I was 19 when I landed in inpatient rehab. I didn't come from a family who used drugs or alcohol, and I was raised as normal as a person could be raised. I was born in the Bronx, NY and moved to Morris County, NJ when I was pretty young. I was raised going to public school during the day, Hebrew school 3 days a week, and I always played a sport or did some activity when I wasn't at home doing homework, eating or sleeping. My parents were very well balanced. They raised me to eat healthy and to exercise every day.

As a child I was extremely shy. I didn't like meeting new people and didn't talk to people I didn't know. I was an excellent gymnast and strived to make it to the Olympics. I wanted a personal coach and I wanted to practice every waking moment. I was an extremist; I couldn't be just run-of -the-mill. I held many records at my school for being "the best."

During my young years I had many opportunities to taste alcohol and boy did I love it. The only time my family had alcohol around was at social gatherings, and I would go to town. My face would turn bright red and my parents would say, "She is allergic to alcohol." If I only knew just how allergic I really was. My parent's friends would make comments like "I think you better watch it with her. She seems to want to drink a little to much." I was young, and it wasn't like I had access to it every day.

As I grew up I began to sneak alcohol out of my parents liquor closet. I read somewhere that "alcohol is better then having cough syrup when you're sick." Just like pain medicine addicts who develop chronic back pains I developed a chronic sore throat. Soon, I began to have a small swig or two before school and of course whenever possible I drank more. I didn't care whether it was peach schnapps, cointreau, beer, wine, etc... All alcohol tasted GREAT!

As I got older and entered junior high and high school, I continued to play sports and managed to get most valuable player on the Tennis Team and tried to keep my grades up, mostly by cheating. As my drinking grew deeper, so did my emotional issues.

My grades were inconsistent, some quarters I would get As and the next I would get Cs. I would bribe my teachers to change my grades, continue to cheat, and continue to drink more.

My family at home was pretty normal and not very affectionate, and I began to create issues at home. When I was 16 I started living away from my family, running away often, having issues with the police, legally staying with different families, all because I felt horrible within my own skin.

By this time I drank all day, every day and night, until I passed out. The reason that I gave to my friends was "I don't want to feel anything and the only way to feel nothing is to be passed out." I became very suicidal, violent, depressed, and cried every day at school. Alcohol did not make me a happy drunk. It made all of my emotions (all sad) come pouring out. The school, therapists, family & friends all tried to help me but nothing worked. I was on a downward spiral.

I managed to barely graduate high school and chose alcohol over college. I stayed in the town I grew up in living with other addicts and alcoholics and working fast food jobs. My friends from college would come visit me when they returned for the holidays, and I was just filled with shame. I moved around a lot to several different towns, all in NJ trying to hang on to life by a thread.

I had tried AA once when my boyfriend went to jail. I didn't stop drinking, but I heard a lot of stories there that I could relate to and saw a little bit of hope. No one ever invited me to fellowship and I assumed it was because they knew I couldn't ever put the bottle down. I only went for a few days and then stopped when my boyfriend got out of jail.

I made several failed attempts after that to quit drinking but always ended up right back at the bottle very shortly afterwards. My family eventually intervened on my behalf and offered to pay for me to go to whatever rehab I wanted.

I agreed to try rehab and starting doing some research into different alcohol rehab treatment centers. I looked at places locally, and out of state too, but really had no idea which one to go to. As fate would have it after looking for a couple of days at rehab places, I met a guy through a friend of mine who had recently returned from an alcohol rehab. He told me he went to an alcohol rehab in Florida called Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches. The way he described their treatment center it sounded to me like it was more of a resort than a rehab. He told me that they really changed his life. He made it sound very appealing being in Florida, the sunshine and it also happened to be the middle of winter. I decided to follow his advice and give them a call and to this day I am so grateful that I took that life-changing step. The woman I spoke with took care of everything for me including securing the plane ticket and arranging for them to pick me up at the airport. One day later, I was down in sunny South Florida and began my alcohol rehab.

This was the best move I had ever made. I recently passed my 1 year anniversary of being sober. I guess I am one of the lucky ones who only had to go through rehab once. I have read many accounts of people who keep trying different rehabs and relapsing.

I am grateful to have a life that I would have never had if it weren't for Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches. I wrote this as my personal thank you to BHOPB. I am looking forward to going back to an alumni meeting to pick up my 1 year medallion.

Karen E.