How did you get started with drugs and alcohol?
I remember when I was like 14 or 15 years old, one of my family members gave me a Pink Champale, an old-school drink from back in the 70’s. It was an exhilarating feeling like none other.
I grew up in a family where we didn’t have alcohol in the house. My Mother didn’t drink at all and my Dad only drank on the weekends when he went out, but he never brought alcohol home. He was truly a social drinker. I didn’t really dip in alcohol in high school because I was an overweight kid and then an overweight teenager, so I didn’t really hang out with the kids that were partying. I didn’t get my real experience of alcohol until college. Back then the drinking age was 18 so I was able to buy and drink alcohol. While I was in college, I noticed that I wouldn’t do my assignments sometimes or I would wait until the last minute because of alcohol. I just loved the way it made me feel. I met my husband in college and he drank, but he’s not an alcoholic. He can stop when he wants to. I remember the first party he took me to, they had lots of beer and wine, and I drank like 9 bottles of Heineken, in one night, still standing. It was nothing and I was still ready to go. I could just put it away. Even when I was in high school, I had a friend that liked to take Pink Hearts – I think it was just speed. I didn’t feel anything when I took them. Pain pills didn’t make me feel like alcohol did – nothing.
I started working and trying to climb the corporate ladder at work. In those environments there are a lot for Happy Hours and even sometimes drinking at lunch. Eventually it got to the point where I was drinking before I went into work. Sometimes I would start drinking before work and I would have to call and make an excuse as to why I couldn’t come in. If I went to work, I would leave at some point during the day to go drink, then I would come back. Heck, I even had liquor in my desk at work that I could access. I become an “around the clock” drinker. I would ask my direct reports to come drinking with me during lunch and one day I ended up getting arrested for a PI in front of my direct reports. Who would ask their direct reports to come drinking with them? It was crazy.
How did you end up at the 24?
I first went to Maggie’s in 2012. Even when I left, I stayed active around the house with volunteering. But for some reason, I picked up that drink and I was barely 90 days. I went out and didn’t go back to Maggie’s until February 2019. During that time, I went to a treatment center, and I tried here and there to try to get sober. The longest I ever made it was 60 days. The breaking point happened with my son one night when he was back from college. It was the middle of the night and I always got up. I would get up and fix me a drink or finish the drink I had. It was never going to sleep. It was always drinking until I passed out. I woke my son up by accident and he said, “Mom, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to be able to stay here. You’re drinking 24/7. Every time I see you, you have a cup. I’m not going to stay here and watch you die.” I was drunk, so I started talking trash and I didn’t take it seriously.
I had been trying to stop drinking here and there. One day I got paid and went on a day long bender. At some point during the bender, I called Maggie’s and told them that I would come in. I was blacked out, but I remember on the way to Maggie’s, I told my family that I wanted to stop and get something to eat. I went into the Chili’s and ordered a drink. My husband came in and took the drink away, then he forced me to get into the car. I went to Maggie’s kicking and screaming! I even interrupted the 8:00 meeting with my behavior. Everybody at Maggie’s said I was a mess. Alcohol makes you a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I’m a real alcoholic.
When my son and I started talking about where I should go after Maggie’s, I told him that I wanted to go someplace that was 6 months to a year long, but I didn’t have any insurance or money to pay for a treatment center for that length of time. I prayed and handed it over to God. I asked him to lead me and guide me in the right direction. I knew he was telling me sober living. Someone said something about The 24 and I remembered an old contact I had a Maggie’s telling me that she went to The 24. The next day, several girls from The 24 came to the Maggie’s meeting, so I started talking to them and asking questions. I was getting out of Maggie’s Thursday, so I started calling The 24 on Tuesday. There wasn’t an opening, so I kept calling and ended up just showing up. I knew God wanted me to go to The 24, so I knew I needed to stay there to get in. When I was released on Thursday, I didn’t even call, I just showed up and there was a spot. I just thought, “Things are working.”
I was sick of this foolishness. I needed a new start. I needed to be in a place where I’m held accountable. I blow every night on the breathalyzer, which holds me accountable. There are always meetings going on or someone here that I can talk to, whether it’s staff or residents. If I didn’t come to The 24, I honestly don’t think that I would still be sober. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had the confidence to apply for jobs. I feel comfortable talking to people on the phone. I’ve attended some of the workshops and it has really enriched my life. When I tell you that I was ordered here, I really know that I was ordered here. Since I’ve been here I haven’t had one complaint. All I can hear in my mind, is that “if we are really serious that we’ll go to any lengths to get sober”. I knew I had to do something different. I can’t go back to doing things as I’ve done before. Where has that gotten me?
I’m very grateful because my story could have been totally different. I have a bunch of PI’s, but I don’t have any DWI’s. All I can say it is was God. I see where God has given me so many chances and he’s been so merciful with my children. They all turned out fine. Three have graduated from college and 1 just started. They love me and support me, even when I’m here at The 24. I’m not working at the moment, so they help to pay the fees. I’m lucky that I have the support of my family.
My goal is to be here at least 6 months. I want to work on my steps, work the program and start working with others before I leave. I want a firm, firm foundation. It’s time. It is just time.
Patrice has been at Dallas 24 Hour Club since February.