I’ve gone the distance and I think I am done. Just got back from a night on the town- had a couple scotches in the hotel bar, went to a nice restaurant and had dinner and couple more scotches, went and saw this amazing musician named Catfish Stephenson who played a bunch of J.J. Cale and was magnificent on the slide guitar, then went to a couple more places which meant a couple more scotches, and then finally said to hell with it and came back to the hotel at 1 am. I drank enough to kill most mortals, and I bet I could still drive and am not even drunk.
I think I am going to go to AA and if necessary, rehab. I’ve been a drunk since the first time I had a beer and got stoned with my buddy when I was thirteen years old, and I just can’t do it any more. The first time I drank a few beers and felt that warm embrace as a teen, well, that was it. It’s all been about that since then, but I’m tired of being fat, I’m tired of being worried about my health all day until I have a drink and forget about shit. I’m just tired. I can’t spend anymore time wondering if I am going to die of cirrhosis or die of throat cancer from cigars, cigarettes, and booze like Chris Hitchens. It’s really killing me.
I am a very high functioning alcoholic and have been for years because of my sheer willpower and determination to not make changes, but I knew this time was coming for years. Hell, I almost joined Dean Esmay a decade ago (Dean is a warblogger most of you have never even heard of, but I knew him quite well) when he quit. But I thought I had shit under control. Several years ago, in a drunken late night stupor, I even called Chuck Butcher late night and talked to him, but I didn’t listen to him and I just kept on keeping on.
And in the meantime, I was having anxiety attacks, which we have discussed before at length, and of course, the solution for those is… booze.
But it is to the point now that I do not think I have any choice. My parents and family are worried about me, and I am worried about me. It’s just time, and in the immortal words of Dean Wormer, fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.
I’m not sure how I am going to deal with this, or how I am going to approach it. Even on nights where I don’t “drink” drink, I still have one or two, if that makes sense (maintenance drinking, as the other recovering drunks here will tell you).
But I am going to make myself a better person and get this fucking Triple Sized Laphroiag Monkey off my back if it kills me. I know I will relapse, and I know I will fuck up again. But I, for the first time ever, have decided that enough is enough. I just can’t do this anymore. It’s killing me physically and mentally. But I am going to do this shit, and I hope you all, as you have been for the last decade, will stick around and be supportive.
So let me say it here first, as if you all didn’t know it already. My name is John Cole, and I am an alcoholic. And I am going to do what I can to fix it, and I hope you all will help me, because 30 years of behavior is going to be hard to change.
I just can’t do this anymore. I’m too tired, and alone, and scared. Speaking with all the guys from Veterans from Peace this past few days really cleared up a lot of things in my head. And I just need to make the right changes or I am going to drink myself into an early grave. And those guys are great. I felt like I was with my brothers there, even if I don’t agree with everything they are doing, but you know what- they are helping each other cope and I have never met better Americans than this week-end when I talked to those guys. I submitted my application and am going to work to form a chapter in West Virginia.
But most of all, I’m just so fucking tired. I’m tired of being dependent, I’m tired of lying, I’m tired of having to drink to feel ok or have fun or, well, you all know the drill. I can’t do it anymore. I’d rather be dead.
Thanks in advance for your patience. It’s going to be rocky couple of
months decades (if I get my shit together) for me.
You have my support both as a person and as someone who’s been sober for over twenty years. I’m with you, John.
Best of luck, John! My family has a long history of alcoholism, so I’ve never really drank much. Too scared of it. Most of the ones in my family who sobered up used AA, of course. I do also follow Claudia Christian on Twitter, and she used the Sinclair Method. Might be of interest. http://vimeo.com/50778472
Good on you, John. I mostly lurk around here with the occasional comment, and living on the other side of the world I’m not likely to ever participate in one of the BJ meetups. But I’ve been coming to this blog for years for the sharp commentary, humourous jabs, and occasional obnoxious rants, and I hope you’ll be around to keep it going for many years to come. I don’t know what I could possibly do to help from Down Under except offer moral support, but you sure as hell have that.
Good luck, Cole.
