Alcohol use was central to the foundation of my family and upbringing. I have seen many in my family reach their trigger point and cross over into alcohol dependency. Unfortunately, I never witnessed any of my family stop, stay stopped and maintain long-term abstinence. From what I witnessed, there was no hope for anyone suffering from a substance use disorder.
When I became alcohol dependent myself and became aware that becoming abstinent was necessary, I was petrified, as from what I had seen, nothing worked. A friend referred me to his union’s health team, which referred me to a psychiatrist who convinced me that I might benefit from some education on alcohol since my family was peopled with drunks. One of the things his rehab required was the reading of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which I read with passion.
Several weeks into my rehab, I experienced a moment of clarity and knew that if I followed some basic suggestions, I could achieve a productive, healthy life in abstinence. The remainder of my rehab stay was used in gaining some tools and knowledge of how to stay stopped and grow.
Abstinence has allowed many important benefits: the ability to be the person I want to be and to live the way I want to live; freedom from incarceration; freedom from fear; freedom from searching for the next “high”; the ability to travel; the ability to be connected with people rather than isolated from them… I guess something did work, after all.
-Patrick O'C., New York, sober since October 1980