Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – My Journey Through Addiction

Name: Garrett patton

My Journey Through Addiction

My journey with addiction

The hardest phrase I have ever had to say in my life has been “hello
my name is Garrett Patton, and I’m an alcoholic.” this topic is
one I feel very passionate about because I had to hit rock bottom
before I could climb out of the booze-filled hole of depression and
desperation that I had dug for myself over five years. While some say
that time of my life was wasted, I believe it offers a view into the
world of addiction with is one that is rapidly expanding. With this
insight, I will provide you with a glimpse into my world and give
what my solution to this problem could be.

So now, this is where writing this essay gets hard because it means I
must relive some of the lowest moments of my life. Some backstory
about my life I was born into a large catholic family that did not
believe in drinking; honestly, I never saw parents touch a sip of
alcohol in my entire life. Looking back at my life now, I can see
even at an early age where addiction was slowly wrapping around me.

As a young kid, I loved sugar to the point that should have been
concerning. I really could not get enough of it to the point where my
family would find me just eating straight out of the sugar bag or
even guzzling down a bottle of honey. As I started to get older and
energy drinks were my next target, where I was downing at least three
a day in middle school, getting to the point where I could not
function without them. While these seem mild, I do believe they were
the warning signs of what my life was about to become.

The first drink I have ever had was, of course, my senior year of
high school. The only part of that entire night I remember is
finishing a whole bottle of what was soon to become my favorite
drink, Tennessee whiskey. I woke up the next day with sick on my
shirt and almost no memory of the night before, now where this should
have scared me, it instead invigorated me, and from that night on, I
loved to drink. Of course, This wasn’t only limited to my time out of
school; I can’t tell you how many times I used to sneak just a little
bit of rum or vodka into one of my morning energy drinks on the way
to school. Unfortunately, I was never caught, because I believe that
if I were, it would have stopped this spiral right at the jump. So, I
was able to pass high school, and instead of going to college, I
entered the world of raft guiding and started the darkest chapter of
my life.

Over the next four years, my drinking had gone from slightly
problematic to almost life-ending. I, at this point, was leading
several trips a day, tipsy or at least buzzed, which is a common
problem in the rafting community where substance abuse runs rampant.
Every day I would start with a couple of shots of whiskey, run my
trips for day and then shamble over to the local liquor store and
pick up at least a couple bottles of Jack Danials, slowly finishing
one on my way back to my tent. Because instead of choosing a
beautiful cabin to live in, I instead chose a tent site, leaving
because me more money to go out and get drunk. My time in Alaska is
where I realized I had a problem with two significant events that
finally opened my eyes.

The first was enjoying more than just a shot of my morning whiskey,
but instead, I drank half a bottle. So, when I did show up to work
instead of being the buzzed energetic guide, I was pissed off a drunk
who had no business of even being near a boat. Luckily before I
injured myself or others, my boss, a man who I admired, pulled me
aside and asked how I was doing. Now he knew I was drunk, and instead
of screaming at me or firing me, he sent me home and told me he was
disappointed. I can’t begin to describe the shame I felt that day and
almost wished he had yelled at me instead. This isn’t where I sought
out help, though, instead of being the brilliant 22-year-old. I
instead turned that shame into anger and drowned my sorrows in even
more whiskey. The next tale, however, is where I realized I had a

Remember how I said I was living in a tent, and how it was almost
life-ending. It started like any other day, I had just gotten off
work and had a couple of days off (which is rare in the rafting
world), so I decided to have some fun that night, I hit up a couple
of parties drank a disgusting amount and of course blacked out. When
I finally did wake up the next morning, I was dead from a hangover,
but the first thing I had noticed was that half of my tent was torn
to shreds. Piecing together clues from the rips to the tracks, I soon
realized a bear of some kind had ripped my tent apart, trying to find
out where that delicious whiskey smell was coming from. That was the
final straw in my mind, where a bear had attacked my tent, and I was
too drunk even to remember it. this event is what finally forced me
into treatment.

09/17/2018 was the day where I finally had the courage to talk to my
family about my addiction because they had no idea what I was going
through. I have never seen so much grief on a person’s face like that
I saw on my own mother that day. Tears were shed, but they helped me
enroll in a treatment center in Arizona, where I finally started to
come to terms with who I was and who alcohol had prevented me from
becoming. I won’t say the journey was comfortable or that I didn’t
slip up at least once, but as it stands to this day, I am just over a
year sober. I also wish I could say it’s easy not to drink, but that
would be the biggest lie of my life. There is not a day that goes by
that I don’t crave at least one sip of that smoky, smooth liquid that
would at least temporarily make life a little bit easier to get
through. I do believe this gives me some insight on the best way to
tackle this epidemic that is racing through our country.

Now while everyone’s own story of addiction is unique and is what I
believe makes it almost impossible to find a one size fits all
solution. I do think the best way to tackle this issue is to remove
the stigma that is associated with addiction. One of the many things
that kept me from facing it was the shame and the belief that I was
too weak to fix my own life. I do think any form of addiction should
be viewed as a diesis that requires treatment, and not some moral
failing that people should be too ashamed to get help.

I do hope my story can one day help other people, especially in the
guiding community, where addiction does destroy lives every day. I
also hope that one day where someone fighting addiction can come out
and accept the help that most people are more than willing to offer.