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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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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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To: RobFromGa


Don't kill yourself until you have been sober for five years,Or you will be killing a stranger! What was told to me,And what I tell others!


51 posted on 12/11/2004 6:29:10 AM PST by Boazo (From the mind of BOAZO)
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To: RobFromGa

<<< robfromGA >>>

This is great news! I was the daughter of 2 alcoholics, and the havok wrecked on our family will never be undone. I eventually forgave them, but the past cannot be undone.

I am also a recovering alcoholic (hint, alcoholics shouldn't bartend!), my last incident involved throwing up violently in front of my mother-in-law. At least that's what they told me, as I had frequent blackouts.

I didn't drink for 2 years, and now I can have a beer or a glass of wine. I really have no desire to 'get drunk'. When I think how I act, and how I would feel in the a.m., and my kids and what I went through, it ain't worth it!

So <<< Good Job!! >>> and I will pray for you!

Kudos from another Georgian!


52 posted on 12/11/2004 6:29:42 AM PST by eyespysomething (With angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethleham!)
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To: RobFromGa

Rob,

Very inspirational story so far. I'm very interested in reading your future posts.

I encourage you to build a ping list. I'm sure many of us would like to hear more. If you do so, please put me on it.

It sounds like your story will likely apply more than just to alchohol. Many of us are fighting other addictive vices (smoking, overeating, drugs) to which your story may make the difference.


53 posted on 12/11/2004 6:31:01 AM PST by babyface00
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To: dansangel

Thanks for your prayers! I look forward to seeing you and .45man again.


54 posted on 12/11/2004 6:31:54 AM PST by RobFromGa (End the Filibuster for Judicial appointments in January 05)
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To: kjvail; RobFromGa

Congrats to both of you from another friend of Bill's (12 yrs. March 15th) The only line of your story that hit me a touch uneasy is the line of being totally confident you'll never drink again.

That's a very tough pill to swallow, maybe not today but there may be a day that it will be. Get into the habit of treating it as a daily reprieve. Keep it in 24 hour compartments. Practice that now when it's easier and if a day comes up on you that it becomes harder, you'll have the practice under your belt to just think "I only need to get through today...."

Keep up the great work!!

Dave


55 posted on 12/11/2004 6:33:12 AM PST by Hand em their arse
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To: Pookyhead

Pookyhead, are you, maybe, protesting too much?

This guy just wrote about successfully dealing with something that he had been vulnerable to for a very long time, something that could have ruined his life, caused the death of others, or killed himself.

He survived the risk and escaped from the trap of alcohol. He opened up and wrote about it and shared it with all of us. Folks are replying with messages of congrats, and a few are disclosing their own similar struggles and/or victories.




And all you can do is poke holes?

WHAT IS ***YOUR*** PROBLEM?




what is your problem?
what is your problem?
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what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?
what is your problem?


56 posted on 12/11/2004 6:34:08 AM PST by PeriwinkleMinniepaws
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To: WineGuy
I'm similar.

I drink one glass of red wine every evening with dinner.
57 posted on 12/11/2004 6:34:08 AM PST by Momaw Nadon (By the time you read this tagline you've already read it.)
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To: RobFromGa
I look forward to seeing you and .45man again.

Any chance you'll be coming to FL? We moved (long story - involves an unexpected lay-off up in GA).

Seriously, if you travel south, please FReepmail us for details as to our location.

58 posted on 12/11/2004 6:35:09 AM PST by dansangel (Thank you Veterans past and present!)
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To: bogeybob; mystery-ak

Its my understanding that it skips a generation.

In my case, my grandparents and parents were, and then my brother (who also quit and turned to God) and myself. I am ready to look for warning signs with my kids.


59 posted on 12/11/2004 6:35:14 AM PST by eyespysomething (With angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethleham!)
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To: RobFromGa

I admire your mental fortitude and hope to follow the same path one-day.


60 posted on 12/11/2004 6:37:29 AM PST by ▀udda▀udd (7 days - 7 ways)
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