I've known for the majority of my life that I have a very addictive personality with an affinity for the booze. Though I was able to keep it in check for years through involving myself in competive sports, I eventually lost my grip. My life took a dramatic turn about 14 years ago, just a year after moving to Colorado. For a long time I was having fun. Giving up on sports I took to partying, and a lot of it. Turns out I was pretty good at it. For years I was able to maintain a career, relationships and friendships without my alcoholism getting in the way, but eventually it caught up to me. With alcohol and cocaine now controlling me, instead of me controlling it, I was quickly falling apart and my life reflected this. When all sense of responsibility, care and reality seeped its way out of my booze soaked pores and started to lose things. I managed to destroy a marriage, drink away my mortagage payment each month that led to me losing my first home, ruin friendships, wreck my motorcycle, truck and eventually end up in jail...4 times. One would think that this would be enough motivation for me to sober up, but it wasn't. I stepped it up to a consistent, handle of Vodka a day, liver destroying level that damn near killed me. My friends were becoming more and more scarce, bartenders were cutting me off and blood was coming from places it shouldn't come from. I was literally drinking myself to death.
It wasn't until I got arrested for the 4th time, 2 years and a week ago, that I hit my "real deal" rock bottom. Not only did I truly want to sober up, but I would also be hit with court ordered monitored sobriety. This meant that 3 times a week I would pee in a cup then have it analyzed for alcohol and drugs. But I had to get in one final hurrah. So for the week between my release and my first probation meeting I drank...a lot.
Day one of sobriety. Not so bad I thought to myself. Sure the cravings were there but it wasn't as painful as I expected. Day 2. Now the booze was truly working its way out of my system and the withdrawals I was worried about started to reveal itself. The shakes set in and sleep became nonexistent. I layed in bed shaking, sweating and occasionally throwing up, this went on for a week.
Once the withdrawals subsided the real work began. I had to find a way to maintain this, to stay sober.
I had tried AA meetings a few times over the previous 3 years with no success so I knew I had to find an alternative.
I completely changed my routines. Instead of heading straight to the bar after work, if I even made it that long, I would hop on the motorcycle and ride into the mountains. I would ride to places well out of cell phone range, away from traffic and people, where I could find a quiet place to just sit and think. I basically had to physically remove myself from any area that had booze or would encourage me to drink. I would simply sit in the woods, or by a river and think. Spend some time reflecting on how I got to this place, what I was going to do about it and where I wanted my life to go. This went on for 6 months, until I finally felt comfortable socializing without being drunk. Though sobriety was still difficult, it was getting dramatically easier.
Suddenly things started to change for the better in a big way. My business was more profitable then ever before and I was actually saving the money instead of drinking it away. My relationships became more solid and honest. I was taking more pride in myself, my work and my loved ones. I was starting to care again. I started seeing opportunities in front of me and taking full advantage of them. I was excited about life again. It would take me a week to tell you how much better my life is now so I'll just tell you this: I'm happier then I've been in years, I'm confident in my ability to accomplish anything I put my mind to, I have respect for myself and others, I'm in a healthy, supportive relationship and I will stay on this path for the rest of my life.
In closing, If anything you read today sounds like a reflection of your own life, and you want to make a change, know that you can. If I can do it, you can do it. As cliche as it sounds, change starts with you. There is no magic pill, no secret trick, just a tough decision between what is more important to you, your life or alcohol. Take it from me, choose life.