‘Don’t go too far. You have work the next morning.’ My boyfriend jumped in to save me. I was so intoxicated I couldn’t swim back.’: 24-year-old overcomes ‘party girl’ alcoholic lifestyle to thrive in healthy, sober life, ‘I never thought this day would come’

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“I first began relying on alcohol to help me feel more confident in uncomfortable situations when I was a senior in high school. I started dating my first boyfriend and I was always super nervous to go to his house, so I felt like a couple shots of tequila from the Patron bottle hidden in my closet would help me loosen up.

What started off as experimental teenage drinking and depending on liquid courage to help me face my fears eventually turned into relying on alcohol to like myself. I hated how I was a naturally shy person, an overthinker, and a worry wart. Alcohol was my quick fix, my crutch, and my remedy from the moment I discovered it.

Drinking helped me completely disguise my introverted personality that I used to view as a character flaw. It only took a couple shots or a few beers to make me feel sexy, funny, and outgoing. I reinvented myself as a party girl who was always down for a good time. But as the years went on, it started to seem like I wasn’t just ‘harmlessly’ partying like a typical young person anymore. It became more obvious to me and the people around me that I was using alcohol more differently and dangerously than others.

Courtesy of Lauren Carbone

In December of 2015, when I was a sophomore in college, I overturned my car on the side of the highway. I don’t remember making the decision to get in my car and drive, but I snapped out of my blackout once I crashed and I knew I was screwed. After totaling my car, going to the hospital and jail, being put on probation, and getting kicked out of my sorority, you would think that this would be my wake-up call. But really, this was just the beginning.

I wasn’t ready to admit that I had a drinking problem at the time. I just chocked it up to a stupid mistake that I wouldn’t repeat. I never drank and drove again after the accident, but I dangerously drank in other ways. Since I was banned from my sorority, I built new friendships that revolved strictly around partying. I was determined to drown out all of my insecurities, fears, and regrets that stemmed from the accident with even more alcohol. You could catch me at the bar at least 5 days a week, most likely blacked out. I somehow made it to class most days and managed to get decent grades, but that was the only aspect of my life that I kept afloat.

My friendships and relationships suffered greatly due to my drunken antics. I couldn’t keep a guy interested in me for more than a few weeks. I was willing to put my heart on the line for anybody but couldn’t maintain an actual relationship because I was such a hot mess. I was more than just a ‘party girl’…I had issues. There was a semester where I had plans to move in with a friend, but she ended up telling me last minute that she didn’t want to live together because my drinking ‘scared her.’ I had many shameful moments, but it was never enough to stop me.

At the height of my drinking and partying days, I was super thin. I was prescribed Adderall at the time and took it daily. I obviously drank on it as well which made me black out even harder while I thought it was making me feel more ‘sober.’ I never had an appetite so my stomach shrunk and I couldn’t eat two bites of a meal without feeling uncomfortably full. I basically was running off straight alcohol, iced coffee, and drugs to maintain my figure and party girl lifestyle…but I wasn’t healthy mentally or physically whatsoever.

Courtesy of Lauren Carbone

Another ‘should’ve been a wake-up call’ moment happened when I ended up in the hospital after falling headfirst off of a bar. I don‘t remember the fall, but I remember the aftermath. I was blacked out and was apparently dancing on the bar and fell off, headfirst. My poor roommate called the ambulance to pick me up from my apartment because she was scared to let me fall asleep with a concussion. I was really shaken up after this, obviously. I actually think this happened after another failed attempt to quit drinking, but I convinced myself that I ‘deserved’ a night out. Getting picked up in an ambulance and waking up with a swollen face and bloody cuts was enough to motivate me to stop drinking – at least for a few weeks.

Courtesy of Lauren Carbone

I would always feel shaken up, anxious, and depressed after every alcohol-related incident, but I would still use every excuse in the book to keep my party girl lifestyle alive. I would tell myself that I was just young, that everybody had bad moments, and that it would somehow get better. It NEVER got better. No matter how many times I told myself that I could manage or control my drinking the next time, I always ended up in the same sad, pathetic place. Alone, violently hungover, and scared.

Even after graduating, moving out of my college town, getting a real job, and moving in with my boyfriend, my unhealthy drinking habits still followed me. I couldn’t drink as frequently as I used to, but I definitely drank heavily when I did. Weekends were always a blur and Mondays were always hell. I would give up alcohol for a couple weeks at a time and felt a million times better, but I would still manage to find some reason to drink again.

