I spent much of my youth wondering what I wanted to do with my life. When I graduated high school, I felt like I had a world of possibilities and all that I had to do was make a decision. I knew that I wanted to get married, have a family, graduate college and make a lot of money. What I failed to realize was that my goals were impossible to achieve because I chose to drink alcohol nearly every day.
In my early 20’s, I worked 12 hours a day, went to college classes for 3 hours a day, went to the gym for about 2 hours a day and then drink until I passed out. I would wake up the next day and do it all over again, sometimes with a major hangover or still drunk from the night before. I never had reason to believe that the way that I was living was a problem because I was always able to take care of my responsibilities. This fueled my arrogance and as time passed, I would push the limits more and more. I did not understand what was wrong with those who called themselves “alcoholics” because I was able to drink nearly every day and still do everything that I needed to as far as work and school were concerned.
My name is James and I am an alcoholic in recovery.
I spent much of my childhood in or around bars. My father owned a bar and we lived directly behind it. He also played in a band in another bar and would take his kids with him while he played. He and my mother would drink until they were unable to stay awake, would go to sleep and would wake up and do it all over again the next day. This is how I grew up and this is what I knew. I had been around alcoholism my entire life and vowed that I would never be like my parents but the reality is that I was just like them.
When I became legally able to drink, I took advantage of it and never lost my job or failed any classes or got into any trouble with the law until I was 24 and was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). When I woke up in jail, I promised myself that I would never drink again but after I got released a few hours later, I made a liar out of myself. On my way home from jail, picked up some beer to drink at home.
Over the next few months, I told everyone that I had changed my ways and that I was not drinking anymore but those were all lies. I was placed on probation for 6 months, which was what I thought was a victory, so I went out and got drunk.
Two months later, as I was nearing my college graduation, I went to a bar on my motorcycle, got drunk and crashed on my way home. I fractured my skull, broke my neck and broke some ribs. I was pronounced dead at the crash scene because the EMT’s thought that I was choking on the blood that was coming from my head. I was rushed to the hospital and went straight into surgery where I had pieces of asphalt from the highway picked out of my brain. I was in a coma for nearly six weeks and when I woke up I could not walk, eat or form a thought long enough to have a conversation. I suffered a traumatic brain injury and my family was told that due to my brain damage, I could be a vegetable for the rest of my life. I spend three months in the hospital, and before I was discharged, I had neck surgery where two pins were inserted to fuse my C1 and C2 vertebrae together. This limited my movement and I went to physical therapy for about six months to learn how to walk and move the way that I used to.
Since I was on probation for the earlier DWI, I was arrested shortly after I went home from the hospital. I had found out that there were other people who were injured in the crash and I was going to face some serious charges and possibly prison time as a result. I became bitter and hateful and lost my job which led to me losing my apartment and any self-worth that I may have had left.
I was able to free myself from the chains of my addiction by the grace of God and I know that if I could do it, anyone can.
I started drinking again, but more heavily, with the intention of killing myself. I spent the next four years in the worst misery of my life. I was placed on house arrest and forced to take Antabuse which made me quit drinking. At this point, I had a world of regret and shame to deal with but I could not drink to numb my pain. I did not think that I had a reason to live anymore and I was ready to die but before I could end it all, I was put into jail and sent to a treatment facility where I learned that I did have a future and I could stop drinking.
While in treatment, I realized that I am an alcoholic and recovery was possible. Upon completing treatment and attending Alcoholics Anonymous, I began to regain my self-worth any my self-confidence. Alcoholism had caused much pain in my life from the time that I was a child until April 18, 2009, the day that I quit drinking. I always felt that it was impossible for me to live life without alcohol but now I know that it is possible and I am a much better person without that poison in my system.
I had lived as a prisoner to alcohol for so long but I was able to free myself from the chains of my addiction by the grace of God and I know that if I could do it, anyone can. I know that recovery is not easy but with help, it is possible. I have finally found my purpose: it is to do whatever I can to help others in their recovery.
My name is James and I am an alcoholic in recovery.