Profiles in Recovery

Rebecca Wandrei

Feeling guilty and hopeless after a weekend of closet drinking while caring for her two small children, Wandrei was ready to make a change. “I finally admitted to myself that I was not going to be able to stop without outside help, and signed myself up for an outpatient treatment program,” she says.

The final day of treatment was another turning point. Wandrei told her family the whole truth – that she was being treated for marijuana as well as alcohol addiction, and feared she might relapse since her husband at the time was still using drugs.

“With the support of my counselor and the women in my treatment group, I went home, packed up my kids, left my husband, and told my family everything,” Wandrei says. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but my recovery truly started that day, when the truth set me free and I regained my integrity.”

Day Jobs:
Women for Sobriety meeting moderator; single mom; fledgling cartoonist. Blogs about her recovery journey at Unsubtle Serenity.

What I lost to addiction:
I was deep in my addiction to alcohol and marijuana when both of my sons were babies and toddlers. I missed out on fully enjoying and being wholly present for them in that short time when they were so little. I also lost my integrity because I hid my use for years and lied to friends and family about my addiction.

What worked for me:
Intensive outpatient treatment and the support of Women for Sobriety (WFS), an abstinence-based recovery program for women. WFS’s New Life Program helped me shift from feeling I was at the mercy of my negative thoughts to using positive thinking to create a life that I love.
I have sustained my recovery for four years by regularly attending WFS meetings, and am now a meeting moderator. I also see a therapist and exercise regularly as a form of self-care. I find exercise really helps me manage my mental health as well as provide physical well-being.

Rules I live by:
Keep recovery at the top of my priority list. When facing life changes or making big decisions, I consider whether or not they will support my sobriety and act accordingly. Act with integrity.

My bucket list:
Work to reduce the stigma of addiction by living out loud in recovery without shame. Travel far and wide and use my creative talents to share my recovery story and give hope to those still struggling with addiction.

Favorite recovery quote:
“Problems bother me only to the degree I permit them to” ~ Jean Kirkpatrick, Women for Sobriety founder (WFS Sobriety Acceptance Statement #4)

When cravings come:
I acknowledge them, but remind myself that they are only thoughts. I tell a friend or loved one, because talking about it helps me feel accountable to myself and reminds me that I am not alone in my addiction anymore – I have support. Speaking about cravings aloud and not hiding them decreases their power because doing so takes away their secrecy.

Best advice for newbies:
Find and use as many tools as possible to support your recovery. That way, when you’re feeling fragile, you have multiple resources to help you through difficult times. These can include going to a treatment program, attending meetings, having a phone list of supportive people, journaling, seeing a therapist, having a sponsor, meditating, making time for self-care, and finding inspiring books or podcasts.

Proudest moment:
Becoming a Women For Sobriety meeting moderator. The feeling that I have learned something from being in recovery for four years and actually have something to share with others is rather amazing.

Thoughts on relapse:
A relapse is not failure, and does not mean you are starting over at square one. It does not negate all of the work you did and everything you learned during your sober period before the relapse. Use it as a learning opportunity, and then move on. The way you react to the relapse will have more of an impact on your recovery than the fact that it happened.

SHED THE STIGMA:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].