Seven Years Sober

By ‘P’ (Anonymous) – A patient of Dr. Charles Malanga

My story of recovery for alcohol abuse began more than 7 years ago.

Prior to 2015 I was convinced that I was just a social drinker. But, in June of that year a terrifying event took place that nearly took the life of my wife. The fear, anger and violence that I was responsible for lead to my admission to psychological treatment.

While admitted, part of my treatment was to attend sessions with Dr Winston Schoeman. In one of our sessions, he recommended that I go to rehab for treatment for alcohol abuse. I replied flippantly and said I would think about it. But my comment received a response I did not expect; “Get out of my office! You are wasting your and my time.”

The nature of his comment got me thinking seriously! Was I an alcoholic-in-denial? I realised that I had been admitted to the facility to be treated. So, I requested to see Dr Schoeman and informed him of my intention to go to Rehab for alcohol abuse.

Shortly thereafter, I transferred to a Rehab facility. Make no mistake, I still under the impression that I did not have such a serious problem with liquor. Week 1 was something to get used to – no cell phone usage was allowed during the day, and there were many other rules that took away our creature comforts. In rehab you meet all walks of life of people. We all had one thing in common. Substance abuse and denial!

Midway through in rehab, I had my breakthrough after a counselling session. I realised that I was in a jail that I’d placed myself in. I calculated the time I was in my own jail. It was a shock to me.

“That was it, I will no longer be in jail!”

The key aspects I learned from rehab were:

  • Own your problem.
  • No one else is to blame.
  • My actions have consequences.
  • Have a good look at your circle of friends! (Some friends or family contribute to your codependency on alcohol).
  • Participate and put the work in to get away from this.
  • Self-Maintenance (Go for sessions after treatment).
  • Get / Do something that you enjoy.
  • Love Yourself.
  • Apologies are easy, show that you are sorry by your actions!

Finally, my time had come to leave rehab. It was a big adjustment as this was the longest I’d gone without a drink – 35 days. Believe me, that felt like a lifetime. I came out of rehab on 13 July, 2015.

August went well and I was still dry. My wife and I had to adjust to ‘sober me’. This was basically like meeting from the start and at that stage we were married for 5 years.

On the 15th of September I buckled. I justified that I could have a drink, and this would not be the end of the world. So, I did had a drink and went home later that evening. It took my wife less than a second to realise that I had been drinking.

I acknowledged what I’d done, and I’ll never forget her look disappointment and disbelief.

I felt like trash!

So, 16 September 2015 became Day 1 again. I stuck to my guns, changed my mind set and focused on me, then my family. Stuck to something that I enjoyed, which was getting on my Mountain Bike and losing myself for that time while riding. The only good thing that came from having those drinks was that I realised I did it and I don’t want to do it again!

Fast forward to 16 September 2016. This was my ‘Year 1’ of being sober – not a drop of drink for one solid year. I felt like I was on top of the world. What made it all the more satisfying was that my wife and family had supported me all the way. I even got a call from my uncle who had the same addiction and had been to rehab several times. “Congratulations, you got your Year One in just 1 year. It took me 4 years to get my Year One,” he said.

Every addict will tell you that there is a permanent little voice that reminds you of the feeling of escape – encourages to just give it a try. When this happens, I remember the following from my breakthrough at rehab:  Face the voice and take control. “Yes, I know you will tempt me, but I will not allow it.”

By 16 September 2019, I was 4 Years sober. Not a single drop of alcohol! Did I need to withdraw from life to succeed? No! I embraced what is enjoyed and took for granted! We still have the occasional social meet up with friends and family where alcohol is around. I see it but did not allow my mindset to be enticed!

In 2017 I’d felt the need to sort things out in my mind too. Remember the rehab lessons? Self-maintenance.

So, I enrolled at Evexia as I’s already had a history with Dr Schoeman and it was an obvious choice. I attended the 1-week intensive treatment program at Evexia.

A lot of work went into this on my end, and as a result I undertook to attend more regular one on one sessions with Dr Charles Malanga. During our sessions I experienced my ‘ups’ and my ‘downs’, but we worked hard on everything.

Sometime after being 6 years sober, my mindset changed from being a ‘recovering alcoholic’ to ‘recovering’! To me this is a certainty and clear indication that I am not the least bit fazed by the thought of alcohol. It can be said that alcohol and I had a conversation which went like this. “Hi there, Mr. Lager. I know who you are, and you know who I am. I do not need you and you will not tempt me no matter the circumstance or my state of mind. I’m doing just fine without you.”

At the time of writing this, I am celebrating 7 years of sobriety. My wife is still very supportive, and my family is as well.

When it comes to recovery of an addiction in my case, I needed to own it and acknowledge it. Anybody can go for rehab or recover, but if YOU don’t want to change it, there is no amount of therapy that can work, nor preaching from family or friends. Do the work. Get the results.

For those of you having doubts, I hope with all sincerity that my journey is testimony that YOU can do it. The key is you need to do it!

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