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Do or Die

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Do or Die

I'm Elizabeth and I'm an alcoholic. I??m also a wife, mother, sister, friend, counselor, writer, coffee lover, math illiterate and aging athlete. I can be all of these things because I know that I am an alcoholic and that anything I put in front of my recovery I will absolutely lose.

The last thing I remember from September 11, 2006 is getting my nails done. I had already been drinking because at that point I had no choice. I drank 24/7 and had been at that point for years. Flashes of memory pop into my mind but most of what I know about that day is what I have been told ?? returning from the nail salon, making phone calls, drinking some more, driving to get my oldest son from work and nearly careening off the bridge, having an argument with my husband that led to threats of violence (me toward him) and ending up passed out on the driveway with my keys and cell phone in my hand. A neighbor knocked on the door to tell my husband of my condition but he was aware and had left me there on purpose. I had made my mess and he wasn??t cleaning up after me anymore.

Two weeks before that day I had agreed to enter a treatment program ?? after he informed me that I had to get sober that day or he would leave immediately, and if I did get sober he would leave me in 90 days. We had just returned from a family reunion where I had cleared my Grandmother out of 3 gallons of bourbon. He had caught me glugging straight from the bottle while I was hiding in the garage. My husband had tolerated my drinking myself nearly to death, including nearly dying from a gastric bleed and doing countless detoxes. After 19 years of marriage he was done and I could no longer cope with the look of disgust and disappointment on his face. Unfortunately I had been released to Intensive outpatient treatment and, having not committed myself to any program of recovery, relapsed hard. I had my arm casted to the shoulder from breaking it while drunk and had previously been doing treatment from home, however our insurance insisted that if they were going to pay ?? and this is the last time they would ?? I had to be inpatient. On September 12, 2006 I entered residential treatment and began a journey of recovery that continues today.

I had been drinking and using for 33 years by the time I got sober ?? daily since I was 8 years old ?? and had no skills to draw on to live life on life??s terms. I was also a therapist with people with substance abuse problems so letting go long enough to get what I needed to function was not easy. It took a village to guide me but I did learn to become teachable. That is the greatest change in me ?? being teachable. To understand that I had been operating under the delusion that I would be happy if only I MANAGED well. Boy did I manage ?? everything around me, near me or that might impact me. From where we lived and went to church, the stripes the vacuum made, how myself and my family looked - I managed it all, with differing results ?? never satisfied or happy. Letting go, applying the fact that I am powerless over alcohol and drugs, and EVERYTHING else, changed my life completely. It??s not always easy ?? stuff happens but I know that it will work out in the end the way it is meant to ?? if not how I would have planned.

The great thing is that the results I see today are far better than anything I would have planned. I didn??t think my life would improve to anything resembling what I live today.

There have been many moments that I can list that make me cry with joy including what happened when I received my three year medallion. I was a mean drunk ?? and my family took the brunt of my rage. I was physically, verbally and mentally abusive to both my husband and my children. When I got sober I really never believed those relationships could be repaired. It took work, therapy and time but things really began to take shape during my second year sober. The morning of my anniversary we were all going in a hundred directions. It was my son??s birthday, he was prepping to leave for the marines, my daughter had a horseshow and I was popping in to my 7am meeting to get my medallion and jump into the day??s activities.

Much to my surprise it was my son who appeared out of nowhere to present my coin saying ??For my sixteenth birthday I didn??t get a car, or anything material. What I got was my mother sober for the first time in my life.?? He said other things but I was crying too hard to hear.

Today, rather than going back to being a therapist, I am a Peer Support Specialist. Assisting people in getting from a starting point in mental health and substance abuse recovery to a place of optimum wellness is what makes me the happiest.

I??m also a wife, mother, sister, friend, counselor, writer, coffee lover, math illiterate and aging athlete but first and foremost I am Elizabeth and I??m an alcoholic.

