"The Disease of Addiction Is Always Lying To You."
For about thirty years, Alayna battled addiction to alcohol. She began this rough journey when she was around fifteen years old; she would meet up with friends and steal liquor bottles or beer from parents. She was also smoking marijuana. By the time she was sixteen, these meetups were happening every single weekend. “I knew I had an issue with it, but it made me feel so good,” she remembered. “It was calming. I was going through a lot. Teenage years are hard.”
Her alcohol use skyrocketed after high school. She began drinking during the day in college and when she eventually entered the catering and event planning business – where she worked for about seven years - she found herself surrounded by more opportunities to drink. “It was always parties and socialization; it was a great career, but it was taking a toll on me and catching up to me. I was aware and everyone was aware I had a problem.”
She then tried working in real estate for seven years, which kept her busy and her mind occupied, and she was able to remain sober through this time on her own, without medical help and without a program. But she does not recommend trying this approach as it is dangerous. According to the Agape Treatment Center website, “…stopping alcohol abuse suddenly can lead to hallucinations, seizures, and even heart failure that may result in death.” Alayna did not completely feel herself for about three months, but during her whole self-detox period, she still worked though she “became a hermit and went home after work just to avoid it and just to get better.” She read a lot of books to learn about addiction and stayed away from situations where she would be tempted to drink again.
After eight years of sobriety, she picked up her first drink in March 2012 after dealing with bankruptcy due to the real estate and economy crash. “It was so overwhelming,” she said of this time. “I picked up a drink and I thought: ‘well, I’m just going to have one or two when I go out’…I was always a shy person, so I always had to have a drink in my hand. It was my security blanket.”
When she began working in the casino business in 2016, it all went downhill from there. “I was back in the hospitality industry and the alcohol was creeping up on me and so was the disease,” she reminisced. “I was drinking daily again because I worked hard and I played hard.” Alcohol was easily available and more acceptable in this type of environment, making it very difficult for Alayna. As she thought about this time, she now understood she was a bit in denial. She had a job, she had a car, and she had a place to live so she did not realize she was in as deep as she actually was. This tends to be the case for most people who are addicted to substances; they are in denial, especially if they are able to function in society. “It’s a snowball effect though. You aren’t fully aware of what’s happening because you feel like you have it all under control, but you don’t. The disease of addiction just lies to you all the time.”
When Coronavirus first made an impact in the United States in March 2020, Alayna finally realized she had a terrible problem. “I needed to stop and I needed to slow down but I couldn’t,” she said. Looking back to when she trudged through job loss, the cancellation of in-person meetings, lockdowns, and the general uncertainty of COVID19, she realized now that this time was a bit of a blessing. “It was a really good time for me to get better and to get help, finally. This was my time. I had no excuses anymore. I still had my health insurance, and I was furloughed so I had nothing else going on and I decided to go to a treatment facility.”
Alayna used this long and isolating period to get herself together. She eventually sought help from a therapist and suggests others who struggle with addiction find one who specializes in substance abuse disorder. She also began regularly attending Alcohol Anonymous meetings where she found herself surrounded by people just like her, which came as an enormous relief since she suffered with the worry of feeling alone and shamed. She found a sponsor and started working the 12 Steps. “There’s nothing to be fearful about,” she said with a smile. “Working the steps and getting help is so important. I’ve learned that acceptance is the answer. Once I could accept my powerlessness over alcohol and live life on life's terms, the day-to-day stuff, whatever life throws at me that I can't anticipate, and the unexpected speed bumps in life, no matter how intimidating they may be, I realized I'm not running and hiding or curling up in a ball and isolating with a drink anymore. I'm learning to deal with and live life as a sober adult."
She eventually found a place at Sister House, one of Rage Against Addiction’s two women’s sober living houses. Launched under the successful Daughter’s House program, both houses are an encouraging and positive transition from substance abuse to recovery, and provides an essential role in helping women achieve, maintain, and enhance happier and healthier lifestyles. As House Manager, she prides herself on bonding with the other residents. “Everybody lifts everybody up,” she declared. “It’s a very supportive environment. We don’t judge here. We are very accepting.” Alayna notes that being in the company of others who struggled or who are currently struggling helps hold her and others accountable for staying on a confident path.
She is now ready to move forward with the next chapter in her life. She is highly focused on getting back into the work force, though she plans to stay away from the hospitality industry because “it can be very toxic and triggering.” She is going to take the next step on her recovery journey and take time to find out what works for her, and find new meaning and purpose in life where she will remain sober. "Life goes on and I feel like my Higher Power will put the right people in my life and that I will find a good spot in society.”
When asked what individuals may feel as they are struggling with addiction, she paused for a moment to consider her words. “They are afraid of what people might think. They are afraid of the shame. They also feel in control but they’re really not.” After another pause, she added, “but there’s nothing to be fearful about. Living a happy and healthy lifestyle should be celebrated."
