Getting Dirty and Staying Clean
Amy Dresner is the author of acclaimed memoir, My Fair Junkie. She is five years clean from being addicted to sex, drugs, and anything she could use to avoid her feelings. She’s a former professional stand-up comic, having appeared at The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory, and The Improv. She is a contributing editor at the TheFix.com and has also written for the Good Men Project, The Frisky, Refinery 29, and has been a regular contributor to Addiction.com and PsychologyToday.com, where she has her own addiction blog entitled ‘Coming Clean.’
Amy tells her dark and twisted tale with unabashed humor and honesty. Her story proves that even after multiple relapses and bottom after hopeless bottom, recovery is possible.
CLEAN DATE: JAN 2nd, 2013
Listen to Amy’s story now!
Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!
Amy Dresner works from home where she lives with her cat, Colonel Puff Puff. She moonlights for an evolutionary psychology-based love advice columnist and benefits from learning all the science-based information she writes about.
For her recovery, Amy goes to meetings. She calls her sponsor regularly. She does her step work and helps two sponsees.
As much as I give AA a hard time in my book, I’m very much about it.
In addition to the Twelve Step program, Amy likes meditation, cheap massages, and naps.
The First Time
Amy was nineteen-years-old when she first drank at college. She fell down, laughed, and that was it. She didn’t feel the instant craving, but then at the age of twenty-four she tried crystal meth and something clicked. She wanted to feel that way forever.
A vortex opened up inside me and that was it.
Amy has been sober since 2013, but this is not her first time around. Relapse is a big part of her story. She managed to accumulate big chunks of clean time in between her periods of addiction, but she kept coming back.
The reason I used is I have big feelings.
Amy came from an affluent divorced family. She was a trust fund kid who went to the best schools, but addiction and mental illness were woven into her genes. She always knew she was a drug addict and she made peace with the fact that she would always need to use to endure life on the planet. Amy admits that she is an innately selfish and entitled person. In spite of being born into a privileged lifestyle, she felt like she was not enough. She always felt she was on the outside.
Amy didn’t take to drinking because she’d act violent and crazy and end up blacking out. But she discovered that with drugs she could stay cognizant, especially with crystal meth. She was a tweaker who would go days, sometimes weeks without sleeping. She’s often end up going to the ER or trying to commit suicide. She started injecting cocaine, which escalated all her problems including the epilepsy she developed from her methamphetamine use. The seizures didn’t stop her from shooting coke, though. She just wore a helmet for protection. It made total sense to her at the time.
Eventually, she lost everything–sanity, marriage, sobriety. People stopped rescuing her. They stopped fixing things for her. She found herself in her forties, penniless, and in a psych ward. After pulling a knife on her husband in an intoxicated rage, she was sentenced to community labor and had to live in a sober living home. Her days were spent sweeping the streets. She toiled all day in the heat, picking up needles, used condoms, and feces with other criminals.
Amy initially went through a period of feeling sorry for herself, but then something shifted. The labor, the humiliation, the downfall humbled her. She finally realized that what she was experiencing was a consequence of her decisions and actions. She knew she could consider this the best thing that ever happened to her or the worst thing that ever happened to her, and that it was her decision to decide.
That spiritual awakening came from sweeping bum poo.
What kept Amy from getting clean?
Amy believed that she could moderate her drug use. She says to moderate is unrealistic, especially for bingers. It’s much easier to be abstinent than to try to control something that is already controlling you.
Amy always knew she was powerless over drugs. She surrendered to her addiction from the start. Her awakening happened after she got sober while following out her community labor sentence. The bottom kept falling from beneath her. Everything she judged, she became. She knew her way was not working and she couldn’t keep running away from the lessons life wanted to teach her.
Amy Dresner remembers something her dad said:
Discipline creates stability. Stability doesn’t create discipline.
It doesn’t sound very profound at first, but when it comes to recovery, it’s absolutely true. Addicts are always waiting for the right moment.
You will never feel ready. You will never feel okay to do something, but you can’t wait for the evenness in life. You have to create it.
Suggestions for newcomers
When you get an urge to use, buy yourself twenty minutes. You can stay sober whether you want to or not.
Amy says the craving will pass whether you use or don’t use. Take a bath. Watch Netflix. Take the dog for a walk. Take a nap. Call someone. Do anything to stall yourself for twenty minutes. The urge will go away.
See you then!
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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.