Trilogy offers life-changing support and hope to youth, adults, and families in the Walla Walla Valley on their paths of recovery from addiction or substance misuse.

Faces of Recovery Walla Walla

 In partnership with the talented Adrien Rosamond of Slippery Slope Photography, Trilogy is proud to present: Faces of Recovery Walla Walla.

Addiction has no cure, but it does have a solution; Recovery. There are over 23 million people living and thriving in long-term recovery in the United States and through this blog we will highlight the many local faces and stories of recovery of individuals in our beautiful town of Walla Walla.

Lenna's Story

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Q: When did you start using?

I was 19.

Q: What was the initial reason you started using?

The drinking age in Idaho was 19, and I lived in Washington and Idaho was only 8 miles away. So, I went with friends and we all went to go drinking.

Q: When did your use start causing problems in your life?

I was about 45. I was drinking an awful lot at night after work, and I went to bed drunk most nights. That caused conflict with my children who couldn’t ask mommy questions after a certain hour, and some marital strife.

Q: How long were you using for before you got sober?

From age 19-45 (26 years)

Q: Was there a specific incident or moment that prompted you to get sober? If so, please describe.

My kids performed an intervention, and at that point I realized how much I had let my kids down, and how I had lost their trust. They sent me to treatment and I thought, “Okay, this has become a problem for them as well as me.” I never did see it as a problem, until I looked back on it. At the time I thought I was doing okay; I was holding down a good job and drinking only after work and on the weekends. I thought I had control of it but obviously I didn’t, so it was letting my kids down knowing I had blown it.

Q: How did you get sober?

It took 21 days at Sundown. The first two weeks I didn’t think I belonged there, and then finally I realized about the third week that I’m an alcoholic and I need to fix something. It was Sundown that got me there, and they convinced me that I could never drink again.

Q: What keeps you sober?

Knowing that the minute I drink again I’m gonna be back where I was before and I have no desire to be that person again. My kids know they can trust me now not to drink, and I would let myself down. The first couple weeks out of Sundown was very difficult, and I don’t wanna go through that again; having to park on the other side of the Safeway parking lot so I wasn’t near the liquor store, driving all the way around so I wasn’t by the liquor store; rearranging my furniture so I wasn’t sitting in the same place and expect to have a drink there. I don’t want to go back there. It was very expensive, it was very destructive, and I don’t want to go back.

Q: Do you have any advice for people who are new to recovery?

 Well they told us in Sundown, “We only want you to change one thing, and that is everything,” and that really is true. All my friends were my drinking buddies, so I couldn’t be around my friends anymore. I had to make new friends, which is very difficult, especially for young people new to recovery because that’s where their people are. I mean if they’re all drug users or drinkers then you just have to stay away from them until you’re strong enough. I can go into a bar now, it doesn’t bother me at all. People can drink around me, it doesn’t bother me, but in the beginning of it, it was really a struggle. So, I would say change everything. Whatever it is that you used to do that led to your using, avoid those situations.

Q: How long do you have sober now?

16 years!

Q: What do you think is the most important aspect of maintaining sobriety?

The knowledge that you can maintain sobriety. Once that is firmly inside you, that you can maintain this, that you can have fun without drinking, you can make friends without drinking, you can be productive without drinking, when you’re convinced that you can do it, I think that’s the strongest thing that will keep you sober.

Q: Do you participate in any recovery support groups?

No I don’t. What I do is I volunteer at an assisted living place and every day I give them a word, and they have to write a definition of the word. Today it was Harry and hairy, and so they had to tell me that Harry was a name and hairy was like a bear. Then, I gather them up and I give them points and then they win prizes. That to me is so rewarding. So no, I don’t participate in any groups but I also know that AA has turned some people’s lives around. I know what Trilogy does, and I know they make a huge difference in an awful lot of lives. Whatever works for the individual. There are several paths to recovery. Mine doesn’t happen to include AA or Life Ring or any of those things. I went to AA before I got sober, and it wasn’t for me. I mean there’s nothing wrong with it, I think it’s a wonderful program. I have taken people who are new to recovery, I’ve said, “If you want to go to an AA group I’ll take you,” and I’ve taken them and sat there with them and encouraged them to go. One lady went for years, and she said she wouldn’t have gone the first time if I hadn’t taken her. I attend the Trilogy parent group though. My son is an addict too, so to see parents go through the same path I went with my son, and the path that I went as an alcoholic, it’s really beneficial to me to relive that and remember how horrible it felt. So I suppose that’s my support group, the family support group.

