perfect and of course failing all the time. I have learnt I am kind and responsible with a gift for being able to inspire other people

7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?

Keep it Simple.
One day at a time.
Stick with the winners

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Recovery rocks because if you are in recovery you can do anything you want to do. You can see the world, discover new things every day and be a feeling being part of society and at times, at peace with yourself.

Recovery Rocks – Mark Clodfelter


Mark’s first day of sobriety was 11/11/11 a date he won’t forget for many reasons. His drinking and drug use took him to a very low place, out of options, he had no choice but to get sober. It’s interesting to see how the day he decided to get help was really no different from any other. Sometimes it’s just the little things that break us, like looking at the counter and realising there is no money therefor no drugs…

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
“Rock bottom” for me was a very scary place to be, I had been using drugs and alcohol for a little over 13 years. I had gone through many phases of drug use, and never really had an issue quitting the “hard drugs” I had been using, until I found opioids. I found myself in a situation similar to the movie groundhog day, where each day was the same. Wake up to the tune of pills to start the day, search relentlessly for more pills through the day, and spend every dollar I had on more. I found myself broke, with foreclosure notes in the mail, and stacks of unpaid bills, and no way out. I had no love for myself, or anyone else, I was living in hell.

2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?’
I was laying on my couch, I’d just called off work again because I was out, I owed money to my dealers, I didn’t have more than the change on my counter left to my name. No drugs, No hope. I finally saw what was happening to me, an endless cycle of highs and lows, I had no middle ground left, no peace of mind, no hope.

3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
I was in rehab for my first 25 days of sobriety, just going through the motions trying to find a way to turn the page. I was miserable but I was sober. I had to use all the will power I had in the first 30 days, until I felt the power of God take over. I’ve heard many stories of how people found a higher power; mine involved 3 birds coming to visit each morning in rehab, and the overwhelming feeling that I’m not alone in my struggles. And certain family members that had passed were in heaven watching over me. This gave me strength beyond what I’d ever known. All that being said, the first 30 days were absolutely crazy, I was totally insane and had the worst withdrawals I’d ever felt. But I made it through!

4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober? I’ve regained a beautiful relationship with my family, and I’ve found a life that is truly worth living. I have peace, serenity, and a relationship with God that I’d never dreamed could be true. I have a great confidence in myself and the abilities granted to me by God. The very best and most important thing is that I am clean and sober, because without that I would have none of these things.

5) If you could go back in time to you when you were dinking/using what would you tell yourself?
I’m not sure, because I wouldn’t have listened to what anyone had to say. I had to come to the realization I was an addict/alcoholic by myself, on my own time.

6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
I think learning what my fears are, and facing them head on. This has given me the confidence to know I can do anything that I put my mind to.

7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?
“Seed has started to sprout in a new soil, but growth has only begun.” “We see that our fears are only paper thin.” “Live and let live.”

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Recovery rocks because it makes the impossible, possible. It rocks because it makes life worth living.

Can we forgive John Galliano?

IMG_1957John Galliano famously self destructed two years ago when he drunkenly went on a vile anti-Semitic rant that then went viral.
He was fired from his job as chief designer at Dior and abandoned by many of his friends.
With nothing left to loose he had a moment of clarity and went into rehab. Newly sober, he has just done his first interview with Vanity Fair, which you can read here.

Clearly, John Galliano is an alcoholic whose drinking had become more and more self-destructive, resulting in his public melt down.
In the interview he discusses the vile rant and apologizes profusely, claiming he doesn’t even remember it, as he was in black out when it happened.
The next day he woke up and the true horror of his actions came home to him.

As an alcoholic I can relate to this horror.
The pounding of my heart as I desperately tried to rack my memory for some hint as to what I’d done the night before. Then the sinking feeling in my chest because I knew it wasn’t good.

I remember once going to on a hen night (bachelorette party) and creating a scene outside a nightclub we were meant to be going in to. The doormen barred me and therefore all my friends, ensuring the future brides night was ruined.

At the wedding the following week I tried to smile at several friends attending the wedding, they just looked at me in disgust.

A minor incident maybe, but no less shame inducing. I can’t imagine what it must be like, for the absolute worst part of yourself to be filmed, then sent around the world for everyone to see.

