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If You Suspect You Might Have A Drinking Problem (An Open Letter)
RobFromGa | December 11, 2004 | RobFromGa

Posted on 12/11/2004 5:37:20 AM PST by RobFromGa

To Any Person Who Suspects They May Have a Drinking Problem,

I have written this to describe my experiences of the past 14 months as I have worked to resolve my drinking problem. Everyone is different and I do not propose to be an expert on this topic, but I have my own personal experience and I am sharing it in the hope that it might help someone else to solve this problem and change their life.

I have now been sober for 14 months without a drop of alcohol. This is not a long time as compared to over 25 years of heavy drinking, but I also know something else: I am totally confident that I will never drink again.

In that 14 months I have made it through two football tailgating seasons, over a hundred business lunches and dinners, numerous trips to Germany where beer flows like water, parties, picnics, Super Bowls, a Caribbean cruise, several family vacations, ups and down in life, etc. All things that I thought “required” alcohol.

Fortunately, I did not have some event that caused me to hit “rock bottom”. (I could have had many rock bottoms but I was lucky). Some people need to lose their job, lose their family, kill or seriously injure someone in a car accident, end up in prison, or many other horrible things that alcohol (or drugs) can cause in order to gather the will to quit. Some people think that “bottom” is the only thing that can make a drinker quit for good. I have met many people who proved to me that this is false, you can make such a decision without going through the horrors. But in some ways it is tougher to take the first step.

In every other way, it is much easier to skip the “rock bottom” step and I hope that this letter helps at least one other person to avoid the lost job, lost marriage or prison route to sobriety.

Last October, I made a firm decision to quit and I followed through on that commitment. But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I had similarly tried to control my drinking or quit at least 100 times before.

Why was I able to quit this time as compared with the previous 100 attempts? This is a very good question. The only answer I have come up with as to is that this time I was really ready to quit for myself alone. I was truly 100% sick and tired of the way alcohol affected me and I wanted a different life. All the other times I was, in some way, not really ready to control my drinking. The bottle was still in charge. I tried many tactics: I’d only drink on weekends, only drink after 5pm, only drink at parties (almost anything can become a party in such a plan), only drink beer, only drink wine, only drink hard liquor, only drink things I didn’t like the taste of (I know it sounds nuts but I was nuts), only drink every other week, quit for a day, quit for a weekend, quit for a week, quit for “this vacation or event”. I tried every way to quit in the world to stop drinking except the way that eventually worked for me.

If you are reading this and you know someone that has a drinking problem and you want to help them, you must understand that you are at a severe disadvantage. This is a condition of the mind more than a condition of the body and it is nearly impossible to bring another person to a mental place where they can admit that alcohol is causing more pain in their life than the pleasure it brings. Because a drinker can hardly imagine life without alcohol. It is with us at many points of our thinking and decision making process. We make plans around alcohol and drinking, not all of the time but enough.

If this does not sound like you at this point but you still think you might have a problem, I am not going to tell you that you are OK with your drinking, I will only say that you don’t have the same problem that I was facing so my experience may be of little value to you. I do know people who can go for long periods with nothing at all, then they “binge” and drink to pass out. This is obviously a problem, but not the problem that I have experience with. For 25 years I drank to excess. I often did not get "drunk" but I was always under the influence. For many of those years I drank daily, sometimes starting at 6am and going till 2am the next night. I am not proud of this but it is the truth.

As a problem drinker, you probably associate most of the “fun” you have in life with alcohol in some portion and are worried that without alcohol you will become a dull, bored person with no joy in life. You probably think that there are some things where you will always have to drink to enjoy. I know I worried about that, and I can assure you it is false. You will enjoy life more when you quit, at least that has been my experience. Even that Caribbean cruise and college football tailgating.

I first started drinking in High School. I don’t feel that it is necessary to recount the whole story but I drank to blackout on a number of incidences. Other times I just got really drunk and did stupid things that put my life at risk. I drove many times when I had no business on the road, and it would not have taken much to have had a series of events happen that would have changed my life for the worse. In college, I made good grades at a top Engineering school, while drinking heavily. It was a joke that I would study with a bottle of Jim Beam next to my desk.

