Living in the grey by Teddie Honey

I like to post different views on recovery and addiction. This is one, you may have another. I am in abstinenced based recovery but that is not the road for everyone. Success can be measured differently by different people -Tracey

When people think about recovery they tend to do it in terms of black and white,
addicts are either active, currently using, or in recovery, no longer using.
when I look back at the blurry haze that has been most of my life I often find myself lost trying to figure out when I have been most 'active' and when I have been most 'in recovery'
over my 15 year long adventure with drugs and alcohol I have shifted through many phases of use, sometimes only drinking, sometimes only drugs, occasionally (albeit rarely) neither.
In my youth everything was in play, the game was 'get fucked up' and the rules were lose,
every narcotic was a new experience, a new tool on my belt of feelings and experiences that I could have ready and waiting, wrapped up in cigarette plastic, stuffed in the coin pocket of my jeans, like a super power. Like magic little gems that contained joy, sleep, energy, relaxation. 'whatever you needed'

I vividly remember discovering amphetamines having an effect like Peter Parker discovering his confusing and awesome new powers. I was simply amazed by all the things I could do,
uppers made me larger then life, which in your early teens seems very important when running with an older crowd,
I could party as hard, drink as much, throw and receive punches just as tough.
Speed was the secret weapon I used to impress and engage.
I think it was this realization that drew my attentions to my true love of alcohol and binge drinking
my head and heart were in it, my body just needed to catch up.
Binge drinking is a problem that still plagues me today,
as an 'active' addict, the idea of slowly sipping one day into the next floats in the back of my brain every time something goes wrong,
every time something goes right,
or when nothing is going anywhere at all.
That hair of the dog morning beer, drinking off the hangover can be your only choice too many days in the bottle, a drink to make your hands stop shaking, a drink to kill the nausea, a drink to shut your brain up. But keeping all three sheets wrapped around you for that long takes energy, drunk is a high you have to work for, and not just in the 'earning the money' way, but in the time and energy consuming way, you have to KEEP DRINKING.
There's no one shot stop, no 'just a fix' no 'getting straight' drinking is an all day activity starting from your first shaky sip to your last nodding spill.

From a young age I new that with the help of my new found pills and powders I could keep the party going all the time. Although genetically predispositioned to alcoholism, finding my 'addictive behaviors' was something I had to do on my own. neither of my parents being drinkers or drug users, intoxication was an experience I got to discover like a shining new world of ups and downs.
Like paying off one credit card with another, I found that there was a pill for everything.
Each one as discreet and uncomplicated as the next. And slowly the party started getting weirder, swapping scrips with high schoolers, and stealing 40's of Steel were played out, and in an attempt to keep my chops up I followed the path that so many others do through harder drugs, rehabs, homelessness and eventual incarceration..

I surfaced in my late teens and made my first attempt at real adulthood, a job, and house, the works, but the ease of supporting myself through the drug trade led me back down that same path. pills working in tandem with and endless supply of bottles, kept me floating admit a sea of blurred shaky memories for several more years.
I quit taking narcotics when I became a drug counselor. Classy I know.
But with my heart in the right place, and my drinking mostly under control I gave it my all and was well received by my clients for my first hand experience, and more importantly, my honesty,
I never lied to them about my use, no matter how current.
I spoke candidly about my drinking and that it was something that remained prevalent.

Being an 'addict' isn’t something that can be beat, but it is something that can be controlled.
Though only through the constant winning of small battles, every trip to the bar or liquor store is an internal debate. Each drink order a small moral war.
I'm comfortable in my alcoholism in the same way that I'm comfortable in my scars, in that the damage is there, and always will be. I wouldn’t seek to 'beat' this disease anymore then I would seek plastic surgery to remove a mole, or laser treatment to remove any one of my many regrettable tattoos.
its a part of me, its who I am.
My (biological) father grew up in a small working class ghetto outside of London, I'm sure the idea of 'alcoholism' never even entered his brain.
On the other side my grandfather drank with all the impunity that a father in his day and age would, which was every night, and until he couldn’t anymore.
I still believe in many old standards of the lush,
that you don't know a man until you drink with him.
That booze makes people more honest, that a drink is the appropriate beginning and end of almost any experience. I drink to celebrate
and to commemorate equally. I drink as a hobby, as a passion, I drink as an identity.But as we age I think all of our perspectives on this change,
in the early 20's everybody 'has a drinking problem'
mid 20's separate the 'partiers' from the ' long term planners'
late 20's separate the 'drinkers' from ' people who drink'
The population of people who are willing to do shots until closing on a Monday declines slowly to one polite glass of wine with dinner. The stigma of the 30's set in and people start to build careers, families, long term plans for adulthood, or, they drink. .
In the way that a person in recovery must find new social groups to be sober in, a person living with alcoholism must find new social groups in which to drink.
it took many years to realize that the question for me wasn’t, “have i become powerless over drugs and alcohol” the questions was 'do i want this to change'
what I've found is that just like with all aspects of life, one should never apply a blanket statement to an entire group of people. what may work for many, will never work for all. each individual cannot fit into any particular ideology or program.
Through an understanding of this affliction and through knowing the where, why, who and when, I've grown comfortable in it. In this realization I learned how to strip away the bullshit, excuses, promises, lies and cover ups.

I learned how to say “no, this is my last one tonight guys”,
I learned how to put beer in the fridge and leave it there until I had somebody to drink it with.
I learned how to look at the door of the bar, and not go through it.
I learned how to live with it, not just survive through it,
That was my recovery,
and when I look at myself in the mirror now, even through the haze of a hangover, I'm still proud of what I see. 


  1. Great post Tracey. Some fantastic inspiration. I didn't know you could have a glass of wine and still be abstinent.

    1. Some people can- i can't- but some people can

  2. That is some good writing if you ask me.

  3. I think the all-or-nothing aspect of recovery really seems to scare people away. It doesn't have to be like that, not for everyone.

  4. Fantastic post, I think a lot of the people who try to force absolute abstinence on others couldn't do it themselves.

  5. hey everybody,
    thanks so much for reading,
    my intention was in no way lessen the importance of abstinence for the people who chose that path, nor to absolve relapse in those who seek it.

    but only to bring light to other options, and that each person needs to find the lifestyle that makes them happiest. i appreciate you all showing your support for those who fall between the lines.

    be well


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