John, you will have a lot of support in 12 Step programs. You can go to AA or to NA, which covers all addictions, depending on what suits you. NA has saved my life. In my 7 years in it I found more acceptance and hope than I’d ever had, I learned more ethics than I ever had, and I came to know more about my fellow human beings than I ever had. John, you’ve made fantastic progress in your life. this is one reason so many are drawn to you. What you have tonight is more progress—the opposite of a setback; it’s the result of how you have grown so far. You’ll find that feeling physically better is just the first of the fruits your fellowship will bring you. You’re doing the next right indicated thing; keep doing what has worked for others. —XO
If there’s a chapter of SOS anywhere nearby, would suggest that as a preferred alternative to AA.
Please click and read the short summation of an intriguing study at:
Alcoholics Anonymous Not As Helpful as Secular Alternatives
We’ll be here…kind of like having 363633 sponsors who’ll cheer you on and call bs when necessary.
It’s gonna suck, but the alternative will suck worse. Godspeed, man.
Holy crap man, I did not know. I guess from hanging out in coffee shops, I happen to have gotten to know a lot of people in Recovery, I guess the big thing is to keep in touch with your sponsor, and keep going to those meetings. Even if you fuck up- just keep going!
John, you have a hell of a lot of people in your life who love you and will support you, even when you may think you don’t deserve it. Please call on them at any time, and find any other support structures outside of your family and friends that YOU want to work with.
Good luck. It’s going to be damn hard after almost 30 years, but you already know that. I think you’re a stubborn enough German to pull it off.
Good luck, John.
Like Bethany Ann I have a truckload of alcoholics on both sides of the family and I’ve always been a little wary of drinking because of it. I think I’ve only been drunk twice in my 63 years, and while I was surprised to discover that I’m a happy drunk, I did not like the feeling of being drunk.
I hope you are successful and that giving it up is not a burden to you.
Congratulations, John – it sounds like you are saving your life. Best wishes to you!!
The putting down the bottle part is not what’s hard. It’s having to change all the social habits you also have that involve alcohol consumption. It will always be around you, but it does not have to rule you. I wish you much luck in this endeavour, and Tunch would be proud.
Long time reader, first time poster…Sounds like you could be describing me too. I’m just not ready yet…I’m pulling for ya. Don’t worry about the setbacks, just keep on, keepin’ on.
Wow. I was not expecting that. You got a lotta guts. We are here for you. I have a feeling you will be deliciously outrageous, and even more awesome sober. One step at a time, as they say. Seriously, take care of yourself. I should do that too. Lose some weight. Stop using wine as a crutch to get through life. Jeebus, you may have inspired me.
my mom was an alcoholic and made my sister’s and my life a living hell. she finally kicked it when my daughter was born. she realized she wanted to be a better grandmother than she was a mother. my daughter has only wonderful memories of her.
you can do it! if my mom could, anybody could. i’m expecting to hear all kinds of reviews in the near future of non-alcoholic beer and wine (kaliber by guinness is awesome btw) and virgin mixed drinks. so, here’s to the new you!
John, you are probably one of the most honest and open voices on the blogger-net. Most people in the media (and I include the bloggerverse in the “media”) wear some form of mask, that they rarely let slip. But you seem continually driven to rip the mask off and be…human. And its fricking awesome.
Thank you for your honesty. And you’ll clearly have a LOT of support. This is the time to lean on blood – whether by birth or by choice. They’ll clearly be there for you. (and Lily, Rosie and Steve have your back). You definitely are not alone. And the best part is, as tough as the path forward might be, it means moving forward into daylight. Godspeed.
Some words to live by, from the late great David Foster Wallace: smart people make the worst addicts, because they always think they can reason their way through anything. Willpower is nothing; social support is everything. And you clearly know that, by posting this here. Your readers will look out for you. Lean on anyone you can.
God speed John Cole. You’re still young enough to pull it off and enjoy a long life. Hopefully nothing happens in the next few months to make you think, ala Lloyd Bridges, that you picked a bad time to stop drinking.
I have no advice to offer but congratulations and I hope the process ends up being easier than you expect. That strong will is going to help.
Hold up, John. DO NOT stop all at once. You know me, we’ve tossed a few back together, but I’m telling you, buddy – stopping cold-turkey landed my ass in the hospital for 2 weeks.
This can be done, but physiologically you need to taper down your intake. DTs are a bitch, as in, “Time to get ready for work / how did I end up in this wheelchair / this is what week?” kind of thing.
