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Alcoholism Is The Silent Killer
I have made it a habit since I began writing to only write about things I know about and if there is one subject I know intimately it is alcoholism. I am an alcoholic. I have battled this disease since the early 80’s and will continue to battle it for the rest of my life. It has cost me two marriages, two businesses and a mountain of debt, but more than anything it cost me, in the past, my self-esteem. Happily I can report that I have now been sober for over five years and my self-esteem is re-established and I love life, but the steps I had to take to reach this point are steps I will continue to take for the rest of my life if I do not want history to repeat itself.
I do not plan on debating with you the fact that alcoholism is a disease. It is recognized as such by the American Medical Association; however, I do not need the conclusions of doctors worldwide to convince me that alcoholism is a disease; I only have to review my life to realize that fact.
Alcoholism is a progressive disease that happens in stages; the problem is that by the time you reach the dangerous stages you are so far addicted that turning back is a very difficult process. I began as a social drinker; I loved the effects of alcohol; I loved socializing with friends; I loved the self-confidence it gave me and I loved who I became when I drank. Early on I could drink socially, have a couple beers and go days without drinking and not give it a thought. But somewhere down the line that all changed and the day arrived when I could not stop at one or two beers and the thought of going days without a drink was inconceivable.
And still I denied that I had a problem; all I needed to do was adjust my drinking. Drink only beer and leave the hard stuff alone. Drink only on weekends. Drink only with other people and never alone. All attempts at regaining normalcy failed until I began to believe what my dear departed mother believed, that I must be weak of will if I couldn’t control my drinking.
The End Was Near
I finally reached the end of my rope (or so it seemed) in 1992 and I entered a treatment facility, and for ten years I remained sober and led a fairly normal life. The drinking had been conquered, my life was back on track, and all was well in my world. Or so it seemed! There is an old saying in Alcoholics Anonymous that if you take the liquor away from a drunk bank robber you are still left with a bank robber, and those words rang so very true with me. I began drinking again in 2002 and struggled on and off until 2006 when I damn near drank myself to death in a hotel room in Anchorage, Alaska. Back into treatment but this time something had changed: I came out of treatment realizing that if I didn’t change who I was I would never survive. In other words, I could take the liquor away from this bank robber but unless I eliminated my character defects I would always be a bank robber.
Today I can look you in the eye and tell you that I am doing very well indeed. It has been five years and so much has changed inside of me. I no longer shudder when I look in the mirror; I give my word and it stands for something. I help others and through helping them I help myself. I have forged a new career and I experience no fear or lack of self-confidence. I love others and I love myself.
Are my concerns about alcohol a thing of the past? That is truly a trick question! I will always have to monitor my spiritual condition if I am to remain sober, but I do not fear alcohol. I have a healthy respect for alcohol but I no longer fear it; nor do I fear life as I once did.
It Is A Sneaky Bastard Indeed
Alcoholism spans the spectrum of society. It does not discriminate according to race. It does not give a damn whether you are a Catholic, Lutheran, Jew or Jehovah's Witness. Nor does it care if you are fifteen or eighty-five, or if you work for minimum wage or are a billionaire.
It is, in fact, a perfectly democratic disease and it is oh so patient. Lay off alcohol for decades and it will still be doing push-ups waiting for the day when it can kick your ass, and it will be stronger when that day comes. Laugh at it if you will but beware of the boogie man who lurks in the shadows because he will, eventually, be paid in full and the payment is your heart and soul.
Is there alcoholism in your family?
Words of Advice
My only words of advice for still suffering alcoholics are these: breaking the chains of alcohol addiction requires willingness. It requires a willingness for stop drinking and it requires a willingness to take on hard work and it requires a willingness to change who you are; it is not easy but it is oh so rewarding.
Today I have the love of a most wonderful woman; I have close friends who respect me, support me and trust me. I am self-employed and loving every minute of my writing career. I have dreams and goals and the past, present and future do not frighten me. Perhaps the greatest reward, though, is that today I have my self-respect back and I love myself. To say I am blessed would be a gross understatement.
I should have died five years ago. Instead I am thriving and life is good. Take that you bastard!
2013 William Holland (aka billybuc)
"Helping writers to spread their wings and fly."
It has been a year and a half since this article was originally written. Since that time my writing career has flourished, my marriage remains healthy and I am still a productive member of society.
I could lose it all tomorrow. One drink is too many and one hundred is never enough. That is my mantra as I go through life. As long as I remember those words....as long as I stay in the now and do not become mired in the past....then my life will remain a living miracle.
The true miracle is not that I am not drinking; no, the true miracle is that I have no desire to drink.
Life is good and it can be for you as well. Peace be with you!