By the time I hit rock bottom, I had a hundred dollars to my name and within a couple of days all of that money was gone to alcohol. My addiction was so crippling that I was sipping vodka all throughout the day just to feel normal. I had lost my job and really wasn’t in any position to find another one.
Not just because of being physically unwell, but my desire to live had all but disappeared. Life didn’t seem worth it to me. Getting drunk was the only way for me to drag myself through each day and night. Then it hit me: I am still alive, what’s kept me from purposefully ending it all?
It was right then that I realized I still wanted to live. I would have checked out long before, but there was still a tiny shred of life left inside of me. If I could get to where I got and not have completely lost all hope, then that’s something I could work with. I could build off of that. That’s what kept me going despite my struggles.
Even after having this moment of realization, I went right ahead and continued on my path of self-destruction. I continued to drink all day until passing out and sleeping in my car. I continued to go through each day feeling mostly hopeless, though I would have moments of clarity. I knew something had to be done, and I wasn’t finished yet. Even in my darkest moments, and with the idea of suicide rolling around in my head, I knew it wasn’t an option. Despite that, I continued to poison myself with booze day in and day out.
I come from a family with a long history of alcohol abuse. I was given my first sip of beer around the age of six and my first sip of liquor not long after that. The heavy drinking that my parents and other relatives engaged in was normalized. There wasn’t one holiday or birthday party where someone didn’t get belligerently drunk.
I grew up listening to my parents arguing and fighting, so that also became normal. I remember going to friends’ houses and being shocked that their parents weren’t fighting every two minutes. My father died of cirrhosis several years ago and I do not have much contact with my mother. I have an uncle who is now sober, and he is one of the only family members I still stay in touch with.
Fast forward to my life today. I am living in my car, drinking all day long, and not in the greatest physical or mental health. Years of drinking have taken a heavy toll on my body and my mind.
It wasn’t too long ago that I got into an altercation outside of a bar and jumped by a group of people. I can’t remember all of the specifics that led up to it, since I was most likely blacked out by the time I even got there. Apparently, I was running my mouth to the wrong person, and a group of about three or four people were waiting for me when I left.
I was assaulted pretty badly and spent a day in the hospital. It’s weird to admit, but this beating probably saved my life. After arriving at the hospital, it became clear to the nurses and doctors that I was a severe alcoholic. They took great care of me and that little shred of hope that I had left inside of me began to grow.
I’ve lived in Arizona now for about five years. I came out here for a job opportunity and fell in love with the state. It’s a big shift from growing up on the east coast. At first, I assumed that moving out here would solve all of my problems. It solved a few of them, but my addiction wasn’t something that was going to be solved by simply relocating.
It’s important to note that no matter where you go, your demons will find you. They are always right there under the surface, and you never know when they are going to reappear. I was doing pretty well when I first got here, but sure enough, my demons eventually found me.
Before I left the hospital following my bar incident, one of the nurses gave me some phone numbers and information for detox programs. I confessed that I had tried all that stuff before when I lived back east, and every time I tried to get sober it only lasted a few weeks.
I tried rehab once shortly after high school and lasted about two weeks before I started drinking again. I went again several years later and it was the same story. A year or two before this bar beating, I lasted a mere five days in recovery before checking myself out. This particular nurse told me that if I was ever going to get clean, this was the state to do it.
Arizona is by far one of the best places in the country to seek recovery and is consistently ranked as one of the top 5 states in the U.S. with the most drug and alcohol treatment centers.
Why choose a recovery center in Arizona? There are a lot of upsides whether you are native to the state or coming in from away. First and foremost, Arizona is a gorgeous state. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself when you visit a place with gorgeous weather year-round. Choosing the right place is key to your recovery. Your surroundings have a lot to do with your progress, and you are more likely to succeed in a warm, sunny atmosphere than a cold, dark one.
There are a lot of wonderful distractions in Arizona that can keep your mind away from drugs and alcohol. The list of outdoor activities is endless, as are the beautiful scenic landscapes that will help enrich your soul. It goes without saying, but recovery is a very difficult process.
There are many outside factors that can contribute or take away from your progress. A lot of addicts deal with sketchy pasts. Whether it’s a family history of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, or some tragic event that led to your addiction, most of us addicts all have some sort of baggage. There is a lot to unpack when you decide to face your demons. You need all the help you can get, and your surroundings have a lot to do with it.
Some states are not as sympathetic to addicts as others. For example, many southern states are still pretty far behind as far as the programs they offer to people seeking help with substance abuse.
There is still a tremendous amount of stigma in these places, which can make your recovery much more difficult. There are already enough mental and physical roadblocks when it comes to drug rehabilitation. The further out west you go, the less stigma you will find. That is what makes a state like Arizona so popular for people seeking help.
Seasonal affective disorder is one of the factors that can greatly increase your chances of slipping up in your recovery. Seasonal affective disorder occurs when you are in a climate with less sunlight. This lack of sunlight can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, and overall lethargy.
This can be extremely difficult to overcome for anyone. Throw in substance abuse disorder and things can get very complicated. For example, recovering from addiction in a colder, darker place like Alaska is probably going to be more difficult than a sunnier state like Arizona. You may not be aware that your surroundings have an effect on your addiction. Once you go through the recovery process, that effect becomes very clear.
Living out east definitely didn’t help my seasonal depression. With longer, colder winters, I would almost go into hibernation. I would stay inside and drink all day. That’s not to say that my drinking got any better once I moved out to Arizona. I continued to feed my addiction with alcohol despite living in such a beautiful environment.
