Alumni Spotlight: Michael’s Recovery Story
Our Discovery Point Retreat alumni family is filled with amazing people who exemplify what drives our passion for addiction recovery. No matter where their stories began or what experiences brought them to our doors, each of our alumni prove that recovery is always possible.
To help celebrate the members of our recovery family and give our alumni an opportunity to share their stories, we are now hosting Facebook Live events with hosts Noelle Carmen and Alumni Counselor Jasmine Jackson. During each Live we invite a Discovery Point Retreat alumni to share their recovery story as well as their experiences in treatment and what they’ve accomplished since graduation. This week alumni Michael shared his powerful testimony.
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Like many people, Michael was introduced to alcohol as a teenager. He drank beer at house parties and when hanging out with friends. He felt in control and never saw a problem with his drinking habits until he was 18 years old and began drinking harder liquors. What began as weekend binge drinking quickly developed into alcohol addiction. Wanting to get a buzz as quickly as possible, he reached for a whiskey bottle weekend after weekend, and the addiction progressively got worse. His weekend binges soon became a nightly routine.
During September of 2019, Michael began a weight-loss journey through the care of a physician, stating:
“At this stage, I was drinking 4-5 handles of whiskey a week before I signed up for weight loss surgery. During the process they do psych exams and I remember the physicians asking questions about my drinking alcohol— of course, I lied to them about the extent of my drinking. I would say I drank ‘one or two’ but never specified whether the ‘one or two’ were drinks or bottles. The doctors told me I would not be able to drink for a month leading up to the surgery and until a year after the surgery. I said I didn’t have a problem with alcohol at the time, but I had no intention of staying sober. I ended up drinking until the night before my surgery; thankfully, the surgery was a success.
Six months after the surgery, my wife and I took a trip to Rome. We drank wine with our meals; shockingly, I handled the alcohol like a gentleman, not binge-drinking for the whole trip. When I arrived back home, I stopped drinking again for three weeks. Since it was my birthday, I assured myself I did so well with wine on the trip that I would just switch to wine. However, what started with one glass proceeded into four bottles of wine per day.”
Recognizing there was a problem, Michael recalls attempting to regain control of the situation. Recognizing there was a problem, Michael recalls attempting to regain control of the situation.
“When I tried to monitor my drinking, I would attempt to set limits like only having one or two drinks. My night, however, would end in a binge, and I would wake up the next morning, thinking, ‘well, I lied to myself again.’ I knew it was a problem. Nevertheless, I never called myself an alcoholic because of perceived stigmas surrounding the label.”
The only time Michael attempted to stop drinking cold turkey was for a bet. His wife bet him that he could not go a full month without alcohol. Competitive by nature, it was a very long month for Michael. Nonetheless, he white-knuckled his way through the month but fell back into old habits as soon as it was over.
“In the beginning stages of my addiction, I don’t believe my wife even knew how much I was truly drinking. I hid my liquor bottles in different places around the house and put them strategically in the trash can to avoid the clinking noise.”
Although Michael never drank at work, he maintained the same after-work routine five days a week. He’d get off work, go to the liquor store to pick up his alcohol– often drinking it on the way home– then would stop by the grocery store near his home to purchase more alcohol. Once home with a total of four bottles of wine, he’d place two in the freezer and two in the fridge. He would inevitably drink all four bottles that evening and somehow manage to wake up the following day for work. Each time, he would tell himself, ‘I’m not going to do that again,’ but inevitably repeat the process again and again. On weekends his drinking was nearly uninterrupted.
As the hangovers each morning started to catch up to Michael, he experienced alarming behaviors and side effects, the most memorable of which was that his hands were so shaky that his handwriting became illegible. Michael recalls one of his co-workers, who he had known for nearly a decade, asking him to stop drinking long before Michael realized he had a problem. Michael was not at a point in his life where he was accepting of his alcoholism, but he knew something was different.
“I was the loneliest guy in the room full of people.”
As Michael went on to discuss his family environment, he explained that:
“My wife and kids felt like they had to walk on eggshells around me. In my first family counseling session, I learned everyone was keeping a safe distance from me. There I was thinking I was a really great guy. I went to work and provided like a great guy, but being home, I only drank until I fell asleep on the sofa. So I guess [I was] not as good as I thought I was. I didn’t know how to relate to people if I wasn’t under the influence of alcohol. If I got drunk, in my mind, I knew how to relate, but it never really worked out that way.”
Eventually Michael hit his breaking point. As he woke after a night of binge drinking and left for his morning commute to work, he had an emotional breakdown. He cried out in his car for help because his life was falling apart and he realized he could not continue drinking. Michael got to work at 7:30 AM, went into his supervisor’s office and asked to talk with him. There was a staff meeting, so they postponed the conversation until about 10 AM. When it finally came time to discuss options for help, Michael cried. He had never talked to anyone about the problem with alcohol, but he was desperate. The supervisor took Michael off of work for a week, and Michael sought help to overcome the addiction to alcohol.
“I thought I’d learn how to drink like a normal person.”
“At the point of going to Discovery Point Retreat, I learned addiction lies to you. It’s always in the back of my mind that I can have just one drink, but it’s never just one. I always end up binge drinking and passing out. I gave it to my higher power because I could not keep myself sober. I went to Discovery Point Retreat to get the tools I needed to overcome my addiction.”
“Now I’m six months sober, and my family knows they are going to get all my attention with me coming home from work. I now utilize what I learned from my time at Discovery Point Retreat, the most impactful being ‘play the tape forward,’ meaning if I can think through my actions before making a decision, I can make better decisions. My relationship with my wife and kids has been great. We try to do things that bring us together now. My family and I are way better than where we were prior to my sobriety.”
“I feel like a brand new person—I’m a completely different person after having been to Discovery Point Retreat.”
If you or someone you love needs help with substance use, Discovery Point Retreat is here to help. Give us a call today to discuss your options.