PHOENIX - October is Substance Abuse Awareness Month, and one Arizona woman is sharing her story of recovery and healing, after suffering from alcoholism for over 25 years.
It’s been a long road for Crystal Waltman. The 40-year-old Arizona native has been battling addiction since her days as a high school softball player.
"So, my drinking became problematic early on, with lots of consequences, but I just thought it was normal," said Waltman.
At the age of 18, Waltman suffered from back pain, leading her to turn to painkillers as well as alcoholic and prescription drugs. It was a combination that Waltman calls a 'recipe for disaster.'
These demons, Waltman says, continued to plague her into adulthood.
"I just was dying inside, so my bottom just became a collaboration of all these blank spaces and blackouts," said Waltman.
Waltman turned to others for help and support, and said since then, she went through several periods of sobriety, as well as several relapses.
"I think, 'you know, I’ve been sober for over a year, I must be healed,'" said Waltman. "Then, you get these thoughts in your head again, 'Oh, OK, I’ll just have one.' So I kept relapsing over, getting over my year."
Waltman later decided to channel that pain into writing a book, called 'Quitting To Win.' After all these years, Waltman says that in writing this book and sharing her journey, it has ultimately helped her to heal.
"I was holding onto this stuff, so I basically wrote the book to recover out loud, and to carry the message of hope to all those who suffer from alcoholism and addiction, and bring awareness to mental illness," said Waltman.
Waltman's message to anyone still struggling is to never lose hope.
"You never know what someone is going through, and the idea is just to create community and living in your truth and not having to carry shame and guilt. You just gotta give it to God and let it go," said Waltman.