How old were you when you first started?
I started very young. When I was ten, both of my parents worked full-time so they told my 17-year-old brother to watch me after school and on the weekends while they worked. He and his friend would drink and smoke weed, so I just started taking sips along with them.
When did it become alcoholism?
I’m not sure exactly when that happened, but I do know that by the time I was a senior in high school I got the shakes if I went too long without a drink. I used to hide vodka in my water bottle and take it to class with me. The teachers never suspected a thing.
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How did it impact your life?
Most of high school is a blur. I missed out on proms, sports events and other fun things that most students get to do because I was too busy getting drunk and hiding my addiction. I dropped out of college in my sophomore year and ended up with two DUI’s in one year when I was 25. I lost my license, had huge fines to pay, lost the trust of my friends and family, and lost my self-confidence completely.
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Is it the same as drug addiction?
It is and it isn’t. Yes, you are addicted to alcohol and without it you will get sick. But it is different in that a drug addict usually has to seek out his drug of choice and can go to jail for buying, selling or using it. With alcohol, it is everywhere around you and once you are 21 there is nothing illegal about having, buying or using it. I think alcoholism in some ways is a harder addiction to kick because for your entire life people will openly “use” in front of you and offer it to you as a social gesture.
How long sober and how did you do it?
Seven years sober and I did it by “changing my playmates and changing my playground”. I moved across the state line to my sister’s house and started over. Once there, I went into a hospital to deal with the withdrawal because my doctor said it could kill me otherwise.
Have you relapsed?
Yes, I have once, or should I say for one long month. Not even sure why. It was holiday season, I figured one glass of wine wouldn’t hurt, and I was wrong. It caused a landslide relapse that it took me six months to fully recover from. I have friends who have relapsed numerous times, but as long as they keep climbing back on that wagon, they are succeeding.
Okay, the facts are alcoholics know they are drunks. They may deny it to you and everyone else, but they know. If you are an alcoholic, find a doctor you can be honest with and ask for help. Getting off booze can be dangerous but under a doctor’s care it can be done. Then choose a recovery path whether it is meetings, rehab, prayer, gardening or something else, and hold onto it with everything you have, especially for the first year. You might be interested in: Holiday help with sobriety