Like most people who struggle with an addiction to alcohol, I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment when I realized my alcohol use had transitioned into an addiction. I know it happened, though, and it almost ruined my life.
When I was younger, I had a lot of things going for me. I always did well in school and I got pretty good grades. I was on the cheerleading squad at school, and while I wasn’t the head cheerleader, I was pretty popular. As you can imagine, there were a lot of parties to attend; especially when our football team had a big game coming up. I always thought those parties were pretty harmless. Sure, there was alcohol there, and people were smoking pot. You’d expect that at a high school party, wouldn’t you?
Maybe that’s where it started. I wasn’t really into the pot, but alcohol just kind of took the edge off. It was a way to have fun and allow myself to feel what it was like to not be under so much pressure all the time. I didn’t mind that at all, and to be honest, it really didn’t feel like I was hurting anyone. It’s not like I got myself arrested or drove drunk or anything. I was as safe as I could be. I was just drinking to have fun.
When I got into college, the drinking continued, but I tried really hard to maintain control over it. I didn’t go to all of the parties I was invited to, and when I did I only had one or two drinks. I think I can count three times when I really got drunk and those times were special occasions. However, everything changed when I turned twenty-one. Suddenly, drinking was permissible, and I found myself taking advantage of that fact a lot more. At first, I would only drink on weekends, but it was every weekend. Eventually, I started having a beer or a mixed drink with friends at the local bar near our campus after a particularly stressful test or right after a big paper was due. I still didn’t see much harm in it, and it was legal so I thought, why not?
As I got older, I met a nice guy and we got married and had children. About six years into our marriage, he had an affair and then he left. Our kids were still pretty young, and I had taken some time off from work to concentrate on raising them until they were old enough to be in school. I felt incredibly alone. No one I knew had ever been divorced before, so my friends and family weren’t really much help to me. It wasn’t long before I found solace in drinking.
When I would drink, I would think back to the days when it was fun. I was carefree back then and I felt like I could overcome the world. I wanted to recapture that feeling, but for some reason…I just couldn’t. It didn’t work. I tried drinking more, thinking than maybe I had just built up a tolerance, but all that accomplished was making me feel like I was dependent on alcohol just to get through each day.
Before long, that’s exactly what happened.
It became clear to me that I had to make some changes, and I could easily pinpoint three reasons why:
My children – They deserved a mother who was there for them. They needed me to be awake and alert. They needed me to play with them on the floor and take care of them. They needed me to live for them.
My future – I realized that if I continued down the path I was on, I probably wasn’t going to have much of a future. What if I did get busted for drinking and driving someday? What if I went to jail for hurting someone or worse, for killing someone? I really wouldn’t have a future if that happened.
Myself – When it all came down to it, I didn’t like the person I had become. Bad things happen to people all the time, but they took roads that didn’t lead to addiction. I wanted to be a better person and make better choices because I knew I had more respect for myself than that. I was determined to prove that I could change.
Are you addicted to alcohol? If you are, help is available for you too. Please, reach out and get treatment before it’s too late.