Neha, at age 30, recently celebrates 5 years of sobriety and takes us through 11 years of active drug and alcohol addiction. Growing up Neha was a good student and a great swimmer who during the ages of 12 and 13 made it to the Junior Olympics for swimming. For most of her youth she was shy, introverted, and had a tough time making friends.
At the age of 14, Neha experiments with alcohol and pot for the first time and absolutely falls in love with its effects and with her new group of friends. By the time she gets into college, she adds cocaine and ecstasy to the list of party favorites and she starts dealing drugs in order to maintain her habit. Neha finds her bottom after going to jail 12 times, serving probation, and being sexually assaulted on multiple occasions. When she can no longer deny her drug problem, Neha loses her will to live and recovery becomes her only option… it’s a powerful message for the newcomer. Don’t miss this episode!
SHAIR – Sharing Helps Addicts in Recovery
Here are Neha M.’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Clean Date: August 27, 2009
Tell us a little bit about your life today, how are things in New Jersey? Tell us about school, work, you just got engaged. Tell us about Neha today?
Neha: Well on my hobbies, I have a lot more hobbies than I ever imagined. I like exercising, bird watching, photography, hiking, traveling. Also with school I’m right now getting my Master’s Degree in Public Policy at Rutgers, I hope to do research work and see what relationships are like and maybe one day I’ll find something that’s really interesting about people and alcohol and drug use. That’s my focus. I have four jobs, which is kind of intense. I work as research assistant on two projects at Rutgers. I’m a teaching assistant for two public health classes and I’m a resident assistant for the Rutgers Recovery house so yeah, I kind of keep myself busy. I’ve been actually getting into running as well. I’ve done a couple of 5Ks. I have a personal trainer now so I work with him. I do weights, I love the adrenaline rush, it’s endorphins, I love exercising so I’m just shaping up a little bit. Also I’m going to get married in less than a year so that’s a bit of a driving factor. It’s good, I love it.
How old were you when you first started using drugs and alcohol and what were the feelings associated with that moment in time?
Neha: I was 14 when I started smoking pot and drinking and I was about 16 when I tried Ecstasy, now known as Molly and then a little bit later I started coke so my first initial feeling when I started drinking and smoking pot was euphoria. It was complete happiness, I loved it and I could be whoever I wanted whenever I wanted. I could be that bubbly personality and fit in I absolutely fell in love with it, I did it because I enjoyed it.
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Neha: When I first got introduced to recovery I was 15. I was mandated to go to AA and I felt that I was too young, I had a lot of partying to do and I was not ready at the time. The second time I came in I was 25 and I still felt I was too young.
At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that “ah-ha” moment in recovery when you accepted you were powerless over drug use and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Neha: At the very beginning, I had originally come into recovery as a temporary fix. I was going to do 90 days of meetings and then go back to the races and start drinking again. In the big book there’s some stories that they say there’s this “ah-ha” moment, a spiritual awakening and mine wasn’t immediate. It developed slowly over a period of time and I had to look back over the months and look at all the things that were happening in my life, all the positive changes that were happening and that weren’t the result of me that were the result of a higher power, something greater than me. When I looked back at all those things, I realized that I had hope that I could do this and I could actually have this program work for me too.
Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a newcomer?
Neha: Yeah, I liked “The Living Sober” book a lot.
Living Sober – Alcoholics Anonymous
The Living Sober book was just enough for me to read. I was all over the place when I first came in and I just wanted something short to read. This book had like little things like why you eat so much sugar when you come in, why you gain weight, why you can’t sleep; it was a really helpful book for me.
What was the best suggestion you have ever received?
SUGGESTION’S FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“This too shall pass”
“Neha, you’re not that important”
Neha: There are two things I want to share because they were both really helpful for me. The first one is:
“This too shall pass”
Early in recovery, I was up and down on this roller coaster of emotions and one day I was really happy and my sponsor told me that “this too shall pass” and I was so mad. I was like “why are saying that my happiness is going to pass”. I was so upset and I was like what do you mean. She said “one day you’re going to be upset and you’re going to be sad and that too shall pass” and that made so much sense to me and it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear in that moment, but it stuck with me. It is the truth. When I’m sad, it’s going to pass and again it’s just a feeling it’s not a fact.
The second thing I want to share is that I was always nervous in meetings. I felt people were always looking at me, staring at me and thinking about me all the time. I was obsessed that everyone was talking about me and a friend in the room came up and told me:
“Neha, you’re not that important”
And again I got so mad, what do you mean I’m not that important? Of course I am. I was upset but then it lifted such a big burden because I realized I’m really not that important. Everybody has their own lives they’re thinking about, they’re in their own head and they’re not thinking about me and it took so much pressure off me because I didn’t have to be so concerned anymore and just try to be in the moment so that was a very big thing that I learned that helped me.
“O” What’s that saying?
“I may not be much, but I’m all I think about.”
I love that one.
If you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would that be?
Neha: Go to meetings and get a sponsor. Definitely go to meetings and get a sponsor.
Great suggestions Neha and before we say goodbye, I have one more question for you.
Of all the meetings you have attended anywhere in the world, which group is your favorite and where is that group located?
Neha: My absolute favorite group is the one I got sober at. I went there religiously and that’s the 24 Club at Princeton and my other two meetings that I really enjoy are the Zú Group in Costa Rica and the Time to Share Group in New Brunswick.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Neha!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.