As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.
It’s like a Jeopardy answer: “These are the three reasons oftentimes given as to why someone with a drinking problem cannot get sober.”
“What is Too Young?” As in, “I’m only (fill in the blank) years old. How can I possibly be an alcoholic? I’m too young.” “Yes, my mother and father drink too much and probably are alcoholics, but they are in their mid-70s.” “Not me, I’m much too young to be an alcoholic.”
The undeniable truth is that alcoholism affects men and women of all ages.
“What is Too Smart?” As in, “I have an MBA from a very good school and have received excellent grades throughout my entire academic career. I believe only high school and college dropouts can be alcoholics. Not me, I’m much too smart to be an alcoholic.” “Besides, I have a great work history and promising career.”
The undeniable truth is intelligence is no more a factor as who might be an alcoholic than the day of the week on which they were born.
“What is Too Rich?” As in, “I don’t live outdoors, I didn’t spend last night under a bridge. I have an excellent paying job, a home in a nice neighborhood and a BMW in my garage. No. I’m definitely too well-off financially to be an alcoholic.”
The undeniable truth is that money and an individual’s wealth play no role as to who might or might not be an alcoholic.
My personal and professional experience in the rehab, recovery, and treatment world suggests strongly that it is either one, a combination or all three of these reasons why people believe they cannot have a drinking problem.
In my own case, it was all three reasons, “the trifecta,” as why I told myself I could not possibly be an alcoholic.
I was 38 years old, a Christian, college graduate, and successful small-business owner. How could I possibly be an alcoholic? Besides, I had a lot of friends and especially relatives that spilled more than I drank.
I used to say, “I only have a problem when there is nothing to drink.”
The craving started most weekdays between 2 and 3 p.m. It was at this time each day that I would start romancing the idea of having a few cold, “tall boys” on the drive home. Winter or summer, hot or cold, it made no difference. Stopping each late afternoon at the local convenience store, or “packy” as we say in New England, and purchasing what I considered my just reward for completing yet another day at work became a ritual.
I had become like Norm on Cheers. How else was I supposed to make my way home through the late afternoon Boston traffic? Besides, I worked hard each day and deserved a few beers on my way home, didn’t I?
I had always believed alcoholics were dirty, lived outdoors, and people who drank cheap wine from screw-top bottles.
Arriving at home each day before taking my winter or suit jacket off, I would routinely reach into the fridge for another of my trusted friends, my Buds.
Often, I would proceed to have several additional ice-cold beers in arm’s reach while taking a hot bath or sitting in a warm, bubbling jacuzzi.
Just one or two more before supper and I’d have captured once again that illusive beer buzz that I so craved at the end of each day.
I thought I could stop drinking any time if it became necessary, and as a Christian, I prayed endlessly at church on Sundays for the courage and strength on my own to stop. The simple truth was I was living a lie and had a secret I could not share with anyone. I knew deep down inside I was not able to stop or control my drinking. I needed God to intervene.
I began to worry that it was just a matter of time before I, too, hit what I had heard referred to as a “bottom” and lost everything.
I discovered there are two “bottoms” an alcoholic will experience. There are what are referred to as “high” bottoms and “low” bottoms.
Examples of an alcohol addict’s low bottom can include DUI’s, divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, hospitalization, house arrest or jail.
But again, how could I be an alcoholic? I was only 38 years old, a college graduate, and an owner of a sailboat and a BMW.
It wasn’t until a Sunday afternoon in 1992 after church that my wife gave the ultimatum and choice between continuing to drink or losing my marriage and children. I finally surrendered and sought relief. I was desperate and sick and tired of being sick and tired. I finally “let go” and, for the first time, “let God.”
It was in taking a friend’s advice and attending 12-step meetings that allowed me to come to grips with the fact that I had become powerless over my alcohol consumption and that the loss of my life, health, and family were truly at risk.
It was through surrender and my new relationship with God that allowed me to break the chains of my addiction. I no longer felt alone.
I proceeded to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. In hindsight, this saved my life. Saying the Lord’s Prayer and the Serenity Prayer gave me the inner strength each day I so desperately sought and needed. The gratitude I have today stems from the fact that I didn’t have to lose everything as so many others had before I succumbed, surrendered, found God, and acknowledged my alcoholic disease.
Today, with 28 years of continuous sobriety I chuckle to myself and oftentimes cannot help but laugh out loud when I hear someone say they are too young, too smart, or too rich to be an alcoholic. I now know better.
It has become so clear to me that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.