Alcohol: A life ruiner

PhoenixBill

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Some people get sober through church; for others, church doesn’t work. Some get sober through therapy; for others, therapy doesn’t work. Some get sober through 12 step programs, for others, the 12 step programs doesn’t work. A very few manage to just get sober through their own will power; for others, sheer will power doesn’t work.

There’s no magic bullet, no instant cure for those who suffer from substance abuse, nor is there only one way to get sober. I found success through a 12 step program ( 27 years now). Note that there are several 12 step programs available. Alcoholics Anonymous was the first and remains the largest. However, its literature (written a century ago) seems clumsy and not easily readable or absorbed, and its members tend to be older and IMO could be perceived as “stodgy”. Narcotics Anonymous is newer and I found its members to be younger and its literature easier to read with a more modern writing style; NA considers alcohol to be a drug just like anything else so alcoholics are welcome there too. Both programs use the same 12 steps and the same traditions. The basic premise of both: stop drinking/using entirely, then work steps to clean up the wreckage of your past and develop into a responsible member of society.

Every now and then we see folks who seem to be living life okay as functioning alcoholics or addicts; we don’t see the pain and suffering they are causing themselves and family members. Make no mistake about it: substance abuse can kill, and before it kills, it will cause many people great harm and pain. Getting sober, completely sober, was the best decision I ever made in my life.
 

Kandinskyesque

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At least you know there's a problem, I'm currently watching my young brother die of ignorance.

Just my own experience, FWIW: I started trying to control my drinking because I knew I drank too much at 25.
By the time I'd reached 43, I'd emptied the bookshops of "self help" books, seen at least a dozen therapists, went on all sorts of positive thinking/empowerment courses including cold water swimming and fire walking. All I had to show for as far as a functional life was 2 years in my mid 30s when I went on Antabuse.

Then in 2010 after one more arrest too many decided to go to the 12 step meetings that are near the start of the telephone directory, I went to as many as I could but still relapsed.
As the relapses got closer together, I went to a rehab to take me away from my environment for a month. I've no idea what happened in there to me but with long enough to remove the physical dependency but my mindset had a 180.
When I got out of rehab, I threw out all my old ideas about just about everything. As far as I was concerned if I had any good ideas about life they'd come back eventually and I "lived" in 12 step groups for 2 years solid.
I didn't like them, or most of the people, their "happiness" annoyed me but I just kept going until parts of my life and myself that I liked slowly came back. Now I have some good friends from these damp basements and the old friends that counted have came back into my life.

I'll be 10 years sober this year and life has been more difficult than ever, with health, finance, marriage, etc. Despite that, there have also been occurrences beyond my wildest dreams, not in any real material sense (grandkids aside), just not what I imagined.

I know with what little knowledge from the school of life I have that one thing is absolutely true for me.
There isn't anything that can happen to me that I know a single drink won't make 1000 times worse.

Good luck on your journey ahead.
 

Frodebro

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This subject is actually very important for TDPRI. As musicians, we basically work, in many situations, for the alcohol and tobacco industries: the money that supports the clubs, honky tonks, venues of many kinds is quite often directly from alcohol and and tobacco sales. And we are "masters of ceremony" for the party.
I remember the big-band era guys I worked with - and learned from - when I was a kid on cruise ships and in Florida yacht clubs and such: always with a martini in their hands. Then there were rock and roll and country dives, where beer and booze were king. These places were where the music flourished; alcohol was an important part of the ecosystem: it was at the bar, at the tables, in the songs.
And then there were years of concerts, where the money was primarily from ticket sales, but still, being high was part of the experience.
Who would trust a priest who won't drink the wine and eat the wafer?
Think of it is a job-site hazard. It's in the culture, so it has to be dealt with.
Some people can meter the flow, some can't. They have to stop, period. I've known too many talented people who needed to take that route and couldn't: lives lost, careers ruined.
It seems that you're on the path to understanding and dealing with it; best of luck to you. And everyone in the same situation.

Years in a band with a house gig and free drinks played no small role in my winding up in rehab.
 

kuch

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Anyway, I view addiction like credit: You can pay it off now, or you can pay the minimum fee periodically until your debt becomes so bad you can't have the things you dream of. (I realize credit does not always work like that but it was the best analogy that I can think of right now.) Point is, in the words of Jane's Addiction, "I'm gonna kick tomorrow." Kick today. I think every addict thinks, "just this one last time," but nope.
Gonna have to call BS on this.

Obviously you need to change your outlook/core belief on this one! Being blunt: you're an ID__T if this is what you really believe. I mean capital "I...". Or is it just your justification for not being able to take control of your life....

Like someone else said "this in not the place to look for sympathy".....

Go get some REAL help if you want. Don't if not.... your choice, your life
 

Frodebro

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Gonna have to call BS on this.

Obviously you need to change your outlook/core belief on this one! Being blunt: you're an ID__T if this is what you really believe. I mean capital "I...". Or is it just your justification for not being able to take control of your life....