I’ve quit drinking (mostly) since, but the trick is the gradation. And seeing as how your fat ass would make a mighty thump on the way down, you really need to go with the “gentle slope toward sobriety” approach.
(And go get a full liver panel done).
Good for you, John Cole.
As someone who quite drugs 29 1/2 years ago after coming to a similar conclusion and and heavy drinking about 12 years ago I say congratulations. That first step of actual recognition is a hard one. But you’ve taken that.
My next thought is like everyone else says, get help. Try. Every day, just keep trying. No matter how many people are there for you and with this blog that’s a huge shoulder to lean on, it’s a process that everyone has to do for themselves.
Good luck. Ask questions if you need to, give me a shout if you need to. There are a lot of reformed drugies and drunks on here. As the man who jumped in the hole with his friend said, I know the way out. And so do many others.
My life is so much better now that I’m not drunk or stoned.
John, we’re all here for you. Anytime you need to, just post something (no matter how short a time frame since another FPer’s post) calling us all assholes. In other words, business as usual.
But seriously, though, while I have no personal experience with alcoholism, the following articles have given me a lot of insight into what ending an addiction is like:
These are from one of my favorite comedy writers who quit a life-threatening booze habit a few years ago. There’s some obvious stuff in there but also some problems you may not expect.
James E. Powell
The hardest parts are all self against self and whatever you have to do it is only you who can do it. But know this: you are not alone, not nearly as alone as you will feel. Most of us have been there or been right next to there, so it isn’t like we are strangers to the painful process of change. All we have is words, but I, we, the whole commentariat, want nothing more than your health and happiness.
Every single person here – including the ones who barely ever post but read you every day – supports you and wishes you the best.
Congratulations, excellent choice. I wish you the best of luck and, most importantly, perserverence and determination.
I quit drinking one day in the beginning of 1998, out of the blue, after I realized I had gained weight and was becoming a functional alcoholic (couple crashed cars, damaged relationships, embarassing morning-afters, and nights were I literally drank myself sober).
I just stopped. I was still young-ish, though, and I was worried my habits or social life would be hard to change, but surprisingly it wasn’t. I haven’t drank any alcohol at all since then, and I don’t miss it.
Maybe it was easier than I expected because I’m out here in California where you can say stuff like “thanks, I don’t drink” and people won’t give you shit for it. Or maybe genetics (I’m Mediterranean, not northern European or Native, so I got lucky in the alcoholism genes department). But I still went out, still had friends, still had a good time, still got laid, life was fine. I just didn’t drink anymore, is all.
Or maybe I’m just good at quitting things, and not looking back. I used to be a Republican and a Libertarian. I don’t miss that either. You also seem to be pretty good at reinventing yourself, redirecting, course-correcting. I can hope that’ll make it easier for you too.
I don’t know what your experience will be like. It might be a hard road you seem to be expecting, but then again it might not. I wish you the best, and you have so many people supporting you that I can hope will make it a bit more pleasant.
You are a remarkable person! I am regular reader who rarely comments. I just want to say you are not alone. You touch a lot of lives. May they touch you in unexpected ways when you need them most. I’m pulling for ya and keeping you in my prayers.
dance around in your bones
John, I think you are very brave for letting this all hang out in public. You may very well have inspired others to confront their problem as well. That’s a good thing.
The demon alcohol is a very seductive temptress but ultimately a false one in the long run. You know you can rely on your commentariat to support you in what may be a long and hard road to traverse. I wish you to succeed in your journey to sobriety. You can do it!
I’m tired of having to drink to feel ok or have fun or, well, you all know the drill. I can’t do it anymore. I’d rather be dead.
Well, no, you’d rather not. But preferring being sober to being drunk is good enough.
Personally, I started drinking ’round 15, I think, on account of the PTSD. (Hell of a thing to have PTSD when you’re 15.) But 6-7 years I cut back and then I stopped a couple of year later. Because being drunk makes you stupid, and in the end it makes PTSD worse.
At any rate, the way to stop drinking is to not drink. This simple truth sound entirely stupid, but that’s the entire kitten kaboodle. Don’t drink, and if you do drink, stop. Now, not later. Harder than fuck to put into practice.
Other thing: don’t quit smoking and drinking together. One war at a time, dude. Keep the sauce out and you can quit smoking later. (Probably wind up smoking more – fine, do it if need be.)
