Profiles in Recovery

Craig Stoker

The morning of 10/18/2010 will forever stand out in Craig Stoker’s memory. It was the morning he woke up in the local area hospital with little recollection of the night before. “I knew in my heart I was done. I could not continue.” Stoker recalls from that life changing morning. This was his “rock bottom”. He realized he did not have the ability to quiet the “it” telling him to have another drink.

Stoker entered a 30-day inpatient program, followed by the 12-Step process. He states, “The conscious decision to leave the party behind was a difficult one, but one I knew was right.” The relationships with his parents and close friends were strained, trust lost. Not only was his addiction costing him relationships but financially he was in debt. “Now it’s over, seven years later, I’m still paying off a bit of debts incurred during my time in addition.”

“Now, having multiple years of sobriety: I have a job I love, I have a relationship I cherish, and I am not willing to throw that all away to have a drink with you.” Is Stoker’s response when people question him about not drinking. Back in his hometown, Stoker is making a new life for himself. As the communications director for a large, local nonprofit he spends time out in the community talking about their mission. “Being part of the community opened my eyes to the struggles people face, and my position with a local nonprofit allows me to serve and give back. It has also been a fun journey to learn how my home has changed, and how I can make a difference in the community.”

Day Job:
Marketing and Communications Director

What I lost to addiction:
Trust. It became apparent to me I was losing the ability to maintain any kind of relationship. My friendships were shallow, at best, and none of my core group of friends wanted anything much to do with me. The relationship with my parents was strained to the point of breaking. As they were the ones providing my income, it would have left me in a tough position.

What worked for me:
I entered a 30-day inpatient treatment program, followed by fully immersing myself in a local 12-Step program. Prayer and meditation remain a part of my program today.

Best advice for newbies:
Something I read, and I’m very sorry I cannot find the source again, but this little piece of advice really helped me: “It is not YOU who wants the drink…IT wants the drink, not you…and you can tell IT no.”

Rock bottom moment:
On the morning of 10/18/10 I woke up in the ER of the local hospital, not remembering much about why I was there. Mentally I was exhausted, and now physically I was wearing the scars of my addition. I knew in my heart I was done. I could not continue.

When cravings come:
What I came to believe is it really wasn’t me wanting to drink. There was something in my head wanting the next drink way more than me. I learned to tell “it” no! This works for so many things in life; the next piece of pizza or next cigarette. When I learned to quit beating myself up for a craving, and learned to tell “it” no, my whole perspective changed.

Thoughts on relapse:
I’ve met many people who struggle with relapse. They are in and out of the rooms of AA and treatment. I’ve heard some old timers say its because they haven’t hit bottom yet, or they just aren’t finished drinking. I get that to a point. I quit drinking years before I quit drinking! Was it because I wasn’t finished drinking? I don’t believe that is the case. I believe I was not fully equipped to quiet the “little voice” in my head. Once I properly equipped myself, the struggle vanished. Everyone does not have to hit the same bottom. I hit mine, and I really don’t look back anymore. Every time I was asked about not drinking or “maybe you could just have one”, I explained that I am not certain I could just have one or two, and at this point I am not willing to find out. I spend years trying to drink like a normal person, and all that produced was misery. Now, having multiple years of sobriety: I have a job I love, I have a relationship I cherish, and I am not willing to throw that all away to have a drink with you!

At my worst, I was:
Fortunately, I hit my bottom before anything very serious happened. I did experience a few run-ins with the law, and certainly did a number on my credit, but all-in-all I managed to escape relatively unscathed. Now it’s over, seven years later, I’m still paying off a bit of debts incurred during my time in addition.

What saves me from myself:
Rarely do I find myself in the place today, where I get trapped in my head. I have either trained myself not to go there or some autopilot kicks in which tells me to sit down and be quiet for a minute. In speaking to newcomers, the very notion of being able to do these things “automatically” is quite foreign and very, very difficult to understand. After all, the substances you’ve been using in the past have done this for you. Until you can sit and be quiet comfortably, find a way to do something for someone else. Ask your neighbor if you have take out their trash. Somethings as simple as this act can take 10 minutes, but when you finish you’ll realize you were not thinking about yourself. This certainly takes practice, time and energy, eventually, the process of escaping the “little voice” will be automatic. You won’t even notice!

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