Not happy when sober


Not happy when sober


your avatar   Hanna (30-ish woman) from Orlando, FL

I am concerned for myself and my secret obnoxious lifestyle. I have been in approx. 10 drug rehab programs. I am in a program currently and still using. Cocaine (crack) is my drug of choice. Two months ago I was in intensive care unit in the hospital because of a heroin overdose.

I have had the same (non-using) boyfriend for 6 yrs, although I have slept with several men throughout our relationship. I am diagnosed with depression (100mg Zoloft daily).

My mother committed suicide 6 years ago (her first attempt as far as I know). I am a passive nervous person, (nail length literally approx. 1 cm). I am very well liked in our small community, the folks are aware of my drug use history, and openly mention their concern for me. It scares me to see how self-destructive I am.

A couple days ago (Friday) I went to the bar and got extremely intoxicated, I then went to score drugs. I drove my car without a license, drunk and spent my car insurance money on drugs. I almost had a head on collision, and woke up with a huge dent in my car. I was so hung over and emotionally beat up the next day, I could not even fathom a drink. I somehow enabled myself to have a beer and the vicious cycle started up again. I went to the bar alone, met up with a couple (who I had sex with that night) snorted coke and Lortabs all night. Because I had no gas in my car I had a good guy friend drop me off at the bar, so when the drugs were gone about 5am Sunday morning, I called him to pick me up. We stopped at my house, he came in and I had sex with him. Two hours later my boyfriend showed up and I had sex with him too... this is sickening!

I am extremely ashamed and would never tell anyone. Throughout my drug addiction, I have sold everything I have owned, but (at this point and hopefully never) would not steal, (I believe that would be the death of my soul). I am considered a "fun loving party girl"; in too many ways I like that title. I don't know who I would be without that title and I cannot imagine being anything different. I have tried to remain sober, but I feel like sobriety strips me of my soul, and I become very anxious, self-conscious, lonely, shy, and withdrawn. I would really like a better grip on "me" before I try full-fledged sobriety again. I do not know were to begin and will take any feedback I can get.

Thank you.


    Ben Schwarcz, MFT

Hanna, you're situation is rather frightening. You've obviously been through a great deal of pain in your life and the pain continues still. First of all, I am curious about your statement that you've done 10 rehab programs. I don't have the benefit of a 2-way dialogue with you, so I will have to make some assumptions - sorry if I am off the mark. I would imagine that many - if not all of your rehab experiences - have been in-patient detox facilities in which you did not follow up with further outpatient treatment or 12-Step Groups. The life that you describe leads me to wonder if you go through periods of intensifying reckless behavior, using, acting out sexually, one leading to the other, until you hit a wall and end up in a detox unit. Once there you're medicated, given a bed to sleep it off, go through all the nasty withdrawal symptoms. Then the underlying anxiety and depression begin to emerge. Feeling somewhat clearer physically, you are released and either start a day program or intensive out-patient program which you soon abandon, or you never show up for it at all. (I know I'm assuming a lot here, so forgive my blunt response). I know that you've probably had a lot of experiences with counselors and therapists and doctors telling you what you need to do, diagnosing you and analyzing your life. You know better than anyone what leads you to drink. You probably also know by now, that it is up to you and nobody else, to accept your need for real recovery. And I'm sure you know that you will have to "hit bottom" before you can accept the fact that you need to "surrender" and start the long road to recovery.

Perhaps you actually have stuck with a couple programs for more than a few weeks. This doesn't mean you are a failure. It is a normal part of the process to relapse and to need to return to treatment repeatedly. Hardly anybody stays clean and sober after just one shot in a recovery program (even if they complete it). Despite your self-destructive impulses, there is a force inside you that continues to carry on - to want to do the right thing for yourself and others - wants to be liked, and is willing to return again and again to treatment. I'm also struck by the fact that you've had a boyfriend for six years. Is he a positive influence in your life? Does he support your recovery? And does he know the extent of your addictions? I must admit, I fear the possibility that he is abusive towards you in some way. You say he is clean and sober, so perhaps he's more of a caretaker type. But considering the ways that you mistreat yourself, I wonder if you allow him to mistreat you as well. If he's truly interested in your well being and your recovery, then he's a real treasure, and it's a small miracle that you've allowed such a presence into your life. It would say a lot about the strength of your spirit -- that part of you that wants to lead a normal, happy life.

There are two things that are "red flags" in your background: First, your sexual promiscuity while using makes me wonder if you were sexually abused as a child or teenager. Early sexual abuse is the worst - the absolute worst violation and trauma that can be inflicted upon a human being, and could easily lead you to be depressed, anxious, and drawn to drugs as a means of self-medicating and keeping the memories at bay. If you were not sexually abused, then I would assume that you experienced some form of abuse or trauma as a child (either directly towards you, or you observed abuse in your family). The second thing that stands out in your story, is your mother's suicide. I cannot imagine how incredibly painful this must be to you. And given your history of drug abuse, I very much doubt that you have really given yourself the attention and the space you need to grieve her loss. When someone we love - especially a parent - commits suicide, not only are there the usual emotions that go along with grief and loss, but there are complicating emotions, such as intense anger, and often guilt. You may blame yourself in some way (though you can never blame yourself for another person's decision to end their life). Nonetheless, feelings of guilt and rage can make it much harder to grieve and move on. Grieving is essential to your recovery. If I were doing therapy with you, I would make this one of the central areas of our work together. I wonder if you are trying to destroy yourself - even kill yourself (unconsciously) through drugs and reckless behavior, as a way to punish yourself for your mother's death.

Hanna, you are obviously a person who wants to turn your life around. You are still young. There is a lot of life to live. If you've survived this long, then you must have a very strong spirit. You will only get well when you surrender to your higher power - however you wish to imagine that - as God, spirit, the universe, or your own soul. Find a therapist you can trust, and stay with them. Find someone who will tolerate your relapses, and will help you to work on the underlying issues - the grief and anxiety and depression, while supporting you in your recovery. Find an AA or NA group. Get a sponsor. You are here for a reason. You could have died on many occasions but you didn't. I wish you well on your journey to recovery in whatever form it takes.

Ben Schwarcz, MFT

P.S. I'm sure you've tried many programs, but if you have insurance, I must recommend one that I've had professional experience with and have been extremely impressed with. It's called Transitions and is located (I believe) in N. Miami.

This question was answered by Ben Schwarcz, MA, MFT, he is a California licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Main County. Ben is also a meditation teacher and a certified online counselor at He received his master's degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from JFK University. Transpersonal psychotherapy honors all dimensions of life, with the spiritual Self as the foundation. His specialties are relationships, stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, conscious parenting, adolescents and spiritual issues. His work blends cognitive-behavioral techniques with depth therapy for transformation of mind, body, and spirit. For more information visit Ben's site ( or his compact information page on QueenDom.Com.For more information visit:


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