As I got into the business world, and specifically into sales, drinking is a daily part of business life. At least that’s what a drinker thinks. And for people who do not have a problem controlling it, drinking is a wonderful part of life. The occasional party or business dinner and a few social drinks to move the business forward are great. But I was never able to do that—for me it was five, ten, fifteen drinks. Into the late hours, with not enough sleep, feeling like crap the next morning when I should have been at my best. Then repeating the same behavior each night. And I was very successful, and I thought drinking was part of the success.

I rationalized that with my talent, the drinking was part of who I am, and that even at 50% I was still more capable than most others so it wasn’t necessary to control myself.

I know this is getting long so I’ll get to the point: One Friday last October I was driving down the road. I hadn’t had a drink in two days and was in one of my “quit drinking the rest of the week” attempts. Rush Limbaugh announced that he was going to a Rehab Center for his drug addiction to resolve his problem. This for some reason got through to me. I called two people that I am close with and told them that I was not going to drink one drop of alcohol until Rush came out of treatment. (Telling these people I had made this decision helped me).

I told myself that after thirty days, I would decide whether I would drink again in a more controlled manner or stop completely. I did not have the luxury of taking the time off from work to enter treatment, but since Rush was going in, he was in there for both of us.

I did not attend AA (although I will talk about AA later) but I was clearly at the first step of their program. It is a very simple concept:

I admitted that I had a drinking problem and that I wanted to do something about it. I can tell you that if you are really at that point then you can fix yourself. If you are not at that step, then there is nothing that anyone can do to help you and I hope that you stay alive, and intact until you reach that point.

After about a week of sobriety, I stopped thinking about alcohol very much. I threw myself into work and tried to start losing weight as well. By the second week I made the decision: “I WILL NEVER DRINK AGAIN” and I wrote that in my journal. I recognized that a bottle of booze is an inanimate object that is simply poison to me and that it cannot force itself into my body. I have the control over whether I use my arms to bring the poison to my lips. And I choose not to allow that to happen ever again.

I have noticed that there is an inner “voice” that I have (he stays fairly silent now) that in the beginning used to put thoughts in my mind like: “surely you can just have one, you’ve been good”, “it’s a beautiful Fall Day, surely you could just do the social drink”, “you’re in the Caribbean for Gods’ sakes, shouldn’t you at least have one Margarita to celebrate your sobriety”. When my mind lets the inner voice talk, I quickly reassert control and think about the serenity that I have found since I quit drinking.

I need to stop writing now, the family is waking up, but I will write another letter tomorrow morning which describes these 14 months and what other tactics I have used in my sobriety.

I hope that this helps at least one other soul out there. Feel free to post questions or suggestions.

FReegards, RobFromGa


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: 12steps; aa; addiction; alcohol; alcoholic; bill; billw; booze; clean; detox; drinking; drinkingproblem; freeatlast; freedom; friendofbill; friendofbillw; goodjobrob; limbaugh; problem; quit; recovery; rehab; rush; rushlimbaugh; sober; soberandlovingit; sobriety; twelvesteps; victory; victoryoveralcohol; victoryoverbooze
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1 posted on 12/11/2004 5:37:21 AM PST by RobFromGa
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To: RobFromGa

shameless self bump


2 posted on 12/11/2004 5:44:02 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: RobFromGa

I quit drinking a little over a year ago. I did'nt hit a bottom either, I just got more tired of hangovers than I enjoyed being intoxicated. I actually think I developed an allergy to it because only a few drinks are enough to ensure the following day is a bad one. Thanks for sharing your story, Rob.


3 posted on 12/11/2004 5:45:18 AM PST by SirLurkedalot (Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!!!)
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To: RobFromGa

Good for you. How do you know when you have an alcohol problem vs. enjoying a drink.


4 posted on 12/11/2004 5:45:19 AM PST by mgist
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To: RobFromGa

Congratulations, you have a life in front of you that you cannot possibly imagine.

from a friend of Bill W. for 12 years this Jan (God willing)


5 posted on 12/11/2004 5:47:21 AM PST by kjvail (Judica me Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta)
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To: RobFromGa

Welcome to the party pal. Been sober for 14 years now.