Like someone else said "this in not the place to look for sympathy".....

Go get some REAL help if you want. Don't if not.... your choice, your life

I don’t think you’re reading the post the way it was intended. It’s a different way of looking at addiction, but it’s not too far off the mark: Either pay it off now (quit), or drag things out until it’s too late.
 

PennyroyalFrog

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Gonna have to call BS on this.

Obviously you need to change your outlook/core belief on this one! Being blunt: you're an ID__T if this is what you really believe. I mean capital "I...". Or is it just your justification for not being able to take control of your life....

Like someone else said "this in not the place to look for sympathy".....

Go get some REAL help if you want. Don't if not.... your choice, your life
What part do you think is idiotic? That quitting now is better than the irrecoverable damage from years of addiction or taking accountability for addiction? Both parts in my post were about the same thing really. Your post seems contradictory. I’m not looking for sympathy at all. I’m confused what you mean here.
 

kuch

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Anyway, I view addiction like credit: You can pay it off now, or you can pay the minimum fee periodically until your debt becomes so bad you can't have the things you dream of. (I realize credit does not always work like that but it was the best analogy that I can think of right now.) Point is, in the words of Jane's Addiction, "I'm gonna kick tomorrow." Kick today. I think every addict thinks, "just this one last time," but nope.
 

Mjark

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I'm not sure where to start, but alcohol abuse, ie: addiction, has screwed up my life so many times. I've had the least amount of drink over the past few weeks (three days of drinking maybe?), but in that time I managed to ruin another friendship while intoxicated. I seem to only find girlfriends (or an ex-wife) that are alcoholics too.

I won't get into my whole journey as it will end up verbose knowing me, but I didn't start getting the euphoric sensation of alcohol until I was 30 years old, and I will be 40 soon. I've lost several friends from them not being able to deal with my drunk behavior, and I put a significant strain on my family at times. I started out as a happy drunk, but that changed over the years. I will say I never physically hurt anybody while drunk.

I have tried to get into rehab centers to detox, but they don't take my insurance. I was at a hospital a few weeks back which prompted the semi-sober phase. I was there because I texted a friend about committing suicide, and they called the police. They did not see me as an imminent threat to myself so they didn't keep me, but I asked them if I could detox there in a patient room. They said, "sure!" Turned out though that they do not offer detox there. Doctors tend to move from hospital to hospital in any given day of the week so I guess this doctor got confused.

I've been to probably over 50 AA meetings over the years, mostly because my ex-wife was a severe drunk, but she's been sober for six years now. I'm proud of her, but I have some animosity toward her like most exes. Different AA meetings are, well, different. Some are good, some are not, but they rarely do much good for me. I will say my girlfriend got sober and has been for over a month now, and she did so with assistance with apps on the phone.

Anyway, I view addiction like credit: You can pay it off now, or you can pay the minimum fee periodically until your debt becomes so bad you can't have the things you dream of. (I realize credit does not always work like that but it was the best analogy that I can think of right now.) Point is, in the words of Jane's Addiction, "I'm gonna kick tomorrow." Kick today. I think every addict thinks, "just this one last time," but nope.

EDIT: This is an hour after the post above, but I am not saying everybody that drinks alcohol is in trouble but rather addicts are. I of course am not advocating prohibition (where there's demand there's supply; it worked out not so well in the US from 1920 to 1933). Consult a doctor if you feel at risk.


Jail, institutions and death are where you’re headed. Getting sober is the very best thing I ever did. 35 years and not one regret.
 

telemnemonics

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Hmmmm, three things I learned getting clean & sober for the last time in the last century:

1) Doctors cannot cure you.
2) Going to AA meetings is like going to Guitar Center, walk in hang around and walk out nothing changes.
3) In very general terms, the affliction or disease has a component that will keep making excuses for not doing the really pretty simple stuff directed in a 12 step program; UNTIL you lose roughly everything. It’s true though that the definition of “lost everything” has some variation. Maybe you still live indoors but lost all the people you care about and that’s close enough to “losing everything” and becoming willing to do the everything directed in a program of your choice, preferably one where you see actual alcoholics who are free of the drugs & alcohol.
 
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highwaycat

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I quit with no help.
Previously I kept drinking because I thought I was dying at a young age and I also couldn’t hold a job.
I ended up getting a job and had more nephews n nieces and more reasons to live and hope came along.

While I was quitting the pandemic hit me hard and a family member decided to start drinking for the first time in over 30 years. They went insane and were extremely abusive, put me through hell.
I still quit though.
I didn’t have help, just a realization that I wasn’t ganna die yet.
 

telemnemonics

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@kuch :So you don’t think addicts need to quit or face their problem? You instead resort to name calling?
Some of us have been so deeply hurt by a substance abuser, or possibly were close to someone who was deeply hurt by a substance abuser, that those deeply hurt individuals cannot let go of resentments aimed at all substance abusers.

