- Mental Health»
How I Got Sober
First, let’s get the qualifier out of the way. This method worked for me. I cannot state that it will work for everyone or that, if followed, you will never drink again. I only know that for the past twenty-three years I have not found it necessary to take a drink under any circumstance and for that I am truly grateful.
I would also like to state that this will not be a long harangue filled with rules and wordy sermons on how to live your life. Life is far too short and you are all grown up. If you have come to a place, as I did, where you can agree that nothing you have done so far has resulted in your sobriety then you may be ready to accept these few words of advice and incorporate this method into your daily life.
What It Was Like
I was a real alcoholic. I was not the type of woman who, in a fit of remorse after burning the Christmas turkey, decided to put the cork in the bottle and never drink again. No, I did far more damage than blacken a bird or pass out in the punch and the people I know and love have the emotional scars to prove it.
In the end, I drank almost exclusively at home and I drank alone. This was not by choice. I basically could not trust myself to drink in public. While some drinking sessions went relatively well, I had come to the point where I could no longer determine what would happen once I raised the bottle to my lips. I might be satisfied with two drinks or I might wake up in a place I was never meant to be. This is the conundrum when a drinker or a drinker’s family is trying to come to terms with his or her identification as a real alcoholic.
In my case, deep down, I knew I was an alcoholic but I am a stubborn woman and I spent years trying to prove to myself that I could drink socially. I tried every method known to man including: eliminating mixers, forsaking the hard stuff for wine, drinking only beer, purchasing a limited amount... etc. If you are a real alcoholic you’ll know how successful these methods were.
I also took a drug called Anatabuse: http://www.drugs.com/sfx/antabuse-side-effects.html. It can cause: flushing, throbbing in the head and neck, headache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, thirst, chest pain, palpitations, difficulty in breathing, hyperventilation, tachycardia, confusion, arrhythmias and convulsions if taken with alcohol. I took this drug and a few days later, when I had decided that my drinking wasn’t really all that bad, I took a few drinks. This is a very stupid way to prove you are not an alcoholic and the nice people at the emergency ward made sure I knew it. Have I mentioned that I am a little stubborn?
Could You Be An Alcoholic?
Answer YES or NO to the following questions.
1. Do you lose time from work due to drinking?
2. Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
3. Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
4. Is your drinking affecting your reputation?
5. Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
6. Have you ever got into financial difficulties as a result of drinking?
7. Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?
8. Does your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
9. Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
10. Do you crave a drink at a definite time?
11. Do you want a drink the next morning?
12. Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
13. Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
14. Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
15. Do you drink to escape from worries or trouble?
16. Do you drink alone?
17. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of drinking?
18. Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
19. Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?
20. Have you ever been to a hospital or institution because of drinking?
What's your score?
If you have answered YES to any one of the questions, there is a definite warning that you may be an alcoholic.
If you have answered YES to any two, the chances are that you are an alcoholic.
If you answered YES to three or more, you are definitely an alcoholic.
(The test questions are used at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore, MD, in deciding whether or not a patient is an alcoholic).
In the end there came a time when I could no longer fool myself. I was miserable and I knew I had to quit drinking but I also knew that if I wanted it bad enough I could quit on my own. I absolutely didn’t want to go to Alcoholics Anonymous and associate with all those losers. Besides, I had tried A.A. years before and didn’t want to listen to all the crap those people spouted.
I gave it my all but I was the most miserable sot this side of hell. Why couldn’t I have a little fun once in a while? Where was the joy in birthday parties or Christmas or hockey games or grocery shopping if I couldn’t have a glass of wine or two? Why was it that everyone else could drink and I couldn’t? On and on I moaned until I’m sure friends and family alike wished I were drinking again.
If I had known my final dance with alcohol was actually going to be my last, I would have done a far better job of it. I had abandoned my halo just days before with a thorough drinking binge fit for a snarky, self-righteous, sober drunk. I had promised myself on this go-round that I would drink only once a week. But the house was getting a bit messy.
Believe it or not, cleaning my house was a favourite thing to do while drinking. I liked a tidy home; it made me feel as though my life was in order and all was well in my world. I was scrubbing away to the accompaniment of some mighty fine Creedence Clearwater Revival and thinking I was just the absolute BEST bathroom sink cleaner in the whole wide world when I happened to glance in the mirror. I saw a baggy-eyed, puffy-faced forty-year-old woman with a crooked and slurry looking smile on her face. The person I saw was pathetic and I can’t begin to tell you how devastated I felt. I knew the gig was up. I knew without a shred of doubt that I could not go on for a single day more. I knew that despite my plans and my promises to myself and to others, nothing I could do would solve my problem with alcohol. I knew I needed help. In that moment I became teachable.
I did return to Alcoholics Anonymous. Instead of believing I knew everything, I admitted to being dumb. Instead of thinking of everyone in those meetings as losers, I saw that where I failed they were winning. Instead of speaking, I listened.
It was suggested that I make friends with women who had the same amount of sobriety that I did. Instead of seeing the differences in my new friends, I saw that they were struggling with the same problems I did. We became close and I know there were times that I stayed sober for them as much as for myself. Together we replaced drinking with living.
What It's Like Now
Days became weeks and weeks became months; one day at a time. My birthday is a hoot, Christmas is truly awesome and hockey games are even better – especially now that I remember who’s playing and who won!
I can’t tell you that every day has been filled with nothing but joy; it wouldn’t be real life if it was. I can tell you that through A.A. I learned to find the solutions to difficult problems. I can look in a mirror with pride, my family can trust me, and I can be a friend among friends. The never fulfilled day-dreams built in dark, smoky bars are a thing of the past.
If you are experiencing the pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization of alcoholism and are ready to learn the solution, I urge you to contact Alcoholics Anonymous http://www.aa.org/?Media=PlayFlash. It can save your life – it saved mine!