We are not bad people; we are sick people with a disease that is not only debilitating but personality, morality and perception altering.

The stigma of what it “means” to be a drug addict or alcoholic kept me out there longer.  I was always a good girl, an honor student in high school, but when I was 16 a traumatic event changed my perspective on life.  When I went off to college I was more open to the idea of drinking and was soon introduced to drugs.

My addiction developed rapidly as I have a predisposition (the genetics) for alcoholism and addiction.  Within a short time I was doing things I wouldn’t normally do for money to score.  I became a liar, a thief, and severely anorexic.  Yet, I could not admit I had a problem before I hit bottom because that would mean admitting I was in fact an addict.

To me, at the time, the word addict meant a low-life, homeless, derelict who was dirty and evil.  I would not admit to being these things or step into a program of recovery until I no longer knew how to live my life without alcohol.  I became a person who I did not recognize in the mirror.

I finally went to a 12-step program and learned that people suffering from addiction are not bad people.  They are people like me.  They are misunderstood individuals, who long to feel complete and seek solutions outside themselves to find something that makes them feel whole.  For myself, it was drugs and alcohol.  For others it could be food, sex, gambling or a number of other things.  We are not bad people we are sick people with a disease that is not only debilitating but personality, morality and perception altering.

I for one in recovery have never met more honest, loving, compassionate people with a willingness to change and grow for the better.  We identify ourselves as addicts or alcoholics not to admit a weakness, but to concede a strength.  I was powerless over my disease.  I became a person I could not recognize and today I surpassed my obstacles, battled my disease, accepted powerlessness and became a woman I am proud of.

I am an alcoholic.  I am an addict.  I am recovering!  I will never be cured of my disease.  I am a person who is willing, one day at a time to do the next right thing.  To grow spiritually and be someone in this world I am proud to look at in the mirror and see.

I entered recovery at 21 years old in 2011.  Today, I am living a beautiful life filled with amazing friends, a loving family and a have an amazingly healthy relationship with a man that I will soon be marrying.  Life is so good today.  There will always be ups and downs in life but today I can experience everything with an open heart and open mind.

My emotions are not a weakness they are a gift.  I get to experience every emotion and appreciate the ability to do so.  Today, I am THRIVING!