There is no end to my gratitude that my drinking and drugging years happened well before the advent of smart phones or Internet use. There are a few (well more than a few) pictures of me in various states, usually in bars with my arms thrown round whoever was near.
Thankfully, these pictures won’t ever be paraded across Facebook or Twitter as even after all those years of sobriety I’m still embarrassed at how I used to behave.
Being an alcoholic is hard enough without having to deal with your worst moments becoming publicized.

But this is what John Galliano is dealing with.
His absolute worst behavior will exist on-line forever, for everyone to see when ever they want. According to the Vanity Fair article he is beginning to make amends to everyone he hurt (of which there are many) and in particular the Jewish community.
He has clearly alienated a lot of people and a lot of people are finding what he said very hard to forget let alone forgive.

The reason for this, is the myth that when we are drunk we speak the truth. Which means when we say hateful things (or that we love someone) it’s how we have always really felt, we’ve just never expressed it before.
This is the reason people are finding it hard to forgive John Galliano, they believe he really meant what he said and no amount of apologising will change that.

I can’t speak for Galliano as I’ve never met him, I’ve not even had the fortune to wear any Dior (sigh).
However, I do know about alcoholism and I do know that when alcoholics are in the worst of their disease, their self-hatred is inescapable.
That’s part of why we drink the way we do, we hate ourselves, we hate being in our bodies we hate the voices in our heads and we are trying to do everything we can to block it all out.
It that state, constant use of alcohol and drugs makes sense.

My guess is that on that fateful night, when he unleashed his venomous hate, it was not because he is anti-Semitic and hates Jews or Asians. It was because he hated himself so much, that the final act of this self-hate, is to act so repulsively that the world will hate you back.
Thus, proving to yourself how hateful you are.
This is how alcoholism works, it wants you alone, isolated and hate filled because then there is only one thing for you to turn to; more alcohol.

As extraordinary as it sounds, what Galliano said wasn’t actually personal. Booze didn’t reveal how really felt about jewish people, it revealed how he really felt about himself.

It was a truthful revelation of his inner life.

As the most spiteful, meanest, repulsive thing his sub-conscious could dream up in order to achieve the end result of ultimate self-hatred.
It was an attack on himself, no-one else.
Our ‘outsides’ are just a reflection of our ‘insides’.
When you hate yourself that much, then the inevitable consequence of that, is to manifest in your life, something that equals your internal hatred.
This is what John Galliano did that night in the Paris bar.

It is only right he makes amends for what he said and then he needs to be forgiven.

Recovery Rocks – Ian Young

Ian Young’s default program is set on ‘jolly.’ He is relentlessly jolly. Which is a pretty good place for an ex-crack and heroin addict and alcoholic. it’s pretty bloody amazing when you consider he should be dead now and it is nothing short of a miracle that he is not only alive and well, but also very jolly. Ian now runs his own business in the UK and has just published a book “It’s not about me – Confessions of a Recovered Outlaw Addict from Living Hell to Living Big” based on his experiences getting clean and sober.

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’Ian_Relaxed
I was 29 when I finally got clean, but over the course of the three previous years I grew steadily worse as my values and principles went out the window and I turned to increasingly petty crime just attempting to keep myself feeling relatively normal. Sadly I failed and spent most of the time in a state of withdrawal, experiencing less and less actual nirvana and more and more antagonistic minutes / hours / days / months and finally years of discomfort, unable to keep myself sufficiently medicated on heroin, cocaine and booze.
I was injecting cocaine and heroin, and smoking crack whenever I could afford it. Alcohol was a permanent source of attempted comfort.
But what really hurt the most was how I was treating people. I hated the way I manipulated, cheated and stole from those who I knew cared about me. I twisted things to make them feel guilty in order to get money from them. I just hated the person I became. I could no longer live with myself.
I no longer tolerated myself. I wanted out. But I didn’t know how to get out. I never knew of anyone who had got clean or sober. I had heard of one person who it was rumored had joined NA, but no one had seen her in years. And she wasn’t really that bad, was she? I was much more damaged than she was. I needed some sort of serious change that I simply wasn’t prepared to make. I couldn’t say good-bye to my life. I’d dedicated my life to this counter-culture I’d helped design and build. I was part of my own destiny and living my own dream. But I knew I’d lost the dream and gone too far. My crack and smack habit weren’t part of the dream. But would my pride allow me to change?

2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?’

