Interview with a Recovering Alcoholic
Andrew used to be an alcoholic. He’s come a long way in his life. He’s the one person in my life who I can truly say lost it all, and has overcome. Andrew’s tale is both heart breaking and heart warming and I had to share it with all of you.
Andrew, at what age did you start drinking?
Drinking has always been permitted in our household; I can honestly remember my parents telling stories about the fact as a baby I would dive across the room for a Manhattan. My mother and father both drank and entertained a lot, later even after their divorce my mother owned a bar and my father practically lived in bars.
Why do you think you starting drinking at that point? Did something happen?
The easy access and permissiveness made it easy to obtain, early growth of facial hair contributed the ease of buying beer at carryout stores. Drinking was not looked down upon back then, like smoking it was the cool and manly thing to do.
I would say that it was after my wife left me that the drinking took a turn for the worse. We had been having trouble and she had threatened to kill herself during a fight we had, my son (3 years old at the time) was under us as I took the knife away from his mother. I sent him to live with his grandmother until his mom and I could resolve the issues we had in our lives. At the suggestion of my wife and a neighbor we joined a local church and sought marriage counseling with the pastor there. After several weeks of hearing I should bring my son home and a mother should be with her son, and wanting to believe God was in charge and would restore my family, I brought my son home. A week later my wife run off with my son while I was at work. I was very angry with those people, the church and God. After accepting that my wife and son were not going to return, I started instead of heading to an empty home I headed to the bars, just like on the show “Cheers” soon everyone knows your name and no one is a stranger to misery. I believe it was at that point started to follow in my father’s footsteps of living in the bars more than I frequented my home.
It wasn’t long that I had my favorite hangouts, I would find bars that I could kill time at. Over time and several bars and friends, I eventually lost my license due to drinking and driving. That didn’t stop me. I moved to the inner city so I could travel by bus, I use to plan my bus routes so I could get off near a bar and kill time between busses. Although I gained a wealth of useless trivia and honed many skills like billiards, poker, and miniature bowling over time mathematics and science took over and my life became unmanageable, it was after my father passed away that the drinking became a need and no longer a passing of time. I remember waking up in the middle of the night shaking so hard from withdrawal that I kept a quart of beer on my nightstand so I could stop the shakes and go back to sleep.
How did you stop drinking?
Actually I didn’t stop drinking, it was Feb. 96 and it was getting cold, my drinking had lost me everything and I found myself on the street with the homeless. I wanted to go stay out at my mothers until weather broke. She didn’t want me out there unless I promised to seek help for my drinking and check myself into a hospital. Of course I would do what she wanted play the game till weather broke. So I called a toll free number she gave me, it didn’t matter it was cold on the riverbank and the place I was sleeping was anything but warm.
Instead of a hospital I actually ended up at a Ministry that dealt with alcoholics and addicts. It was call Storehouse Ministry. After interviewing with one of their staff and expressing a desire to stop drinking I was accepted into their program of rehabilitation.
The program involved community service, bible study, rigorous meetings and counseling sessions. I remember thinking to my self that I couldn’t believe I was entering into a Christian program run by the similar bible thumping people as the ones I blamed for losing my son and wife. I told them in the beginning that it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, or Jesus, I just didn’t know were they lived and was sure I wanted to know. My lack of knowledge of the Lord and the bible was literally composed of Charleston Heston as Moses and any other biblical movie they showed at Easter back then.
The second day of not drinking started to take affect; the withdrawal and shakes had started. It was my first bible study class; there was a teacher that day he called me up to the podium after our bible class. After asking me a few questions and looking into my eyes he laid his hands upon me and started to pray, I really didn’t fight it as I really didn’t feel well enough to protest. He prayed then started to chant, which later I learned was praying in tongues, and I felt a warm and calmness wash over me. I felt so much better when he finished all I could do was say thank you. He said don’t thank me it was the Lord that healed me; he was just the instrument of His mercy. There were several guys in the program and I saw a lot of them come and go. It wasn’t until Apr 12th 1996 at a prayer meeting that I went to that I found God and accepted him into my life. The minister that was visiting that Sunday had written a book “God don’t make Junk”. I had just read that book a week before his visit and felt it was God trying to convince me to come into the fold. It was on that day I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savor.
In July of 1996 I learned that my mother was dieing from cancer. She had asked that I come live with her and her husband and help him take care of her until she passed away. She has chosen not to treat the cancer and accept it, she wanted to die at home not in a hospital. I agreed and with permission from the ministry left to live with them until she passed away. I believe that her passing only reinforced my reliance on God’s will and His part in my life.
Do you worry you might start drinking again?
Recovering Alcoholics who take their recovery seriously always worry about that day, most of us cling to God for strength, other hold their higher powers. We try to avoid triggers and our recovery is not only that we stopped drinking but also took serious steps on learning and improving our selves in the process. No I do not worry about starting again I have a close grip on God and my sobriety, but I do not dismiss the fact that starting again would lead to my death and I don’t want to die as a drunk.
Do you avoid social events due to the pressure of drinking?
Although there are some in recovery that would avoid such events, I do not avoid social events or meeting people in bars, however, I do not tempt fate buy hanging out in bars or with others that drink on a daily basis. Shortly into my sobriety those who were my drinking friends had to be let go. I had to move on with out them as they would have dragged me back to the barstool beside them, after all we know that misery loves company and its hard to be miserable when you’re sober and have the light of the Lord fueling your soul.
Were your parents alcoholics?
With all I know about alcoholism, I cannot and will not answer that question, I loved my parents and they did the best they could with what they knew. Looking back could things have been done differently? Of course it could hind site is always 20/20 however I cant say they were or were not, was it something they had to do or wanted to do? I don’t know. In the end drinking was something I had to do, my body would cause me pain if I didn’t drink. That is a fact, I know the truth about me, not about my parents and may never know as they have both passed on to a better place.
Do you believe alcoholism is hereditary?
I do not believe alcoholism is hereditary in the sense it is in the genes, but I do believe in generational curses passed down from one generation to the next. I believe we make choices based on what we learn and yearn from life and that it sometimes leads us to some very dark and dreary places.
I have read books that wish to link alcoholism to genes or environmental factors. I prefer to think of it as a curse of overindulgence, that without guidance we all have the potential to get lost. Whether its booze, drugs, food, depression or violence, when it becomes a controlling factor in our lives, then it becomes a problem for everyone.
Have you ever been tempted to just have one drink?
Everyday, temptation is out there all the time, I have some great memories from my drinking days, and they were not all bad. Temptation is just that an appealing view of a choice we can make. Since I do attend social event, I have kissed woman with the taste of alcohol on their lips, tempted I have been but I believe God has a greater purpose for me than lying in a ditch drunk and passed out. When tempted to the point that I might give in I just remember to pray, turn it over to God and let him deal with it.
Have you shared your testimony of how you have overcome with others?
I share the testimony ever chance I get, although there are different crowds to appeal to and variations of the testimony to fit the circumstances that brought my confession to light, they all share the fact that without God all that I have achieved would not have been possible, and that Jesus as my savior gives me the strength to make it one day at a time.
Do you feel your purpose is to help other alcoholics stop drinking?
It is my place to shine bright and be a beacon, and although I spent two year with Barnabus Ministry working with recovering alcoholics and addicts I don’t believe I can help anyone stop drinking, that is something they need to find within themselves. I can only allow God’s light to shine through me and hope that it is seen and accepted.
Although I no longer work for the ministry as they have moved to a bigger location farther away from my current quarters, I still minister on a smaller scale at local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
source: Informative Post