Q: How do you think being of service relates to sobriety?

It gives you a purpose. It gives you a good feeling of having done something for somebody else. Also to see the joy of other people if you’re cleaning out someone’s garage for them to go, “Wow, look what you did!” It’s a really good feeling, it’s a warm feeling, and you feel helpful. If somebody else appreciates it you appreciate what you did more.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

I like sobriety. Of course when I was drinking I didn’t think I would. I didn’t think I could have fun, I didn’t think I could laugh, I didn’t think I’d be as productive. There were certain things where you could have a drink and you could do that thing, you couldn’t do it without having a drink. Well, I found out I can do it without having a drink. I like being sober. I feel cleaner, I feel more in control, which is the other thing I didn’t like about drinking is that I felt out of control an awful lot. I wasn’t aware of it until I looked back and I think, “Yeah I was out of control.”

(Interview by Declan, former Trilogy Youth Employee)

Riley's Story

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Q: When did you start using?

It wasn’t until the summer before I went to college where I think I felt like I was abusing alcohol, that’s when I had my first blackout. But there were times in high school where I snuck a bottle of some weird Jamaican rum from my parents. I would take a shot or two before hanging out with friends. I didn’t think about it at the time but looking back now I’m like “okay that’s not normal.”

Q: What was the initial reason you started using?

I think I was attracted to the potential for having fun. I was always more attracted to alcohol than other drugs. I was always kind of lured into it, and I felt like there was some appeal to this idea that it would be very fun to get drunk. And then I tried it and I liked it, and so I kept doing it because it felt good, I liked it.

Q: When did your use start causing problems in your life?

It may have been before this, but the moment where I first had the thoughts like this is something I might not have control over and it’s something that’s causing problems and making my life unmanageable would have been around junior or senior year of college. I actually went to Whitman College, and I was in a fraternity there, living with a bunch of dudes. The culture there was very encouraging of abusive behavior and encouraged drinking to blackout, and celebrated the stupid things you do when you’re that drunk. I was kind of like “that guy”, and I definitely had a lot of embarrassing stories from college that were a result of drinking to blackout. But it was end of junior year, early senior year where I thought “I don’t want to be ‘that guy’, I don’t want to wake up and be told that I punched through the drywall. I don’t enjoy that. People around me, my friends all thought it was very funny and they would laugh, and I would sort of laugh with them. But on the inside, I didn’t like that. I started to feel almost like there were two me’s. Sober me and blackout me. That was around senior year of college, and that’s probably when I could first really see that this could be a problem.

Q: How long were you using for before you got sober?

It was about six or seven years.

Q: Was there a specific incident or moment that prompted you to get sober?

It wasn’t like everything was fine, and then there was a moment and then I realized that nothing was fine. For me, I knew that nothing was fine. I knew that I had a problem and I knew that I needed help for a long time before I finally decided to take the advice of someone else who was telling me that I needed to go to treatment. There were many moments where I could’ve very easily decided to get sober. In fact, it was almost every day I would wake up and say, “I don’t want to drink tonight”, but I would. It could have been any day. What ended up happening is that I was actually working in the wine industry, which is a very convenient thing to do when you’re an alcoholic. I was making wine up in Seattle, and my mom came and visited me. She surprised me and took me out to lunch, and we sat down and she just asked me how I was doing and I started bawling, I just broke down. I told her that I was drinking too much, and it was out of control and I really needed help. She took me to see her doctor, who actually was in Seattle, I think the next day. That was the first time I was actually honest with a doctor about how much I was drinking, before that I had always lied. I told him very honestly about what had been going on in my life and how much I had been drinking, and he said, “I can’t guarantee that you’re gonna be alive in 30 days. That’s sort of up in the air based on what you’re telling me.” And so he said, “You really need to go to treatment.” I’m not sure why that day I was just more open, I think it was my mom, that’s the easiest moment to point to. Just my mom coming to visit me, I just couldn’t even answer the question.

Q: How did you get sober?

