It’s a typical day — you’ve arrived home from work, and you’re ready to settle in for a comfortable evening. You drop your keys on the counter and head for the kitchen, thinking about the bottle of wine or the six-pack of beer waiting for you. But it’s not there. You forgot; you’d meant to stop at the store, and then on your way out your manager asked you to cover for a coworker next week, and you were distracted. How do you feel?
Maybe a little bummed out; you were looking forward to having a drink with dinner, and it’s just the icing on the cake of a hectic week — but speaking of cake, that ice cream in your freezer will probably get your mind off things just fine.
Or maybe there’s a twinge of something else — a deeper level of anxiety, a headache coming on, a surge of unexplainable frustration. You really needed that drink; it’s part of your routine and you know you won’t be able to relax or sleep well without at least a buzz. You can’t stop thinking about it. Maybe you’ll go to the bar down the street for dinner instead of cooking as you’d planned.
If your drinking has become a regular habit that you rely on to feel calm, happy or comfortable, it might be time to take a step back and evaluate whether your relationship with alcohol is a healthy one. Alcoholism doesn’t always look the same; not everyone fits the stereotype of an alcoholic who is always drunk and spends every cent they earn on plastic bottles of liquor. Alcoholism can affect people of all backgrounds, ages and genders, and can be difficult to identify because drinking alcohol is so common. If at any point you start to worry about the drinking habits of yourself or a loved one, you should consider learning more about the signs of alcoholism, or think about reaching out to an alcohol addiction treatment center for help.
To determine if you or a loved one has a drinking problem, we encourage you to learn more below.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, also called alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder, is a chronic illness marked by a psychological and physical dependence on alcohol. People who struggle with alcoholism may drink excessively and uncontrollably, typically continuing to drink despite serious negative consequences. Alcoholism usually emerges slowly over time, starting with regular drinking and progressing to a point where the affected individual feels they can no longer function without alcohol.
Four main symptoms mark the difference between alcoholism and normal alcohol use:
Craving – a strong need, or compulsion, to drink
Loss of control – the inability to limit drinking on any given occasion
Physical dependence – alcohol withdrawal symptoms (e.g., nausea, sweating, shakiness, anxiety) occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking
Tolerance – the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get high
People who are not suffering from alcoholism may not understand why someone who is addicted to alcohol can’t just use willpower to stop drinking. But in reality, alcoholism has little to do with willpower. Those suffering from alcoholism experience an uncontrollable need for alcohol — a craving that can be as strong and deeply ingrained as the need for food or water. These cravings override an individual’s ability to stop drinking; they aren’t able to say no to alcohol, no matter the consequences.
Who Does Alcoholism Affect?
Alcohol dependence is the most common substance addiction. In the U.S., nearly twice as many people have an alcohol use disorder than all other substance use disorders combined — according to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 14.5 million Americans over the age of 12 struggle with an alcohol use disorder, compared to 7.8 million illicit drug users.
While alcoholism can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic status, certain groups have a higher risk of developing alcohol dependence. Statistics show that men, for example, are nearly twice as likely to become addicted to alcohol as women, and that Native American and Hispanic communities have higher rates of alcoholism relative to other ethnic groups. Some other factors may contribute to an individual’s likelihood of developing alcoholism, including those described below.
Studies have shown that having an alcoholic family member makes it more likely you may develop alcoholism if you choose to drink. However, the mechanisms behind this are much more complicated than they sound. Scientists have identified many different genes that play a role in how your body processes alcohol, how alcohol affects your mood and whether you have other health concerns that might increase your risk. There is no genetic guarantee that you will or will not develop alcoholism, but you can use genetics to understand if you might be at a higher risk for abusing alcohol than other people.
Other Mental Health Disorders
It’s very common for individuals with a different mental health disorder, like severe depression or anxiety, a personality disorder or a compulsive disorder, to develop alcoholism. In these cases, people who struggle with a mental health disorder turn to alcohol to self-medicate; in other words, they drink to help themselves feel calmer, happier or more stable instead of seeking professional help. Once they start to rely on alcohol to avoid their symptoms, they become addicted. If you or your loved one is showing signs of a mental health disorder, you should never ignore symptoms or try to “tough it out.”