This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

Guest Book


1. Julie
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Elizabeth. Congrats on 10 years of recovery today!
2. Sasha B
Hi Elizabeth, This is a very touching, inspiring, and well-written story - what a long and hard journey you've walked! Not only have you overcome the difficult bumps in the road, you rose to help others at similar roadbumps. That is an admirable achievement. Congratulations!!!!
3. William
the problem with drug prohibition of ANY kind is that it infringes on YOUR rights as a human being!
4. David Hanna
Prohibition works when the vast majority wants to prohibit use. The original prohibition laws were passed by a rural dominated Congress at a time when the country became fully urbanized. The city people didn't want prohibition. Today the vast majority is still opposed to the legalization of Marijuana inspite of efforts to do so. Marijuana is an insidious drug slowly destroying one's ability to make decisions. It is addictive in a similar pattern as cigarettes (1 joint won't but 20 joints will). It is 6 times more unhealthy than cigarettes and comes with all the health hazards cigarettes have except for nicotine addiction. Alcohol has a most unique standing of all the drugs. It is a very essential chemical. It is used to make roughly 25% of all consumer products. It is used in the medical field as a cleaning and disinfecting agent. In the energy it is an alternative fuel.
5. Shay
I fully expected to read the comments on here and see a lot of anti marijuana info and/or propaganda.. I am very glad to see that this has not been the case. My stance on this issue is that prohibition of anything makes it more dangerous than it inherently is. People abuse drugs and cause themselves to overdose. People also (when you sell drugs) typically will also lace certain drugs with others to either increase volume or to attempt to make a better product but these mixes can be much dangerous than the original drug. When you have something that is legal it has to go through checks... approvals. Not to mention it puts more money into the hands of criminals. The government seems to think that if you throw enough money at a problem it will eventually go away... news flash: the governments war on drugs was lost before it began. Money wasted.
6. Lisaf-breakingthecycles
To Anne, Novemer16... Hi Anne, Here are two links that might prove helpful in your conversations with your son. The first one is ONDCP's (Office of National Drug Control Policy) "Marijuana: Facts and Myths..." The second is NIDA's (National Institute on Drug Abuse) "Marijuana: Facts for Teens" What I learned with my own daughters is that having factual information, sharing it, letting them sit with it and then having further discussions about it - even researching our own respective opinions further and sharing that information, was more effective in guiding some of their drug and alcohol use decisions than just dictating - not that you don't set limits, even zero tolerance limits - but those will come as you both better understand the facts and each other's feelings/opinions.
7. Michael
I agree with the second poster when she said that prohibition is not the answer. Whenever people put forth that argument I remind them that what happened the last time alcohol was illegal (in the 1920s) was that crime skyrocketed in the form of alcohol bootlegging. Also, Al Capone rose to infamy because the government essentially gave the alcohol industry from the legal shop owners and producers to him and his cronies.
8. Anne
Hi, not much on this website regarding marijuana. I would like to know if you can send me to any good sites with evidence that marijuana is dangerous. Just found out my 15-yo is smoking and states he has been for 1 year (which I didn't see). Don't know whether I should put him under house arrest. He seems to be saying he gets it from school mates. He says I don't know anything about marijuana. I know this is just one of the arguments in his arsenal that don't really need to be argued with. It is illegal and a substance which alters brain function, he is 15, therefore he cannot use it. I just want to be as informed as possible. What are the statistics if there are any and/or facts regarding going from marijuana to another substance to abuse. It has already altered our relationship and every aspect of our lives and that is enough to make be alarmed right there.
9. Laurie
If I could change decisions I made while raising my children, it woudl be not to be an example of the only way to have fun is to party - drink, etc. Now that I understand the consequences of that decision and have changed my lifestyle to reflect my love for Christ, I'm seeing myself in my children - only magnified because the drugs are so much harder and more available. If there was any advice I could give as one who has walked that path, don't be an example for your children unless that's what you want to see in their lives. It may not be alcohol - it may be heroin...
10. Km
its not the '20s? prohibition would be a horrible idea... if you think there would not be a resurgent boom in organized crime i fear you are sadly mistaken. when your child comes home from school with pot where do you think it came from? people can get pot at any time... because there is an insanely complex network of people that get it from the farm to your everyday pothead. if this exists for pot dont you think it would exist for alcohol. not to mention bootleg alcohol is not monitored, which makes it potentially way more dangerous. it makes much more sense to legalize pot, that way it could be monitored, taxed ect, it would also get rid of a huge crime network. there is clearly a capacity for a bootleg alcohol organized crime to exist in present day.
11. Jane
This is such a touching story. I can really relate to what your son said. It literally made me cry. Thank you for sharing!