A Reality Check

One thing I’ve learned in my decade-long fight against alcoholism is that, despite what people may say, this is not a disease of degrees. You’re either addicted or you’re not. The day you mortgage what’s important in pursuit of alcohol; put drinking ahead of your family and your career and start arranging events around drinking time; that’s the day you can officially call yourself an alcoholic. I’ve heard the term “functioning alcoholic” thrown around a lot lately, and quite frankly, it makes me want to throw up, because although the signs of dysfunction can ultimately be delayed for a few precious years, life ceases to have any function or normalcy the day you become addicted.

I suppose I’m what you can call a repeat offender. Since 1998, I’d been to several alcohol rehab centers, looking for the magic cure. I usually went to treatment out of legal or marital obligation, but there’s not a person in this world who can say that I didn’t give treatment my all once I got there. The problem was, I kept looking for a quick-fix solution that would enable me to go back to my normal life after a short period. I kept relapsing because, frankly, I thought recovery was a temporary thing. It never occurred to me that sobriety was a way of life. I thought getting clean and “doing my best” was enough.

In 2008, after almost killing my new fiancé and I while driving drunk, I made the decision to get treatment one last time and make it stick. There was no last drink or period of contemplation; only me making the decisions that I needed to make to keep myself alive and improve my quality of life. In other words, this time recovery would be different. I told my fiancé I wouldn’t blame her if she wasn’t waiting for me when I got out, but if we were going to have a life together, I had to do this. Thankfully, she stuck around, and has been my primary source of strength for the past five years.

All throughout treatment, there was still a little bit of the mentality that recovery was only temporary; but the difference between this program and other alcohol rehab centers was that they worked hard to correct that notion. They taught me the value of a continuously stable life, and of being there for the people I cared about. They showed a picture of a life that alcohol had taken away, and a life that I could get back if I committed enough of myself to sobriety. I still don’t know exactly where the spark to finally get my life together came from, but I’m grateful for the fire it ignited.

In November, I celebrated my fifth consecutive year of relapse-free recovery. I’ve heard many people say that if you can’t make it five years, you’re cured, but I’m not naïve enough to believe that. I do know that every day you manage to confront the pressures of life, head-on, without the aid of alcohol is another victory.

Contact the National Alcoholism Center anytime toll-free at (888) 515-7704 or through our online form for our recommendations of the best alcohol treatment centers for you or your loved one!

Alcoholism treatment should never be attempted in your home or without medical supervision at a professional licensed treatment facility.