Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I Said 'Yes, Yes, Yes!'

What finally prompted me to seek treatment for my alcoholism and agree to a 30-day stay at the famed Betty Ford Center.

Normies and newbies often ask me how I first got sober and if I really needed to go to the Betty Ford Center. Of course they’re coming at the question from two different points of view.

After all, normies want to know why couldn’t I just stop drinking and using drugs (Yes—it was the ’80s and ’90s, I worked in the entertainment business, and drugs were involved!)

Newbies, on the other hand, marvel that I was able to pull myself together long enough to step through the doors of a rehab center.

The truth is that none of it was easy. It wasn’t easy to stop and it wasn’t easy to go to Betty Ford. (Once I got to rehab though, it was an amazing, life-changing experience! More on that later.) I tried stopping on my own a million times.

Towards the end of my drinking and using days, when my husband Jim had left me and gotten sober on his own, I promised myself every night that tomorrowwould be a new day. I would not pick up no matter what. But then I would wake up with a hangover, and I’d need a glass of wine and several Advil to get rid of the pounding headache, plus a few lines to perk myself up enough to start my day. Then off to work I’d go, where I’d put in a solid, productive day at the office, hit the liquor store and/or drug dealer on the way home and spend a lonely night at home (with my two beagles and a stray cat) using until I passed out. Wash, rinse, and repeat and that was my weekday schedule. On the weekends, I would binge all day and night, alone, except for the pets to keep me company.

This went on for several months. It’s rather surprising that no one at work (where I supervised an office of 12 employees) ever noticed, but I guess you could say I was a highly functioning alcoholic and I never actually used at the office. I drank like everyone else at company parties but I never got drunk. I called in sick a lot but I still finished my work from home. Maybe everyone just looked the other way in those days, but apparently, they were truly shocked when they learned of my alcoholism.

The turning point came when my mother finally confronted me. She had noticed some odd behavior of mine on New Year’s Eve and asked me the next day, “Were you ‘on’ something?” Of course I denied it at the time but her question nagged at me for weeks. Meanwhile, I’d been going to AA meetings sporadically while continuing to drink and use every day and also had a sponsor whom I was lying to and dodging all the time. So I knew the jig was up soon—it was just a matter of time.

I called my brother to test the waters. “I think I have a problem with alcohol.” He laughed. “No one in the family will be surprised to hear you say that, Alison.” I took that as encouragement to ’fess up to my Mom. I called her and within an hour and a half she was at my side at an AA meeting—even though she was not an alcoholic. Understand, my Mom was the Queen of Co-dependents. She loved me unconditionally, but as a co-dependent her happiness was all wrapped up in my happiness. She couldn’t be happy unless I was too. (In a future post, I will talk about dysfunctional family dynamics.)

Now that the family knew, the next question was what do I do about my marriage and my work. Jim had pretty much said he would not live with me unless I was sober. I felt I couldn’t get sober unless I quit my job. I really, really thought my job was the root of all my problems. It was too stressful. My boss was evil and demanding. My employees couldn’t do their jobs and I was always picking up the pieces for them. I could go on and on. I wanted to quit but something inside me told me to ask for advice from a colleague who used to be a lawyer with the company. And boy, did he give me the best advice of my life!

“Don’t quit,” he said. “You have a disease. It’s the company’s responsibility to give you time-off to get help. They may even pay for part of your treatment through your health insurance. And you might think differently about your job after treatment. You might like it better. Call Roger, your mentor, and he will help you.”

So I did call Roger, who was like my Dad—he was my mentor, not my boss. And guess what: Within 48 hours I found myself driving to the Betty Ford Center thanks to that advice.

In my next post, I will talk about what it’s like at rehab. It’s not like what you see in the movies. It’s not what you read in the tabloids. It’s not a spa and it’s not a hotel. It’s 100 percent better and I can’t wait to tell you all about it, so stay tuned.

And finally, I’d like to give my husband, Jim (spoiler alert: yes, we stayed together!), a belated Happy Birthday for turning 20—that’s 20 years of sobriety—on January 1.

If anyone else would ever like me to give a shout-out to them or to a loved one on their sobriety birthdates, please feel free to email me at alison@currentpr.com.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Emily Smith February 19, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Thanks for your article and thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to the next installment. I love your terms - normies and newbies. :)
Vision PR CSUF March 18, 2013 at 07:59 AM
Sometimes I feel embarrassed to say things about my family. But here it goes...my sisters fiancé used to be a drug addict, stopped using the hard drugs, and continues to smoke marijuana...but my sister sometimes fears that it could lead to hard drugs again someday. It bugs me, because unlike you who was an extremely hard worker, he doesn't have a "real job" and he can't get one without being drug tested. How do you tell someone that they need rehab when they don't feel that marijuana is a big enough drug for that?
Vision PR CSUF March 18, 2013 at 08:02 AM
P.S. (JUSTUS) some of us like to hear intimate details or else this story would have nothing to relate to.
Claudia April 01, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Hi Alison, What happened to all of your other interesting and informative posts?!! Where did the one regarding Dr Drew dissapear to ...and why is it gone???
RATSJ April 01, 2013 at 11:47 PM
You have an amazing story to tell and hopefully it will reach out and benefit someone else in need who has been hesitant to seek help. Keep up the good work you are doing and I look forward to more of your posts I'm also happy to hear that your husband did not give up on you and thought you were worth the wait.


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