Recovery from Addiction

Jails, Institutions, and Near Death

Spring of 2006 I spent 2 months in jail getting sober for the last time. I spent my time locked up reading the Bible, The Big Book, writing ‘Paradise for the Hellbound’, and praying that the judge would sentence me to Bridgehouse. Bridgehouse (B.H.) is a rehab center owned by Meridian Behavioral Healthcare. I had been on the Methadone program there and I sent letters to my doctor to get me into rehab from jail. He was all for it. He himself later landed in rehab. Come to find out the doc was dipping into his own meds .How convenient.
On June 15th 2006 I got transported to B.H. by a Levy County Sheriff to begin my 28-day stay. Twenty-eight days…… twenty-eight days …. (reminiscent sigh). In the spring of 2006 28 days seemed like a very long time. The days were long and the nights were even longer. I had been in my addiction for nearly 35 years.

My hands shook and I felt as if I had a black bowling ball of fear parked in my chest at all times weighing me down. I literally felt so heavy. I could barely get out of bed yet I couldn’t sleep. I was exhausted. I was getting healthier every day but I was petrified by the reality of everything coming at me from the present so crisp and so clear. I was not used to it. I would go home after meetings and hide under the covers and obsess about the day. My mind did not know peace.

My counselor who I later asked to be my AA sponsor (God rest her soul) was such a wise woman. She had been a “live under the bridge” alcoholic for years. I remember her saying “alcohol took me places way lower than cocaine had ever done” All I knew was Cocaine brought me some of the worst fear and anxiety I had ever experienced YET I kept doing it hoping to get that intense rush & high that only ether based cocaine made in the early 80s could provide.

I walked into one of the other male counselor’s offices. “Let’s talk” he said. He wanted to hear my story. “Why are you here? What happened to you to get you here?” he said. I started telling him my tragic and traumatic story of insane and unmanageable addiction and countless extreme near death experiences. While I talked I remember thinking subconsciously “I will not feel the pain resulting from and attached to the stories I am telling this man”. I laughed nervously as I told him about jumping to escape a moving car in fear for my life. After every paragraph I spoke I would let out a nervous inappropriate giggle.
The counselor looked at me and said, “Laura why are you laughing?” What you’re telling me is horrible and tragic yet you keep laughing.” I was silent.

Omg! I thought. The counselor had prompted in me a deep and meaningful realization. At that moment I realized I was hurting and afraid. He had managed to pull off my emotional mask. My heart had been separated from my body. I had taught myself NOT to feel anything. I had found a way to stop the pain by not only using drugs but also by stuffing and denying all and any uncomfortable feeling. But I was twisted and confused because of my solutions to pain which were now killing me. At that moment my brain and my heart became one again. They reconnected and I realized that my life HAD been severely tragic. I realized I was laughing to protect myself from feeling. I was twisted and emotionally inappropriate.  I was torn.  I had learned how not to cry.

How would learn how to process a lifetime of hidden shame and fear.

Emotions which I thought were wrong and bad had come back to haunt me.  Stuffed feelings were ripping me apart.  Now I would learn how to not only feel but also how to accept my emotions as God given. I would honor my feelings while also not allowing them to paralyze me.

I would now learn how to process a life time of hidden shame and fear.

Emotions which I thought were wrong and bad had come back to haunt me.  Stuffed Feelings were ripping me apart.  Now I would learn how to not only feel but also how to accept my emotions as God given.


I would no longer deny my heart it’s voice.  My intellect would no longer seduce and condemn my heart by labeling my fears and vulnerabilities “garbage and weakness”

Everything I had been taught about my emotions was wrong.  Everything I had been taught about who I was, was wrong.

I had no idea how I would get to know myself or why I had been so sick for so long but I was about to take a journey that would reveal to me the answers which spirituality or AA alone had not revealed.   Yet it was the spiritual which led me to a place of emotional understanding and healing.  Closed-minded spirituality has no room for growth.  Open-mindedness combined with spirituality promotes change and learning.  Our state of being spiritual should never forbid other brands of solution.  We should be open to all possibilities instead of condemning certain brands as if they were cans of green beans that we refuse to taste because it has the wrong label.

When given the chance Spirituality cures everything that is sick.  But if an addict doesn’t identify and change the emotional behaviors that preempted his addiction in the first place, well then all that addict is doing in twelve step recovery is keeping a vicious dog that once ran wild locked up.  He baths the dog and feeds the dog.  He gives the dog chopped beef and gives him his shots.  But the dog is still crazy and dangerous.  The dog is still sitting in a locked pen just waiting for the chance to get out and rip the addict limb from limb.

When we learn the ‘why’ behind our addiction then we can be taught new processes and new exercises that turn the evil dog into a harmless, and well-dressed normy.  Come to find out that dog out there is part of me and needs to be nurtured and included, not rejected as evil.  Under the anger is the pain.  Under the rage is the hurt.  Heal the hurt relieve the rage.

NO! We do not want to drink again.  If you have to ask the question “can I then drink?”  Then you have not been converted and healed, YET.  The same man WILL drink again.  But a new man both spiritually and emotionally has no desire or reason to drink and drug.  He is recovered.