Finding Balance During ED Recovery and Drug Abuse Recovery

January 21, 2012 Angela E. Gambrel

I woke up in a cold sweat, terrified. My heart was racing and I was fighting nausea. I was still wearing the clothes I came home in the day before. I reached for my cell phone and quickly called 911. I was panicking and it was difficult for me to talk. I explained what was going on while the dispatcher tried to calm me and get me to take my pulse. Soon the paramedics and police were at my home.

I was freezing as they wheeled me out to the waiting ambulance. At the hospital, I told them that I had been in an area hospital for seven days for re-feeding and detox from alcohol and prescription drugs. I noticed a slight change in their attitude as they listened. Soon, I was told that it was caused by withdrawal from benzodiazepines, or tranquilizers. The ER staff then discharged me at 1:30 a.m.

I arrived home, confused and wondering if I would ever get better.

Arriving Home From Anorexia and Addiction Treatment

I admitted myself to an area hospital on Dec. 26 for treatment of anorexia, alcohol, and prescription drug abuse. My treatment consisted of eating regular, discontinuation of my tranquilizers, and daily individual and group therapy. Meeting with my eating disorders psychiatrist daily really helped me to explore my feelings and begin the process of recovery. I think I didn't realize how depressed and suicidal I was until I went into the hospital.

I began drinking heavily the day after my husband and I separated, and didn't stop until I had my last drink on Christmas Day. I suspected I had a problem and started attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings in mid-December. However, I didn't have the courage to admit I was an alcoholic until Christmas Eve. I also led my psychiatrist, who I had promised not to lie to or keep things from, to believe that everything was fine. I finally disclosed how bad things had become just prior to reaching my breaking point. Lesson learned — always be upfront with people. I regret to this day that it took me so long to learn that.

After a week of ups and downs, I was discharged on New Year's Day. Although I had driven myself to the hospital, my sister and brother came to pick me up because my psychiatrist felt that I was not well enough to drive home. I was grateful for their help, but embarrassed by the fact that now my whole family knew. I was still trying to pretend everything was okay when everything was far from okay.

Triumphs and Struggles

I was tired when I came home, so I rested on the couch while my family helped me with things. Soon they went home and I was on my own. It was the day after, and I was still wearing the clothes I came home in, when I ended up calling 911. I was afraid and I finally reached out for help, but I wasn't happy with how I was treated in the ER. I was offended when the ER physician asked me if I had smoked marijuana because he was making assumptions based on little information. He also was rude and acted as if I was a problem, and I got a taste about how people in my small community viewed alcoholics and drug addicts.

I came home the next morning still shaky but determined to get better. And I slowly did get better and was able to make my follow-up appointment with my eating disorders psychiatrist that week.

Antabuse Side Effects and Auditory Hallucinations

Then the twitching started.

That Saturday I noticed new problems. I would twitch and could barely hold my hands still. There was a burning sensation in both extremities. I began to stumble into walls as my feet twitched and I couldn't walk. I also dropped things because my hands couldn't hold onto them. I was very frustrated. I called my psychiatrist and he told me to halve the Antabuse dose which I had been prescribed in the hospital. Antabuse is medication given to alcoholics to help them stop drinking. By Thursday, I was taken off of Antabuse because I could not handle the side effects.

I felt discouraged. I still couldn't eat much because I had lost my appetite and food tasted weird. I couldn't hold my hands still, my legs and feet felt numb, and worst of all, I couldn't read or type. I wondered how I was going to complete my graduate studies. I didn't think it could get worse...but it did.

I started hearing music.

I first noticed it when I came home, but dismissed it as background noise. As I started thinking more clearly, I realized I was hearing music but there wasn't a radio or anything else playing. This frankly terrified me as I knew what was happening — auditory hallucinations. Keeping in line with my new policy to keep no secrets, I let my psychiatrist know even though I dreaded telling him. He reassured me that it was a normal part of alcohol withdrawal.

Leaving the War Zone and Finding Balance

My psychiatrist likened my experiences to being in a war zone. At first I had trouble seeing it that way — war seems so much worse and terrible. Now I am beginning to see it is a pretty apt analogy. Many of the feelings are the same, even if the experiences are different. And I realized that we all go through our own wars and our own private hell, and I am grateful that this experience has created more empathy within me.

Now I am searching for balance. I am getter better every day and slowly recreating my life. I am still confused and bewildered by many things, but that's okay. I know that I am my own worst enemy and being aware is the first step.

Most days it is enough to be healthy and whole again. I am grateful and I stay with that.

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2012, January 21). Finding Balance During ED Recovery and Drug Abuse Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 19 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

Leave a reply