[‘Good luck man.’]
You’ve got the backing of everyone here (and you have responsibilities…if anything happens to you, your animals will be devastated).
Go for it man.
I haven’t had alcohol since August 12, 1989 and I am grateful for that every day. It wasn’t my primary addiction, but if I drank, I drank too much. I have logged a bunch of hours in a lot of different 12 step rooms, but haven’t been in a meat space meeting in more than 10 years. I try to walk the walk and reaching out to Higgs Boson’s Mate was definitely a step 12 action done for my benefit, not his. I was in a downward spiral and had told myself that morning that I needed to take some drastic action or very bad things would happen.
John, I hope you will give AA a shot. Your higher power can be Tunch, or a doorknob, FSM or anything; you don’t have to take up Godbothering to get the benefits. Not everyone there is in their right mind or able to help you at all, but if you keep listening you will hear the voices of those who can help you. You have already taken the first step – I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable. Only 11 more to go! If AA doesn’t work, try something else and something else after that until you find what works for you.
Don’t sleep on this. Find a nice lady to cuff you to the headboard and steal your pants so you still have things to think about in the morning.
I don’t post much but not a day goes by without checking in. All the best and godspeed.
You can do this. I did it a year ago. You’re not alone. There is always someone you can reach out to – by the phone, online, in person. Always.
As for the godbothering in AA: it’s a problem, but there are good meetings and good folks out there. And there’s a ton of great stuff online. These folks saved my sanity: http://aaagnostica.org
Best of luck and get some sleep. Life is always better with proper sleep.
You’ll outlive most of us, no doubt. 8-)
i quit a year & a half ago. same as you, i just hit a point where i was just done with drinking. i like to joke that i drank enough already for like 3 lifetimes.
it took a while to build, but i was finally just disgusted with myself. now i can’t think about drinking without thinking how gross it was. it’s a powerful, if embarrassing incentive. everybody is different, but i know it’s possible to really quit.
life is sure different without booze. boring and difficult at times, but honestly its much better.
Best of luck to you, John!
@wasabi gasp: That would imply he had on pants to begin with, we’re talking about John Cole here.
you fucking rat bastard!
My first cold beer in a couple of months and I sit back to read about the latest political travesty and now this….
like I can sit back and finally enjoy this Stella Artois that’s been sitting in the fridge for a week now…. you better not come on here next week and swear off of Ruffles and Green Onion Dip or I will come to West by god Virginia and drop trou in your yard….
It’s great that you have reached this point of self-assessment, John. You have a lot going for you, and you can pull this off, even if you stumble now and then. Tomorrow is another day.
Do not hesitate to get whatever support structure is available and will help. And be willing to accept it. That is the hurdle that most alcoholics do not overcome, and why they do not overcome their addiction.
I will share my personal knowledge of this, not knowing how this personal sad tale will help, but just as an illustration of how totally destructive alcoholism can be if not confronted.
Our son, who is 47, it is homeless, penniless alcoholic. He has used drugs and been addicted to alcohol since his early teens. Nothing we tried in his teens stopped it or helped. And from his twenties on, he has pretty much lived on the street. Until about 5 or 6 years ago, he could at least hold down restaurant jobs for a few months or a year at a time. But he is so far gone now he can’t even do that. We have tried for the last time to help him, since he refuses to be helped, and we finally had to accept that all we were doing was prolonging our pain and destroying our lives. About a month ago, we told him he could no longer seek refuge with us even for a night, much less a week or a month, since it had become crystal clear he had no intention of even trying anymore to lose his addiction. It is a sad thing when your 47 years old son will piss on everything you have done as loving parents by stealing from them.
Trust me on this. I can’t imagine you ever wanting to look in the mirror and see something like that looking back at you. But that is how bad it can be. Trust me on this. Trust me with no questions, because I speak from the most bitter experience I have known in my life.
Clearly you have not reached this point. And I bring up this personal history, which for us is the one tragedy and deep and abiding pain in our lives at age 67 as we drift into late middle age. For the friends and family of an alcoholic, the pain is terrible.
Your insight and public acknowledgement is the first step. Please, I beg of you, based on all I have seen in over 35 years of trying to deal with the failed life of a sad alcoholic, please do not let it be your last.
The most important thing is to find, either in AA, friends, or family, a support structure that you can turn to, who will be there for you when you must sustain the will to not drink.