Alcoholism risk can increase based on the person’s environment, including where and how he or she lives; family, friends and culture; peer pressure; and how easy it is to obtain alcohol. If your friends or family are heavy drinkers, if many of the activities you participate in involve drinking or if you started drinking at an early age, it is more likely that you will develop alcohol addiction simply because you are drinking heavily or drinking often. If you are frequently around people who drink alcohol, it’s important to be aware of the signs of problematic drinking and to be supportive if someone expresses concern about their drinking habits.
What Are the Signs of Alcoholism?
There are many signs of alcoholism that you can look for in others or identify in yourself, but the best way to be sure that your drinking has become alcohol dependence or alcoholism is to talk to a doctor or counselor. If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, consider the following signs and make an appointment with a professional for further help.
You can begin by answering the four following questions:
Have you ever felt or been told that you should cut down on your drinking?
Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, you might have an alcohol problem. If you answered yes to multiple questions, it is likely that a problem exists. In addition, some of the top signs of problematic drinking can include:
Drinking frequently — every day, or multiple times per day
Drinking alone or at inappropriate times (e.g., in the morning or at work)
Often drinking to the point of intoxication or “blacking out”
Spending too much money on alcohol
Allowing their alcohol use to interfere with important things like work, school or family
Acting erratically, irrationally or violently when drunk
Continuing to drink despite consequences like losing a job or getting in legal trouble
Whether you are worried about yourself or someone else, you should consult your healthcare provider or contact the recovery experts at Cumberland Heights. We can help determine whether you have a drinking problem and, if so, recommend the best course of action for recovery.
What is Alcoholism Recovery Like?
If you are beginning to think — or maybe you already know — that you need professional help for your drinking, you might be feeling overwhelmed. It can seem like there are too many options and steps to take before you can find a recovery center that feels safe and supportive. Perhaps you have been in alcohol rehab before, and you feel like nothing will ever work. But there are many resources to help you find the treatment that’s right for you. Your primary care doctor will be able to provide professional referrals; your insurance company may help identify cost-effective options; and, there are several government tools and hotlines that can help you find providers that meet your needs.
For most people who are struggling with alcoholism, a residential treatment program is the first step. There are also options for outpatient alcohol addiction treatment if an individual is unable to commit to living away from home. Sometimes, medically monitored detox is necessary to help an individual safely get through alcohol withdrawal symptoms without relapsing or harming themselves. Many treatment centers, Cumberland Heights included, offer detox treatment on-site so clients can transition directly into full-time recovery.
Most people spend about a month in residential care, though some programs — like the Extended Care Program at Cumberland Heights — offer longer stays if needed. During residential recovery, you will participate in a variety of therapeutic activities to help you adjust to sobriety, learn how to cope with your addiction in daily life and build healthy habits that don’t involve drinking. You will be living full-time in your treatment center, so you will have plenty of access to your care team and you will be in a safe, structured and substance-free environment where you can focus on getting better.
Once your time in a treatment program is complete, you will begin your transition back to everyday life. You’ll know you’re making progress toward lifelong recovery when you:
Disassociate from people who use alcohol
Open yourself to self-improvement and growth
Actively work to improve personal relationships damaged by alcoholism
It’s important to remember that recovery from alcoholism is an ongoing process. You’ll need to work at staying sober, especially in times of stress or difficulty when you might be tempted to turn to alcohol to help. But with the tools you learn in addiction treatment, you’ll know what to do if you start to feel like you need a drink.
Cumberland Heights offers treatment programs based on the principles of the 12 Steps to help you maintain your sobriety. Abstinence is a lifelong process that usually requires ongoing support. There is no cure for the disease of addiction, and although medication can be a useful management tool, it is no substitute for a spiritual program of recovery. Focusing on healing your mind and spirit offers you a road to recovery that you can sustain on your own, making it possible for you to achieve long-term sobriety in independent life.
On July 28, 2012, I was at a complete loss. Despite years of trying to control my drinking, I had yet again approached a social situation with intentions to “just have one,” only to wake up that morning with no recollection from the night before. All I knew was things had not gone well. My girlfriend (now wife) made a simple ultimatum – alcohol or her, but I couldn’t have both. It was an ultimatum I’d heard many times before, in various forms, but something about this time was different. I was done trying to keep up the illusion I had any semblance of control with my drinking. Despite my very best efforts and sincere intentions, I simply could not predict how much I would drink once I had the first sip of alcohol. I was finally willing to admit I was powerless over this disease.
