Only recently have I come to the conclusion that I was an alcoholic. When I worked at Gateway, I drank a minimum of 5 beers every night. Then on the weekend, I would let loose, and get really pounded. I estimate that I was drinking about 50 beers a week. I was a totally functional alcoholic. I was at work every day at 8 o’clock sharp, and I worked late most nights, plus weekends. The alcoholism had little to no effect on my job at all. The only exception was that I would talk too much when I was drunk, and to this day, I still regret some of the stupid things I said while I was drunk. But that is minor. I think we all regret stupid things we say.
On top of this, it would have been easy for me to stop. But I did not. The entire time I worked at Gateway (all 8 years), I drank heavily. Once I came to this realization, it was simple for me to stop. Alcohol’s hold on my body was weak.
The reason that I am writing this blog is because I know a lot of alcoholics. I am extremely fortunate because once I realized my alcoholism, it was a simple task to get it under control. This is not the case for many people. Perhaps the most tragic story (to date) is my friend, Doug Matheson. Doug was an alcoholic and he knew it. They found him dead in his bed with five empty bottles of wine surrounding him. He drank himself to death.
There’s the news flash. Alcohol kills. Not over night, or not even after a year, but over a decade or more, it will kill you. I feel confident in saying that if I had continued on my prior path, ultimately it would have killed me. But that’s the irony. As a society, we make alcohol cool and sexy. Just look at the beer commercials, and other alcohol related advertising. It is obvious that as a teenager or young adult, it is the goal to learn more and drink alcohol. It is what cool people do. That’s fine, but there is no information going the other way. That alcohol kills, that it can destroy the quality of your life, and it can dominate your thinking. You can lose control of a happy and productive life.
As I said, I know a lot of alcoholics. Many have just resigned themselves to their fate. Others try to cover it up. And others honestly don’t even know they are alcoholics (like I was at Gateway). I feel like I am one of the lucky few, because I believe that most of them will reach a fate similar to my deceased friend, Doug.
So why I am writing this blog? I hope it is for the young people. Alcohol is an addictive substance. It is far more addictive than marijuana, and for some people it is more addictive than cigarettes and cocaine. For me, after I had one beer, I always wanted another and another. I never could stop at just one beer. It was just like something that built on itself. I have some friends that take this to an extreme. They will literally disappear for days on end while they drink themselves into a stupor. Thank God, it was never that serious for me.
KIDS. Go ahead and experiment, and have fun. But please remember that alcohol is an addictive substance, so watch for the signs of addiction and get help if you cannot get it under control. Getting it under control is the key to living a normal and fruitful life.