SHOW NOTES: On today’s episode of The SHAIR Podcast Arielle Spanvill now 6 years clean and sober takes us through her horrific battle with drugs and alcohol. She started at the age of 12 years old getting high on cough syrup with codeine and quickly turned to narcotic pain relievers when her father passed away. This was the catalyst for Arielle to completely disconnect from reality and her addiction began to unfold.
During high school around the age of 17 her anger and bitterness about her father’s death escalated and Arielle was soon experimenting with opiates, smoking weed and drinking alcohol as coping mechanisms.
During college she falls in love with a drug dealing ex-con and starts abusing oxytocin and crystal meth. It was in this moment that her life completely spirals out of control until she ends up in jail and is introduced to recovery for the first time and her journey into recovery begins.
Today Arielle is a graduate of University of Utah with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is invited to the White House to share her story. Her story is nothing short of a miracle, you don’t want to miss this episode.
Clean Date: January 26, 2009
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation.
Here are Arielle’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Tell us about how your life is today, your hobbies, what you do for a living. Take us into your normal daily routine, including recovery.
Arielle: Yeah, so currently I live in beautiful San Diego, California. I lucked out on this one. I work for an agency called Transforming Into Recovery and our founder and CEO pledged $10,000 grants to four year institutions to build and develop collegiate recovery programs so a sober, safe place for people in recovery to be able to go to school. Pretty cool deal and I get to help develop these collegiate recovery programs across the nation. Our work hours are a little crazy so I’m up at 5 o’clock in the morning, at the office by 7, work til 3:30 and then usually hit the beach, which is great. I get to travel across the nation and go to conferences and talk about recovery, talk about collegiate recovery recovery. So it’s pretty tough, but someone’s gotta do it.
O: I absolutely love it. I’m going to stop you for a second Arielle because this is why I ask this particular question. Because I want everyone that’s listening, especially the newcomers to hear stories about people that are absolutely having just a blast, living their lives and it’s only because of recovery that they have these lives and on top of that, you get to like live recovery daily. It’s just awesome. I love it.
Arielle: Thank you! I am very blessed and my higher power has a very crazy sense of humor, which I just love. It’s just madness, it’s a trip.
So tell us a little bit about the first time you drank or used drugs. How old were you and more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Arielle: So the first time I ever used drugs, I started kind of backwards. The first thing I ever did was the cough medicine with codeine in it. I was 12. Twelve years old, going through a lot of trauma and discovered this cough medicine with the codeine in it and just loved it. I mean the spins, being dizzy, not feeling anything was awesome and I used to like drink a mouth full and then see how long I could stay awake.
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Arielle: What got in the way of me like even thinking that sober was a lifestyle that I could even do was I just never got in trouble until I got thrown in jail. I thought I was above the law and I thought nothing could touch me. I thought rules didn’t apply.
At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that ‘aha’ moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed a hope that you could recover?
Arielle: I think treatment really played a lot into that. I think those moments in jail when I had that first thought of maybe I have a problem and then as I explored that, learned that yes I do have a problem. That’s what did it and it was in the exploration that I learned that I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict and it’s not just with drugs and alcohol. It’s with men, it’s with shopping, it’s with I can be a workaholic. I can, whatever it is I can do that and then like the obsession part, I can obsess over anything.
What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Arielle: Don’t let your work become your recovery or your sobriety. When I was working in treatment, it was really easy to be like “I went to a meeting for work. I don’t need to go to a meeting for myself” and having that line be clearly stated to me and then being able to act on it. I was so grateful that my sponsor who was working in the field said that to me so I didn’t have to figure it out.
SUGGESTION’S FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“Do service…never say no to a legitimate AA request”
If you could give our listeners only one suggestion, what would it be?
Arielle: That you never know what seed you’re planting when you’re in early recovery. Like the seeds that I planted in early recovery, I didn’t even know I was planting them. Then when I needed it, I had this abundance and I didn’t even know it was there. So like all the rides I gave, all the times I was of service, all the women I sponsored, all that stuff. You know I went to Washington, DC and for my internship through relationships in recovery, like I had someone to pick me up from the airport. I had meetings to go to with women. I already had a support network and that was all from work I had done earlier that I didn’t even know I was doing.
Omar: I guess the suggestion would be to do service?
Arielle: Yeah. Yep and never say no to a legitimate AA request.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Arielle!
Arielle Spanvill in the Media:
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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