Alcoholism is a substance use disorder that can masquerade quite easily as a societal norm, as discussed in yesterday’s post: The Mommy Drinking Culture. Casual drinking can quickly accelerate into a problem, and then the problem takes over. Here, we talk to Amber Demers, an alumni of Green Mountain Treatment Center, as she discusses how mom drinking became grief drinking became blackout drinking. Here is her story, as told by Amber and her eldest daughter.
I was a binge drinker, but in control…
Amber: My disease allowed me to think that I had control. I was a binge drinker, a blackout drinker at that point. All my friends were drinking. They had kids so it was a very safe way to escape from the reality of my life, and raise my kids.
I knew she drank a lot, but I didn’t know it was alcoholism…
Amber’s Daughter: I knew she drank a lot – I just didn’t know that it was enough to make her an alcoholic.
I remember her specifically asking me to pick up my little sister from dance classes. Otherwise, I would always ask to drive. I don’t know if it was subconscious or just because I wanted to drive, but I wanted to. And I knew that she was drunk most of the time.
The fast track to death
Amber: When my mom got sick, I moved her in with me and I took a significant time off from work to take care of her. That’s when I started on the fast track to death. Not only did I have an unlimited supply of narcotics at my disposal because of her sickness, but I also didn’t have to get up and go to work every day. So it was very easy for me to decline.
And then it got worse. My mom died, and I didn’t know how to cope with that. I didn’t have those skills. So I drank…a lot. Meanwhile, my doctor was writing any anxiety or depression medication prescriptions I needed. So, I used prescriptions to get me through work, and I used alcohol to get me through home. The last year before I came here (Green Mountain Treatment Center), it was daily blackout drinking.
Towards the end, I just couldn’t believe I had let it get this far. I couldn’t believe it had gotten this bad.
And then it was time…
Amber: I heard that Green Mountain was one of the best treatment centers. I thought that it looked like it might make a difference, and so my partner drive me there. It was probably my worst day, the day that I went into treatment. He could’ve walked away that day. and he didn’t.
I was so ashamed that I took a leave of absence from work, when I went into alcohol rehab. I didn’t tell anybody at work what i was doing. I told them that I was taking a medical leave. I didn’t want anybody to know that I had this problem that I couldn’t fix myself.
Amber’s Daughter: We came to visit her as much as we could, but it was hard not to be able to see her for awhile. I missed her a lot. But I’m glad she did it. I’m always excited to tell my close friends, “oh, my mom’s a year and five months today”. So proud…
Amber: I’ll never forget the day when i got my six month chip. I came home from a meeting and I showed that to them (her family). I’ve never seen that look on their faces: how proud they were. And I’ve done a lot of things that would make people proud. To have their support makes me want to continue this path. It’s everything to me.
It was the best, the best decision i ever made.
Watch Amber’s full story: