I received my first DUI in March of 2010. At that time, I didn’t feel like I had a problem with alcohol, I was just ashamed that I got caught. My probation consisted of losing my license, paying court fines, attending alcohol classes, and performing community service. I even had an interlock system installed in my car where I had to blow into a tube to check my alcohol level before my car would turn on. During those nine months, I didn’t drink. When my probation was over, I slowly but surely returned to the same self-destructive behaviors.
Some nights I would polish off a bottle of wine for no reason. I would often ask myself why I was living that way. No answer ever came, and being honest with myself was not an option. I was existing, not living, just taking up space. A couple of times, I even overslept for work and when I did show up, it was no secret that I was hung over. I heard the alarm bells going off time and again but I kept hitting the snooze button; in my mind, alcohol was a normal part of being an adult.
One night, I went to my favorite watering hole as usual. I began talking to a guy that I quickly discovered I did not want to have a conversation with. As the moments passed, I started feeling very, very drunk. I knew how much I could drink and still function, but this was frightening. I often wonder if that guy might have put something in my drink. His assertive flirting suddenly made me uncomfortable. I became afraid for my life, ran to my car and started driving home.
I saw the red and blue flashing lights of the police car in my rearview mirror my first thought was relief. I was actually thankful I had been pulled over, that someone had finally caught me, saved me. I saw the police officer as my rescuer. Although he was very understanding of the situation I was trying to get away from, he still arrested me. He gave me the option of jail or detox. I chose detox and he took me to Arapahoe House’s facility in Aurora.
I don’t know if others feel this when they get a DUI, but sitting in detox, I was finally at peace. After years of turmoil, hurt, and regret, I was thankful that my life with alcohol was at an end. I couldn’t continue to be out of control, lonely, and disconnected. I was given a third chance at life and I am forever blessed that my drinking and driving never injured or killed anyone.
I enjoyed DUI therapy from night one. It was a safe place where I could be honest, face my demons and share personal things with perfect strangers in complete confidence. It took over a year for me to acknowledge that I was a slave to alcohol. But my counselor and the others I met in group treatment helped give me the courage to do what I needed to do. Along with my faith, I began to obtain the tools for controlling my thinking. Thinking became doing. Doing became living. Living became life.
Arapahoe House helped me reclaim my confidence and self-love. I began repairing relationships I had neglected and damaged. Today, I’m healthy, strong, sober, and more alive than ever. I am back in school with a 3.9 GPA at CU Denver and hold a full time job as a manager for a security company. I also volunteer with MADD and will continue to do so for many years to come. So many people see a DUI as a setback in their life. It was a blessing in mine. I became willing to sacrifice everything and anything to be free of that life and I’ve never regretted that decision. I like to say that my life truly began after my second DUI and I’m looking forward to celebrating two years of sobriety in July.