My Recovery, Three Years and Counting
Sometimes I abstained from alcohol by consuming other substances — a form of harm reduction.
I’ve never been to an AA meeting or been inside a rehabilitation center; as a general rule, I don’t like authoritative prescriptions, whether they regard how I relate to intoxicants, how I look at my intimate relationships, or how to talk to the cats. ¶ My long and sordid history with managing my own mental health has given me both tools and trauma. When I was almost 25, manic and undiagnosed, I suffered a sexual assault that demolished the dysfunctional though joyful life I had built for myself, and threw my self-medicating ways into full tilt. It wasn’t until a year later when I flunked out of university, that I sought help in the form of free sexual assault community counseling. It was in that little office, with my counselor Deborah, that I realized my drinking and drug use was standing in the way of my recovery.
As a real babe of the early internet-native generation, what did I do immediately when I got home from my counseling appointment? I took some online quizzes.
These paragons of insight told me I was drinking an inordinate amount, that I was probably an alcoholic. They told me I drank more than 98% of my female-identified, 25-30 year old peer group. This is when it really hit me. I didn’t care where they got the stats from or how problematic self-reporting is. I looked at my own group of friends. We all drank —a lot —and did various other intoxicants. And my different peer groups had always done these things for as long as I could remember ever feeling like part of one. I was part of communities (queer, anarchist, mad, disabled, artsy weirdos) where self-medication for mental health was the norm. It was just another way we had learned to survive.