I was naked, and injecting cocaine late one Saturday night towards the end of November in 2000. I has high and pacing around manically tidying up and rearranging little items, such as pens, folders, syringes, and I began writing.
I don’t know why I began writing and I have even less of an idea why I began with the words “Dear God…” but I did.
It was odd, but I wrote a letter to God without ever recognizing a belief in God or any sort of supreme being, being a hard core, argumentative atheist who would defend the true nature of the planet Mother Earth, but never consider the truth of a God in existence. And yet here I was, very high, writing a letter to God, appealing for help. Admitting I was helpless and hopeless and telling God that I was going to stop and if only God could see fit to help me rebuild my life once I’d stopped? Please?

The fundamental difference between this plea and previous attempts to cry out for help was the reversed order of things. Instead of demanding help and then promising to get clean, here I was stating my intention to stop and change, and asking only for the grace of God to step in and help my life once I had held up my side of the deal.
I made a deal with God and I went first!
I began my final cold turkey cluck a about a month later.

3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Well my first 80 or so days were spent in a rehab, in a clandestine relationship, doing my best to understand what was being asked of me in the future in order to remain clean and sober, but knowing deep down that I had that “one more hit” syndrome going through my head.
I knew that I was going to see if it worked again. I had to! I had held together a love affair with heroin and cocaine for too long to believe it possible for them to leave me just yet. I wasn’t sure if I was truly done for good. After all I only really wanted to stop injecting. I did still want to keep getting high. Didn’t I?
And so, towards the end of 15 weeks of rehab I did indeed use again, and found myself being resuscitated by paramedics. I came too with a deep sense of shame, guilt and remorse.
But the very next day I got help and thus begun my genuine sobriety. I’ve been sober since March 16th 2001.

The first 30 days were like living in a completely new sense of freedom. I dedicated myself to this new way of life and began to immerse myself in everything recovery could offer me, I knew this time was permanent sobriety. I just knew!

4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
Blimey, far too many to mention.
I got married and remained faithful and dedicated to her.
I’ve become a homeowner.
I’ve written my first book.
I’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice in 12 months. More trips are planned.
I’ve travelled across North America many, many times.
I’ve made wonderful life long sober friends and made amends to 90% of the people from my past, never shying away whenever they reveal themselves to me through supposed coincidence.
I’ve maintained my space of being of service and contribution to the greater community.
I’ve built two rehabs from the ground up and moved on at the right time (God’s time).
My businesses are all serve other people in some way. I believe I’m an Entrepreneur on a mission from God, and my mission is to improve the quality of other people’s lives.
Yes, I’ve mixed Business and Spirituality and I love the way things are panning out for me.
I’ve build my own relationship with God as I understand Her and so long as I do my best to live my life according to Her will, She keeps me feeling happy, joyous and free. My default emotion is usually Jolly and for that I am very grateful.

5) If you could go back in time to you when you were dinking/using what would you tell yourself?
Everything’s gonna turn out just fine, so go for it.
Keep the faith and don’t trample on your values.
Integrity is a difficult reputation to maintain, but it’s worth it.

6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
That I’m free to do whatever I want, all of the time, so long as it doesn’t harm myself or others. I’ve not changed too many of my lifestyle and cultural values and morals. I still stand by anarchy and peace as a way for the world to get along fine with one another and keep the wheels turning.
Unfortunately my utopia will never materialize whilst there’s still people not managing their lives above the poverty level. Crime will always prevail when it comes down to life and death. We will go to any lengths to support ourselves and our family. That’s human nature. So we must live in an abundant world for utopia to exist. We do live in a utopia, but everything starting becoming unbalanced once man began selling food to other men.
I’ve learnt we’ve just got to keep our side of the street clean, and don’t’ try to solve the worlds problems any longer.
I let go of the fighting.

7) What are your favourite recovery slogans?
Keep coming back until you know why we keep coming back.

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Recovery Rocks, because I let it! The only thing stopping you from rocking your own recovery is YOU! Get out of your own way and feel the freedom.

Recovery Rocks – Cathryn Kemp

C.KempAuthorColour2 I’m really excited about this weeks interview. There is still so much to understand about addiction, particularly about addiction to prescribed drugs. There is still the misconception that your not an addict if the doctor has been prescribing your drugs. But prescription addiction is just like any other addiction…

Cathryn Kemp never needed a drug dealer because all her drugs came from her doctor. After a life-threatening illness in 2004 left Cathryn severe pain and on a morphine drip. Cathryn was discharged with a repeat prescription for fentanyl lozenges – a powerful opiate painkiller 100 times stronger than heroin.

