tarheeldan - do you feel like sharing your story? I would love to hear how it was, how it is now, and how you got from a to b.
surfhb - this is a current source of shame for me. I smoke. I've been working on it, switched to vaping and reduced the frequency and cost by 50%, but i'm struggling to cut the cord and it is making me feel pretty demoralized. Everyone here basically says "facepunch, stop smoking", and i dont know why i can't just do it already. I have tried NRT and books and support resources and the Steps, and yet I am still doing it. How did you finally quit? It is, by FAR, the most stupid expense in my budget, and even that hasn't stopped me. I feel like admitting you are a smoker here is like admitting I like to skin puppies for sport or something. I managed to get clean but can't break the nicotine habit.
Sure! We do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it - always happy to use it if it can be useful :-) I drank from the age of 13 until 26, and it got progressively worse. During that time, I also used a ton of drugs (MDMA, K, shrooms, pot, coke, meth, crack (I think? Once), opium, and various and sundry pills). For me, alcohol was the go-to though. It made me feel like I always thought I should feel all the time if something wasn't wrong with me. I could be who I really am supposed to be. And it was a lot of fun for years!
As time went on though, the time between drinks got shorter and shorter, the highs got dulled, and it just stopped working as well. I became a pain in the ass when I was drinking too, selfish and inconsiderate, sometimes belligerent. I tried to commit suicide a couple of times, then got caught drinking and driving, and managed to put together maybe six months sober. But, I still had that reservation that if I could stay sober long enough that I would magically be able to drink like normal people again. Haha! I like to say that if I smash my TV with a hammer and wait six months, it won't magically start working again! Anyway, I started drinking again and life got smaller and smaller again until it was just guilt and shame, and the insanity of waking up with all the will in the world not to get messed up that day but experiencing that strange mental twist just hours later where I thought I was choosing to get messed up again. It was awful. I didn't even have it in me to try to commit suicide. So, I just drank for oblivion - trying to be unconscious as much as possible because I couldn't get drunk in my mind anymore (my body got drunk, but the squirrels wouldn't stop running). I asked for help - like a foxhole prayer but without any strings - and help came. Some friends showed up at my door and it broke me out of the mire enough to get to a 12-step meeting. Got a sponsor, did the steps, and life has been absolutely incredible since. Not because of any movie-like outside stuff, but the way I feel and am inside.
When I started the program, I was in a PhD program in Economics, wrapping up the coursework and about to select a thesis topic. But I hadn't shown up for class in weeks - I couldn't leave the apartment except to go get alcohol when I was at the end - and I dropped out. So, I had an MA but I was now unemployed. Luckily I had some savings and some gold that a relative had given me. This, along with a loan from my folks ($5k which I paid back, yaay financial amends!) helped me get through a tough job search in 2010. I'd always been frugal though - I saved half my income working at a non-profit when I first got out of undergrad, for instance. So, once I did finally get a job I was able to work on righting the ship relatively quickly compared to how most people live. Then, I discovered MMM and also was fortunate (and worked well towards) to get raises and promotions at work. Now, I hope to have enough invested by 40 to shift gears and focus more time on the things I love to do - working with other alcholics, helping people with their personal finances, teaching, and getting outside more (not that much, but more than now lol). Oh, and travelling!
I smoked cigarettes from 13 to 25. I, too, switched to vaping for the first couple of years of my sobriety. The way that I quit eventually, is I cut the juice bottle 50/50 with vegetable glycering (propylene glycol would work too) every time it got to half full. This way I titrated down from 6mg to 0mg over the course of a couple of days. I kept vaping at 0mg for a week or so, I think. I wanted to murder people, but exercise helped and after about a month I came out of the fog and felt normal again. It's awesome not to "need" to vape/smoke anymore. I can be much more present in situations. Totally worth it.