AA does not work for everyone, especially because of the emphasis on a higher power, which not all of us believe or can accept, but there are other alternatives, especially if you have a strong family.
FWIW, you might consider finding a therapist who does mindfulness therapy. Trust me on this, just ask the Google about it. It focuses in a very rationale way with grappling with coming to grips with your emotions. It is absolutely not another foolish trendy approach to therapy. You can get the books and workbooks without even working with a therapist.
I wish you only the best, and the strength to see this through.
As an Asian, I usually got really sick before I would get drunk. So I don’t perticular like drinking and therefore luckily never have this problem.
But I see enough stories about achoholics to know it is a very tough fight.
Like everyone here, I offer you my full support for your endeavor.
When the going gets tough, just remember you have tones of friends who love and support you. Good luck.
Whoa. I guess that’s it for Good Times Johnny Cole. (Or not, drunk or sober…)
Godspeed, man. I hope I’m in Madison next time you’re there; hope you don’t mind if I drink in front of you at the meet-up.
You have a great number of folk here who’ve been where you are now. myself included. I’ve not had a drink in 3 years, next month. For me it was the emergency room doctor telling me that I had to quit, since my liver was fried. Realizing that it’s a problem without the hospital visit is a real positive. You will also find that many here that no longer partake have chosen different ways of getting there. Some just cleaned out all the booze out of the house (OK, my wife did that part) and quit, some have gone to AA, others may have selected a more secular alternative. Read up, and try and see what’s the best fit for you; and you do have a support group here.
P.S. You should get a check of you liver included in your next blood workup, the good news is the liver can recover(mine did).
@David Koch: It’s part of Obamacare.
The late great Roger Ebert had a lot to say on this and I recommend him highly. Despite my moniker, I drink very little, but have many friends who have stopped. From what I’ve seen, success comes from determination and persistence. Cole, you have friends here and you can do this. I wish you peace.
Doug Milhous J
Good luck man.
The great Dong Stanhope on the junk science of AA
It will be rockier if you don’t stop. Probably shorter too.
Good luck, the hardest fights are against oneself.
Good luck, John. And go easy on yourself.
@Doug Milhous J: which country are you in today?
Tim in SF
You’re lucky you’re quitting before you hit bottom. Or, maybe you hit bottom tonight, but you’re lucky you’re doing so before you lost your liver. Or your family or friends.
Remember: relapses are part of the recovery process, don’t be too hard on yourself if you relapse. Just dust yourself off and climb back on the wagon.
As for me, I don’t drink much anymore because any more than two drinks can trigger an anxiety attack (your cure is my cause. Ugh.). I have my two glasses (cups, actually) of wine at the dog park every Wednesday with the other dog owners. That’s it. Sometimes Baileys in my coffee if I’m out of half-and-half.
Getting old sucks ass. But I suppose it beats the alternative.
Alas, I don’t know anyone with a positive outcome. I hear about them, but personally… All the people I’ve known who’ve gone through AA came out assholes.
*sigh* Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Heard about the Washingtonians in history; now that sounded like a program I could get behind.
Boy Wonder Williams
Good on ya, dude- you’ve got those beautiful babies who depend on you. Longtime lurker who gives a crap, here, and who wonders how to explain the beer bottles to the 8 YO kiddo. May join you very very soon.
As a relative of a recovered alcoholic, 12 step programs work, they’re not easy, and the change it can make in your life and personality and happiness is incredible. You’ve sounded like someone with alcohol issues, yes. I wish you all the luck in the world.
There are probably multiple programs available in your area. It’s important that you pick one that makes you feel supported and positive, because you will need that to stick to this.
Good luck JG. Just making this choice takes more strength of will than most of us can imagine. I’m from a big Boston Irish family and we have a lot of drunks among us. Take whatever path you need to get sober and we’ll be here for you if you need us.
Wow, that was unexpected. I wish you the best. This is a big first step you have taken. I hope you will find courage within your readership. We’re all pulling for you.
I wish you luck, John, and hope you can find peace, happiness, and sobriety, though probably not in that order.
There is a saying in the AA fellowship that you get it when you get it and not a fucking minute earlier. Do not despair about where you are or where you have been, all of it has led you to where you need to be. Set aside all of the regrets you may be feeling at the current time, and focus on all of the positive things that will flow from the important revelation that you have made about yourself.
