For the first time in four years, I was going to college with a sober mindset. My first goal was to stay sober. Though I knew it was not always going to be easy being in a college environment, I had a little bit of time under my belt and I researched AA meetings before returning to campus. I knew I had to implement what I learned while in AA and stick to my meeting routine. My second goal was to graduate. While I was drinking, I barely maintained passing grades and often would show up to class hungover. I had flunked one class and I needed to make the credits if I wanted to graduate. With my new sober lifestyle, I felt I could put in the work to achieve this.
The year prior to this, my drinking had escalated to blacking out every time that I drank. I finally hit bottom after a trip to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. The week following this incident, I could barely speak a sentence and had a continuous migraine headache. I laid in bed for a week and I was full of self-pity. Luckily, Spring Break had arrived and I returned home.
Fortunately for me, one of my family members is in AA. After hearing what happened and my admission that I was an alcoholic, he took me to AA meetings. I got a sponsor, attended meetings, and met wonderful people who welcomed me into the program. I began to feel genuinely happy, which I almost never did when I was drinking. I was taking steps in the right direction and my life slowly started to get on the track.
Unfortunately, upon returning back to college after Spring Break, I picked up drinking after a few weeks of being there. After missing meetings and not making phone calls to my sponsor, I had the not so brilliant idea of buying a six pack of non-alcoholic beer. After a couple of those, I could no longer contain my craving for the real thing and I grabbed any alcohol I could get my hands on. I went back to blackout drinking, though I swore to myself I would only drink moderately. Fortunately, my junior year of college ended a few weeks into this spree.
A concerned family member picked me up from college on May 12, 2009 (my sobriety date). After talking to him for awhile, I admitted that I was drinking again. I was in denial that I was an alcoholic but I told him I would go back to AA meetings to get him off my back.
I returned to the AA group that I had been to before I went back to college. The people were just as friendly as the first time I met them. I shared in a meeting that I had some doubts about whether I was an alcoholic. I quickly learned many people feel that way in early sobriety. I heard people share familiar stories about their drinking that I had. I quickly realized that I was in the right place with the right people.
By the time my senior year of college arrived, I had over 90 days of sobriety. I had worked hard at staying sober. I attended daily meetings, I began going through the steps with my sponsor and I built a network of AA friends. Before returning to college, I created a plan with my AA sponsor and family on how I would stay sober. I researched meetings ahead of time, so I could create my evening schedule around them.
When I arrived back at college, I began implementing changes that I discussed with my network. The biggest change was distancing myself from people and places. This included a large group of drinking buddies. Besides small talk in passing, I never hung out with them for extended periods of time, especially not parties. These parties were in a dorm that was known for heavy drinking-I knew I had no business being there. There was some peer pressure to go but I knew my sobriety was at stake. I called my network or shared about this pressure in meetings when I was bothered by it and I felt better after a talk with another alcoholic..
I began hanging out with friends who only drank once in a while or not all. These were friends that I had but I was too busy drinking to spend time with them. Once I was sober, I got to know them better and we became closer. The group of us would hang out on weekends and talk for hours. They were respectful about my sobriety and they never pressured me to drink.
The AA meetings that I went to were different from meetings that I was used to but the message was the same. The members of the group welcomed me and gave me rides to meetings from the college campus. Though I was the only college student there, I fit in fine and benefited from the wisdom of people with long time sobriety.
While I was at college, I spoke on the phone to a person in AA everyday. This most often was a family member in the program that I am close to. If I did not call him, he would call me. Most of the calls were check-ins to hear how I was doing but there were times that I talked about cravings I was having for alcohol or other difficulties that I was experiencing. Even if he was working, he would take the time to listen to me. I always felt better after telling him what I was struggling with and listening to his words of advice. I felt AA was with me even though I was in a college atmosphere.
I enjoyed the classes that I was taking in college but my drinking prevented me from being a good student. Once I was sober, I took my responsibilities seriously and I had a desire to do well. I spent hours in the library reading and writing to complete my senior thesis. I picked a topic that interested me, so I enjoyed the work that I was doing. I managed my time responsibly so I never crammed to get work done. Through being sober, I was able to pass all my classes and graduate.
In my final, sober year of college, I felt I was finally living up to my potential. I finally became a responsible adult who could fulfill obligations and be a functioning member of society. There were times that were difficult but the people of AA were there to support me whether in person or on the phone. When I am having a tough day, I think back to how I felt after getting out of the hospital and I am filled with gratitude. AA gave me a second chance at life and I will be forever grateful for it.