When I tell people I’ve been in recovery from a substance use disorder for seven years now, there’s one response I hear more than anything else: “You don’t seem the like sort of person who’d have a problem.”
I know what they’re getting at when they say that. I’m a successful anchor and reporter on a major news network, with a strong career track record. I’m in shape, I dress well. I’m not anyone’s stereotypical image of a person with addiction.
But I’m living proof: Addiction doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can have a problem with drugs and alcohol—and with the right treatment, anyone can recover.
Growing up, I was always shy. I was bullied in school, and didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I started drinking because I liked to party and alcohol helped me come out of my shell. Problem was, I could never have just one drink. And it got worse from there. Alcohol, cocaine, Xanax—I tried it all. It progressed from being a right-of-passage in my fast-paced media career to being completely out of control.
Recovery has taught me that you can’t escape your problems. I know now that if I pick up a drink, once I sober up the problem will still be there, right where I left it. There are so many more effective and healthy ways to destress: Meditation and therapy have worked great for me, and I never miss my yoga class!
Today I’ve been in recovery for seven years, and I can tell you honestly, my life is just so much better now that I’m sober. I can do all the things I did before: Go out to parties, dance in clubs, even pop into a bar. I can show up for my kids, show up for my family, and be the sort of mother, friend, and coworker I really want to be.
It hasn’t always been easy, and it definitely takes a while to get to this point. But if you stick with it, you’ll get there.
I’m sharing my story because I want to show people that you don’t need to have a glass of champagne in your hand to be totally glam and fabulous. You can party sober, and it can be amazing.
Let’s share our stories and help end the stigma of addiction. Let's send the message that there’s so much more to having a good time than substances.
Courtney Friel is an anchor and reporter for KTLA.