Celebrating Recovery: “Over the Years I’ve Learned it’s Something for Me, Not Others”


Note: This story is from a former SouthLight client, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy. She provided permission to share this story, and said, “Thanks for taking time to hear my story. Hopefully it can help somebody else see the light.” This is her story.

Six years sober.

That’s something to celebrate, and this month is all about celebrating recovery.

We met up with a former client, Lisa, who was eager to share her recovery story. We asked her how she celebrates recovery, and she smiled with pride and showed off her arm: “I got a tattoo on my one-year sobriety, and I went out to dinner.”

Lisa explains that her approach to celebrating recovery has changed:

In the early days, I wanted it to be a huge deal for everybody. Over the years I’ve learned it’s something for me. I try to do something just for myself.

She continued: “I’ve learned for myself and anyone I’ve tried to help, that you’re not going to succeed if you’re doing it for other people. Don’t do it for your kids, partner, or your parents. You don’t need the praise from others. You’re on a slippery slope if you’re doing it for somebody else.”

Lisa says her issues with alcohol began in her 30’s. Here’s how she explains it: undiagnosed ADHD triggered anxiety, which was enhanced by a toxic relationship, which all led to alcohol in order to self-medicate.

“My coping mechanism was wine. That was what made me feel better.” Lisa’s working environment didn’t help: she was surrounded by alcohol, working in restaurants and bars, and a big part of comradery was drinking.

We all know we need help before we actually ask for it. When I hit rock bottom, I knew I needed help. I needed help now.

Getting Help for Substance Use

Lisa was checked into an inpatient treatment facility. After getting sober, the next step was being referred to SouthLight for outpatient treatment. She received individual counseling and medication management services. Even throughout COVID, she continued to meet with her provider via telehealth.

SouthLight is what continued my sober journey. That’s where I started to cope more on my own. SouthLight was more dipping my toe into the world again, and they were there for me.

Today Lisa is a poised and confident young woman, married to “the love of my life” and ready to relaunch her career. She says positive things are happening; she’s thinking about going back to school and she and her husband are purchasing their first home. She adds, “My oldest nephew literally thanked me for being sober at parties since I’m someone they can talk to.”

What did Lisa value most about her experience at SouthLight?

“I give a lot of credit to the staff,” she said. “I love being recognized and remembered. It meant a lot to me.”

To read more about mental health and substance use disorders, or find out how to help someone who is struggling, visit our resources page.


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