The Walker Center treats those from all walks of life and various types of substance addiction. Because we treat addiction as a disease and address the problems associated with addiction, our patients find sobriety, support, and peace on their road to recovery. In this three-part series, we’ll be highlighting alumni of The Walker Center, their struggles, how they found help at The Walker Center, and their lives now.
Name: Teresa H.
From: Meridian, ID
Addicted to: Alcohol
When you think about your life before addiction and alcoholism, what were you like before your struggles?This is a difficult question to answer because I always felt like I didn’t drink like normal people. Even as a teenager, I felt like it was different. As time went on, so did the struggle. I didn’t do anything about it for quite some time.
Before you started having struggles with alcohol, what kind of hobbies, passions, and interests did you have? I’ve always been an active person. Before I recognized my struggles, my life probably looked pretty normal to most people. I seemed reasonably accomplished—married with three kids, owned my own business, and was pretty athletic. Right up before things got pretty bad, I was running marathons. I was always focused on making things look pretty on the outside to combat my internal struggles.
Could you go in-depth on your battle with alcoholism My battle with alcoholism is something that snowballed. When I was younger, I drank a lot. I lived in an area where drinking on the weekends was the social norm, so throughout high school, I was drinking to the point of blacking out every week. As I got older and had kids among other responsibilities, I wasn’t really like that. There were periods of time I would go without drinking at all. However, when I did drink, it was hard for me to stop. I would never tell myself, “I’ve had enough—I think I’ll switch to water.” Toward the later years, I didn’t feel like I had control over drinking anymore. It took over my life, and I began hiding it from members of my family while constantly sneaking it around. It became very exhausting. I started reaching the point where physically I had to drink in the morning and throughout the day just to get through the physical aspects of what alcohol had done to my body.
When you think of those challenging times in your life, are there any metaphors or images that come to your mind to describe the struggle to someone who might not understand? One thing I think or hear often is that the person who is using alcohol has chosen that substance over their friends and family. They’ve decided to drink over everything else in their life. That’s just not the case. It may seem that way to others, but it comes down to one thing—it’s not a choice. It becomes such a burden that has such a tight grasp on you that you feel helpless. I certainly felt helpless.
Could you talk about your experience with the Walker Center? My first experience with the Walker Center was through inpatient treatment. I left a job that although I was drinking at, I was proficient at. I headed to this tiny little place in Gooding, Idaho, leaving all the things in my life that I felt I still had some control over. Admitting defeat was painful, and I was scared to death. Although I went to the inpatient facility on my own for 28 days, it was truly an ultimatum from my family. Due to this, I didn’t buy in when I first started. I didn’t honestly feel like I was done drinking. That thinking didn’t change until about two weeks into the program.
What are some things you did at the Walker Center? It was very intensive. You’re pretty much on a regimented schedule from the time you wake up until you go to bed. There’s not a lot of downtime. With that being said, it’s not busy work. You’re doing a lot of different lectures, learning, and having one-on-one time with counselors. It’s a complete immersion into addiction and sharing. The counselors are all helpful and can relate to you because many are recovering from an addiction of some sort, too. The Walker Center would bring people in from the community for different 12 Step Recovery meetings.
Did you do any treatment after your inpatient at the Walker Center? When I left the inpatient facility, I had no idea they wanted me to do outpatient. I was shocked when they did, but I’m thankful for it. I did outpatient and relapse prevention for several months. When that was done, I started attending the alumni program once a week for people who have been through the Walker Center. I’ve done that consistently for a few years now, and that’s probably been one of the most important parts to me and my recovery. That alumni group, in conjunction with all the things I learned during inpatient, is the reason I am still sober today.
How did you initially hear about the Walker Center? I would see billboards around town. When things got bad, we did research on different places. I had done a couple of days at another facility a few years back, but it was just a detox; I didn’t go through any program. Some people were there for 30 days, and when comparing what I experienced at the Walker Center to this facility, I felt sorry for those who couldn’t utilize the resources and full treatment I got at the Walker Center.
How did your addiction affect relationships at home and work? At home, things were not good. I was always lying and fighting with my husband. As my kids got older, things became worse. When I went to check in, one of my kids wasn’t even speaking to me. He wasn’t mad; he was just done and had enough. My husband didn’t want to live like that anymore either, but he didn’t know what to do. As I spent days lying and hiding alcohol, he would find it and catch me in a lie which led to fights. On top of that, I wouldn’t want to do a lot of things I typically enjoyed doing. If everybody wanted to go on a camping trip or spend the day on the lake, I would come up with an excuse not to go because I knew it would be difficult for me to drink while doing those things. I would choose not to participate to ensure that I could drink.
How did your relationships change after treatment? The change was drastic. As part of the inpatient care at the Walker Center, they have your family come for a few days. It’s a great way to help educate them on addiction and a great wa
y for family members to talk to the patient and express how your struggles have affected them. My husband and youngest child were able to attend, and it was very beneficial for both of them. I think that most of the anger and resentment was able to be let go during that. Going through the things the Walker Center provides in support of the household was very beneficial. My husband and I get along much better now; my kids all respect me. It’s completely changed my relationship with my family.
How did your time at the Walker Center change your outlook on life? It took some time, but it’s improved a ton. Before I checked into the Walker Center, I worked a lot of hours during the week. Working 70 hour weeks made me feel good about myself and okay about my life. It took me a while to get that feeling to shift. Since then, work has become less important to me. The biggest thing is that I don’t feel like I have to lie all the time. I don’t think I realized how much time I spent manipulating things and hiding the alcohol. The physical aspect has changed too. Before checking in, drinking consumed my life. It got to the point when I wouldn’t even eat; it was like I couldn’t chew food. I was very skinny and unhealthy with bright red skin. The Walker Center takes an intake photo when you check in and show it to you after a few weeks of treatment. The difference was crazy; I looked awful then. I’m so much healthier now.
What would you say to someone who is struggling and considering the Walker Center for themselves or a loved one? I’ve been able to do this. Not too long ago, I spoke to a woman whose story was similar to mine. She was a working mom, just like me. Before the Walker Center, I felt like I was just existing; I wasn’t living. As hard as it was to leave my house, job, and family for a month, I would do it a hundred times over, no matter t
he cost. To me, the Walker Center made all the difference in the world. I don’t think I’d be alive today if I hadn’t gone. I certainly would not have my family. There is no question in my mind, this was the best decision for me, and I can’t see how it wouldn’t be a good choice for anybody who was close to where I was at.