Raquel, with 5 years clean, takes us through 9 years of drug and alcohol abuse. She started drinking at the age of 9 when her family moves to Costa Rica, and by the age of 16 is smoking weed, doing cocaine, and taking ecstasy. Her troubles multiply when she figures out how to get into the local bars for ladies night without an ID. She attempts a geographic change by moving back to the US to finish high school and get into college. Now living in Santa Barbara and going to community college in one of California’s number one schools for rock star partying, Raquel hits bottom. She overdoses on heroin, alcohol and a cocktail of other drugs, wakes up in a hospital bed ready to take the phone call that saves her life. It’s a moving and impactful story of recovery… don’t miss this episode!
SHAIR – Sharing Helps Addicts in Recovery
Here are Raquel G.’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Clean Date: November 16, 2009
Tell us about how your life is today, your hobbies, what you do for a living. Take us into a normal daily routine, including recovery.
Raquel: Well, I guess my normal routine on a day to day basis is I get up, I go to work or I go to the gym first and then I go to work and then after work I usually go to a meeting. I go to meetings about 4-5 times a week. Depending on what day it is I may meet with my sponsor. I meet with her once a week as well and I don’t know. I guess I have a routine for most of my day. It’s just pretty much the same in terms of I go to work, if I can I get to a meeting or I talk to my sponsor and I go to the gym.
How old were you the first time you drank or used drugs and more importantly, how did it make you feel?
Raquel: Well, The first time, growing up in my family, our parents always gave us little sips of alcohol here and there. It was just something my parents didn’t really view as wrong. I don’t know if it was or not, but the first time I guess I ever really got drunk was at 9 years old. My sister and I were hanging out at the house. My parents had gone away like to the neighbor’s house or something and they were gone for a few hours and there was always a generous amount of wine and alcohol in the house so we snuck a bottle, opened it up and drank it together. We just got drunk for the first time and even those little sips of alcohol, I always remember I wanted that. I didn’t even realize when we stole that bottle that it was going to make me drunk. I was like “I’m just going to get this little giddy feeling”, but I got falling over drunk at 9 years old. I was like “wow, this is like the most magical feeling in the world”. It was like better than any Disney movie I ever saw.
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced into recovery?
Raquel: I think the biggest thing was the fact of my age. When I first came to rehab here, there wasn’t really a lot of people my age. I was 18 and the next closest person was 24 and after that it was quite a gap so that was hard. I told myself “I don’t belong here.” I’m just going to stop this little thing for right now because I’m in college. That’s what people do, but no. Not all college members drop out of college and sit home getting high all day. There was that reality adjustment that someone gave me. That was definitely a factor. “I’m so young”, but when I really looked back at the facts, it didn’t matter my age. It was where I was at emotionally. I hit more of an emotion bottom and I couldn’t deny that. I couldn’t deny the fact that I wanted to die so that let me know that I belonged here.
At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that “ah-ha” moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed hope that you could recover?
Raquel: I think it was kind of like the one that I shared earlier. I can’t tell you the date, I can’t tell you the time or even the year. Well, it was my first year, but it was a moment where I was sitting there and I had lost my first job. We had been outsourced to a company in India and I was like, “What am I going to do now? Why did they let me go?” and I didn’t know where I was going to go from there because I didn’t have a good resume. I quit every job that I had or just did not show up one day so I didn’t have any references so “what am I going to do? I don’t even have a high school diploma, but it’s going to be okay. Something will work out” I don’t think I ever told myself that before or even believed it. Maybe I said it in passing, but it didn’t faze me because it’s not like I believed it. It was just really those moments where I started believing that the tape in my head had changed from “something is going to go wrong, something is going to go wrong. Who’s going to fuck me over next? What am I going to have to do next? What am I going to have to do to make this happen?” to “it’s going to be okay. Something will pan out”.
Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a new comer that you read in early recovery?
Raquel: Well, yes I do. I have two. I have “The Living Sober” book. I don’t know who it’s by, but I think it’s called “Living Sober”. It’s more of an AA literature and I like the big book a lot just because it talks about our history. Oh, and actually I have another one I really like. It’s an AA approved literature. It’s called “The Journey Continues”. Those three are my favorites.
2. Living Sober – Alcoholics Anonymous
3. Living Clean: The Journey Continues – Narcotics Anonymous
What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
“Keep going back”
Keep coming back, not just when you relapse on drugs if you do, but keep coming back because you will relapse on behavior. You need to share with other people. Life will throw stuff at you that you need to share with other people and if you don’t, you’re just going to sit there and have it in your head and go over it a million different times and imagine the horrible scenarios. So keep coming back for a lot of different reasons, just show up. That’s another thing my sponsor used to say to me. Just show up and something will happen.
If you could give a new comer only one suggestion, what would it be?
Suggestion’s for the Newcomer!
“Keep coming back, work the steps and get a sponsor”
I’m really big on that one. Keep coming back, get a sponsor and work the steps because it does say at the beginning that the only wrong way to do this is to do it by alone, but if you keep coming back and work the steps, something will happen. You don’t have to worry about the God part, you don’t have to worry about getting your life together. If you just do those three things, keep coming back, get a sponsor and work the steps, it’s weird how it pans out, but it does. I’ve seen too many examples of that to believe otherwise.
Of all the meetings you have attended anywhere in the world, which group is your favorite and where is this group located?
Raquel: That’s easy. It’s The Women’s Vigilance Group in San Jose Costa Rica. It’s at 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays if anyone is in the area.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Raquel!
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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.