That image above might seem funny or cartoonish, but I assure you that it’s real. It’s meant to represent an enemy that many people face on a daily basis: Alcoholism. Even me…
My Alcohol Rehab Story: Life Lesson
Growing up in a family and in a country where drinking to excess was considered normal, not just normal but in fact you’re right of passage and patriotic duty, there was no doubt that as an alcohol addict in the making I was living in the right place.
I was handed my 1st drink at a very early age, this was for the purpose of sending me to sleep so the grown-ups could carry on with their party without having the responsibility of having a child to be cared for. As I got older, more children came along in the forms of siblings and cousins and the same was done with these. As a child and prior to embarking on my recovery I never questioned this, I had normalised it, as it was the case with lots of other children and families that I knew.
What this actually did was physically build up a tolerance for alcohol within me. I could drink more than any grown man by the time I’d reached 16 and along with that I’d picked up a lot more habits that would ultimately cause problems for me down the road.
What alcohol did for me I could never do for myself. It gave me confidence, the ability to speak to people I would never have dreamed of, it helped to drop inhibitions and it made me more open minded in regards to taking other substances or drugs that I would otherwise have passed over, had I been sober enough to make an informed decision on.
I never for one minute thought I had a problem with alcohol because it was such a large part of my upbringing and current life. I never got arrested but I did wake up in hospital on a few occasions after having my stomach pumped and after drinking so excessively that I’d actually become severely dehydrated and malnourished to the point that I keeled over in a club. Friends saw this as hilarious, and it was a great story to tell whilst drunk. It really didn’t stop me and only fueled the fire.
This type of drinking carried on for a long time, and more and more I would find myself in precarious situations. My parents despaired of me and my friends began to drift away, at that point I felt I had nothing to lose. I became unstoppable, unemotional and isolated, even within the relationship I was in (as co-dependant as it was). Even my son did not factor in my determination to self- destruct. I was offered drug and alcohol addiction treatment but on many occasions I turned it down, proclaiming to know better.
Fast forward a few years and I didn’t self- destruct! It’s actually a miracle that I woke up and saw what was going on in front of my eyes. The turning point was when I was at a low time in my life. I asked myself: “If I could go back again, how I would have changed things?”. I checked myself into an alcohol rehab facility. It was my wake-up call and the very thing that helped me realise my mistakes. The reality is that I could never have changed things, my family were a family with the same compulsions and obsessions that I had, I just chose to explore other avenues of research. The reality is that I started to make poor choices because it was the easy way.
I decided that I wouldn’t be the same parent as mine had been. My new sobriety has given me the ability to be open and honest with my children around the reality of the negative consequences that come with using alcohol and substances addictively. I can’t stop them drinking, but I can give them the facts and educate them. They can make sure they know the consequences of alcohol addiction and possibly choose not to participate long before it starts.
Or… if I really want to scare them I just show them old photos of me!