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Brian has been sober since October 2019 right after he turned 40. He started drinking regularly at 17 so his alcoholism journey has been a long one. His road to sobriety has not been an easy one, and it's certainly not over. If you missed the earlier parts of their story, read them before going on:
This is my Alcohol Story: Ashley & Brian (Part 1 of 4)
This is my Alcohol Story: Ashley & Brian (Part 2 of 4)
This is my Alcohol Story: Ashley & Brian (Part 3 of 4)
Addiction was present in Brian's family, he grew up seeing it and knowing it. But that wasn't enough to keep him from going down that path.
For Brian, finding something to "replace" his addiction was important. Working on his motorcycle is not only a hobby, it's also like therapy. He sometimes spends hours at a time working on it, but this is time he would've wasted on drugs and alcohol in the past. Keeping his mind and his time filled with things other than his addiction has been a big help during his recovery.
You may have wondered why the title of this story is "Ashley & Brian" instead of "Brian & Ashley" since the focus is on alcoholism and addiction. It's important to note, though, that Ashley's life has been very affected by the addiction as well. In fact, Ashley reached out first. She wanted to share her side of the story and to celebrate Brian's sobriety in hopes of helping others going through similar situations. "We are definitely excited to be a part of this because he can use it as a daily reminder of who we used to be."
Once Brian learned about Ashley telling her story, he jumped at the chance to add in his own thoughts as well.
Addiction doesn't just affect the addict, it affects the families and loved ones too. Ashley said people have told her she was dumb for sticking around, but she loved him and wanted to help him be the man she knew he could be. She refers to his time using as a time when he wasn't himself. She explained that it was him, but it wasn't really him.
She explained that in addition to struggling with alcoholism and other addictions, Brian also suffers from ADHD, bipolar disorder, and depression. His continued drug use and mental health history may explain a lot of their second child's issues.
"Addiction is one of the hardest things to love a person through," Ashley says.
She loved him and wanted to help him, but just like many addicts he didn't make that easy. He saw it as "just a lifestyle, not a problem" and convincing him otherwise while he was fighting the urges seemed impossible at times. She remembered praying for him even when they were broken up. Of course she had lots of anger and resentment because of what he put their family through, but she also wanted him to get healthy even when they were not a couple.
Brian recalls one day when he started drinking in Bayou Blue, Louisiana, and he woke up somewhere in Tennessee. He had no clue how he got there. He said everyone has to find their own thing that gets them through these tough times, and for him it was often his faith. Although all he owned and had were the clothes he was wearing, he said he felt like God would throw things at him little by little the whole way through. He said it might not have been much to others, but for him it was just enough to keep him holding on long enough until he was ready to change.
"Life is what you make of it," said Brian. He talks openly of his stuggles and shares things with his kids in hopes that they won't take that same path.
Ashley and Brian talked a lot about enabling. Brian recognizes that he used guilt and begging to turn his family members into enablers. He also used the word "panhandling" when he recalls how he supported his addiction. Ashley admits she saw herself as a support system but also an enabler, and she constantly struggled to find a balance between the two.
It's not something you can just snap out of. He'll have to continue to work at staying sober.
He doesn't pretend to be an expert, but he does have lots of encouragement and words of wisdom to share with anyone who is going through similar issues.
"If you know deep in your heart that you want to quit to get your life back, there is a chance of stopping. You think you can't because you think if you stop you'll die when your body is that bad. There is a way. You have to be wanting to quit. The bottle will keep telling you this is life, you need me to survive. But that's not true. There is life when you quit drinking. When you drink so long you think you can't do life or handle life without it. But in reality you really can you just have to do different things to handle life."
Brian will continue working on his life. He wants a better life for him and his family. "It took me wanting my family back," he explained. Since many of his close family members including his parents have passed away, he certainly values the people who are still in his life. "I don't want to be left here by myself. The family I do have, I want to live for them without the bottle. The only way I could've got that back was to get rid of the bottle. Because once you get rid of the bottle you can get everything back."
Both Brian and Ashley were so brave to share their personal stories with us. Their goal of sharing their struggles is to help someone who needs to hear that getting help is possible.
"There is a way out of it. I'm living proof."
Of course we were curious about whether he was ever required to have an ignition interlock device. Ashley explained that he never did have a breathalyzer in the vehicle he was driving because he didn't actually even have a driver's license when he got his two DUIs. He may have been able to benefit from having an interlock device, but he never did find out if it could have helped him.
Whether you're an addict trying to stop or reduce your amount of drinking or just someone who struggles making good choices when you've occasionally had a few too many drinks, we offer products such as ignition interlock devices to help people take back control over their alcohol use. Through our work with ignition interlock devices, we come into contact with a lot of people whose lives have been affected by alcohol. We see negative impacts caused by alcohol all the time, and we try our best to help even if it's just in a small way. We want to help you and we want to keep the roads safe. Visit our website to see some of the products we offer at Smart Start of Alabama. Call us or complete our contact form if you're ready to see how we can help.
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