I don’t know if AA will be a long term solution for you, many use it during the earlier stages of sobriety, but move away later on in the process. I will say this, the early days of sobriety and be very lonely and challenging to manage life without your typical crutches. The rooms of AA will provide a much-needed social outlet for you and your early days of sobriety, even if they are filled with damaged people. You will find people who understand exactly how you feel and are willing to be open about it in a way that I’m sure you will find totally refreshing and reassuring.
It does make sense to consult a doctor on this liberating decision you made; there can be some serious side effects to withdrawal and they can often represent grave threats to your health, so make sure that you execute this decision with some level of prudence.
If you are truly an alcoholic and do manage to get a few days of sobriety under your belt, you are likely to become extremely emotional, so please have someone read your posts before you put them up or you will likely look back on embarrassment with what you written.
Sobriety can be a hell of a ride, but if I may use another common phrase in the rooms of AA, my worst day in sobriety is better than my best day as an active alcoholic. Whatever path you choose, it does sound as if you need some help, so recognize that your judgment is likely damage and you need to outsource that to someone else on a short-term basis, whomever that may be. I hated getting sober, but now love sobriety and wish you all the best and hope that you find that piece it sounds as if you were seeking.
Way to go, Madison. You broke the blogger.
You are a surprising and good man, John Cole. I wish you strength, patience and all good things. I’ll be here to read everything and send whatever support vibes I can.
Damn. Been a helluva couple wks. for John Cole. Words, you know, can’t express … but the heart feels.
But you seem like a tough bastard. You can devote the energy you were expending on being functional to working on recovery.
You’re smart enough, you’re good looking & people like you; you’re going to be O.K., even if it takes awhile.
And hey (not to put any pressure on you) this may hit close to home w/ some of your huge audience & inspire them to do whatever may be necessary for their lives.
I wish you the very best in your battle, John. I lost both my siblings to alcohol-related disease in the first four months of this year, and I certainly do not want that for you. The first step, which is acknowledgement and acceptance is the hardest and takes the longest. You’re there. Now pick up the phone and call AA. Just do it.
Oh great, I appear to have become “undefined” at #65.
(Also, hope we haven’t just been royally trolled.)
You can do it, John. Just do it.
Good luck pal.
Well, I don’t know about your current job situation, but I, for one, would not have been able to tell you had a problem. I wish you the best of luck. Strangely, I had a dream last night about my habit of drinking too many sugary drinks and how it would affect my heart. I’m rather slim though and luckily, I’m pretty much resistant against all kinds of addictions – except sugar. Anyway, your story reminds me a little bit of Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who even though his image is quite different, is a bit of a nerd. He used to release an album only every 5 years, and alcohol played a huge role, also excessive gaming. At age 40 however, he kicked the habit and began exercising. He soon found a girlfriend, married and had kids, won an Oscar, had a couple of projects going at the same time, all within just a couple of years. It is amazing how quickly this circle of self-loathing, aggression and addiction can be overcome.
I’ve worked with a few functioning alcololics. One who even got fired because of it. As odd as this may sound, all were very smart and really good at their jobs. All also had quit and were at different times on and off the wagon. I sincerely hope you can kick this. It’s tough.
@Alex S.: I drank for 30 years starting when I was 13. Near the end of it I quit my job, went back to school and got a job bar tending in a college joint. One day a goofy dude who was a regular came in with this other dude who worked in the psych ward of a VA hospital. I had never met him and, after about 15 minutes, the guy looked at me and said “man, you are really in trouble, you need to get help”. I was furious, I didn’t say much but I wanted to kick his ass. I had hit the wall and didn’t even know it. When I quit drinking after fucking up my marriage the kids that worked at the joint couldn’t believe it, “you have a drinking problem, wow, you never show it”! That was 20 years ago.
When you get sober you can look forward to your buddy Ted & Helen screaming at you that you are a dry drunk.
I’ve never had to take your path, so I can’t offer any advice, except to say that starting healthful habits might be a good way to substitute for unhealthful habits. Good luck – your support group was here to help you through your loss and nobody’s gone anywhere.
@raven: That really did make me laugh. Better to be a dry drunk than a wet one, eh?