6 posted on 12/11/2004 5:47:55 AM PST by bad company (I'm a new Grandpa.)
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To: mgist
How do you know when you have an alcohol problem vs. enjoying a drink?

I dont't know an answer that works for everyone. Each person needs to consider for themselves whether they have a problem.

If you can just "enjoy a drink" you are probably fine. But once you start suspecting that you have a problem and making efforts to control it, and you can't, then you can be pretty sure that you have a "problem"

7 posted on 12/11/2004 5:49:14 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: RobFromGa
What can one say, stick with it and good luck! Your open public letter is probably another good way to further cement your commitment - we hope. God Bless.
8 posted on 12/11/2004 5:49:20 AM PST by RAY (They that do right are all heroes!)
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To: RobFromGa

Rob from Georgia,

* + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + *
C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S
* + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + *


9 posted on 12/11/2004 5:49:53 AM PST by PeriwinkleMinniepaws
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To: RobFromGa

What a great post, RFG. Beware the enemy (that takes many forms, including "friends") who would like to enslave you once again. In the meantime, I've sent up a prayer for your continued and complete recovery!


10 posted on 12/11/2004 5:50:03 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: RobFromGa

Great post.


11 posted on 12/11/2004 5:50:17 AM PST by SLB ("We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us." C. S. Lewis)
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To: RobFromGa

Im very proud of you.....did either of your parents drink heavily?


12 posted on 12/11/2004 5:50:18 AM PST by mystery-ak (Please pray for Maj Tammy Duckworth)
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To: RobFromGa

Welcome to the real life.

JSC - Friend of Bills for over 19 years


13 posted on 12/11/2004 5:50:34 AM PST by xcamel (W2: Four more years of Tax Cuts and Dead Terrorists)
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To: RobFromGa

Courage, my friend. You are an inspiration.


14 posted on 12/11/2004 5:54:35 AM PST by pettifogger
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To: mystery-ak
did either of your parents drink heavily?

My parents drank very little, but both grandfathers were problem drinkers.

15 posted on 12/11/2004 5:54:36 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: RobFromGa

Haveing worked with and around several alcoholics, I came to the conclusion that if you ever wonder if you have a driking problem, then you probably do


16 posted on 12/11/2004 5:54:59 AM PST by blastdad51 (Proud father of an Enduring Freedom vet, and friend of a soldier lost in Afghanistan)
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To: RobFromGa

Excellent post. I will be saving it to show someone. Thank you.


17 posted on 12/11/2004 5:56:20 AM PST by Yaelle
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To: RobFromGa

I got a kick out of your line about Rush being in rehab "for both of us." I'm sure he would be glad to learn of the positive effect he had on your life, and hope that he hears of your story.


18 posted on 12/11/2004 5:56:28 AM PST by governsleastgovernsbest (Watching the Today Show since 2002 so you don't have to.)
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To: mgist

That's a good Q. For me it is not getting drunk. There is never any reason to get drunk. As soon as I feel I'm getting kinda buzzy I stop. Usually 4 beers and I'm a 240lb man.


19 posted on 12/11/2004 5:57:02 AM PST by mlbford2 ("Never wrestle with a pig; you can't win, you just get filthy, and the pig loves it...")
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To: RobFromGa

Rob, So happy you made it through this!!! I have watched some people that I am close to make it through this also and those days are some of the happiest days in my life, really, nothing is better! To get back someone who I thought I had lost to alcohol, to have them back, people who I loved so much, who I thought I had lost.


20 posted on 12/11/2004 5:58:30 AM PST by Esther Ruth
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To: SirLurkedalot

I am glad that you were able to quit. One thing that I have noticed is how much extra productive time I have available now that I don't have to schedule "drinking time"!


21 posted on 12/11/2004 5:58:36 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: RobFromGa

Hmmmmm...that's interesting....do you believe, as some do, that alcoholism is genetic?


22 posted on 12/11/2004 5:59:01 AM PST by mystery-ak (Please pray for Maj Tammy Duckworth)
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To: RobFromGa

Bump! :-)


23 posted on 12/11/2004 5:59:02 AM PST by Tunehead54 (Repeal the 22nd Amendment!)
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Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: kjvail
from a friend of Bill W. for 12 years this Jan

It helps to hear from people that have kept at it for long times. Have a Merry Christmas!

25 posted on 12/11/2004 6:00:28 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: SirLurkedalot
I developed an allergy

I have an allergy to alcohol....everytime I drink I break out in handcuffs.

26 posted on 12/11/2004 6:01:08 AM PST by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it.)
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To: xcamel
Friend of Bills for over 19 years

I had 8 this past September.

27 posted on 12/11/2004 6:03:32 AM PST by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it.)
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To: RobFromGa

Congratulations, Rob. I'm sure it's been difficult. I hope you continue on this new path. You have a lot of FReeper support for your journey.


28 posted on 12/11/2004 6:06:05 AM PST by rabidralph (George W. Bush, the other Body Hammer)
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Comment #29 Removed by Moderator

To: Pookyhead
How does one drink heavily for 25 years? Doesn't that kill a person? How much can a human body take?

All I can say is that my liver is presently fine, but I am sure that I was not extrending my life. I hope that I have not caused irreparable harm. I am 42 now and my body seems to be responding to the treatment!

How can you get good grades and be successful while drinking? Alcohol severely impaires judgment and slows the thinking process.

I don't know but I am proof that it can be done. People around me at the time who struggled used to ask me this. But one of the things I have learned to do is forgive myself for the past squandered opportunities. I chose to keep half my brain tied behind my back. The lost chances are gone and not to be recovered. I can only change today and tomorrow.

30 posted on 12/11/2004 6:08:19 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: mgist; RobFromGa

If you can take it or leave it, you are probably okay. I drink occcasionally, but if someone told me I could never have another drink, it would not really bother me that much.

RobFromGa - thanks for your story. I look forward to reading the next part. Alcohol destroys so many lives. I'm glad to see that you are stopping the cycle for yourself.


31 posted on 12/11/2004 6:08:43 AM PST by shattered
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To: RobFromGa

"I have now been sober for 14 months without a drop of alcohol. This is not a long time as compared to over 25 years of heavy drinking, but I also know something else: I am totally confident that I will never drink again. "

Theres a quote from "Godfather partIII" It goes something like...."Just when I think I'm away.It sucks me in again" Something like that.Lot of land mines out there.Been sober for 8 years. Still have to fight now and then with myself.
Don't get too cocky.You'll end up waking up asking yourself."Why?" again.


32 posted on 12/11/2004 6:10:04 AM PST by TShaunK
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To: RobFromGa

You write well Rob. Please ping me on your next.

I’m in something like your situation. Started drinking early, never recognized as a big problem, but as time passed, I could see that drinking frequently subtracted rather than added to my life. Then over the past 3-6 years it unquestionably got worse. I’d wake up telling myself this is killing me, but couldn’t resist turning into the liquor store on my way home in order to spend the evening in a buzz. I tried dozens of times to ration it like you, but it always returned in excess.

3 weeks ago everyone in my family got a stomach flue. I got it much worse, perhaps from my weakened condition, throwing up 19 times in 12 hours. Not being able to drink for a few days was the free head start that I needed. I know that I’m not out of danger yet, and never will completely be out of danger, but I know that I’ll manage it and will never drink again.

Thanks for your story.


33 posted on 12/11/2004 6:10:13 AM PST by elfman2
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To: mystery-ak

Regarding genetics:

I think it is a huge risk factor for alcoholism.

But I do know several people who were raised by alcoholics that never touch a drop. They have been there, and don't want to return to that world.

This is a major health problem that destroys many, many families.


34 posted on 12/11/2004 6:12:03 AM PST by bogeybob
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To: Puppage

LOL!


35 posted on 12/11/2004 6:13:13 AM PST by SirLurkedalot (Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!!!)
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To: RobFromGa
The only answer I have come up with is that this time I was really ready to quit for myself alone.

You have to do things at the right time in life. That's always true; it's more obvious in extreme situations. Congratulations.

"There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave." --Hemingway

36 posted on 12/11/2004 6:14:17 AM PST by monkey
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To: mystery-ak
Hmmmmm...that's interesting....do you believe, as some do, that alcoholism is genetic?

I think that people who cannot control their drinking have something about their body or mind that is different from people who do not have this problem. Genetics seem to be involved, IMHO. I know that I will be talking with my children about this as they get older-- that they need to be extra vigilant.

37 posted on 12/11/2004 6:14:22 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: TShaunK
Don't get too cocky.

I hear you loud and clear. I really do. I will write more about this tomorrow.

38 posted on 12/11/2004 6:15:44 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: RobFromGa

What an inspirational post. Good luck to you ... and BUMP!


39 posted on 12/11/2004 6:17:54 AM PST by BunnySlippers (George W. Bush is our president ... Get over it!)
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To: WineGuy

Dear WineGuy,

"They just weren't born with that automatic cut-off switch that I was born with,..."

That's a good way to put it. My "cut-off switch" is around 2 glasses of wine, or two beers. I get into the third one and I ask myself, "Why am I drinking this?"

The way I've always thought about it is that after a couple of drinks, I lose my taste for it.


sitetest


40 posted on 12/11/2004 6:17:57 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: RobFromGa

Good for you and all who know you! I've been a friend of Bill's for 20 years now, and by the grace of God, clean and sober for the same.

Alcoholism is a progressive and fatal illness. We start drinking for most any reason. Then alcohol becomes our primary problem.

For me, it turned out that I was self-medicating my PTSD symptoms. When I stopped drinking, the PTSD symptoms got worse over time. The second epiphany took about 18 years of not drinking. Don't give up before the miracle!

I consider myself very fortunate. Most of my peers never let go of the alcohol. Most die on average 10 years earlier.

Blessings to you and yours. The most precious gift you can give another alcoholic is a year of sobriety, one day at a time.


41 posted on 12/11/2004 6:18:29 AM PST by Stashiu ( Yeah, I am a Vietnam Vet, not a War Criminal.)
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To: RobFromGa

Thanks for sharing & congratulations. You have accomplished something very difficult & should feel extremely proud - if it was easy, no one would be walking around with a drinking problem.


42 posted on 12/11/2004 6:19:14 AM PST by PLK
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To: RobFromGa

Good post. Well done Rob, good for you. The seed you just dropped may take root, even if it's just one.

A Friend of Bill's for 18+ years. It works.


43 posted on 12/11/2004 6:19:46 AM PST by SeaBiscuit (Crush Liberals, the MSM, sKerry, anything Clinton, before they destroy America.)
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To: RobFromGa

"...I will write another letter tomorrow morning which describes these 14 months and what other tactics I have used in my sobriety."

Looking forward to the follow up.


44 posted on 12/11/2004 6:20:05 AM PST by jocon307 (Jihad is world wide. Jihad is serious business. We ignore global jihad at our peril.)
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To: SirLurkedalot
I did'nt hit a bottom either, I just got more tired of hangovers than I enjoyed being intoxicated. I actually think I developed an allergy to it because only a few drinks are enough to ensure the following day is a bad one

I have a friend who is allergic to beer. He had to quit drinking it.

45 posted on 12/11/2004 6:20:39 AM PST by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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Comment #46 Removed by Moderator

To: RobFromGa; .45MAN

I knew there was a reason you've been in my prayers since I first met you 2 and a half years ago.

Thank you for the telling of a remarkable journey. May God continue to bless you and your family abundantly.

(((((Rob))))))


47 posted on 12/11/2004 6:23:51 AM PST by dansangel (Thank you Veterans past and present!)
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To: AppyPappy

Microbrew used to give me horrible gas. I was more into hard alcohol, never really liked beer that much.


48 posted on 12/11/2004 6:26:13 AM PST by SirLurkedalot (Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!!!)
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To: RobFromGa; .45MAN

PS - Please ping us to part 2.

dansangel and .45MAN


49 posted on 12/11/2004 6:27:41 AM PST by dansangel (Thank you Veterans past and present!)
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To: RobFromGa

14 mos. is an accomplishment, but your not out of the woods yet. There will be temptations!Most people that attain l.t. sobriety have a support group like a 12 step program, or church group,etc.Your 100% correct about not needing alcohol to have a good time or to socialize! You appear ahead of the curve it that respect. I assume part 2 is Sunday? 1/4/89


50 posted on 12/11/2004 6:28:04 AM PST by thombo
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