By Allison Hudson
My story isn’t special. My story isn’t unique. Unfortunately, my story is a common one. And today, I consider myself lucky to be able to share my story—to even have a story. You see, part of my story is my brother’s story, which is a story that is only told through mine because it ended with his death on April 22, 2012 from a prescription drug overdose. Ironically, the end of my brother’s story was just the beginning of mine.
My brother’s name was Will. He was three years younger than me. I wouldn’t say that Will and I were much alike but we were always close. He was super intelligent and had a gentle presence about him. I on the other hand always had to work a little harder in school and my presence was always known, good or bad. What we did share was a concealed sensitivity to life which I didn’t realize until it was too late for both of us. He was gone and I was spiraling down the bottom of the bottle at a rate that scared even me.
I had thought for years that I was drinking because I wanted to, but the time came where I wanted to stop and I couldn’t. That’s when I knew I had a problem. Knowing absolutely nothing about the disease of addiction, I couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t stop if I wanted to. I was so ashamed and my ego wouldn’t allow me to ask for help, so I continued drinking thinking it would eventually get better. Well, nothing got better but it did get worse because that’s how alcoholism works.
Will’s death provided me with two things: an excuse to unapologetically drink like I wanted to, and the permission to admit I had a problem. On June 11, 2012, 49 days after Will died, I landed in a 28-day treatment facility to deal with my alcoholism. I had become so hopeless that the pain of staying the same was finally greater than the fear of change, which ended up being the first day of the rest of my life. As soon as the words came out of my mouth to my parents that I needed help, I wanted to take them back, but I had finally said them out loud to someone who was going to hold me accountable.
Getting sober wasn’t easy. Staying sober isn’t always easy either, but it’s a heck of a lot better than being a slave to addiction. I wake up every day grateful to have another 24 hours ahead of me and with that, I try to always look for opportunities where I can be of service to those still suffering from this disease.
Three years ago, I had no purpose, no passion and no hope. Today is a different story. I spend my days writing about addiction and recovery, and answering emails from around the globe from people who read my articles, connect to them, and reach out for help. I take awareness programs into high schools at every opportunity I get. And my biggest passion project is Will’s Place—a recovery focused sober living house in my hometown that is set to open in 2016.
Today I have purpose and passion and hope. I owe it to my brother and to myself and to every other alcoholic or addict still suffering to live out loud with my recovery to show people that it’s possible. If you would have asked me three years ago what recovery meant to me, I would have probably said it meant being sober. Today, my recovery means living up to the spirit that is in me. It’s true what they say…recovery delivers everything alcohol promised.