The 12 Steps are the solution which continues to show me there is a better life I can live if I am willing to be humble, take action and trust my Higher Power.
For years, I’d used alcohol to fill a deep void in my life. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to convince others I didn’t have a problem, and I could quit any time. The problems with these statements were they were completely false, and deep down I knew it. I knew I was lying to myself, but I was terrified to come out and actually admit I was powerless when it came to drinking. It terrified me to think I might be perceived as weak by my friends and family. The great paradox of admitting I was powerless over my drinking was it created an opportunity to allow something else in, and for me that something else was God. My Higher Power gave me the strength to forge ahead during some difficult times in my recovery, and continues to do so today.
After that moment of surrender, I was able to admit I needed help. I made my best effort to stay humble and to listen to the wisdom of others who had gone before me. They showed me there was a better life waiting for me, but only if I was willing to trust to the process and go to any lengths to get it. In essence, my admission to being powerless and understanding my life was unmanageable led me to identify the problem, which was Step 1. Once I identified the problem, I could then work towards the solution.
After five years in recovery the one thing I remind myself each day is powerlessness is not the same as helplessness. I admit I am powerless over my disease to create an opportunity for something bigger than me (my Higher Power) to lead me through my sobriety. What is essential about this admission is I take action each day to maintain the spiritual condition that allows me to remain sober. Once I take Step One, and I’ve admitted I am powerless and my life has become unmanageable, I’ve identified the problem. Next, I then have to take the necessary steps towards the solution. The 12 Steps are the solution which continues to show me there is a better life I can live if I am willing to be humble, take action and trust my Higher Power.
Brandon Antoskow, LPC-MHSP is the clinical coordinator in the Men’s Program at Cumberland Heights. He has been at Cumberland Heights for over three years, and enjoys watching the miracle of recovery take form each and every day. Brandon lives in Franklin, TN with his wife Kelsey and dog Cash.
There is no doubt in Alex Booth’s mind that he is a recovering addict. Booth is 28 years old now and once was hooked on pain pills. “Drinking on the weekends, partying, having fun was all that I really cared about, and it’s not realistic to have that kind of lifestyle,” said Booth. Booth came to Cumberland Heights years ago. He said without their help, he might not be alive today.
“I was on death’s door when I got to Cumberland Heights. I had a very low heart beat from being on so many depressants for so long,” said Booth. That is a scary reality for many teenagers and young adults. “I had pretty much given up and I said, ‘Do whatever.’ I’d follow any suggestion,” Booth told News 2.
A report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse says 50 percent of teens have tried alcohol and 40 percent have used some kind of illegal drug by their senior year in high school.
Porterfield said most of the teenagers coming to them are addicted to alcohol and marijuana and headed down a dark path with prescription pain pills. “We are starting to see teenagers and young adults getting into substances at a faster rate and a more lethal rate,” said Porterfield. Porterfield said the biggest challenge is making sure teenagers understand the disease and want to get help. “It’s not uncommon for someone to get to us and have the drug history, substance abuse history of someone that is much older,” explained Porterfield.
That is something Booth said was a huge hurdle for him and others who have hit rock bottom.
“I remember being a teenager and thinking that I had the entire world figured out,” Booth said.
Dr. Anderson Spickard Jr. presents “The Craving Brain”
Please join us in the Frist Family Life Center Auditorium on the campus of Cumberland Heights for the following schedule of events:
WHAT: Dr. Anderson Spickard Jr. presents “The Craving Brain”
WHEN: September 13, 2017
WHERE: Frist Family Life Center Auditorium (on the campus of Cumberland Heights)
SPEAKING: 1 PM to 3 PM – Lecture with Q&A
SIGNING: 3 PM to 4 PM – Book Signing
COST: $60 per ticket
Dr. Anderson Spickard’s book “The Craving Brain” will also be available for purchase in the Cumberland Height’s Book Shop.
Dr. Anderson Spickard, Jr., will draw on his 45 years of experience as a physician, professor and leader in the field of addiction studies to synthesize and summarize his current understanding of the cause and treatment of addiction as laid out in his most recent book, The Craving Brain: Science, Spirituality and the Road to Recovery. Impacted deeply in the early days of his practice by the death of a colleague suffering from addiction who committed suicide, Dr. Spickard has since followed a determined course to find answers. Drawing on research into the brain’s reward system, he will describe the hijacking that leads to the perfect brain injury/disorder for the development of addiction. His description of how a person gets into an addicted state and how a person gets out of it is extremely relevant for those called upon more each day to address the needs of patients, families and communities struggling to survive in a time of increasing deaths by overdose.
