Healing from drug and alcohol addiction (Polytoxicomania)

I. M. (47), Uelzen (Germany)

My father died when I was eight years old. My mother was very protective during my childhood. This led to confrontation as I got older. This led to depression and anxiety. For this reason my family doctor gave me Tranxilium.

At about 13 I came into contact with drugs for the first time. After school there was always the opportunity to have a joint while waiting for the bus. In my clique we put our money together and everyone got some of it. I also became acquainted with stimulants such as AN1 in this way. My mother knew nothing about it. After a big argument with her I took an entire package of Tranxilium. I wanted to put an end to my life. But I woke up again the next morning and also went to school.

After graduating from secondary school I went to a farm for a year. Through a protracted cold I developed wet pleurisy. During the following stay at a sanatorium, I came into contact with LSD for the first time through a fellow patient.

Addicted to heroin

In September of 1975 I began nurse’s training. I soon fell in with a clique of fellow trainees who shot up heroin. I wanted to find out once and for all what was so great about it. So I also took it. At the time the stuff was relatively cheap and I had a small trainee’s salary. To keep the matter "under control" I at first only shot up as much as I could without becoming physically dependent. In the winter of 1975 I contracted hepatitis B. After a stay in hospital I came into contact with my old social environment, had a relapse and shot up again. Because of worsening liver values I was again certified as unable to work. Completely emaciated and full of drugs, I didn’t even notice that I was sick. That was in April 1976. In this condition I visited my mother, whereupon I confessed everything to her. It was a slap in the face for her. She then had me brought home. The hospital learned of my dependence and I had to break off my nurse’s training.

Our family doctor treated me further at home. I felt very bad, and my liver count had risen considerably. I refused to go to the hospital because I was afraid of the withdrawal from drugs. I got around the withdrawal symptoms with Valoron until my doctor refused to further prescribe the drops for me. I couldn’t stand being at my mother’s any longer and went back to Uelzen. There I started to shoot up heroin again.

Therapy - relapse - cold turkey

I met a dependent friend who told me he wanted to do therapy. He told me about the drug advisory center in Lüneberg. I was overcome by a deathly fear because my liver count had worsened again, and therefore I went to the drug advisory center. I got an appointment for long-term therapy surprisingly quickly near Lüneberg. I completed the therapy successfully after 18 months. My best friend and several others from the therapy had relapses. But I wanted to stay clean and decided to get away from that environment, moving to Berlin in 1979.

After about six months there, however, I had a relapse and quickly became dependent again. I took on a young man in my flat who always had heroin on hand. He paid me for rent and food "in kind" (heroin). I still continued working, but noticed that my physical condition was getting worse and worse. The young man was arrested by the police as a dealer, and I was arrested with him.

From February 8 until November 24, 1989 I was in detention pending trial. While there I went through cold turkey, which was horrendous; no doctor came and I was in a filthy cell, very frightened and on my own. The vivid memory of the experiences I had during that period, along with the consequences of the drug addiction and that humiliating descent, firmly embedded in me the desire to never again do hard drugs!

Legal drug alcohol

When I left prison, I made friends in a different clique which didn’t use hard drugs. Over about two years I stabilized my life somewhat. I worked again in a restaurant and also had a flat again. I didn’t consider hashish, which I smoked the whole time, to be a hard drug.

At the end of 1982 I met a man who quickly made me pregnant. This man proved to be irresponsible. I separated from him. On October 30, 1983, my son was born. I lost my permanent job and got by as a single mother. I had hardly any contact with my family. My financial need led to existential angst. I was paralyzed by depression. I got more and more caught up in the maelstrom of "helpful" drugs. Besides hashish, Speed and cocaine, I slid more and more toward the legal drug - alcohol. I drank quite a bit whenever I had the opportunity in order to be able to stand everyday life at all.

I only listened to avoid being impolite

On April 2, 1986, I was introduced by two friends to the teaching of Bruno Gröning. I was more than skeptical and only listened to avoid being impolite to my friends.

After the introduction my contact with the Bruno Gröning Circle of Friends was more on the casual side. That I didn’t reject it completely was more because it was recommended by my friends. In the beginning I would go irregularly to the community hours - when invited by telephone and it suited me at the moment. I noticed that it simply did me good. I usually reeked of alcohol when attending a community hour. I only did einstellen alone when I was in great internal distress.