@BillinGlendaleCA: I guess, fucking douche bag pisses me off even when he’s not around.
@raven: Pied him long ago.
T&H as a real-life buddy would be sufficient to drive most people to drink.
Looking forward to the concomitant drop in the price of scotch as the demand plummets.
(removing tongue from cheek now)
@NotMax: To my horror I discovered that the schmuck and I have a friend of a friend on Facebook!
@BillinGlendaleCA: Me too but the douche bags around here insist on quoting him. You should see the shit he calls art.
Nothing but love, Bro…
As a relative used to say, it takes all kinds to make a horse race.
But nothing necessarily precludes any entrant in the race from being scratched.
@raven: I use TrollBeGone on Chrome, I don’t see the replies either. I see very little of the few folk that I block.
@BillinGlendaleCA: Smart dude you are!
Cole, this is not the particular monkey on my back. I have others. But I can tell you that you can’t do it alone by “toughing it out”, something all of us males are trained from conception to think we can and should do. AA grew out of empirical testing. Keeping what works, discarding what doesn’t. It works, if you’re committed to using the tools they gave you.
I remember when my wife convinced me to go to a (different) 12-step program, I said “what the hell difference is sitting in a room talking about it going to make?” It’s their most important tool because it works and they know it.
I’m also recording everything I eat as part of a weight-loss program, for which recording is the first and most important tool. And every time I think “I got the hang of this, I don’t need to actually record” and stop, then I gain weight. They tell you to record because recording works.
So whatever you decide to do, whatever program you opt for, let me just say again: Use somebody’s program. And use the tools.
When you’ve been running from something for a long time, the hardest part is to turn and stand and face the thing you’ve been running from. Especially when it’s part of your own self that you don’t want to face up to.
That’s not to say the rest of the road will be easy – it’s not – but things are less tough than you think once you stop running and hiding from or fighting with yourself. And it sounds like you’ve done that big first step. Good luck with the rest of the journey.
As for the concept of “functioning alcoholics”: Stephen King has written in his non-fiction about just how heavy a drinker he was. I think it’s mentioned in a number of forwards to books and he talks about it at length in On Writing. I used to think his rural Maine characters who could drink a case of beer in a night were unrealistic, but he admits to being one of them himself.
Anyway, King says he doesn’t even remember writing Cujo. He was “functioning”. He wrote it, he published it, people bought it, it made money on the basis of his name. But it’s not a good book and I thought so at the time.
Best wishes, John. I’m a long-time lurker, but wanted to say it’s impressive to see someone take these steps. I’ve dealt with alcoholism and addiction in my family for my whole life, even though directly my chemistry has spared me. My mother and her entire family are/were alcoholics and addicts, and my son is struggling now, although he’s been in AA and clean for 14 months. It’s a bitch, I know, but the alternative is a bigger bitch, as you know.
That admission takes guts, even to a bunch of invisible losers like us.
Do what you need to do. Find a meeting, find a shrink, motorboat Steve, whatever works for you. You have a cheering section.
This is a huge step for you, John Cole. My husband could not (or would not) get a handle on it and died relatively young – 57 – because of drinking, smoking and general refusal to change his lifestyle. Even though we have never met, I care about you and hope you can overcome this and make your life the way you want it to be. It affects, not only your happiness, but that of the people who love and depend on you.
Best wishes. We’ll be here when you need a whipping boy as you go through the process. As a non alcoholic who knows a few the only advice I can give is: when you are sober, and your thought process says ‘I’ve beat this, I can handle a drink or two’, hit yourself with a 2×4.
If (not when: assume nothing!) you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up (it’ll be tough giving up your go-to move), get right back on.
It's Not The Fall, It's The Landing
Good luck, John Cole. Do what you gotta do to keep yourself alive. If you need somebody to bitch at or complain to, there’s plenty of candidates right here.
Best of luck, John. AA seems to really work for most people who need it. Story-telling, unburdening, comradeship, hope — these are awfully powerful things. You have a lot of friends out here pulling for you.
Good luck, John. You’re a damn good man, drunk or sober, and I have high hopes for you.
You’re a good and brave man, John. It won’t be easy, but you can do this.
Best of luck John. My brother uses Lifering, a secular alternative to AA. He’s much more alive now that he’s sober, if that makes sense.
Good luck, and we’ll be here for you.
