When you’re ready to stop

I will be writing more on this topic for Crave by Random House in April.

“You just stopped? Why now?” I’m paraphrasing the question posed by the copy editor who was working on Drunk Mom. He had just arrived at the part in the book where I stopped drinking.

My first thought was, “Well duh, now, because—“

[insert dialtone]

I don’t know. It’s a long story. Actually, it’s a short story. I always wanted to stop drinking once things got ugly. I wanted to stop drinking so, so badly. And, hell, there are people who die because they can’t stop even though they want to, so badly.

But that was a different kind of stop.  It was the kind of a stop that I felt with every cell of my being and, somehow, my mind aligned with that and my circumstances helped (I was possibly going to be homeless soon) and I just couldn’t lie anymore. Mostly lie to myself, I mean. I lied to everyone else, no problem.

So I wanted to, truly.

But I’m just describing that moment to you, nothing else. And for the record — there’s absolutely no guarantee, in my opinion, that once you stop you won’t start again.

Anyway, I don’t know how you stop. I don’t know how exactly you arrive at that moment, what the magical combo is (circumstances, state of mind, etc.). But I can tell you that once I had that moment I had a place to go to that helped me hold onto that stop. I’ve been to that particular place hundreds of times before but when I truly, viscerally wanted to stop, that place became a shelter, a safe haven to reinforce my want.

So I’m a firm believer in knowing where to go once the stop happens. I don’t know where you live but there are a few places that are good to know about just in case. I do not endorse any of them. I know that what works for some might not work for others, etc. These are just the places that I know of.

Helplines and contact numbers for treatment in your province or territory

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Drug and Alcohol Helpline


ConnexOntario (provides health services information for people experiencing problems with drugs or alcohol, mental illness, or gambling)

There’s also that place that used to be known as “the first name in the phonebook” and if you Google that plus “meetings” plus the name of your city, you should be able to come up with something.


One comment

  1. Dear Jowita – I’m an Addict, a capital addict. I’m addicted to opiates and benzodiazepines. And get this, I’m a pharmacist! Guess who’s not working now? Anyway I’m writing to tell you that your words on the bottom of page 99 of your book, “DrunkMom” about addictive thoughts and addiction is the best description of addiction that I have ever come across. I’ll be quoting you as I try to “explain myself” in the future. Thank you for your memoir. I normally pass my books on to friends and family but I’m holding on to your memoir for myself. Thanks again, Shannon.

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