Alayna is adamant about staying sober. “I surrendered. I don’t want alcohol in my life.” She recognized now that she, too, was initially worried about others’ opinions, especially those of family and friends. However, her apprehension proved to be unfounded when those close to her showed nothing but support and encouragement for her sobriety. “I didn’t expect the response that I received. It was overwhelmingly amazing!”
Alayna is just one example that recovery IS possible. It requires self-awareness, hard work every day, support from others, and accountability. No one can achieve and preserve recovery alone. “It takes a lot of patience and encouragement, but it’s worth it!” she said with a big smile.
Resident to House Manager is such an amazing transformation! I have seen many women succeed in our houses and we acknowledge and celebrate everyone's unique journey, but women like Alayna, who stay and take the tools they have learned in their sobriety and mentor their house mates, are inspiring to share their growth.
John Quincy Adams said, "if your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
Facebook Fundraiser Creator
"I did my fundraiser in honor of my cousin who died on February 7, 2021. I spoke to his mom and she would be honored if you guys did a feature on him as she doesn’t want his death to be in vain. We don’t have the actual autopsy results back but we know it was some combo of alcohol and opiate issue. We thought he had beat his opiate addiction, but we were wrong. He had a great job, no legal issues and never needed money which are usually telltale signs of addiction. We did know he had a bad alcohol addiction and my aunt had talked him into going to rehab the day he died. She went to take a shower and was going to take him after, and he passed during that time. We discovered that he hadn’t once he passed and we got his phone and saw the drug deals on the messages. His name was Mitch Woodall and he left behind a family that misses him terribly. His 2 parents, sister, nieces and many others are still coping with his loss. To know him was to love him. He was always happy, always showed up, and would give you the shirt off of his back."
Written by: Tabitha Champion (Birmingham, AL)
Every dollar counts. Every life matters. If you would like to easily support Rage Against Addiction, please consider creating a Facebook fundraiser for your birthday by checking out this link: https://www.facebook.com/fund/Rageagainstaddiction/ You can receive a t-shirt from us if you raise $250 or more.
Shrimp and Bull Roast Fundraiser
If you are a business owner or an employee, YOU can be a part of an exciting night! Our first Shrimp and Bull Roast will be on Saturday, September 4, 2021 from 5:00pm to 9:00pm at Richlin Catering and Event Center in Edgewood, MD. We are looking for sponsors AND donations (gift cards, items to your store, admission tickets, and anything else unique to use as auction items and prizes).
Sponsorship levels are $250, $500, and $1,000, and come with worthwhile opportunities for your business' logo and information to be displayed through the night and on our various platforms.
Please email Mia@RageAgainstAddiction.com for more details!
Tickets MUST be purchased in advance. This event is for 18+ years old. Alcohol will not be served. Proceeds will benefit our programs.
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Addiction Connections Resource: A non-profit organization that assists with providing resources and support for addiction treatment and that educates the community about substance abuse disorder. Located in Fallston, MD. Please visit here or call 443-417-7810 for more information.
Ashley Addiction Treatment: An inpatient treatment center that personalizes clinical programs based on individual need. Located in Havre De Grace, MD. Please visit here or call 800-799-4673 for information about online and in-person meeting services.
Celebrate Recovery: A local support group for those with addictive behaviors. Located in Bel Air, MD and Joppa, MD.
Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, MD: Please register here to join. *Please check out the updated information regarding meeting details.*
GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing): A local support group for those who have lost someone to addiction.
7:00pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.
Located in the Education Building at Mt. Zion Church - 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015
The private national Facebook group is available. Please visit here to ask to join.
The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center: A clinic that provides immediate care for mental health and addiction. Located in Bel Air, MD. Please visit here or call 410-874-0711 for information about online and in-person meeting services.
Loving An Addict: A local support group for family and friends of those in active addiction.
7:00pm every Saturday.
Located in the Education Building at Mt. Zion Church - 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We serve locally but think globally. For counseling, or for addiction, substance abuse disorder, or mental illness treatment, please contact your area’s health department, county government, hospital, or law enforcement agency.
Rage Against Addiction Programs
Daughter's House: Designed to assist women who are transitioning from substance abuse treatment to recovery; includes two sober living houses (Daughter's House and Sister House) located in the suburbs of Harford County, MD. Click here to visit the Facebook page.
HALO (How to Live Without Our Addicted Loved One): An online grief support group specifically for those that lost loved ones to substance abuse. Click here to ask to join the private Facebook page. *Please read and answer the membership questions prior to joining.
RAA ABC (After Baby Care): Provides post-partum care packages to new mothers in early recovery.
Rage Club: Designed specifically for children affected by addiction to help them process their feelings and learn about the disease by offering counselor-led activities, such as equine and art therapy, nature walks, and more. The group meets several times a year. Click here for more information.
Rage Against Addiction Team Members
Wendy Beck Messner
Founder and Executive Director
RAA'S ABC (After Baby Care) Coordinator
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Recovery Coach and Daughter’s House Program Director
Newsletter Writer and Administrator
Rage Club Event Coordinator and Volunteer
Rage Club Mascot