Addicted to alcohol

In 1989 I married my first husband. He was from Jamaica, and we had already been together awhile. He was studying in Berlin when we decided to marry because of his residence visa. At the end of 1989, it was clear that I was dependent on alcohol. Then I also had withdrawal symptoms indicated by trembling in the morning, sweating and nausea. In addition, I was completely overcome by anxiety over withdrawal and was even awakened by it at night. After the first swallow of vodka or brandy this condition would be gone, and I would be able to go back to sleep. Nevertheless, my husband at the time stood by me and my son, which was incredible to me. I made my first clinical withdrawal (three weeks) in December 1989. But I had a relapse. I also participated in an Alcoholics Anonymous group. In the year 1990 I made two clinical withdrawals - in vain. After the third relapse my husband couldn’t take it any more and we separated. I also had to stop my retraining as an attorney’s assistant in 1990 because of the alcohol.

Fighting spirit

During that period I had gone to the community hours again and again. The peace and calm which I perceived in the community hours did me good. I learned more and more about the teaching of Bruno Gröning. But I was put off by a lot of it for example, when they spoke of good and evil. After a conversation with Grete Häusler, Leader of the Circle of Friends, I saw everything from a different point of view and from this realization there developed in me the fighting spirit to still pull through after all.

At year’s end I went to Crete on holiday. I had been dry for about a year and had a relapse! One night I was sitting alone on a mountain under the starry sky and I saw my life pass before me. I was so desperate that I was already spinning in a downward spiral of misery and simply couldn’t come out of it. From deep within my heart came the question, "Dear God, whatever should I do?" Then the thought came to me quite clearly: go to your home to Reddien!

After arriving in Berlin it went pretty much downhill for me again - with hashish, alcohol, Speed and cocaine. Something had to happen! Then the answer from the mountain reappeared. But how was that supposed to work? I didn’t know how… where would I go in Reddien; since my mother and I were estranged, she knew nothing of my alcohol problem and we hadn’t heard from one another for so long? I had no money or driver’s license, and how could I work out there in the country? I had to do another withdrawal (the fourth) beforehand - would I be accepted into the clinic? Where would I leave my child for such a long time?

The way out of misery

Up until then I had always fought on my own to come out of my hole - and rather unsuccessfully at that. Now I was at my wit’s end. I did einstellen for the Heilstrom and from the bottom of my heart pleaded for help from Bruno Gröning.

That evening I called my mother unexpectedly. Then one thing led to another. My mother had someone pick up my little one, the cat, the dog and my belongings. Three days thereafter, on January 1, 1991, I was admitted to a clinic for withdrawal. I was very determined that it would be the last time. I asked Bruno Gröning that I be allowed to put myself in his hands. Since then I have never touched alcohol or any hard drugs at all.

I went to Reddien, did einstellen regularly to the Heilstrom and attended the community hours. I lived with my mother for two years before I was able to move into a little house of my own in 1993. I obtained a driver’s license early that year and started physician’s assistant training, which I successfully completed in June of 1995. I did further training in computer processing for secretaries and doctors’ assistants. In 1994 I divorced my first husband in order to make a final break with my past. On January 14, 1998, I married my present husband. I have been employed in the field of outpatient nursing for well over three years.

The things I have enumerated in such a short time punctuated by a few dates only roughly show that my path over 12 years gradually progressed away from misery. Since I have accepted Bruno Gröning as my mentor, a new serenity has entered my. I live happily and content with no need for drugs and enjoy the best of health.

Through the drugs and alcohol I hadn’t been able to trust my own feelings any more. Through Bruno Gröning’s guidance in my life I have come to trust in my own feelings again. My life has meaning again. As a result of my experience I have obtained a conviction through which I can also help other people. In particular, I am engaged in helping people who have addiction problems in the Hamburg area.

Psychologist’s comment:

In the center of the strong drug dependence of Ms. M. there is always the recurring inner compulsion to regularly consume substances (drugs). The selection of a certain drug is rather secondary with polytoxicomania. The shift from the dependence on heroin to alcohol can thus be explained. After three in-patient detoxifications and a 20 year long drug career, Ms. M finds her way to the Bruno Gröning Circle of Friends. Through this she increasingly gained an inner grip and the strength to believe. Eventually she succeeded in becoming focused and working towards a positive future. She undertook a fourth detox attempt in 1991 and occupied herself intensively with the teaching of Bruno Gröning. She had the power to change her place of residency and to make up with her mother. She began a new drug free life in her home town.

That such a prolonged and gripping dependence on the most varying substances (drugs) went away after a few years of belonging to the Circle of Friends, contributing to a now 13 year long stabilization, is for me as a psychologist impressive and unusual. Even in crisis situations Ms. M did not reach for the bottle gain. That contradicts in every regard the usual prognosis.

U. T., Psychologist

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