My job came with a lot of stress. Lots of things needed to be done and they had to be done well. If they were not, there were plenty of people that would have been happy to take my position. At the end of the day, it was difficult to stop feeling that stress. Alcohol helped. It would relax me and take my mind off my responsibilities. I would start drinking as soon as I got home from work until I went to bed each night.
The problem was that I was drinking a lot and it seemed to take more alcohol to achieve the same effect. I began to worry that I might be developing a problem with alcohol, so I decided to test it. I would give up drinking for lent. Not for religious reasons but as a check on my dependence on alcohol. I couldn’t be an alcoholic if I could give it up, right?
My job continued to be stressful and my drinking continued to escalate. The problem was the stress did not let up for lent, so the time came that it no longer “made sense” to stop drinking for such a long period. I gave up giving it up.
Soon, I was passing out each night more than falling asleep. And in the morning, I would still feel drunk. Then, the blackouts started. People would tell me that we had talked about something the night before, but I had no memory of the conversation. Now, I really started to worry that I had a problem with alcohol.
This had to stop, but I couldn’t seem to get myself to stop. Every morning, I would promise myself that it wasn’t going to happen that day, but every evening I would be drunk again. It was a merry-go-round ride I couldn’t get off, no matter how much I wanted to.
Then I started doing stupid things like calling my boss and telling him what he was doing wrong. To this day, I don’t remember the last time I did that, but it must have been pretty bad, for the next morning I was relieved of all of my administrative responsibilities. Thank goodness I had tenure, so I couldn’t be fired, but it didn’t mean they had to give me annual raises.
Then the worst night of all happened. At a family counseling session, my drinking came up for the second time. I didn’t need this, for I had a presentation in the morning for which I wasn’t prepared, and I couldn’t afford the time the counseling was taking anyway. So, I left. On the way home, I stopped and got a bottle. When I got home, I locked the doors. I didn’t need to be disturbed. My family could stay in a hotel that night for all that I cared.
I stayed up all that night trying to prepare for my presentation. By morning, I was still unprepared, and I realized what I had done to my family. This was too much. I tearfully called a psychiatrist friend of mine and asked for help. By that afternoon, I was admitted to the psychiatry ward to dry out. They immediately put me on medication to ease the withdrawal symptoms and a “banana bag” to counter the effects of drinking my meals for months.
It was a rough couple of weeks getting sober, but I had an easier time than those who get sober on their own. I was discharged into a day program that included an AA meeting every evening. That was the beginning of “90 in 90” and the end of my drinking. It has been almost 20 years now since I had my last drink on that terrible night. My family has forgiven me and I am much happier today than I ever waswhen I was drinking. That happiness is largely due to AA and working its program. Today, I still attend AA meetings and sponsor other alcoholics. I owe it all to AA and my higher power.