I got sober by taking the advice of other people and acting on it, not just sort of listening to it but actually acting on it. Getting sober was not my idea, like when I stopped drinking my full intention was to spend 30 days sober and then get as drunk as I wanted to be. It started with me saying, “I don’t really want to go to treatment but I clearly don’t have control over this thing, and I don’t feel capable of fixing myself; I don’t feel like I have the answers.” So I was willing to do a 30 day treatment, and then while there, things just change. Your thinking changes, you meet people, and you talk about what’s going on. You start to learn about alcoholism and addiction and the way it impacts your brain. You meet people who have had 50 years of sobriety and then they take a drink and they’re right back to day one. Going into treatment was the first time I’d been around other alcoholics and addicts who were talking about their disease, and describing the way that they feel and think, and what happens when they take a drink. I immediately connected to all of it, because before treatment and even back in college I often wondered if this is impacting other people the way that this is impacting me. I didn’t believe people when they told me, “Oh I go home from the bar and then I just go to sleep.” Like wait, you don’t stay up and drink? Like B.S.! I didn’t believe that people didn’t drink like me, it was a very confusing thing. But then I got to treatment and I found people who were like me, and they were telling me about AA as well and the 12 steps. I went to an AA meeting in treatment, which I didn’t love, but before those thirty days were up, I decided maybe I’d do sixty days. I moved the flagpost out a little bit; I went into another stage of treatment, I went to a different place where I’d describe it as a sober fraternity. It was kind of like being back at my fraternity but we were all trying to recover from alcohol and opiates and all that. That place really emphasized 12 step programs as the solution, and I found a sponsor who was a guy very similar to me. He had what I wanted: he is very friendly, he’s happy. That’s what I didn’t have in those first couple of months. I was sober but I wasn’t happy. I certainly didn’t like the idea of being this boring, sober teetotaler for the rest of my life, that was not an idea I was willing to entertain. But I stuck with it, I kept moving that flagpost out. First it was thirty days, then it was sixty, then ninety days. Finally, at some point I decided I was gonna get rid of that; there’s not a day that I’m waiting for where I can drink again. With enough time and talking about it, there was no upside to drinking, there was nothing to gain from it. Although, I know that any day I can pick up a drink and go right back to square one, but I still go to AA and I still try to work the program because that’s what makes me sober.

Q: What keeps you sober?

What keeps me sober is continuing to take the action that is required to keep me happy in sobriety. What I’ve found is that the 12 steps aren’t just about keeping you sober; you won’t stay sober if you’re just miserable. What I’ve discovered through AA and the 12 steps is a life where I’m just happier than I was. I’m happier than I was before I ever took a drink. I stay sober by making myself useful to other alcoholics, and by making myself useful, they help me as well. It’s a totally mutually beneficial thing. I can get lost in my own designs and plans and forget about the fact that I should probably be dead or in jail, and that every single day is a gift. When I’m reminded of that, it helps me stay sober. But I actually have to go to meetings, I don’t remember all that by myself. I have to actually go to a meeting, talk to other people, and experience that again to really “re-up” my sobriety.

Q: Do you have any advice for people who are new to recovery?

Take it one day at a time. Honesty is also really valuable always, but especially in the early stages. If you find yourself in AA, or NA, or Trilogy or in treatment, it’s probably for a reason. Finally, you will not lose anything by not using today. You don’t lose anything by just committing to staying sober for today. It’s worth it for you to seek honesty and willingness, even if you don’t feel willing, maybe just try to find willingness to be willing! So honesty, willingness, and just focus on today.

Q: How long do you have sober now?

Next month I will have six years hopefully!

Q: What do you think is the most important aspect of maintaining sobriety?

It’s important to continue to work with other people in recovery, whether you feel like you’re on the giving or receiving end of that. Again, I think it’s a mutually beneficial program, but it only works when there are at least two people who are ready to talk to each other and help each other. Very often, whatever frustration or problem you’re experiencing, there’s probably something in another person’s experience that’s very similar, and vice versa. At a bare minimum, I think sobriety requires us to continue to engage with other alcoholics and addicts, and just share whatever is going on. Even if what you’re feeling is “I hate being sober”; that’s a valuable feeling to share, I think almost everyone can relate to that. I don’t know anyone who’s sober and doing it by themselves, and I’ve met hundreds if not thousands of people in recovery. We just cannot do it by ourselves, I really believe that.  

(Interview by Declan, former Trilogy Youth Employee)

Trilogy Recovery Community
120 East Birch Street, Suite 14 
Walla Walla, WA, 99362

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