By Steve C.

I remember when I was around 19 or 20, I almost beat the hell out of my girlfriend’s father. I broke a few dishes, yelled and screamed at him, and finally, after he called the cops, I split. After about a year of sneaking around behind his back with his daughter, he decided to allow me to come back into his house. At dinner that very evening, he offered me a drink. I said no thanks. He said, it’s okay to drink, you don’t have to quit drinking, just don’t drink so much.

I remember my kids crying to me, telling me that it was okay to drink, just don’t get drunk. My wife told me the same thing, numerous times. I’ve been told the same thing by numerous friends: just be careful. Take a taxi home; don’t drink so much, etc. A totaled car, a couple of motorcycle accidents, a bike wreck, countless fights, one DUI, six or seven other arrests, and several incidents of vandalism and home-wrecking, never convinced me to quit trying.

For over 30 years, I have always gone overboard. I could never consistently control it, and thinking back on it, this was the cause of many negative feelings about myself. What kind of asshole am I. Why did I always go till I passed out. I almost always went straight to blackout, and almost always found myself wondering what I had done, and what had happened.

Well, the answer finally came to me. It was the fact that I took a drink. I can’t remember how many times I went to the bar with extremely pressing business or personal items to take care of that day, that I just blew off. No contact with the world for another day. Waking up to find numerous messages on my answering machine wondering where I was, why I dropped an appointment, or where some work product was.

It took me thirty years of starting with the best of intentions, and going straight to blackout that finally convinced me to just not get started. I remember my DUI back in ‘91, taking the state mandated alcohol treatment program where I learned that alcohol affects the judgement centers of the mind. Kewel, I thought. I just won’t drink when I have pressing things to do. Well, that plan didn’t even work, because it didn’t allow me enough opportunities to get drunk. I figured, I’d only drink while camping or fishing. Only drink where my behavior didn’t have the potential to harm anyone else. Well, it was a big problem. I never did move to a cave or to the streets where maybe I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone else.

I don’t get into a discussion with drinking friends about alcoholism, I just tell them I quit drinking. Period, end of story, give me a Coke. I don’t discuss it with non-drinkers either, never did like or trust them. No matter what anybody else tells me, I just say no. I must, for my sake, the sake of my kids, the sake of my marriage, the sake of my business, for the sake of my friends, and for the sake of society, just say no to the first drink. I finally know and have a deep, deep, deep conviction that I can’t control my drinking. I never have, I never could, and I never will. I never, I think, even wanted just one drink. I wanted or maybe needed to get drunk. This need manifests itself in a million different ways, but in the end, all I need to do is control my right arm. I just don’t hoist it to my lips, no matter what, no matter what anybody says, no matter what anybody does, and no matter how the rest of the world handles it.

Sure, this left a lot of weird feelings at first. I had great emotional difficulty at first. I’m not sure why, and once in a great while, I still get a strong craving. This list, meetings, reading literature, long walks, playing with the dog, playing with the kids, working, learning, and all kinds of other stuff now occupies most of my life. But, I have complete control over my arm that I will lose once I get started drinking. I’m mortally afraid of even trying to take one drink because it was just too damned hard to get to where I am today. I really don’t think I could or would come back. Sure, many others have, but I’m really afraid to even try. The appeal of drunkenness is too great for me. I love to be drunk, I love the feeling of it, and I have gotten drunk at the expense of every thing else that was important in my life. I don’t want to die with alcohol on my breath.

I find it is just easier for me to manage it without using it. It really is a far more simple method for me, and one that gives me a more positive outlook. At remaining completely sober, I have been successful. It removes me from the constant battles that I always lost trying to control it. I can win the war by just not engaging the enemy. I know I can’t drink now. Never now. Maybe next week, but not now.