Staying Sober: Keep the Holidays Clean
By Dianne Anderson
Cracking open the bubbly is all part of the fun this time a year, and for some, any excuse to imbibe is better than none.
Everything glitters, and the trees are lit. The party has been going strong for the past month. It’s also a vulnerable time of year for those struggling through substance abuse recovery.
Daniel, not his real name, has been sober now for over 13 months, ever since his wife caught him doing meth.
He likes to tell the story at meetings of how proud he was of that first month clean until his sponsor asked him what other drugs he was doing in place of meth.
Sobriety means quitting all mind-altering substances.
“I said I had a couple of drinks, I smoked some weed last night. He said what part of all don’t you understand?” he said. “So, I reset my sobriety date.”
Sometimes, people stop abusing one substance, only to turn to another, but for Daniel, the holidays haven’t been a problem since he made his commitment.
“I’ve abused for a long time. I’ve given myself to my Higher Power. The least I can do is give it my all. I deserve to do that,” said Daniel, an active member of the West Inland Empire Cocaine Anonymous.
Meetings draw from 15 to 50 to share their stories and drink some coffee. Through the months, he has grown closer to the mission of their sobriety organization, helping where he can, attending regional meetings, and learning how they help others through the tough times.
It’s a time of year that he calls, “riding the pink cloud.”
“Everything’s fine. Everything is great. No, this is a tough time for a lot of alcoholics and addicts. There’s a lot of drinking and stuff going on right now,” he said.
It’s also not easy for family members dealing with someone who is addicted.
“As the addict, we think we’re the only ones that know, but everybody knows,” he said.
Often, people come into their program from Kaiser CDRP Unit where they hold Monday night meetings in Fontana, as well as other locations throughout the week.
Although their official name is Cocaine Anonymous, outreach is for anyone that is addicted to any mind-altering substances.
“Whatever you’re using, we’re not going to split hairs on your addiction because of a particular addiction. We are an all-inclusive fellowship,” he said.
This time of year, and all year round, he said the most important thing for users to know is that they are not alone.
“Reach out to any group, it doesn’t matter, if you need help, reach out,” he said.
For those in recovery, it is a tempting time of year, but it’s also something that Benjamin Shuler with the Moreno Valley nonprofit Hole in the Wall, Inc. sees all year round in his walk with sobriety.
His Moreno Valley facility is open 24/7.
“To us, every day you can pick up a drink. Every day is a good day to drink when you have a problem,” said Shuler, who, along with his wife Glenda, co-founded the organization.
Coming up, Shuler is thinking fish fry and bean pie for a good cause.
On Saturday, December 29, their fish fry fundraiser will be held from noon till 4:00 p.m. The event is held several times a year to provide some financial resources to help keep the doors open and pay the bills.
At the facility, he said anyone can stop in, drop in, and get resources in times of hopelessness.
“If they have nowhere to go, they can come here 365 days a year,” he said. “We’re looking to provide whatever the community needs, and a place that they can get help for their family members.”
Every day, meetings are held at 6:30 a.m., noon and 7:00 p.m., including all holidays, with coffee for all. This year, New Year’s Eve falls on a Tuesday, and they will have their regular three meetings.
At one point, he said the nonprofit opened its thrift store, but it closed after three years because it wasn’t covering the overhead costs. However, their other services are still ongoing.
They offer the 12-step program, a meeting facility, they have clothing for the homeless and financially challenged.
Drug and alcohol abuse are seen in cities all over, and he doesn’t necessarily see an increase in the local problem. It’s more like it never stops.
“It’s continuous,” he said. “As a result of drug use, you’re going to see homeless, but is it all [substance abuse]? We don’t know for sure. People have a lot of things going on that causes the end result to be drugs and alcohol.”
In October, they held their annual marathon with continuous speakers through a four-day period, people coming in sharing their stories.
Last month, he also held a Thanksgiving feeding on the following Saturday, serving 50 families, individuals, and children. But, he said that they count their most important work in meeting the daily need.
He works with the community, placing calls for individuals that need help with 211, or just providing a place for people to come in and learn about local resources. Depending on the need, the drop-in services can draw up to 50 individuals each month.
“They can land here, we always can get on the phone,” he said. “We’re always open, we always have coffee, meetings, workshops. It’s a place where a person can come to get help.”
For help, see http://www.wieca.org/wie.html or call the helpline (951)790-2496
For the Hole in the Wall, Inc., http://www.theholeinwallinc.org or see or call (951) 486-0861