Profiles in Recovery
While high on Oxycontin, Dresner brandished a bread knife at her husband on Christmas Eve, 2011. She was arrested for felony domestic assault with a deadly weapon.
“That set in motion a divorce, a criminal case, a suicide attempt, multiple relapses and starting my life over as a broke divorcee in my ’40s,” Dresner says.
Her epiphany came while sweeping the streets of Hollywood Boulevard eight hours a day – part of her court-ordered community labor. Dresner had been feeling sorry for herself, then thought, ‘Wait a minute. This can be the best thing that ever happened to you or the worst thing that ever happened to you – your choice,’” she recalls. “I decided it would be the best thing, and my life has never been the same.”
Today, Dresner is entering her fifth year of recovery and is a successful author, blogger and addiction journalist. Her memoir, “My Fair Junkie” has been praised by the comedian Margaret Cho, conservative pundit Ben Stein and other notable men and women. Dresner sustains her recovery with help from a 12-step program, regular exercise, clean eating, meditation and service to others.
What I lost to addiction:
Everything: my marriage, my sanity, my home, my previous sobriety, my friends, time, opportunities . . . I also have epilepsy now as a result of my methamphetamine abuse.
At my worst, I was:
Penniless in a psych ward after I had slit my wrists while drunk. Being in jail, in a semi-blackout, on Christmas in an ice-cold holding tank, calling my old sponsee who was now a bailbondswoman was a pretty bad moment as well.
What worked for me:
For my crime, I was sentenced to one year of domestic violence counseling and 240 hours of community labor. Sweeping the streets, taking full consequences for my actions, becoming self-supporting for the first time in my life, spending 2.5 years in sober living and really throwing myself into a 12 step program finally created the shift I needed that turned my life around.
Favorite recovery quote:
”You don’t have to be a good person, you just have to act like one. Nobody knows the difference.” ~ one of my first sponsors
When cravings come:
The craving will pass whether you use or not. It is temporary. So I call my sponsor or a friend, distract myself and buy myself 20 minutes. I know that if I pick up, I wake up that monster. I open up that vortex of obsession and physical dependency and it’s the beginning of a nightmarish bender that I might not come back from.
Stigma I faced:
I’ve faced stigma from doctors who didn’t believe I was sober, who wouldn’t treat me because I had a history of drug/alcohol abuse or who thought I was drug seeking when I was just asking for anti-depressants to manage my depression.
I’ve also faced stigma from men who see me as a ticking time bomb, a dangerous unstable woman, instead of somebody resilient and brave who has overcome incredible obstacles to find lasting sobriety.
What I learned about myself:
That I was my worst enemy. I learned not to let my feelings dictate my actions but to take action and then the feelings would change or follow. I learned that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable or sad and that these feelings will pass.
The publication of my addiction memoir, “My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean.” Besides finishing something I started, the messages I get from readers struggling with addiction that I made them feel less alone, less ashamed, has given me purpose and allowed to me take 20 years of hell and make it into something worthwhile, something that is helping people.
Thoughts on relapse:
I was a chronic relapser for 20 years. I think for most people, relapse is a part of recovery. My relapses have kept me humble and allowed me to maintain a healthy respect for and fear of my addiction. To others I say, don’t stop trying. Don’t be ashamed to come back to the rooms. It’s not a competition.
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