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Sandy’s Story

Addiction Services
“I was 57 and at the end of my rope. I felt helpless and hopeless. I thought I would surely die a drunken mess. But God saved me — physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Goodbye to Alcohol Letter

I have thought about this Goodbye Letter since the day I first read through the packet “Relapse Prevention Plan.” Not obsessing, but as others shared theirs, knowing my day would come. As I have been known to sometimes do, I turned my nose up and bucked it. So now here I sit finally addressing it and asking myself why I don’t want to do it.

Goodbye seems like such a final word. I have always said I’m a “give me the list, I’ll do it and be done” kind of person. I have come to truly know that my recovery is so NOT like that. It is a daily, sometimes minute-by-minute journey that never ends.

These things I know:

  • I am a now recovering alcoholic
  • I cannot have one drink
  • I cannot control my alcoholism
  • God can if I seek His help

Saying goodbye to alcohol and not using is definitely the first thing that had to happen for me. So yes… Goodbye Alcohol! I must say this constantly. Alcohol did, in a small way and for short periods of time, comfort me when there seemed to be little else. But as the years passed, it warped my thinking and behavior to a point it was impossible for me to function anymore. Not just mentally and spiritually, but finally physically as well. By the grace of God, I ended up in the hospital to be saved from my physical death due to the years of alcohol use. To stop using was just the tip of the iceberg. I had to, and continue to, say goodbye to the old mentality and behaviors that were born so long ago and became what was my way of living.

Being able to say Goodbye to Alcohol has now led me to seek a new way of living that involves daily saying goodbye to:

  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Unworthiness
  • Resentments
  • Control

I have outworn and outgrown the myths of my using days. Change, letting go of old mentality and behaviors, takes patience, persistence and strength (daily!). Goodbye to all of the negative old!

Hello to “new found” spirituality, the many tools I’ve received from CentraCare and all who are a part in my journey — constant use of the 12 Steps, AA meetings, my mentor, my counselor, daily meditations and Bible study group. All the books and helpful reading material I have received from CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital Addiction Services have become staples in my wonderful “new beginning.”

I started drinking around age 15. I grew up around alcohol. Every family function, every holiday and celebration involved lots of drinking. I saw this as having fun, being happy and having a good time. At times, my family members would let me drink, give me mixed drinks or beer. As I reached about 17, I was starting to drink with kids from school — whatever they could get. I was stealing beer and hard liquor from my parents.

When I turned 18, I also started drinking in bars. I soon got my first DWI. Over the next 15 years, I continued to drink more and more. Not living with my parents allowed me to drink at home and more often and was a lot cheaper than going to a bar. I got a few more DWIs, which resulted in fines and outpatient treatment plus a few weekends in jail. I got very involved in a program of recovery and helped form a women’s AA group. I had about two years of sobriety when I started dating my husband. I soon started drinking again and one more DWI gave me a felony and I went to jail for a few months.

My husband and I tried a few times to quit together without any outside help and those times never lasted very long. Sometimes only a few days. We both knew there was a problem but could not fix it on our own.

I stopped drinking while I was pregnant with my son. He is now 20. I started again soon after I brought him home from the hospital and the last 19 years have been a painful and very scrambled journey to getting me where I am today.

I began having physical signs of alcoholism. My hands were going numb. I went to the doctor and he hold me my liver was being damaged and recommended I seek a treatment program. I did nothing to start. I had been on anxiety medication but stopped taking it as I thought it was making me sick when I drank. I had moved out of my home and was living with using friends. My husband and family did not know where I was. I was calling into work and had my fellow employees so concerned that they called for a welfare check. I soon came back home but continued to drink even more. I finally reached out for help one night while my husband was gone on a fishing trip. My sister-in-law and a couple other friends came over and talked me into going to detox.

After getting out in a couple days, my sister-in-law asked me to come stay with her and she helped me so much. Doctor appointments, finding a treatment facility and the paperwork and phone calls to get disability through my workplace. I tried an inpatient facility in the Twin Cities but I did not like my experience there. I could not wait to get out but still knew I needed more help.

I tried to stay sober. I started going to a Bible study on Wednesday mornings and attended a few different AA meetings. But after a few months, I was back to drinking. I don’t recall exactly the day or what was going through my head. I know people very close to me were suffering from active addiction at this time.

My drinking escalated to the point that in November 2019 I was physically very ill. I had to drink right away in the morning just to stop the shaking. I drank through the day and drank myself to sleep. My skin turned really yellow and I was winded and weak at work. People at work started getting concerned and telling me to go to the doctor. I made an appointment but I got so bad I ended up going to urgent care and they sent me to the hospital.

I was near death. My liver was almost completely not functioning. I remember telling my husband I was not afraid to die. It took about three months to recuperate to the point I could walk well enough and drive to start the outpatient program at CentraCare. I actually wanted to go to a different treatment place in St. Cloud that had less day a week and was not as long. They were not returning my call. I thank God for placing me in addiction services at St. Cloud Hospital!

I now am truly enjoying my life. I enjoy my quiet time alone with God. Going on little adventures with my sponsor. Spending time with my grandson. Building new and better relationships with my son and husband.

My faith and trust in God gives me hope. Knowing that I can call my counselors anytime I am struggling or feeling like I don’t know what to do. This is not goodbye — they will remain with me always.

There is always hope and help is available if you are willing to receive it. Take the chance. You can’t end up any worse off than you are stuck in your addiction. Choose life!

May God bless you on your journey.

Sandy