One woman’s journey from drunk driving to addictions professional
Louder than the sound of a 44 Magnum reverberating in the memories of my cousin’s failed suicide attempt. More deafening than the thunder in my scariest childhood storms. It was the sound of metal crunching against a concrete wall in the blackest of nights. It jolted me awake while drunk driving in a Xanax and wine induced blackout. I hit something with my car.
I remember thinking, ‘What was that?” but I didn’t see anything. Disoriented and barely conscious, I drove away in the dark.
The clasping of silver handcuffs on my wrists was a cold awakening the moment the police jimmied open my car door. I’d never seen so many blue lights. I had no idea what was going on, or how my life was about to change.
A failed field sobriety test, a police interview and an inadvertent spotlight on the TV news later; I found myself in the back of a patrol car on my way to Metro General Hospital for a blood-alcohol test to determine the level of my intoxication.
Still clueless, I asked a question of my own, “Am I being arrested for DUI?”
“No,” the officer said. “You’re being arrested for vehicular homicide.”
And from that moment forward, my life has never been the same.
In one night, I lost my children. I lost my home. I lost my award-winning career as a journalist, and I was labeled a killer who had just run over a father loading his daughter’s truck on top of his wrecker.
I never saw him. I was not able to avoid him. That has been a hard pill to swallow. Imagine how you would feel if you accidentally fell asleep at the wheel and killed someone? That’s exactly what happened to me.
I was drunk driving. I have no excuse. I take full responsibility for ingesting the substances that caused this accident. I’m horrified everyday with the knowledge of a wrong I can never fully make right for the family of the man I ran over that night.
However, this night was also a defining moment in the life of this alcoholic who was able to completely surrender to her Higher Power and allow him to rebuild her piece by piece.
In 2009, I sought addiction treatment at Cumberland Heights. This small step in faith toward a life of sobriety saved my life. In my first primary group, my counselor asked me to tell my story. With each sentence of truth, tears streamed down my face. I allowed myself to be vulnerable in public, and the healing began.
Women in my group said, “That could have been me.” Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I was able to identify. It was an important part of my journey, as was two years of individual and group therapy, regular AA attendance and working the steps after my discharge.
Eighteen months later, I accepted a plea deal for my crimes and was sentenced to 10 years of probation, including two weeks of incarceration at Christmas and at Father’s Day each year. As part of my sentence I was ordered to speak publicly twice a year, but I have done this as often as possible. I never turn down an invitation. I have spoken to more than 1,000 students in Metro Schools, master’s level counseling classes, youth outpatient programs, church groups and even basketball teams. I consider it my life’s mission to use my story to help others.
I have remained sober for the past seven years. The God of my understanding took something so tragic and used it for good. He did this by increasing my faith, teaching me humility by being willing to accept a job at Goodwill when no one else would hire me and by being willing to be of service to other sick and suffering alcoholics.
I have sponsored women, taken meetings to detox units and even taken over leadership for a 12-step book study that has been meeting every Thursday night for four years.
In 2015, I took the next step and made helping other alcoholics and addicts a vocation at Samaritan Recovery Community. During that time, I applied and was accepted into the master of arts of addiction studies: integrated recovery for co-occurring disorders at the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies.
Last year, I was hired to work at Still Waters for Women, a 12-step immersion program under the umbrella of Cumberland Heights, and was recently hired as a case manager.
Today, my life’s goal is to help the next alcoholic and addict at the treatment center that gave me life again.
Katrina Cornwell is a case manager at Cumberland Heights, a motivational speaker, blogger and three-time, first-place award winner in the annual Tennessee Press Association contest.
In her presentations, she speaks about her addiction to drugs and alcohol and how those habits led to a drunk driving accident which killed a man in October 2009.
You can’t predict when you will “Hit bottom.” For some the mere threat of failing out of school, losing our spouse, family support or a job is motivation enough to begin the process of recovery. For others the bottom is a much messier, deeper, darker place. Those of us who experience increased physical tolerance for alcohol or drugs inevitably see an increase in our mental and emotional tolerance for pain, suffering and compromising our values. This desensitization is an integral part of the denial system a person needs to sustain their drinking or drug use. It sounds like, “Sure, my wife left me, I got a DUI and I was fired, but I don’t see why everyone else is so upset.” Similarly, a comment I’ve heard among younger, opiate addicted patients who relapse within a matter of weeks is, “Sure, I’ve overdosed a few times. I’ve had some friends die from overdose, but I don’t really need to do all this recovery stuff. I just need to quit using.”
