Posted with permission from an email sent to Sober Courage by Robert
My entire life has been a blessing. I do not believe in God, but I do believe that some people may be luckier than others. I am one of those people who I believe are more fortunate than others.
I grew up in an upper-middle-class family with two great parents who are still happily married. They gave me all the support I ever needed and were there to help me along every step of the way. For a long time, I was like any other kid – I had struggles and bullying but I found friends and dealt with the same problems as everyone else. My family has a history of Alcohol Use Disorder. The man I am named after has dealt with drug and alcohol problems his entire life.
In middle school when I began experimenting with alcohol and getting into my parent’s liquor cabinet, I had no idea what road I was leading myself down. I wanted to know what the big deal with alcohol was! It was mischievous, and I was interested. I began sneaking in drinks on the weekends by the time I was in the 7th grade. However, I did not start heavy and frequent drinking until I was in the 10th grade. So, through most of the high school, I was just doing the same dumb stuff many of the teens in high school do.
But even back then, I realized I was drinking a lot, more than others, and a lot of times by myself. Even if I was just with one buddy, we would just get hammered and do nothing. Any social event or anything I did, I always wanted to be drinking or I didn’t think it was fun. I was an all-region track athlete and I would drink when I got home from a meet that night and wake up go to school and repeat. I did some dumb shit like drinking and driving, fighting, hooking up, and getting drunk at school and all sorts of stupid shit.
I had many warning signs in high school and I never paid attention to them. I shouldn’t have been drinking a 24 case of beer by myself in a night at a party. I shouldn’t have been able to drink more than a liter of liquor and keep going as a 150-pound runner. I shouldn’t have been blacking out all those nights and doing things like sleeping with my best friend’s sister. I shouldn’t have been drinking at school or by myself on weeknights. But I was in high school and I said fuck it this is what all high-schoolers do! I had let myself to believe that but in reality, it wasn’t true.
I still I did not see drinking as an issue, though I used alcohol to comfort myself, reduce anxiety and fill the void in my life since I did not have many hobbies or true friends.
I was arrested my senior year of high school and after a struggle with the system, I got the charge off my record. I realized then I would not make it at normal college. So, I decided to attend a military college thinking it would keep me from trouble. While there, I learned many valuable lessons. However, my addiction steadily increased. I began doing cocaine and drinking all the time. I got a girl pregnant when I was drunk, I was almost shot when I got in a fight, I was always missing classes, I almost killed my friend and I drunk driving, and I almost beat the shit out of a family member in a drunken rage.
But once again, I saw it as a college dorm, and not a big deal, no problem, just living the college life. But things were staidly piling up.
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*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).