Brittany Shelton - Recovering From Prescription Drugs
Hey there! My name is Brittany, and I am from Kansas City, MO. I used to be addicted to Xanax and other prescription drugs, but am sober from all psychoactive substances, legal and illegal.
Toward the end, I was stealing, pawning, borrowing, and manipulating my way through a given day. Depending on my luck and negotiation skills, I could spend anywhere between 12-75 dollars a day.
What motivated you to get sober, and how did you do it?
I got sober while in the midst of yet another emergency, self-generated crisis situation. I have assaulted my roommate, had recently passed out at our post office and was transported by ambulance to the hospital with too much medication and alcohol in my system, and I was also looking at not having anywhere for my son and I to live. I was offered some help at what was for me, a perfect time in my life and I accepted.
In 2006, smart phones weren’t a thing yet and I wasn’t connected to the internet regularly. At the time I was uninsured and terrified to go to inpatient treatment without any adequate care for my young son. The help I accepted was home detox, a place to live, and someone to support me through going to twelve step meetings with me. I also met an amazing mentor/sponsor and things fell into place.
What have you had to sacrifice by being sober?
If I am being completely transparent my answer might have been so different a few years ago, but today I can look back and honestly say that although I did have to make significant sacrifices to make these huge changes in my life, I did not and have not lost anything. I moved, I deleted my contact list in my Nokia phone, I cut ties with everything that had been my normal. I also created distance between two people in my immediate family who have substance use disorders. Upheaving my entire existence felt odd and scary at the time, and I felt like I had been stripped of ‘my life’ but the irony there is that God was moving mountains to give me a new life that I had never even dreamed of. I gained immensely by letting go of things that I thought gave me security and my identity.
Do you have any strategies or tactics that have helped you along the way?
For me I can say that what has helped me to grow and build a better life is learning not to isolate, and allowing myself to feel and to be vulnerable. The truth is, recovery is about building healthy relationships with ourselves, and with others. Life and recovery aren’t meant to be lived alone. Also, facing my feelings. I am a runner. If I have to choose between fight or flight I fly. I have learned to take steps back, to examine and to patiently wait out feelings without ignoring them, pushing them away, avoiding them, or beating myself for having them.
What was your biggest milestone or victory so far, and how did you celebrate?
By far my biggest, most special victory has been becoming a dependable mom, wife, and friend. People believe the things that I say and they can truly count on me, and that makes me feel proud of myself. A close second would be going back to college. I dropped out of high school, had a baby, and got myself pretty deep into addiction and some other unhealthy, toxic situations. I never thought I was capable of achieving my new goals. But here I am, crushing goals and stuff. (All because of Grace, and sobriety).
What are some advantages or disadvantages you have that others might not and how did they help or hurt you?
I have been blessed with people who love God with so much passion and abandonment of any judgment; people who have loved me at my very worst, who never questioned whether they should or shouldn’t, who hooked me up with the support and servi They have made all the difference in my progress and success. I did not have family support. I guess that could be considered a huge disadvantage and has been proven to hinder recovery outcomes. It held me back in the beginning, but I have grown because of their choices and lack of interest or involvement. **
Have you had to deal with any relapses, and if so can you talk about how you overcame them?
I have not relapsed since being in recovery. However, before I accepted help I had tried several dozen times on my own, and relapsed every time. I didn’t overcome that on my own. I will say to anyone who has relapsed, DO NOT tell yourself that you aren’t good enough, strong enough, or worthy enough to change. Because you are. Learn from it and move on. Shame will suffocate you and to be honest, we all fall on our faces at some point. Get back up, and keep walking forward.
During recovery, what kind of support system did you use and how did you deal with loneliness and isolation.
Isolation had always been my most favored and prized mechanism. It had always been a very comfortable, go-to companion of mine and loneliness was just a part of the isolation. I utilized the women who I met in meetings to help me to stay accountable, and also my roommate (now husband) to help keep me on track. I needed strong people around me who weren’t afraid to call me out on my bullshit, but who were equally empathetic to my unease and my fear of letting people get close to me.
What is your favorite thing about being sober?
This one is easy for me and has been the same for years. I am content, and have found peace. Not only am I not searching, or seeking, or constantly on the hunt for anything I am genuinely at peace in my heart. I am happy with my imperfect, quiet life that I have built. It’s nice.
What’s your advice for someone just starting out in recovery?
I know I felt that I had really messed up too much for too long. On top of trying to learn how to get through a full day sober, I also had a long list of legal problems to fix and tend to and to pay for. I had warrants, tickets, court dates and no money. No driver’s license. I had an even longer list of people I had harmed and done wrong and extensive amount of shame, embarrassment, bitterness, resentment, and anger to sort through, and these things were just the beginning.
So, I like to tell people to chill. Change takes time. It’s going to be really hard at first, but it is not impossible. For now, focus on your sobriety first. You cannot fix it all at once. For now, read, do your homework, exercise, watch tv, try new foods, walk, get good sleep. Sobriety has to be your number one.
And the good news is that all of the rest, (whatever your weight is comprised of), will work out.
Little by little, as life goes on you will begin to see and to feel the harvest from your new, healthy, thoughtful, choices.
Oh’ and also do what works best for you. There is no wrong way to do recovery. As you change and grow, what you need and what works for you is bound to change and grow right along with you, and there is nothing wrong with that.
What are your goals for the future?
For now the next several years of my life are dedicated to my children. My long-term goals mostly center on them, and not completely screwing them up within the next five years or so. Beyond that, I plan to self-publish my memoir sometime before I die, and maybe use some of my education to work part-time at a homeless shelter or a women’s shelter. Who knows? I am not much of a planner.
Where can people find out more about you or get in touch?
Like everyone else in recovery, I blog. For me it is just honest, public, therapeutic documentation about how much I actually don’t know. I just try to keep it as real as possible, from my own perspective. I only know what I know, and as I go and fail and make progress, I learn. As I learn I try my best to share the good and the bad with my readers.
Most of the things I talk about are real to me, relevant issues such as: codependency, God, and the many, interesting after-effects of being the child of a person with co-occurring disorders. I can be found lurking around Facebook, twitter, and on the blog.