Once I quit drinking, I quit needing my anti-anxiety pills. Funny how that works — stop using a depressant when you have depression and anxiety, you might feel better. I hated taking Xanax because of how sluggish and out of it it made me feel. Before being prescribed Xanax, I was on Ativan, but that made me feel even more sluggish and out of it, so my psychiatrist switched me. All during this period, I continued to drink. Drinking was my favorite because I felt like it took the edge off, but didn’t turn me into a zombie like the pills did. I thought I could still function. But since I would never cross the line into drinking at work, I could take my prescribed medication when necessary. Starting off, half a pill would help me out. After a short time, I started needing more and more, going over the prescribed amount. When that still didn’t do the job, I would wait a couple hours and drink a bit. That was so incredibly stupid.
So I stopped the drinking and the panic attacks stopped. I could function again. Not quite normally, but it was a start to getting stabilized. Now I haven’t drank or needed my Xanax in over five months. I feel almost as good about that as not drinking through some difficult triggered moments. While I was very happy to not need the pills, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them. I had fourteen left in the bottle. I was always very aware of the exact amount remaining and where I kept them in case of emergency. Where I kept them was on me, in my bag at all times. Within reach always, in case of emergency.
Yesterday’s Booze School topic was relapse. We learned in depth the process of relapse, how it doesn’t “just happen”, warning signs and prevention. I thought about the 19-year-old kid in the class that is there because of a Xanax addiction. I thought about how angry my therapist was when I told her my psychiatrist gave me Xanax and Ativan because they are basically alcohol in pill form. I thought about how I lied to my psychiatrist about how much I drank before he gave me the prescription. I thought about how I ignored instructions to not drink while on meds. I thought about my blackouts. I thought about my addictive and compulsive personality and how easy it would be for me to get addicted to Xanax. After all, Xanax functions in the brain the same way alcohol does. I thought about how if I did take Xanax again, I wouldn’t consider myself clean anymore. I thought about all the tools I’ve learned and all the friends, family and people in the program I have available for support at any hour of the day or night. So what I found myself doing this morning was dumping my bottle out. Finally. I immediately felt free.