My name is Liam, and I began my recovery journey with Acorn by attending their Pre D.E.A.P. programme. The programme is a six week intervention for clients who are being supported on maintenance medication or still undecided if they want to address their issues to a greater extent.
REHABILITION PROCESS AND RECOVERY:
I was initially defensive and mistrusting of others, which sometimes extended to the therapeutic process itself. I often wore a mask in an attempt to hide how broken and full of shame I actually was. I had many issues with regards to my alcoholism/substance abuse lifestyle, detailing a lot of serious consequences to myself and my loved ones. My addiction, combined with my chaotic life style, contributed to the very low view I had of myself, which was ultimately destructive.
I explained that I had endured an up and down childhood, and felt a lot of pressure at home due to the volatile nature of my parent’s relationship. I witnessed incidents of domestic violence and was also a victim of this myself at points during my childhood. I then disclosed to being the victim of sexual abuse from a trusted family friend. This left me feeling very confused and mistrusting. I have two children of my own and have had little to no contact with either my son or daughter. However, I have maintained contact with my daughter despite my own escalating drug and alcohol use and time in prison.
There were many different factors to work through during my time in treatment such as rejection/abandonment issues from my father, low self-esteem/self-worth originating in childhood sexual trauma I had been subjected to on different occasions by different perpetrators. All of these thoughts and feelings were compounded during my journey through addiction and had a profound effect on how I conducted myself in my own relationships. I had experienced various levels of despair and depression due to my exposure to addiction, and I admitted to feeling suicidal at times; I had spent time in prisons and mental health units as a result of these feelings.
My life-story is one of sadness, rejection and abandonment. I do recall reacting badly when being informed by my sister that she too had been sexually abused by one of the people who had abused me. I had felt responsible for this, believing that if I had taken action then my sister would not have endured the same trauma I did. This was a major contributing factor behind my lack of self-worth, low self-esteem and feelings of self-loathing.
I found myself increasingly able to demonstrate a shift in my thinking that allowed me some acceptance. I was able to acknowledge my trauma and the trauma experienced from my family’s view point. I have explored all family relationships, past and present, and my outlook around relationships and events. I focused on the emotional and mental consequences my lifestyle has had on my relationships, with emphasis being placed on my long-term relationship. This includes the impact that several miscarriages had on me personally, and the uncertainty I carry about whether I am actually the father to my ex-partner’s son. This has included taking responsibility for the similarity in this child’s life with my own, and the potential for a systemic pattern being formed.
Despite this, I believe I have become an open and willing person. I have opened my mind to the extent of the damage I have caused. I do have the ability to differentiate between shame and guilt, which has afforded me the opportunity to want to rectify and make amends for my mistakes. I have explored the consequences to my family and I have been honest, willing and courageous when looking at how my self-defeating behaviours (in particular my alcohol/drug use) has brought about such serious and long-term consequences, for both myself and my family. This resulted in me taking some extremely courageous steps, the most significant of which concerned my own sexuality and the shame I had attached to myself because of this.
I have genuine remorse when connecting emotionally to certain aspects of my written work. I acknowledged my own resentments and hurt in form of grief letters which I presented to my peer group. The intention was for me to expel some of that anger, suppressed feelings and emotions that I’d held onto for a very long time. I struggled with this concept initially, but my group helped me immensely to move forward and gain some self-forgiveness. In group, I feel I have grown in my ability to communicate, empathise and to take responsibility for my choices and how I can make more positive choices regarding my future. I am aware of the triggers and risks attached if my behaviour and focus were to lapse at some point in the future.
I have felt a positive change in myself which is reflected in the care I have for new members of the centre, whether this is in group or in the accommodation where I reside. During this time in treatment, I think I have grown in my ability to reflect on behaviours and their outcomes to myself and my family. I have become aware that I have choices, and it is my responsibility to make the right choices for the right reasons. As my treatment has progressed, I have found a determination and willing within myself.
RECOVERY MAINTAINENCE/RELAPSE PREVENTION:
I believe that I am equipped with all the necessary tools and coping strategies I will need to maintain long-term abstinence. Whilst it is important to note that abstinence and sobriety cannot be guaranteed, I am aware of my triggers and positive solutions to help my move away from potential relapse situations.