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State of New Jersey Deapartment of Human Services title graphic  
Governor Chris Christie • Lt.Governor Kim Guadagno
Division of Addiction Services
Imagine waking up with flu like symptons.  You feel rotten but not bad enought to stay home from work.  Once you start moving and make it to work you are afraid to get close to people.  They may sense your ill health and shy away, so you take the first step away before they do.  You avoid looking people in the eye because you know they will see the illness if they look long enough.  You muddle through the day, mimicking the motions of those around you, heavy of heart.  You do not feel good.  You do not fit in your skin.  The sun is too bright; your smile, too bleak.

Imagine this feeling everyday, for over a thousand plus morning, always awaking weary.  This was my life.  My illness was alcohol addiction.

At the age of thirty, I sought out a doctor.  The illness was affecting my physical health.  He ran some tests, did some poling, asked some questions and sent me on my way.  After several days, he phones me at home to ask the age old question, "Have you ever been drinking and the next morning regretted what you have done?"  Quickly, sharply and crisply I stated, "Sure, haven't you."  I knew this line of questioning.  I saw where it was headed.  Could I steer him off course?  He asked me to return to his office to go over the test results.  When face-to-face, he told me I had Stage 1 of cirrhosis of the liver and that I was an alcoholic.

Although it took almost a year to achieve thirty days sober, I have now been drink free over 22 years.

I married a man who has never seen me drunk.  I have never had to see th elook of disgust on his face when looking at me.  I have two chilfren that I can remember every day with, for which we are all thankful.

Through it all, I have continued my career in the behavioral health firld, and my title now reads "Addiction Specialist."  I have taught prevention in juvenile detention centers, conducted encouraging support groups for treatment centers and worked at recruiting the next generation into the addiction counseling profession.

I am the mother in the grocery store, the neighbor that fusses with her flowers, the parent at Back-to-School night.  Today, I am joyful and thankful.  My alcoholism is not an angry birth mark that I seek to cover.  It is more like my curly hair; most of the time I can manage it, and if not, there is always hair spray.  There is always osme internal tool I can pull out to keep everything under control.  Other times I am just plain pourd of my hairdo.
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