Rise Again: The Sabrina Best Foundation is proud to share this “Angel Story” from Amanda. Thank you Amanda for sharing your story and reminding everyone that addiction can happen to anyone but so can recovery
Amanda’s demographic is one that many people may not associate with alcoholism. But according to the CDC, 8% of women age 18-25 deal with an alcohol use disorder. Even worse is how it affects us as women over time. Due to our biological makeup, women absorb more alcohol in the bloodstream making the effects quicker and last longer. It takes us longer to metabolize alcohol therefore the toxins stay in our bodies longer. This puts us at a much higher risk for kidney, liver, and heart disease. As well as, damage to the brain known as “brain shrinkage”.
I grew up in your typical Irish family. We observed our culture with big celebrations for every holiday and the milestones of our loved ones. Alcohol flowed freely at these festivities and I watched as family and friends had some laughs and bonded over “a few drinks”. As I was growing up, I had very little knowledge about alcoholism / addiction. I didn’t understand the effect this disease has on families and relationship. But, by the time I became an adult, I would have a much better understanding. Not because I became educated about the disease of addiction in the traditional sense. My education came from “hands on” experience that left pain, shame, and utter chaos in its wake. At just 21 years old, I had to admit to myself that I have lost control of my life, that I am an alcoholic / addict.
I can remember having my first real taste of booze. It was Thanksgiving. I was 8 years old and tried a little whiskey. I’m sure you have heard a similar story before. A kid tries a sip of a grown up’s beer or cocktail and thinks “yuck”. Well that’s not me. By the time I was celebrating my 14th birthday, I had a new best friend. Her name was alcohol. It was a great friendship in the beginning. She helped me escape my pain, responsibilities, and my emotions. But overtime, drinking had become my only coping skill. It had begun the process of taking everything from me. I was quickly falling behind in my college classes. I was losing so many of my meaningful friendships and hurting the people who loved me the most, my family. This disease would not stop there. It was attacking my body. The alcohol was causing damage to my kidneys. I was enduring severe alcohol withdrawals. All of this was happening to me and I’m barely legal to drink!
I made the decision to seek treatment. I arrived at Project Cope in Lynn, MA. I was feeling a little indecisive and scared. I had heard that this place was a very strict halfway house. But I was tired from what this disease had put me through and I was ready to surrender. Little did I know, that this choice I made would change my life. I had the opportunity to take my life back with all the resources I was given for my recovery journey. It started by humbling myself so that I could fully acknowledge the chaos and damage I had done to those around me. Accepting that sobriety was the only option to live a successful, healthy life again. I became grateful for all I have learned about my addiction, behaviors, and relationships with others. I began attending AA and NA meetings that will help keep my recovery as my #1 priority.
I graduated from Project Cope on St. Patrick’s Day 2022. I decided to continue my journey of recovery in sober living. I got to know Heather and Maryellen from Rise Again: The Sabrina Best Foundation during my stay at Project Cope. Heather came to Project Cope to share her experience with addiction from the eyes and heart of a parent. I had applied for a scholarship through Rise Again and was so grateful when I was told I was awarded it. This gave me the opportunity to enter Chelsea’s House in East Boston, MA and start the next chapter of my life. I am so thankful for all the support I have received thus far. I am happy to report that I am back in school and doing very well. Addiction is hard to overcome. If you were to tell my past self that I have been clean for over a year, I would be in complete disbelief. I couldn’t imagine getting clean from alcohol at 21 but recovery is possible when you take it one day at a time! You are not alone in this fight.
If you would like to learn more about the amazing support programs like Chelsea's House Sober Living and Project Cope. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us at Rise Again: The Sabrina Best Foundation.