During this time, my secret drinking started to get worse, which is the aspect of my drinking that genuinely scares me the most. The lengths that I would go to sneak shots from liquor bottles was concerning. I would go outside and chug beers because I didn’t want anyone to notice how much I was drinking or how much I wanted to drink. I was embarrassed by how out of control I would feel and how strong my urge to get drunk was.

The final straw finally came when my boyfriend and I had a boat day with some friends. My boyfriend warned me several times, ‘Don’t go too far. You have work the next morning.’ But the second I cracked open my first drink, every ounce of self-restraint that I had flew out the window, per usual. While everyone else was casually sipping, I was chugging one drink after the other. I decided to jump off the side of the boat, but I was so intoxicated that I couldn’t swim back against the current. My boyfriend had to jump in and save me. Needless to say, the boat day was over. After the long, embarrassing drive home, I ended up sitting on my kitchen floor, sneaking shots from a bottle of gin, and my boyfriend caught me red-handed.

Courtesy of Lauren Carbone

The next day, I was so hungover that I could barely lift my head off my pillow. I had to call out of work, which I was super ashamed about considering I had just started a new writing job a few weeks prior. My boyfriend sat me down and had a talk with me that finally resonated with me, thank God.

‘I’m terrified that one day you’re going to put yourself in a life-threatening situation you can’t bounce back from,’ he told me.

I remember just looking at him and smiling. I felt calm. I felt ready. I knew I was done drinking. This was it…I wasn’t a drinker anymore. I was ready to get sober.

Courtesy of Lauren Carbone

I’ve been 72 days sober since and I don’t crave alcohol at all or miss my old way of living. I don’t think that alcohol will make any situation better or more fun. I’ve finally surrendered to the fact that alcohol has only made everything worse. I got rid of the false belief that drinking makes me more likeable, because my drunk alter-ego has only pushed people away. Drinking also didn’t actually make me a more confident person, because the things I said and did while drunk just made me hate myself more. I realized that getting drunk wasn’t even fun for me, because I was always so worried about getting my next drink that I never lived in the moment.

Life is so much better now. I know it’s only been 72 days, but I am confident that I will never look back. Even when life throws me curveballs that are hard to handle, I understand that adding alcohol to the equation just makes my life harder.

Courtesy of Lauren Carbone

I’ve realized that being sober comes with its inconveniences. I’m definitely not the life of the party anymore. I get tired and drained from social interaction quickly and I will shamelessly be the first person to call it a night. I get questioned about why I’m not drinking and get put on the spot all the time. But I’d rather deal with slight annoyances than all of the self-inflicted problems I used to cause myself on a daily basis.

I’ve already put myself in many challenging situations for a sober person. I’ve gone to bars, football games, concerts, beer festivals, you name it. I’ve gone on vacation twice. I’ve been to family events where everybody there was drinking except for me. Even when faced with triggering scenarios that would’ve previously caused me to give up and give in, I stayed strong. I sat with my feelings and I overcame. Over the last couple of months, I can say that I’ve genuinely enjoyed life in a way that hasn’t made me feel guilty or ashamed. It’s the best feeling in the world. I wouldn’t give up this new way of life for anything.

Courtesy of Lauren Carbone

I know now that my purpose is to lead a happy, healthy, sober life and encourage others to do the same. Before I discovered my online sober community, I didn’t realize that an enjoyable sober life was really possible. I don’t know anybody in my real life who doesn’t drink, so it was extremely hard to imagine a life without alcohol. I hope my story proves that even after hitting rock bottom multiple times, you can permanently reinvent yourself and your life for the better. I never thought this day would come, but it did. I thank God every day for that.”

Courtesy of Lauren Carbone
Courtesy of Lauren Carbone

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lauren Carbone, 24, of Jacksonville, Florida. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more inspiring stories of people facing their addictions:

‘I awoke to no vision in my right eye. The last I remember was sitting on a lobby floor, half dressed, my friend begging me to stand up.’: Woman overcomes decades of alcohol abuse, now nearly 2 years sober

‘I found his gun while blacked out. I held it to my head, trying to pull the trigger. His roommate ripped it away.’: Woman’s life has changed ‘drastically’ since becoming sober, turned her ‘nightmare’ into a ‘blessing’

‘The day of my wedding, I thought I deserved a treat. I picked up a needle and got loaded before I got married. I thought I could do it once, and not again. I was wrong.’

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