Kane County Health Department
Tools and Resources for Opioid Overdose Prevention

Owning My Anxiety & Sobriety

I started drinking in high school.  It was just socially, but looking back, the feeling I got from alcohol made an impact starting from the first time I drank.  I’ve been very introverted my entire life.  Mostly due to anxiety.  Back then I didn’t realize I had an anxiety disorder, I just knew that I felt relaxed and became outgoing once I got alcohol in me. So I think I enjoyed drinking more than most kids did.

Once I turned 21, drinking became a regular occurrence for me.  I found some success in starting a small business and kept pretty busy, but I became a nightly drinker to unwind from the busyness.

In 2007 I got a DUI.  While there were consequences from the law, it wasn’t a serious issue to me.  In fact, I kind of saw it as a rite of passage.  Getting a DUI was just part of life.

In 2009 I had a kid from a relationship that quickly deteriorated, plus I was struggling with the ending of my business.  I bounced between jobs and business ventures with no real direction.  That’s when I began day drinking.  I still didn’t consider my drinking a problem, but in the back of my mind, I think I knew that I was crossing a line.

I’m not sure at what point the line was crossed, probably sometime in my late 20’s.  At 28 I had my first full-blown panic attack and had to be rushed to the hospital.  That’s when I discovered Xanax and the whole benzodiazepine family.  I wasn’t completely honest about my drinking problem and mixing benzos with alcohol quickly threw my life into a tailspin.  For the next several years I would bounce between cities, jobs, arrests, and rehabs.  I became a person I hated and my addiction, as well as anxiety and depression, grew much worse.

Finally, there came a breaking point.  I couldn’t handle the misery and anxiety anymore.  I went to see a specialist about my anxiety and tremors.  They told me they could only help if I immediately went to a detox and got clean.  So I did.  I was serious about solving the issues with my life and decided to take advantage of all available resources, listen to all professionals, and work at overcoming my addiction so I could finally face my anxiety head-on.

After eight days in detox, I completed a seven-week intensive outpatient program.  Then I completed a 16-week relapse prevention group.  I started seeing a therapist.  I began learning everything I could about addiction and recovery.  I adopted new healthy lifestyle habits – meditation, journaling, exercising and more.  I found a passion for recovery and decided to return to school to pursue a degree in Addictions Counseling.  I have found a happiness I haven’t felt in many years.  I’m optimistic about life again.  I’m blessed and grateful to have a second chance at life and it’s going to be spent helping others who struggle with addiction.

(via SAMHSA)

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