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That's something you wouldn't be able to tell just by looking at me, or even by knowing me casually. I take pride in my appearance because I am a respected professional with a good job, I drive a nice car, and my home is in one of the better Boise neighborhoods. I've been married to my husband for eight years, and we have one daughter - the love of my life.
I'm all of these things - a successful career woman, a devoted wife, a loving mother - and an alcoholic.
After my daughter was born, I developed a bad case of anxiety and depression. I was sad and unfocused all the time. I was prescribed antidepressants by my doctor, but I HATED the way they made me feel.
So I tried to make myself better the old-fashioned way - I started having a couple of drinks in the evening after work. But after a while, two drinks every night became four…and then five…and sometimes, even more.
I was still going to work - I was still functioning - but there were more nights when I drank more than I meant to, more "I-can't-make-it's" to my friends, more next-morning hangovers, and more arguments with my husband, who was getting concerned.
This past December, my younger sister came over during Christmas break. She acted surprised about how much I was drinking at night, but I later learned that my husband had told her what had been going on. She tried talking to me a couple of times, but I shushed her with, "Who's the older sister here, anyway?"
Right after Christmas, I stopped by a bar after work, planning to have a few drinks before I got home, so I wouldn't have to hear it from my husband.
On the way home, I got pulled over. I was arrested for Driving Under the Influence. I will never forget the look in my husband's eyes when he bailed me out of jail the next morning.
That day, after hours of tearful conversation, I agreed to get help for my drinking.
We made some phone calls, and we learned that my first step would have to be alcohol detoxification - I was going to have to abstain long enough for the alcohol to leave my system. The intake person at Northpoint Recovery said that because of my age and my drinking patterns, I was going to have to check into their detox program where I could be medically supervised.
I was lucky on two counts - I had good insurance that would pay for the alcohol detox and rehab, and Northpoint Recovery had an immediately-available slot.
It had only been 24 hours since my last drink, and I was already feeling it - I was shaky and anxious, I had a splitting headache, and I felt vaguely nauseous.
I later learned that I had it easy - some people quitting drink have far more serious symptoms, such as hallucinations and life-threatening seizures.
For me, alcohol detox took five days. The first three days were the hardest, and I don't think that I would have been able to stay sober if I hadn't had the support of such professional staff. They didn't give me what I really wanted - another drink - but they did try to make me as comfortable as possible.
I started actual rehab on January 2 of this year.
The most surprising thing about alcohol rehab at Northpoint Recovery was the amount of structure - our entire schedule was completely organized, right down to recreation. I suppose I needed that, because it gave me very little time to stay inside my own head, playing and replaying my mistakes.
Every day, there were educational classes, individual sessions, group therapy, 12-step meetings, exercises, and activities, all with the purpose of teaching us a better way to live, in order to best manage our disease.
I was there for 28 days. That's 28 days away from my family. Twenty-eight days to focus just on me. And it worked for me and guess what? My family was ok too. I think one day, I'll recount this experience with my daughter and she'll be proud that I put myself first so that I could be a better mom in the long-run.
Before I went to alcohol rehab, I always had the impression that the only thing someone with alcohol problem had to do was not drink - I didn't know that getting healthy- and staying healthy - usually requires an entire lifestyle change. Northpoint pointed me in the right direction and gave me the tools that I would need to support my sobriety -
My life is much more manageable now. Because I am not lost in an alcohol-created fog, I am much more present in my own life. I am fully there for my husband, my daughter, my friends, and most importantly, for myself. I feel like my sobriety, is by far, the greatest gift I've ever given my daughter and husband.
I am under no illusion that I have somehow "beaten" my addiction to alcohol. I understand that I will have to always be careful about both my thoughts and my actions. To support my continued sobriety, I am participating in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for alcohol rehab, and I regularly attend 12-Step meetings.
But, just for today, I am sober. And for that, I am thankful.
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