Dorien’s Personal Story of Addiction and Recovery

Dorien is from Utrecht in the Netherlands. She was a patient at Castle Craig Hospital for four months in 2008. She started abusing alcohol from the age of 17, drinking in her bedroom every day and hiding it from her parents. Dorien was a ‘functioning’ alcoholic for 18 years but at the age of 35 she lost her job and became homeless. She was picked up regularly by the police and was admitted to a detox centre for five weeks.

Dorien started going to Alcoholic Anonymous. Initially she thought they would ‘teach her’ to control her drinking but soon learned that taking a single glass of alcohol would lead to more drinking and only total abstinence would aid her recovery.

Dorien went to AA for seven months but kept on relapsing, becoming more and more desperate. By then she had a job and a car and friends thought she was doing really well. However, she was relapsing every two weeks and spiritually was at an all time low.

Dorien realised that she needed help to keep away from that first drink. Dorien had heard about Castle Craig at AA and this is her story after getting residential treatment at Castle Craig:

“When I left Castle Craig, I felt both excited and relieved that my treatment was over but I was also apprehensive at what lay ahead. Prior to Castle Craig, I had spent seven months trying to quit drinking and hadn’t succeeded.

This time I fully accepted that I would never regain control of my drinking. I also realised that I needed to work the AA program with a sponsor. Before Castle Craig I had never given that an honest try. I also had begun to have an inclination that there might actually be such a thing as a ‘Higher Power’, although my ego still wanted to vehemently deny that possibility.

I went to my first AA meeting in Utrecht two days later. A woman from Nijmegen was visiting and said she had been utterly miserable when she first gave up drinking but had found joy and peace through working the 12 steps with a sponsor. She gave me her phone number.

During the first few months after Castle Craig I went to three AA meetings a week. I worked four days a week and told myself I would look for a sponsor once I was settled a bit. But slowly I felt resentments cropping up and knew I was getting into dangerous territory.

I found an audio tape on resentments and it turned out to be about doing the fourth step. Great! I could work the program without having to go through the ‘humiliation’ of having to ask someone to be my sponsor. But before long my resentments got worse and I finally found the humility to phone the woman from Nijmegen and asked her to be my sponsor. Fortunately she agreed.

We worked the AA program with the help of Big Book Awakenings, a 12 step workbook written by some AA old-timers. My sponsor had used several methods over more than 20 years and had found this workbook to be the most effective. We worked the program together with two other newcomers and it was a wonderful and liberating experience. I have since had the gratifying and humbling opportunity to work with several newcomers and I still use this workbook.

Today I am in ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) as there were some issues that I hadn’t dealt with in the AA program of recovery. My ACA sponsor explained that recovery is like peeling an onion: once we have dealt with one layer, another becomes apparent. She reminded me to be grateful for this because it keeps the path of spiritual discovery and growth exciting.”

Dorien is doing a degree in psychology and plans to become an addiction counsellor. She has been sober since her treatment in Castle Craig.

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