Addiction is ugly but recovery is beautiful. Recovery is possible.

My name is Allison Hudson and I’ve been sober since June 11, 2012.

Today my life has purpose, but it wasn’t too long ago that all I knew was pain.

I grew up in a picturesque family in a picturesque small southern town. I grew up with parents who loved each other and they loved their four children. We went to church on Sundays, ate dinner as a family every night, and took vacations every year together. We had everything we needed and most things we wanted.

I didn’t drink until I was in college. It was innocent enough, I thought—drinking at parties like everyone else was doing. Looking back, I can see that I have always drank alcoholically. I was a black out drinker from the first time alcohol touched my lips. Luckily, my drinking/drug history only lasted 12 years from my first drink to my last, and I can sum up those 12 years in three phases: fun, fun with problems, and problems.

Things got bad and they continued to get worse. The progression was fast for me. There was a time I thought I drank because I wanted to, but the time came where I didn’t want to drink anymore but I couldn’t stop. I wanted to stop but I couldn’t. Day after day, I would say that today was going to be different and not drink. Today was never different. “Just one,” I would say. So, I would drink, get drunk, pass out, wake up, tell myself “not today,” and then eventually start the vicious cycle all over again. That went on for years. I was powerless over alcohol.

You would have thought maybe the DUI, numerous trips to the emergency room, broken relationships, or any of the other unsavory consequences that came as a result of my drinking would have clued me in that I had a problem, but none of them did. I just thought I drank because my life was crappy. I was wrong. My life was crappy because of my drinking.

In April 2012, my younger brother died from a prescription drug overdose of fentanyl. I went from being a somewhat functioning alcoholic to drinking around the clock on not caring about anything else other than drinking to escape the reality and the pain. This went on for 49 days until I woke up on June 11, 2012 with a hopelessness that I had never felt before. It was the gift of desperation.

I was ashamed of who I was, choices I had made and hated the person who was looking back at me in the mirror. For years, I had sat at my vanity in the morning and did not recognize the person looking back at me. I wanted to change. I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin, but one thing stood in the way of that. It was my drinking. I couldn’t imagine a life not drinking. Fear held me back for years. A life sans booze? Are you kidding me? That seemed impossible. I had become comfortable in my own misery. I mean, change is a scary thing.

I couldn’t continue living like I was. When I showed up to rehab, I was physically, mentally and spiritually broke. I was told that all I needed was ‘willingness,’ and I could get sober. I was willing to do anything to just stop not having to drink. That’s what I went to rehab for—to stop drinking. Little did I know that recovery offers so much more than just a life free from drugs/alcohol.

I never thought I could be as genuinely happy as I am today living in long term recovery. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am a better daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. I have joy in life. I lead a healthy lifestyle and have interest in a lot of things…none of which include being at bar or drinking.

Nothing breaks my heart more than people living and dying from the disease of addiction.

Fear kept me from getting sober for a long time. I thought a life free from drugs/alcohol seemed really boring. Man, was I wrong. I continue to be amazed at the contentment and peace that fills my life today. Not to mention, waking up not sober with my dignity and memory intact is priceless.

I’m proud of my recovery so I am open with it. Nothing breaks my heart more than people living and dying from the disease of addiction. So, I started a blog, “It’s a Lush Life” as part of a living amends to my brother—a promise to be open and honest about my struggles with alcoholism and my life in recovery. Maybe I could be the big sister to others that I should have been to my brother before he died—that was my hope and my promise to Will.

I’ve never been anonymous when it comes to my recovery. Who would that be helping? Being an advocate for recovery gives my life purpose. Being of service to others gives my life purpose. I’m simply giving back what was freely given to me and that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

God continues to amaze me by how he using my life to reach those who are still suffering from this disease. I am currently in the process of opening a sober living home in the town I grew up in. It’s called Will’s Place, in memory of my brother. It is by far the thing I am most proud of as a result of my recovery.

I am passionate about ending the stigma and shame and changing public perception of addiction. Addiction is not something to glamorize, or joked about. It’s a disease that is killing our brothers, sisters, mother, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, grandmothers, grandfathers and friends at epidemic rates. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care how pretty you are, how much money is in your bank account, what kind of car you drive, or the zip code you live in. It is a disease and needs to be treated as one.

Addiction is ugly but recovery is beautiful. Recovery is possible.