Two years’ later Cathryn was taking almost 10 times the maximum dosage daily – all on prescription from her doctor. By the time she entered rehab she was told she had less than three months left to live.

A former journalist Cathryn is the author of Painkiller Addict: From Wreckage To Redemption which is published by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown, which is launched in the US in July 2013.
Cathryn wrote her extraordinarily candid memoir in the hope of helping others who may be suffering long-term acute and chronic illness, those in the grip of active addiction or those whose loved-ones are.

Three years into recovery, Cathryn lives a grateful life by the sea in the UK. She enjoys reading, spending time with friends and writing.
I’m posting this interview early, because Cathryn is about to give birth to her first child and I wanted to give her chance to see it before the wonderful journey of motherhood begins for her.

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
The moment I truly realised to the pit of my soul that I had nowhere left to go in my addiction, nowhere to hide, was one night at the end of 2009 when I sat writing a note to my boyfriend and parents telling them how much I loved them and that I was sorry.
The reason I wrote this note was because I knew I was overdosing so heavily by taking almost 60 prescribed fentanyl lozenges a day that I knew I may die in my sleep.
I carefully placed the letter under my pillow in case I was found by my mother in the morning. I went to sleep that night not knowing if I would wake up or not. It wasn’t the thought of my own death which frightened me, but the awful truth of a loved-one finding my body, alone in my bed, the next morning. A lonely addict’s death.
A family wrenched apart by anguish.
It was as I finished writing, the tears were pouring down my face and I was sucking yet another lozenge, that I realised I hated the drug with all my heart. Yet I knew I couldn’t stop taking it.

That was the moment when I knew it was over – and more than that, I wanted it to be over. It was the point at which I gave up my fight to come off them and gave up my fight with my GP to stay on them. Shortly afterwards my GP cut me off and I booked into a rehab. Without that defining rock bottom I may still have been out there today, if I’d been lucky enough to survive this far.

2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?’
I had several moment of clarity, the most powerful being the evening I saw myself writing my ‘suicide’ note to leave under my pillow in case I died overnight of a huge fentanyl overdose.

There had been other moments such as the day that my stepson wondered into my bedroom and saw me sucking one of my lozenges. I always tried to take them in a room away from other people. The guilt and shame of taking them was always hovering close-by even though I still couldn’t admit to myself I was truly addicted. This young, innocent boy came into the room and asked what I was doing.
I told him I was just taking my medicine and he looked at me with his head on one side then just as quickly lost interest and wandered off into another part of the house.

In that moment I saw myself through his eyes. I was an ill, frail, haggard-looking woman lying on her sick bed sucking through a pile of six lozenges, one after the other. I realised I was as far from his sweet, healthy innocence as a person could be. I saw myself as I was – and it was an ugly sight.

Shortly afterwards my GP called me into his surgery and told me he was cutting me off. I could’ve turned to heroin or street drugs. I could’ve sold my house and bought my drugs rather than rely on wheedling and demanding prescriptions from my doctor but I knew the game was up. I simply could not go on another day in the hell of getting my drugs, using my drugs then having to get more of them to be able to function.
I was done.
It wasn’t a spiritual or emotional moment. It was the feeling that my world had ended, had crashed down taking all of me with it, and I finally let it.
I gave up and gave in. I booked rehab and went into recovery.

3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?

Let’s be honest. Getting sober or clean is hard.
It’s unbelievably tough and there is no-thing and no-body to take away the challenges of every single minute of the journey.
But let me be absolutely clear on this – every craving, sweating, shaking, confusing, emotional, frightening or volatile moment of early recovery is better than a single second of using.
That is a promise.

Breaking out of the prison of addiction is tough going on every level; physically you may be beset by cravings or withdrawals, emotionally you may find all the fear and anger you have buried for years suddenly rises to the surface in powerful and overwhelming ways, mentally you may feel confused and disorientated and spiritually you may grasp the extend of the emptiness inside your soul which was the gap you poured the alcohol, drugs, sex, food or gambling into in a vain attempt to fill it.

But as with any rebirth, and with the right help from support services and/or family, the birthing pains ease as time passes, as your confidence slowly starts to increase, as the waves of withdrawals subside and as the ‘real’ you starts to slowly unfold.

