I have found a personal freedom far more beautiful than anything I have known before.

My name is Sarah Lang, and I am a young person in long term recovery. For me, that means that I have found a personal freedom far more beautiful than anything I have known before. I am a responsible member of society, where at one time in my life I was disregarded as someone who didn’t belong. I am a loving girlfriend, in a healthy relationship with someone who supports me in my recovery and wants to see me thrive. I am part of a family, no longer cut-off, locked-out or shunned; I am able to be a daughter, a sister, and an aunt, to be accountable and reliable. I am a loyal friend. I volunteer in my community. I am a student with a college degree who is working toward achieving another. I look forward to going to work because I know that every day I am able to make a difference in people’s lives and help them reach their potential.

I am in recovery from addiction and I have not had any mind or mood altering substances since March of 2011. My recovery began in a jail cell, completely alone, helpless, and afraid. I had lost all hope in my life, lost all faith in myself, and lost my will to go on. I had been beaten down by years of continuous survival- I say that because up until that point I had not been living my life. I had been fueled by my addiction completely controlled by a force within me that I did not understand. I had no idea how things escalated to this point, and I had no idea how I would get out.

I remember experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a young age, and something that I thought was so normal and innocent turned out to be something far beyond my control. I never understood addiction, people throw that word around with such ease, “addicted to electronics, television, video games” “addicted to cheesecake, to chocolate, to sugar” “addicted to a band, to an artist, to this song” but none of those things can measure up to what it means to suffer from the disease of addiction. It is not something to casually remark, to joke about, or to exaggerate. Addiction is a disease that ruins people’s lives, families lose their loved ones, and some people never get the chance to find recovery.

There was a point in my life where I felt that I was just like everyone else who drank on the weekends. I went to parties, smoked with friends, and laughed it all off as a phase of life, but somewhere along the line I didn’t want to stop. I kept pushing the limit of what I was willing to do, the list of drugs I tried became longer, and the list of drugs I wasn’t interested in became shorter. I was in denial that there was a problem, even when my friends tried to tell me, even when the consequences became clear, even when people were moving on and I wasn’t ready to give up. I was fighting to hold onto the feeling that I craved; although it was getting harder and harder to find it in the bottom of liquor bottles, prescription bottles, empty baggies, pipes, and finally shackled in the back of a cop car.

Addiction had filled my head full of lies about myself, my life, and the world around me.

I had tried to find recovery in the form of hospitalization, detoxes, out-patient services, in-patient rehabs, moving to 4 different States across the Country, changing friends, changing jobs, changing relationships, starting school, dropping out of school, limiting my drug-use, self-will, and none of these strategies worked until I became completely ready and willing to change anything and everything about myself. I had to be broken down to the core, in order to be built from the ground up.

Recovery has helped me get in tune with my true self. Addiction had filled my head full of lies about myself, my life, and the world around me. In recovery I have been able to break away from the false ideas that once turned me to using drugs as a way of escaping reality, escaping myself, and escaping my feelings. In recovery I learned how my maladaptive thoughts, my belief system, and my unhealthy coping mechanisms were in fact a form of self-destruction. My recovery has given me a new perspective on life, instilled hope in me, and has opened me up to so many new opportunities.

I believe recovery is possible for anyone, I have seen miracles in the lives of so many people who have committed to a life without drugs. I know that there are so many misconceptions about addiction, people don’t understand it or they don’t want to, but there is power in knowledge. Recovery is saving lives every single day, and the people who are taking a chance at something new are putting all of their hope, faith, and trust in the fact that- if I can do it, so can you. If no one has told you they believe in you, then I will tell you whole-heartedly I believe you can recover from your addiction, and I can promise that if you just hold on, you will see the beauty that I have found in recovery in your life as well.

My name is Sarah Lang and I am NOT anonymous.