July 13, 2020 – Diane Dellocono grew up “All Things Italian” – great food, great family, great fun and great drinks!
“Drinking was always open ground in my family,” said Diane, Director of Client Care at Water Gap Wellness. “I remember drinking soda mixed with wine at holiday meals when I was just five years old,” she said.
But little did Diane or her family know that 40 years later the little “Shirley Temple-esque” holiday drink would evolve into a habit of 1-2 bottles of vodka a day and nearly destroy her family and livelihood.
Diane moved from New York to the Poconos in 1996 with her husband and three sons in hopes of offering a more suitable place to raise their family. But shortly after the family moved, Diane’s mother, who was her confidante and best friend, contracted cancer and passed.
The passing of her mother devastated Diane and she sought relief from the deep pain by “self-medicating” with alcohol.
And this self-medicating is what began Diane’s 15-year downward alcoholic spiral.
Diane disguised her drinking at first, drinking at night, alone and in her bedroom. Vodka became her drink of choice and soon Diane began sleeping with a bottle of vodka in her bed with her.
“I became a slave to alcohol. It was like I was locked in a cell with a ball and chain around my ankle,” she said.
As most alcoholics, Diane knew she had a problem and initially tried to gain control on her own.
“I started going to AA but I still drank while I went to the meetings,” said Diane. “And it didn’t work,” she said.
Then, on October 11, 2015, her youngest son’s birthday, Diane hit her rock bottom. Diane thought she would grab a bottle of Vodka to celebrate the birthday with the rest of her family, but instead of celebrating, the family picked up and walked out of the house.
Diane then realized that she had a problem bigger than one she could handle on her own, and immediately got a sponsor, gave up drinking and committed to the AA program.
As Diane began the AA program, times were not easy. It’s never easy for a person in recovery. Every up, every down and most “in-betweens” trigger people in recovery to celebrate or use their substance of choice. And for Diane the urge to drink was no different.
When Diane received a call that her brother was on a respirator in South Carolina due to his drinking and her brother passed during the phone call, Diane resisted the urge.
When one of her other sons also became an addict, Diane resisted the urge.
Looking back at the passing of two of her cousins, one due to self-infliction, Diane resisted the urge.
Today, birthdays, holidays and “in-between days,” Diane has learned to resist the urge.
“I have learned a lot during my recovery,” said Diane. “I learned that I can do a million things in life, but the ONLY thing I can’t do is pick up a drink,” she said.
Since Diane became sober, her life has become amazing and deeply gratifying. She now has three grandchildren who are the apple of her eye, a son who is also in recovery and a job where she doesn’t have to hide the fact that she is a recovering alcoholic.
Each day when Diane goes into work, she gets to help people who, like her, struggle with the urge every single day.
Diane is extremely grateful for all the people who helped her in recovery and hopes she can do the same for those now walking the same path.
October 12th Diane will celebrate five years sober. Her growing Italian family will be right by her side.