"My dad almost always had a beer in his hand, a trait that I would later inherit."
Sober since June 2009
Currently living in Milwaukee, WI
I grew up seeing both sides of the addiction coin. My dad was an alcoholic and my mom was a non-drinker. Nearly everyone on my dad's side of the family drank and almost nobody on my mom's side did. My dad was a "happy drunk" and never got mean or failed to provide for his family. He wasn't always around, but my mom more than made up for that. My dad almost always had a beer in his hand, a trait that I would later inherit.
It was Memorial Day weekend of 1980. I was 14 years old and my older cousin got a six-pack of beer and a cheap bottle of wine. I didn't care much for the wine, but as for the beer, it was love at first sip. I drank most of that six-pack and from the age of 14 to 18, I was drinking beer nearly every weekend. When I was 18, I moved away to college and then the fun really started. I still drank lots of beer, but I also dabbled with other spirits and soon I was knocking back plenty of gin and rum. In my sophomore year, I went on a wild bender. I ended up hitting my head and the next day I had some type of minor seizure. That was enough to swear me off the hard stuff. From that day on, I stuck to beer…lots of beer.
Over the next several years I pretty much settled in to binging on the weekends. I even had some brief periods of total sobriety, but never more than a few weeks. In the fall of 2001, I started working 12-hour days. This is when I started drinking every night after work to "relax." I could easily drink 12 to 18 beers every night before passing out. On the weekends, I could drink pretty much all day, knocking back 24 to 36 every Saturday and Sunday. In the fall of 2003, I got a DUI. I actually stopped drinking for about 3 months, but eventually I went back to it. I decided not to drive to the bars anymore and started to isolate myself totally in my own little drunken world. This went on until the spring of 2009 when I started to feel the effects of physical dependence. I woke up every morning with the shakes and terrible anxiety that only went away after I started drinking again. All of this came to a head on June 22, 2009. I went to work and started freaking out, totally scaring my co-workers. I thought I was going to die. I checked myself into the emergency room. It was there that I had my "moment of clarity" and decided that it was finally time to quit.
That night, I phoned my dad and told him that I was an alcoholic. He said he'd help me in any way that he could and shared his own experience of recovery. I also told some of my oldest and dearest friends and they offered their support as well. In July, I went online and found SR, where I found additional inspiration to stay sober.
Sobriety has been an incredible adventure. I finally faced up to some of the demons that I'd mostly invented inside my own head. I found that the cynical, bitter, paranoid person that I was while drinking was NOT the real me. Sobriety, instead, has brought out the real me: an optimistic, caring, positive person with so much more to live for than just chasing that ever-elusive buzz that I'm certain would've eventually killed me. Glad I chose to live instead.
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