However, the few moments of clarity I have had here were born out of the natural beauty of this state. In the thick of my addiction, I would walk up and down the road collecting cans and bottles for liquor money.
Despite my constant fear of withdrawal and overall despair, I could still appreciate the natural wonders that this state has to offer. Here I was, basically homeless, walking up and down the road looking for returnables so that I could get just enough money to get drunk.
Nature had the power to for at least one or two moments make me forget all of that and just appreciate what was in front of me. I still go for long walks along the roads that I used to stumble down in the height of my sickness. I still take in the beautiful views and thank the Earth for giving me something to appreciate when I was at my rock bottom. This is something that helps keep me clean. Knowing that this beautiful land will always be there for me to go back to and enjoy helps a lot.
Good weather is scientifically proven to be a mood booster. Several studies have shown that spending time outside can reduce your stress and put you in a better state of mind. The effect that physical fitness can have on your mood is remarkable.
Exercise and physical fitness can greatly contribute to your overall mood and mindset. Many former addicts will tell you that getting outside and being physically active is a great deterrent to drug use. When it comes to being physically active and getting outside, it doesn’t get much better than a state like Arizona.
Vitamin D, which comes naturally from the sun, can greatly reduce depression and be very beneficial to your process. Vitamin D does wonders for your body and your mind. Absorbing Vitamin D regularly helps build strong bones, encourages cell growth, and greatly benefits your immune system. When you get your body on the right track, your mind will follow.
It’s amazing what taking care of your physical health can do for your mental and emotional health. Vitamin D supplements can be bought in stores or online, but there’s nothing quite like getting the real thing. In a state like Arizona, Vitamin D isn’t too hard to find.
Arizona is full of mountains, canyons, forests, and national parks. If you choose Arizona for your recovery, you will have a long list of scenic beauties at your disposal.
The Grand Canyon, Beaver Falls, Saguaro National Park, Monument Valley, the list goes on and on. Countless people have helped to heal their souls through the wonder of Arizona’s natural beauty. The effect that nature can have on your mental health cannot be understated.
A good dose of Vitamin D along with the calming landscapes that surround the state will absolutely contribute to your success. Ultimately, whether or not you get clean is up to you. Just being in a beautiful place alone will not get you sober. There is a lot of soul searching and brain rewiring that needs to occur to achieve this.
However, you stand a much better chance when you surround yourself with nature. Living in Arizona means getting a lot of Vitamin D. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the Arizona sun. Feeling that warmth and knowing that it is nourishing my body with vitamins gives me a huge boost.
Depending on your specific addiction, you are going to need a specific type of treatment. A quick internet search for Arizona recovery centers yields a whole lot of options. Recovering from alcohol looks a little bit different than recovering from opioids for example.
Despite these differences, there are many recovery centers in Arizona that specialize in multiple types of addictions. When it came time for me to finally deal with my disease, I had a lot of options at my disposal.
Pathfinders Arizona was the perfect place for me to begin my recovery. They offer a wide variety of treatment options ranging from alcoholism to mental health disorders. They also specialize in dual diagnosis. Typically in recovery, it’s more than just a substance abuse disorder you are suffering from.
This particular recovery center can help you tackle your addiction and your mental health issues simultaneously. It may seem like a lot to unpack together, but this particular form of treatment has proven very effective in recent times. I was treated like a human being for the first time in forever at this particular recovery center. The good people at Pathfinders did everything they could to make me feel comfortable and help me along the way.
No matter where you find yourself in Arizona, there is most likely a recovery center that will work for you. I personally recommended Pathfinders anytime I possibly can. Beyond just helping those with drug and alcohol issues, Pathfinders also offers behavioral and alternatives treatments, as well as dual diagnosis treatment. The unique thing about Pathfinders is that they only house around ten clients at a time, which helps offer a truly personalized approach.
Pathfinders puts a great deal of emphasis on mental health and its relationship with addiction. Studies have shown that the male population typically suffers a higher rate of suicide and addiction than the female population.
There is unfortunately still a lot of social stigmas attached to the male population. A lot of men are still taught to hide their emotions and not concern others with their issues. This has created generations of men who are afraid to let someone know that something is wrong. At Pathfinders, they are working on dismantling that stigma and allowing men a place to comfortably approach their mental illness, addiction, and past trauma.
Pathfinders caters to both men and women. They will help you no matter what walk of life you come from. Rich, poor, it doesn’t matter. If you enter Pathfinders you will be treated equally as everybody else.
They go out of their way to make you as comfortable as possible during this difficult time. They offer one-on-one counseling as well as group therapy. They also offer family rehab. As all addicts are aware, addiction affects more than just you. A lot of times family members require treatment in order to deal with the stress and anxiety of having a loved one with addiction issues.
Wherever you end up going, and whatever specific type of addiction you are fighting, there’s no place like Arizona. As I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t ultimately matter where you are when it comes to tackling addiction. There are going to be bad days and good days.
You are going to feel the pull once in a while when you are at a weak point. The good thing to know is that it is ok to feel that. You are not weak because you struggle. You are strong for keeping up the fight. The fact that you even recognize you have a weakness that you are sometimes powerless to can be a strength.
A lot of folks walk through life thinking they can do anything and nothing will ever bring them down. Self-confidence is great, but the wrong kind of self-confidence can put you in a really bad spot, specifically if you are fighting an addiction. Just know that you have the power to overcome it if you put your mind to it. Mental toughness goes a long way.