There is no other way of getting well and finding out who you are. There is literally no other path to take. The startling and obvious truth of the matter is that unless you take the hard road, unless you give yourself up to recovery then you will die of your addiction. It is as simple and as brutal as that.
For me, the first 30 days were a rollercoaster ride of turbulent emotions and horrendous withdrawal symptoms like sweating, shaking and hallucinations.
I took all the support offered and somehow got through.

There was no blinding flash of light or super-charged miracle. It was literally a case of slogging through the madness and illness with the blind faith that somehow it would get better. Slowly, slowly the physical symptoms abated while the mental confusion took over. I suddenly realised I didn’t really know who I was. I didn’t know what I truly liked, what I didn’t like and how I should be. I still feel, more than three years into recovery, that I am learning about myself – and even more importantly, accepting parts of myself I tried so hard to run from during my years of using.

I learnt that I didn’t know how to live, I didn’t know how to feel and I didn’t know how to manage my feelings. Again, I’m still learning. Some things were as obvious as how often should I change my sheets? I really didn’t know what was ‘normal’. These days I strive for normal – whatever that may be. After years of chronic rebellion and escaping into my addiction to prescription painkillers, the grace of not sticking out, of doing things right, of being ok has been the most miraculous part of my journey.

4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?

Getting clean is the biggest miracle of my journey. My rehab thought I’d never do it as I was on such high levels of fentanyl, my GP and my family thought I’d have to compromise and stabilize on a minimum daily allowance of lozenges because of my horrendous pain levels. But I knew I had to break free and rehab was my one and only chance.

Three years later and I have written a book about my experiences called Painkiller Addict: From Wreckage To Redemption which is published by Piatkus Books and launches in the US in July 2013. I am immensely proud and grateful to be able to share my story in the hope it helps others going through the same hell I was. I have received messages saying that my book and my story have prompted readers or loved-ones to find recovery and that is a gift worth more than gold.

As I write this, I am also 81/2 months pregnant with my first baby. An experience I could never have predicted as I was too ill, addicted and frail to carry a child and was told categorically by my surgeons in hospital that I would never be able to have one, if I survived at all. My recovery has given me my child, the love of my family and friends and a chance to start anew, to rediscover who I really am and what I really want. It’s given me everything.

5) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
I would never want to go back in time, even in theory. When I was using I wouldn’t have listened to myself – or anyone else. I was utterly focused on getting and using my prescriptions, nothing else mattered; not myself, not my family, nothing.

6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?

Learning about myself is an ongoing, sometimes painful, sometimes frustrating and inspiring path.
The main thing I have learnt is to accept who I actually am ie I’m pretty bossy, a total organization freak and I am terrible at self-caring, rather than trying to make myself be who I want to be.
In my using I hid from myself and the world. I’d always wanted to be someone else, didn’t matter who it was, I’d pick the nearest person and emulate them, trying to mould myself into someone more relaxed, fun or attention-seeking.

Learning to like myself for my quirks and foibles is a challenge but it’s about coming home in so many ways. Now I know I love my solitude, I love reading and thinking, I’m naturally an introvert but I know I have a path to tread in public talking about addiction and so I am learning to do that with integrity and with respect for my own values.

It’s something that needs working on everyday as new situations and experiences arise. “Know thyself” is my goal and my mantra now so I can live with dignity and integrity.

7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?

Life on life’s terms – reminding me daily that I have to work at my life, I have to be accountable for my reactions to events around me and that life is out of my control and thank god it is!

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’

Because it’s about living, for the first time.
Truly, properly, living.
There is no alternative to recovery. As addicts or alcoholics there is no other happy future; only pain, misery and possibly death without it.
Recovery then brings you to yourself – for some of us it’s the first time we’ve ever had the chance to get to know ourselves. It is the only way to live with self-respect and with truth. It isn’t always easy, life carries on and throws things at us in recovery as well as in our using days. People die, friendships end, relationships falter and money runs out – these things happen regardless of how well we are and so recovery is about learning to live in the real world and not in a fantasy of our own invention.

Recovery is about learning not to hide, to become our own person and that can mean hard choices being made. It is the only way though. The only true and real path and we are all brave enough to undertake it.

Recovery Rocks in so many ways and beyond most of our wildest dreams. I have seen so many people blossom into the person they are meant to be, and I hope I’m doing that as well.

Recovery Rocks – Jillanna D. Mercer

This weeks ‘Recovery Rocks’ interview is with the fabulous Jillanna D. Mercer (38). She manages to be a mother of three children while working as a hair stylist at Wingard Salon in Champaign Illinois.
One of the first things you notice about Jillanna is the word ‘Sober’ tattoed boldly on her arm.
She’s serious about recovery.
Her life is full with her family and career, the only helping hand she requires now is some good coffee.