In recovery we come to understand how much we hurt those around us, and the fact that not all of them will ever forgive us or even be able to face us again.

Often the hurt was unknown to us, like we were a drunk mom who failed to protect our daughter from our criminally abusive husband, and we had no idea abuse was happening.

So in early recovery I told anyone who cared to listen that I was in recovery.
Over the years I met enough folks who carried those deep resentments and realized I’m not in charge of changing them.
In some ways they are right to resent “us”!

There are 12 step programs for our families and I’ve attended because I had a family member gone off the rails while I was clean & sober.
Its a family disease and those folks can be made quite sick by our sickness. Which is why we can’t always save a marriage or other relationships by changing ourselves.

Edit: I didn’t mean to suggest I know anything about the member who suggested you were an “idiot”, just considering “our“ own side of the street because that’s really all we can do in recovery.
 
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Milspec

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Just like music, everyone's experiences differ according to how they are wired....or strung.

I learned at 17 in the Marines that I should never drink, because I get violent when drunk. It is strange, because I am a very non-violent person, but when drunk I am looking for a fight. So, I never drank again outside of a rare social rum and coke, but I leave it at one.

Every day I feel fortunate that I learned that at a very young age rather than 35 years later. I also wake up from surgery swinging...I guess I am just not a nice guy with the brain turned off. Must have a few caveman genes left in my DNA.
 

PhoenixBill

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I’m going to write that may seem strange, please bear with me: A 12 step program cannot keep you sober. A sponsor cannot keep you sober. Books can’t keep you sober. A Higher Power can’t keep you sober. A therapist cannot keep you sober. Your friends cannot keep you sober.

What? Well, does owning a hammer automatically build you a house? No. A hammer, just like the 12 step program, and these other things, are tools…but it’s up to YOU to use them. If you decide to pick up a drink, someone from the 12 step program isn’t going to materialize from thin air to take that drink from your hand. The invisible hand of God isn’t going to miraculously knock that drink from your hand. You have to make the choice not to drink or use drugs.

Allow me to give an example. I only had a few months sober when I had to go out of the country on a business trip. Lunchtime came so I rode with my colleagues out to eat; the waitress comes to take their drink orders and everyone starts ordering something alcoholic. Internally I started freaking out: they’ll notice if I don’t order a drink, what do I do? I couldn’t call my sponsor or suddenly go to a meeting, my brain is starting to melt down. Finally the waitress comes to me, and I said in a trembling voice, “I will have a…a…a Diet Coke.” Guess what, nobody even noticed. I had made a big deal in my mind out of nothing, but in the end I made a simple decision not to drink alcohol. That decision was mine and mine alone.
 

Moonraker5

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I'm not sure where to start, but alcohol abuse, ie: addiction, has screwed up my life so many times......

Incredible post. Damn, I feel your pain.

Wish I could impart some wisdom to you, but I am not a drinker or a drug user. Drank a beer here and there and did a drug here and there when I was a kid in high school. But then when I grew to be a man...it was time to put away childish things. I just don't understand why others don't do that. We stop playing with GI Joe toys when we grow older because we see that as kids' stuff. Why not view booze and drugs for what they are -- kids' stuff -- and stop playing with booze and alcohol when you become a man?

Come on, man. Step up, be a man. Put away childish things. Hope for the best for you.

I just recently found out a beautiful young girl I knew died, most likely a suicide. She was an addict, in and out of jail. Prostitution to feed her addictions. A bright, kind, amazingly beautiful young woman...all gone because of drugs and alcohol. So, so sad.
 
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Moonraker5

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.....the waitress comes to me, and I said in a trembling voice, “I will have a…a…a Diet Coke.” Guess what, nobody even noticed...
So right.

In early twenties I lived in a bachelor pad house with a number of some heavy drug using dudes. One guy living there was a dealer. Anyway, on a weekday (for "Seinfeld" or "NYPD Blue") we'd all get together to watch TV; lots of vagrants would stop in because it was thee party house in town. We'd sit around in the living room, somebody would roll and pass around a joint. When it was passed to me, I simply said, "I don't smoke." And guess what? The guy passing the joint to me simply said, "Hey, that's cool" and passed the joint it to the next person. Nobody laughed at me, no peer pressure was hurled my way. I wasn't kicked out of the house. I said I don't smoke and the response was "That's cool."

So many people are afraid of being ostracized or kidded because they say "I don't drink." It's foolish to think that way.
 

stephent2

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I'm so glad alcohol isn't my vice. I don't drink on the job, I can split one beer w/ the wife at home and be happy (of course it's really good beer).

Addiction is a disease, not a lack of character. Best of luck to the OP, it ain't easy to change. A smart man knows when he's had enough,.. hope you're there.

a lifetime playing in bars,.. what does James McMurtry say? "I'm basically a beer salesman".
 




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