Exactly what does it take to cause surrender? The unfortunate reality is past, present or future consequences, no matter how dire, are often not enough to cause a person to hit bottom and choose the path of recovery. That’s because hitting bottom, reaching the point when enough is enough, is an extremely personal thing. Some people in recovery describe having a moment when the pain and fear of staying in active addiction was greater than the pain and fear they felt about the recovery process. But the best definition I’ve heard recently was from a patient who defined hitting bottom by saying, “It’s when bad things are happening to me faster than I can lower my standards.”
Stan Bumgarner graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2006 and worked for the Tennessee Association of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services teaching ministers across the state. This led him to become an alcohol and drug counselor. He is currently the Spiritual Director at Cumberland. Stan is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clarksville, the father of thirteen-year-old twins and active in his own 12-Step recovery.
For six years, Jason Isbell was drunk at every show he played.
During his tenure with beloved Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers, Isbell planned his drinking to keep him on his feet for the duration of the band’s marathon live shows – barely.
“I had it timed where, by the very end of the show, I’d done just about all I could do standing up,” he told NPR in 2013. “I knew I needed two or three before I went on, and then during the show, we’d just pass a bottle around between the band.” The routine totaled about a fifth of Jack Daniels per show.
And Jack and Jason didn’t get along well: “Some people get drunk and become kind of sweet,” Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers founder and singer-songwriter, told The New York Times Magazine in 2013. “Jason wasn’t one of those people.” It didn’t help that the younger Isbell, a virtuoso guitarist with a proclivity for fast and fiery licks, was also a stellar songwriter, whose finely wrought and frequently heartbreaking character sketches were obviously on par with those of the older and principal Truckers, Hood and guitarist/singer-songwriter Mike Cooley. Isbell, who also managed to marry and divorce then-Truckers bassist Shonna Tucker during his time with the band, left in 2007. At the time, it was portrayed as amicable; in 2013, Isbell revealed he’d been forced out, mostly because of his drinking.
After his dismissal from DBT, Isbell went off the rails a little bit. He was arrested for public drunkenness and at one point accused Dierks Bentley of plagiarizing one of his songs on Twitter. He knew he needed help, and told his then-girlfriend, fellow musician Amanda Shires, he had to go to rehab. Unfortunately, both times he said it, he was drunk. “I only got to do that twice, I think,” he told NPR. The second time, Shires told him, “You’re telling the wrong person.”
Isbell got the message, and in February 2012, spent two weeks in Cumberland Heights, a rehab center in Nashville. Coming out, he started playing live again, dropped 40 lbs. and started writing the songs that would make up 2013’sSoutheastern. That September, Isbell’s song “Alabama Pines” won song of the year at the Americana Music Awards, kick-starting a wave of critical appreciation that Southeastern built upon when it was released in July 2013. The album contains Isbell’s most-streamed song on Spotify, “Cover Me Up,” and the devastating “Elephant” – coined by one music writer as “the saddest song of the millennium” – a quiet ballad about a cancer patient that concludes, “no one dies with dignity.”
Southeastern was rewarded with a near-sweep at the 2014 Americana Music Awards that saw Isbell take the honors for album, song (“Cover Me Up”) and artist of the year. But none of that weighed on his mind when he returned to the studio for his follow-up, 2015’s Something More Than Free. “I have so many people ask me… ‘Did you feel pressure to follow up Southeastern?” Isbell told Stereogum in 2015. “That same question every damn time! No, that’s not an actual problem to have. I know people who can’t pay their f—ing bills. Following up a successful piece of work with another piece of work is the most ridiculous first-world problem I can think of.”
Sure enough, Something More Than Free was a mature, confident continuation of the work Isbell started with Southeastern. Anchored by the stellar lead single, “24 Frames,” it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top Rock, Top Country Albums and Top Folk Albums charts, and No. 5 on the Billboard200. By way of comparison, Southeastern peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard200.
