My struggle with alcohol addiction started when, I picked up my first drink at 14. It was at my dad’s annual Christmas party. It was rum punch, and it tasted awful. I had another glass and it still tasted bad. But I started to feel warm and comfortable. So I figured that the benefits outweighed the consequences. Flash forward 2 hours (yes, only two hours). I’m throwing up on my dad’s shoes outside of the party. Instead of being angry that I had been drinking, he is just as drunk and is laughing. We sneak past my mom (the serious one) and he puts me to bed. I don’t remember much else.
I don’t know what happened that night. Something inside me went off. In between the time of picking up that drink and vomiting- the anxiety inside started to disappear. I was able to talk to people. I felt confident. Whatever made alcohol do this to me, I liked it. And I was going to get that feeling no matter the consequences.
Between 14 and 22 I made a lot of those promises to myself. My alcoholism picked up and while I was able to maintain good grades and do well in sports, my thoughts were spent counting down the minutes until I could drink again. When I say drink, I mean blackout. I never understood how someone can have one glass of wine, or leave half a beer on the bar because they don’t feel like drinking anymore. I was that person that had to have a bottle of wine, and the person at the party that finished off the beers people had left behind. I knew I had a problem. My friends backed off from me. My substances changed but alcohol was always there for me. However, it wasn’t fun anymore. I started shaking if I didn’t drink in the morning. I hid alcohol around the house. I went from an independent student to a college dropout living at their parent’s house contemplating suicide daily. When I finally told my friends and family I needed help, I felt like the scum of the earth. I was hopeless and didn’t have anywhere else to turn.
I went to get treatment in 2012 and found out that I was not alone. Many people were just like me. Alcohol had a grip on them too. I learned that alcohol was actually the solution for me; that it was my thinking that was the problem. I was able to look at my past behavior and thought patterns and see that I had been using alcohol to avoid working through my problems. I learned that I could change my thoughts and recognize what’s real and what’s not. And I could do this sober!. For so long, I used alcohol to escape from reality. A lot of people do. I started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and listened to people that were just like me. They had different experiences, but they shared the same feelings. I didn’t feel so alone. They took me under their wing and shared how they were able to get and stay sober. They didn’t want anything in return, they helped me because someone helped them. My family started talking to me again. I was able to get and keep a job, have a car, and a life of my own.
After a year I tried to drink again. I figured I knew enough where I would be able to stop. I spent 4 days locked in my room drinking. By the time I was done, I was miserable and worse than I was when I went to treatment. I still had the material things in my life, but I felt like my soul was gone. My friends picked me back up. They loved me even though I was back to feeling like scum. I faced the fact that I cannot drink like other people, and even though my emotions were all over the place, I didn’t run away. I got honest with my friends. I thought the secrets I kept were going to drive them away- but they didn’t. They came closer to me and told me that I was going to be okay. They told me that everything happens for a reason and to trust the process.
At almost 4 years sober, I look back and feel lucky that I am an alcoholic. I knew something never fit like I was the 5th corner piece in a puzzle. I thought no one would ever understand how I felt. Now I have a whole alcohol forum who know me, and who love me. They show up when I need them. I can be myself around them. Most importantly they understand me. They have felt the same way. We can help each other out with our struggles and hold each other up. I would have never found this solution if I didn’t become an alcoholic. Today I truly believe that my struggles can be used to help other people, and that is what I strive to do every day.