In 2010, there were a total of 32,885 fatalities due to automobile accidents in the United States. 10,228 of those fatalities were alcohol related. That’s 31% of all traffic deaths in the United States in 2010. In Iowa alone, there were a total of 90 alcohol impaired driving fatalities and 12 of those drivers were under 21. Also, 75% of all alcohol impaired driving fatalities, the drivers BAC (blood alcohol content) was . 15 or higher. The legal limit is . 08. Finally, the 2010 arrest record in Iowa for alcohol related crimes is astonishing!
152 people were arrested for DUI or OWI (Driving while intoxicated or operating while intoxicated) that were under 18 years old. Total arrests for DUI or OWI that year were 11,548. There were 11,549 people arrested for drunkenness or public intoxication, and 252 of those were also under 18. I have to say that I have definitely learned my lesson from drunk driving. I am just grateful (and lucky) that I didn’t hurt myself, or anyone else for that matter. It was a little after 2:00 a. m. on a crisp Sunday morning in July. For a moment I was not sure where I was.
I had forgotten that I fell asleep in my Jeep, which was parked in a private parking lot on 4th street in Sioux City. I could hear music playing and that is what made me remember that I was in my car. Earlier in the night I had met friends at Mac Behrs for a few drinks. I had not eaten all day and then I had one too many cocktails, (actually a few too many) so I was too intoxicated to drive. I had gone to my car while I was calling for a ride home. I made arrangements for a friend to come and pick me up and while I was waiting I got into my vehicle and turned the radio on and plugged my phone into the car charger so it would not die.
I heard the man’s voice again. “Hello, Miss? I need you to step out of your vehicle please. ” I was still a little dazed from just waking up so I snapped back at the man. “For what?! ” After I spoke, I realized that I was too hasty with my harsh response because it was a police officer that I was talking to in that tone. As my eyes began to focus I could see that he was losing patience very quickly as he continued to approach my driver’s side door. In order to correct the situation, I immediately began to try to explain myself to the officer. “Sir, I am sorry.
I was waiting for my ride to get here to take me home and I must have fallen asleep. Is there a problem with my being here? ” He told me that he had received a complaint from one of the residents of the apartment building that used the private parking lot that I was parked in. That was when I noticed there was something on the inside of my door, as well as on the bottom of my pants, and there was a rancid smell. Apparently I had vomited and at some point had not made it completely out the window. The officer made me step outside the car and he gave me a field sobriety test.
Of course, I failed miserably. I was arrested for an OWI (operating while intoxicated) even though I was not driving the car. The keys were in the ignition which shows intent to operate the motor vehicle. I was ordered to get a drug and alcohol evaluation, as well as, being placed on probation for a year, and the maximum fine. This is when I entered outpatient treatment 4 days a week. When I started treatment, I felt as if I was there for no reason. I didn’t feel that I had a problem. I was able to drink with my friends and not do anything stupid. This really was not true at all.
There were many times that I would drink and then wake up in the morning not remembering anything that happened the night before. In the beginning, I honestly thought that I was being drugged somehow because I could not remember even a little bit of my night after a certain point. After a while, I realized that I was not being drugged, I was just simply drinking in excess, along with not taking care of my basic health needs. I would not eat for days, and all I would do was drink. I finally realized that I had a problem with alcohol after being arrested 7 times in less than a year.
At that time, I had also admitted to myself that I was addicted to prescription pain medication as well. Mind you, I had been in treatment for a few months before I finally came to the realization that I really did have a problem, and I needed help. Once I came to this realization on my own, I was much more accepting of the help that was being offered to me. The hardest part about the entire experience was detoxing. I never could have imagined how bad it actually was. I did not go to a facility to detox, I stayed at home and did it.
I felt like I was the most irritable person alive! The headaches that I got were the most excruciating pain I had ever felt (or so it seemed at that time). It was not the alcohol that was making this difficult, it was the pain pills. I was told that going through detox from prescription pain medication is the same as going through detox for heroin. When I finished detoxing, I had to learn how to live life all over again, in a completely different way than I had before. Looking back, I am ashamed of many of the things that I did while I was using.
I’m sure if I could remember all the times that I was drunk and blacked out, there would be many more things that I would be ashamed of. Just to give an example of things I used to do, my mother has had breast cancer three times, and every time she would have a surgery, I would steal her pain medication. The person I am today would never do that to anyone, let alone my mother. I sometimes wonder if my experience in treatment would have been successful had I had different counselors. I was assigned 2 main counselors, one for addictions counseling, and the other for life skills.
My addictions counselor, Jen, was also a recovering addict/ alcoholic and her drug of choice was the same as mine, which made me feel like she genuinely understood what I was going through and I seemed to “just click” with her. My life skills counselor, Lori, was a woman who I had known for a large majority of my life. Lori is a recovering compulsive gambler. It was very easy for me to talk to her about the things that were going on in my life and to express the things that I felt I needed help with. In my opinion, the one life skill that was most important for me to learn was how to be a better mother.
I knew deep down when I was using that I wasn’t raising my son the way that I should have been, but I didn’t want to admit that. I have learned many things about being a mother, and the majority of what I have learned has been through trial and error. There really is no handbook on parenting. I found that when I was sober, I had more patience with my son, and I do believe that is one of the biggest keys for me. My son is extremely sensitive, and when I lost patience, I would yell at him and hurt his feelings. Looking back I felt like such a terrible mother. Then I remember that everyone has hard times and goes through rough patches in life.
I am just glad that I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem, and especially while my son was still young so I had time to correct my wrongs. The skills that I was taught in treatment have helped me get to where I am today. Who knows where I would be today if I was still using. I am so grateful for the help that I received while I was there. Treatment and the people who were there changed my life forever, and for the better. Jen and Lori are my inspiration and the main reason I am currently going to college, so I can become an addictions counselor.