Jail, Alcohol & Drug Treatment, and Sobriety’s Freedom

I got to my alcohol and drug treatment facility in a bit of a different way than some — maybe most. I’m sure I’m not the only one to land in alcohol and drug treatment as part of a suspended jail sentence, but I have yet to meet anyone in my recovery who has been down quite the same path. That is one of the darkest things about addiction: there are so many different paths (and so many different types of addiction) that it is easy to become isolated. Addiction is a lonely life despite the many drug buddies you may have racked up. The kinds of friends that you’re likely to have in your life of addiction are not usually the same people that you want to have in your life of sobriety. On rare occasions, real friends will stick by you throughout your addiction(s) and help you find your path to freedom but those people seem to be so few and far between. Most times, getting sober means that you have to say goodbye to the “friends” and/or significant others you had during your addiction as well. At least, that is how my story goes.

During my years before my alcohol and drug treatment, during the height of my addiction, I was dating a boy, Johnny we’ll call him, and he was the light of my life.  I thought the sun and moon set and rose on him. I would have done anything for him. At least, that is what I thought back then. What no one tells you — until it is too late — is that when you’re addicted, that is the only relationship you’re really in. You and your drug(s): that is the relationship. Because if you and your significant other are both using, the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is that you have what you need to get high, that you have what you need to keep from getting sick later that night.

A few times when I was with Johnny, I had the idea that I wanted to get sober. I would tell Johnny my plan to stop using.  He would pretend to be supportive and tell me how great of an idea that was. But, then he would come home later that day or the next day with more than enough hits for both of us. He would hand me my share and without even giving it a second thought, my sober thoughts became thoughts of the past, and I would dive into the present, full force, high as a kite. As long as Johnny was in my life, being sober was not going to be possible. But after years and years of using with him, and being with him, my sober past seemed nonexistent. The days before my life with him, like most lovesick gals with rosy glasses, did not seem important. I lost my friends; I lost my family. I gave up everything for Johnny; I gave up my freedom for Johnny.

One Saturday night, we were partying with some friends, not unlike many other Saturday nights, but this time our neighbors called the police with a noise complaint.  The cops came to our apartment and busted their way inside.  (To this day, I don’t know if they were completely allowed to do that, but, in hindsight, I am glad that they did.) I answered the door.  Unbeknownst to me, Johnny had fled out the back door while the cops were firing questions at me and peering at the living room quarters over my right shoulder. They spotted paraphernalia, and before I knew it, I was sporting some new silver bracelets. It didn’t look good for me; I knew that once they ran my name and saw that I was on probation, I would be spending my night on the inside of a jail cell.  My mind was racing; I can remember thinking that I could at least save Johnny.  They asked me if anyone else was in the apartment, and I lied, naturally, to save Johnny. Naturally, they did not believe me, so they searched the apartment. At the time, I thought Johnny had just found a good hiding place, but he was gone. I found that out when I spent my one phone call on him: he was not home, he was gone, and I never saw him again.

That night, when I was settling in to my new, much smaller, much, “cozier”, state-funded apartment, I realized that I had lost everything. About seven hours later, the withdrawal pains had set in. It was a very long, very sick next 8 days, but when I realized I made it to day 9, I started feeling like I had it in me to stay sober. I realized that I was detoxed and, although painful, I survived it. I spoke to my lawyer, and she was very understanding. She had a plan.

My lawyer helped me to appeal to the judge on my twenty-ninth day. He ruled that I could go to an alcohol and drug treatment as a means of a suspended sentence. I was allowed to go to an alcohol and drug treatment facility on three conditions: 1) I had to successfully complete the program 2) I would be subject to periodic review of my progress with the program and 3) I had to pass any random drug tests the court or the program asked me to take. I would have agreed to anything if it meant that I could walk around outside again.

I do believe, to this day, that sometimes the best way, sometimes the only way, to get sober is to be put behind a bunch of iron bars and to be attached to a matching set of silver bracelets. My days and nights in jail ultimately led to a moment of clarity. I knew that I did not want to live my life this way, crippled by addiction, trapped inside of four walls.  I completed my alcohol and drug treatment program, and, after 90 days at treatment, I felt like a brand new person, ready to take on the world.

Sarah A.