In a matter of days I will open my front door to find small groups of witches, zombies, Captain Americas, and princesses on my porch. Faces, hidden by masks or make-up, will shout “trick or treat,” greeting me with plastic pumpkins or expectant pillow cases. I will dutifully share equal amounts of treats with each child. It’s fun. I love seeing all the different costumes, and I eat more than my share of the candy.
The kids’ costumes do seem more elaborate these days. When I was a kid we were pirates or hobos. I recall my fifth grade year my best friend and I decided to go as mummies. We wrapped ourselves from head-to-toe in toilet paper then, one foot dragging, an arm raised, moaning, went door-to-door doing our best impression of Boris Karloff. It was a damp night in Birmingham. Our costumes didn’t last long. What didn’t melt right onto our clothes unraveled two blocks into the night.
I’ve worn masks as an adult that are made of much stronger material, but worked about as well as my fifth grade mummy costume. I found it helpful to hide behind them—the sports hero, the happy frat boy, the successful business guy, Don Juan the famous lover, the guy whose feelings are never hurt, the guy who has all the answers, the guy who never makes mistakes, the funny guy, the serious guy—my masks go on ad nauseam. I wore them to mask the real me: the self-doubter, the one who is never good enough or who is afraid to be exposed as a fraud. This seemed like a successful strategy until I discovered the most powerful masks of all, alcohol and marijuana. Overtime, these became the most destructive masks.
They weren’t as easy to shed as a toilet paper mummy costume. Alcohol and marijuana became a second skin. They were so integral to my life they became part of who I was at a cellular level. It was a painful way to live. Thank goodness there were people who had the skills to see beyond the masks and pull me out of the morass I had created. Through outpatient treatment, individual therapy and immersion in the 12-Step recovery community my true self began to slowly emerge and continues to grow.
Those old masks still live in my closet though. On occasion I will pull one out, put it on and wear it for days without realizing it. Then, one of my recovery friends will hold up a mirror helping me see what I’m doing. What a gift! Today, I am blessed to have a network of sober people in my life. They love me, imperfect as I am. I plan to remind myself of that as I hand out candy on Halloween this year—my friends in recovery are the greatest treat I’ve ever received. All I had to do was quit trying to trick them.
Stan graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2006 and worked for the Tennessee Association of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services teaching ministers across the state. This led him to become an alcohol and drug counselor, a position he currently holds as primary counselor for the Cumberland Heights Extended Care program for men. Stan is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clarksville, the father of thirteen-year-old twins and active in his own 12-Step recovery.
In the beginning I had the gift of desperation. The inability to manage the pain of my active addiction wrenched me to a place of willingness and honesty I had never known. My alcoholism forced me to contemplate a spiritual solution. I had no idea how precious desperation could be. At the time I was only aware of the pain of living. Fortunately I was more frightened at the idea of using than I was at the concept of a fearless and thorough inventory.
My first inventory was as fearless and thorough as I could manage and it was enough for me to meet my higher power. I don’t recall the act of writing it but I’ll never forget reading it to my sponsor as we circled the city of Phoenix in his Volkswagen. As I came to the end of my page and the silence in the car was stifling, after an eternal pause my sponsor quietly asked “Is there anything else?” I told him a secret I swore I would never let pass my lips. After speaking it I couldn’t make myself look anywhere but the floor mats. Then my sponsor shared a quiet truth of his own. I don’t know if it was the compassion of that man to offer a piece of himself to me or if it was the love of a wonderful God who put us togetherÍ¾ I just know in that moment I felt a deep connection with others for the very first time.
The Twelve Steps states on pg 57 “Until we had talked with complete candor of our conflicts, and had listened to someone else do the same thing, we still didn’t belong”. It was the beginning of a true kinship with man and God.
Stepping out of that car I had my first spiritual experience. In a glimpse I saw the thread of the supernatural carefully woven through my life. In this ephemeral moment where I felt no better or worse than my fellow man I met my creator. Walking through windy woods of Still Waters, a Men’s 12-Step retreat offered by Cumberland Heights, I crested a summit just as the wind stopped and I stepped into the sunshine for the very first time.
Dr. Chapman Sledge, the medical director at Cumberland Heights Addiction Treatment Center in Nashville, said he notices the increase every year around this time. He said it’s spurred by all the social pressure to drink around events like the Super Bowl, but that often it’s a problem that has started much earlier than that. Read more…
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Why is it so meaningful to give to Cumberland Heights?
Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.