Your Health Lindsay Guinaugh | one year ago

#ThisIsSober: Amy’s Story

Amy didn’t start drinking until she was 44 years old. Up to that point, she’d hardly had a taste of alcohol.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcQSNTMy8i4]   She’d always had what she says is an addictive personality, but until then, her obsession had been food. Then she got gastric bypass surgery, lost weight and started having trouble sleeping – which she turned to a nightly glass of wine to cure. That’s when her struggle with alcoholism began. “My food addiction slowly transferred to alcohol,” says Amy. “It started with a glass of wine, but that woke a sleeping giant. I started drinking more and more.” Amy knew her problem had become unmanageable when she couldn’t stop thinking about having a drink. “At first, I could wait until the evening and just drink at home,” she says. “Then it escalated to earlier in the day, so much so that I would drink while shopping or running errands. Anytime I could get away with it, I drank.” The drinking set Amy on a downward spiral. She started having family issues. She lost two jobs and even lost her home – which in turn fueled her to drink even more. “I lost touch with myself, and I lost the respect of my family and friends,” she remembers. “I was passing out a lot and doing things that I didn’t remember doing until someone told me. Depression was very present in my life.” Amy knew she’d hit rock bottom when she was arrested for DWI. “I could have hurt myself and others,” she says. “I knew I’d had a problem for a long time, but it wasn’t until being arrested that I realized I had to do something, and fast.” She checked herself into treatment at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Behavioral Health First Step, and that treatment helped launch and maintain her current recovery. A life of sobriety opened up a new world for Amy. “I didn’t realize that while I had been drinking, my senses were dulled. Being sober, colors were more vivid – smells and touches too. My hearing improved. Even my food tasted so much better!” She gained back the respect and trust of family and friends, and landed a good job. Her memory and her personality returned. She says she became an all-around better version of herself. But the biggest impact went far beyond the physical. She transformed her relationship with God and credits her spiritual renewal with her newfound strength. “God didn’t give up on me,” she says. “He turned my mess into a message.” Amy says she still has hard days. “It’s not one day at a time for me – it’s hour by hour some days,” she says. “I could just throw my hands up, but I fast forward the movie and know that the outcome would be far worse if I started drinking again.” Her message to other people struggling with addiction? “There’s no time like the present to get better!” she says. “And remember that addiction doesn’t define you. The struggle is real, but you’re worth the struggle.”

All year long, we’re putting sobriety in the spotlight to help shatter the stigma around addiction and inspire people to change their lives. Read and share our stories – and join the conversation – using #ThisIsSober.