The Journey From Fun to Abuse: Tony

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sober tony on how alcoholism startsOne of the major misconceptions out there about people in recovery is that we hate drinking and drugs. Au contraire! We simply learned that we can’t do it responsibly. The fact of the matter is that we would never have become addicted if it all hadn’t started off being incredibly fun.

If you hang around recovery circles, you’ll hear people say, “First it was fun, then it was fun with problems, then it was just problems.” We like that expression. We get that expression. We wanted to have a column which examines that expression. And so we reached out to the most prominent recovery bloggers, writers and advocates out there to ask them about their trudge down that road.

This week, our focus is on Tony.

What was drinking and using like when it was fun?

Drinking made me a superhero—invincible, interesting, and loved by all. From my first Budweiser at age 14, I knew it was dangerous and that was part of the fun.

As an adult, I could depend on a few drinks to bring out the awesome version of myself. Alive, free, happy: everywhere was a beautiful place and I have 10,000 selfies to prove it.

Alcohol was the only magic I needed in my life. It was fun you could swallow.

When and how did it become fun with problems?

The problems were there from the start. I’d hide my drinking and then feel ashamed. I’d overdo things and vomit. I was arrested twice before high school, but even that was fun while drunk.

If alcohol made me happy, I wanted to be more happy and more often. “Just one more and I’m done”—that was always a lie.

A few drinks were the opening act to everything I enjoyed in life. Football games, having sex, or even watching Netflix—there was no fun without a little alcoholic head start.

What was it like when it was just problems?

“Determined substance abuse is the only rational response to this absurd life.”

That’s an actual quote from my old Twitter account. I was losing control and playing the philosopher. Nothing made me happy, nothing seemed to matter and nothing was fun anymore.

Every day was blackouts, drunk driving, and passing out on the couch—with two toddlers in tow. Every sober minute was anxiety, planning and even praying for the next time I could swallow a little fun.

That was the trap, everything positive about drinking was gone. I was always nervous, easily defeated, disposed by all. Mr. Awesome became Mr. Pathetic.

How and when did life become fun again?

Smashing addiction is my new fun. After years of living like a slave, I finally got pissed. Everything alcohol had promised was a lie. The drink had stolen credit for the awesome parts of my personality.

I can have fun whenever and however I chose. I’m dancing like a white guy and don’t care who laughs—because I’m laughing too. The joy of being free makes each day an adventure.

Recovery wins and addiction can’t do shit about it.

Sober Tony blogs about addiction recovery, mental health stigma, and living sober. Read more of his story on the Daily Recovery Blog.

Help and support is within reach for you or a loved one battling addiction. Explore InRecovery’s national addiction treatment center directory now.
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Anna David is a New York Times-bestselling author of six books who's written for The New York Times, Time, The LA Times, Playboy, Vanity Fair and Women’s Health, among many others. She's appeared repeatedly on The Today Show, Hannity, Attack of the Show, Dr. Drew, Red Eye, The Talk and numerous other programs on Fox News, NBC, CBS, MTV, VH1 and E. She speaks at colleges across the country about relationships, addiction and recovery and is the founder of AfterPartyMagazine and RehabReviews.com as well as a former editor at The Fix. Her coaching program creates bestselling authors.

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