Her interview is breathtakingly honest, Jillanna has been fearless in describing how low her addiction took her. She lays bare the reality of being a young mother in addiction and how close she came to loosing her children. Thankfully she turned herself around.
If you are a mother struggling with addiction or you know someone who is. Then you need to read this.
Sobriety date: 08/10/09


Recovery Rocks Interview

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
(Deep Breath)
I remember the exact moment I hit rock bottom. I can describe the room I was in, the time of day, and what I was wearing. I was 7 months pregnant and in a state run rehab. I had no money, no job, no car, no friends or family willing to talk to me. I was homeless. I had lost my rights to my oldest son and hadn’t seen or talked to him in months.
I was pretty sure I was going to lose the rights to my unborn child. I had been in the rehab a few days and had gotten to know some of the women. Most were either coming from jail or going to jail. None of them had any relationship with their kids. A lot of them had drug and alcohol related illnesses, like hepatitis and HIV.
All the women looked rough. Hardened.
Some didn’t even have their teeth. I looked around and saw what my peer group had become. I could not continue down this path any longer. I knew I had to stop and not ever, ever, ever use again.

2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?

I had spent my few days there also reading recovery literature. I recognized that a power greater than myself was necessary to make any permanent change. But I did not have a clear understanding of how to do this. I found a woman who had struck me as somewhat spiritual. I asked her to pray with me. We went into a small unused office and she prayed for me. We both cried a little. I can’t really tell you what words she used but it was a plea for help. I felt an indescribable peace come over me. I believe this was my ‘spiritual awakening’. Since that moment I have found the strength to overcome any urges I may have to drink or drug.

3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Honestly, they were pretty rough. No one trusted me. No one believed I could stay sober. No one could appreciate the changes I could feel inside that this time was different. My biggest struggle was my pregnancy. There was a very real fear that DCFS would take my child. I was honest with my doctors and was preparing myself for the worst. No one around me could really get excited about the baby because they too knew she could be taken into foster care and they were concerned I would not stay sober if that happened. I kept to myself. I did a lot of recovery reading. I prayed a lot.

4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
There are so many!
The very best thing is I am a get to be a wonderful Mom. My relationship with my first child has been restored. The first year I was sober, I was not allowed to see him. But I could call. I called every night. Gradually I was allowed short visits and now I have just as much time as any other divorced parent. My second child, the one I was pregnant with when I got sober, was not ever involved with DCFS. She is happy and healthy. I also have a third child. I absolutely love being a mom to my kids.

I also went back to school to get my cosmetology license. I now am a self-employed hair stylist.

Finally my relationships with my friends and family have been restored. I am now trusted and appreciated.

5) If you could go back in time to you when you were dinking/using what would you tell yourself?
My first rehab was in 2007. I could stay sober for 3 months or maybe even 6 months but then I would relapse. I would be triggered by something and then start obsessing about the drugs. I felt I HAD to use. I did not feel I had a choice.
Now I know that those feelings of wanting to use will pass. Before I thought I would be struggling with them forever. I never realized how quickly the intensity of wanting to use can go away. The same is true for how mad I get at someone or how sad I feel or how hopeless a situation seems. This too shall pass. Without a doubt it is the most valuable tool I learned.

6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
It is amazing to me how much easier my life got once I stopped self-destructing. Just by doing the right things, I eliminated a ton of stress. No more worrying about hurting people I care about, or going to jail. No worries about losing my job or my boyfriend finding out I cheated on him. No hangover headaches or overdrawn bank accounts.

I have learned that my life is pretty simple. There is very little I can actually control. If I make the very best decisions I can and have some faith in God, everything works out.

7) What are your favourite recovery slogans?
One day at a time. This too shall pass.

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Today I live a life I never thought possible. My whole life I felt uncomfortable in my skin. I was filled with depression and sadness. Those feelings led me to drink and drug and that led to utter chaos. There are days I am still in shock that I am sober.
I am totally amazed that I can be so happy. Not that I don’t have problems or struggles, but I feel I have been giving the tools to live my life. The best part is that I know my feelings are genuine. Happy or sad, they are mine. And that totally rocks!

If you are clean and sober and would like to take part in a Recovery Rocks interview, please message me through my Facebook page. I would love to include you!