John: you are so loved. So very, very, loved. You are a man in a million with a thousand friends and supporters. So many people have fucked over and hurt others–like their spouses and children–that recovery can be like waking up in a horror movie where you are suddenly mysteriosly aged and the people you love see you as a monster.
That’s not you. You are loved. You are needed. Your life is going to be filled with joy and even more joy. You are a guy with gargantuan appetites and capacities for everything. Join a group. Found a group. Start walking. Let people help you. Know that every day there are people out there, in an ever widening circle, who will love and support the new John cole even more than the old.
Jack the Second
I second the advice to be under a doctor’s supervision when detoxing.
An anecdote I heard years back on the Point of Inquiry podcast was someone talking about their experiences with one of the secular alternatives to AA. I want to say Joe Nickel, but I’m probably wrong. I just remember everything from that Podcast in his sweet, sweet voice. Anyway, he said the biggest thing he learned in the support group was that he didn’t have the willpower to be a moderate drinker. If he had one drink, he would have ten, and more the next day. So for him sobriety was a matter of never, ever having that first drink.
@Jack the Second: That’s the way I have approached it for 20 years. I didn’t do any groups and I don’t buy higher powerism but here I am.
It can be a rough road, John. I had to ask myself everytime I wanted a drink – “Will tomorrow be better if I do this today” – WTBBIIDTT. I have that little acronym posted in multiple places in my “life” at work, at home. It keeps me grounded when I ask myself that question, because the short sweet answer is – No. I’m not a joiner, so AA was not an option, But this little mantra has helped me for 5 years now. And the pounds just started dropping when the ETOH fueling ended. Good luck.
Villago Delenda Est
John, I wish you the best of luck and non-luck (as in self control and determination) as you work your way out of the bottle.
It takes a great deal of courage to bare your soul as you have here. This is a good sign you will win this battle.
Do it for Rosie. Do it for Lily. Do it for Steve.
As another of the “recovering drunks” who, as it turns out, started my recovery at the age of 42, all I can say is good luck.
So far, it’s worked for me for three years. It also helps if I drive right past the liquor store(s) I see every day around da range…
John this is my 34th year of sobriety in AA. I suspect there are several others around here. Happy, happy happy you might find the sober life. We all hit bottom at some point.
John, I am really honored that you shared this decision with all of us. Just want you to know that whatever happens you have my support. I have been through this with family members and it is not easy so please don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Good luck, Cole. You can do it, and your life will be better for it.
Just want to clarify about the higher power thing in AA, it can be the group, or any other entity, it doesn’t have to be religious or even spiritual. Being an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean AA can’t work. John you should have my email if you want any info. Hang in there, you may have already changed your mind. ;). It’ll get better.
Welcome, John, it works! You will really enjoy life sober, once you get it out of your system and try this way of life. Take what you want and leave the rest. It’s really all about caring about each other, and you know how to do that. Now you just need to let others care about YOU!
If you choose to go the AA route, know that atheists/agnostics have successfully used the 12 steps. I am one of that minority, sober 29 years, two months and 17 days ( and stopped smoking two years into this journey). I consider myself a voice for those who walk through the doors of AA without a god; I have sponsored atheists, agnostics, evangelical Christians, Buddhists, Roman Catholics…anyone who has a desire to stop drinking and will commit to working the steps of the program. It can be done. If not AA, there are other paths to a better life; one will fit you. Going it alone is unnecessarily difficult.
Relapse is not a mandatory part of the process. You can choose to avoid picking up a drink, no matter what. That is a great starting point. Here’s a non-alcoholic toast to your very good health, physical, mental, and spiritual, whatever that means to you.
I appreciate your willingness to open up about this – we all have things we keep in the shadows and letting light shine on them is often the hardest part because it feels so shameful. You’re over that first part of the hurdle, John. I think you saw just how supportive this community can be when you are in pain. We will again be supportive as you work through this process.
Know this – we ALL struggle with our own stuff, deep down. Not a one here can say they don’t have something (or had something) similar go on in their life.
You are not alone.
Good luck, John.
Drop by my blog and leave a message anytime you’re interested in talking.
Guy Andrew Hall, 28 years sober.
Good luck John! Your pets might wonder why you are holding them closer for the next few months, but you’ll get through this. After reading through the comments, I realized that you started a great blog and attracted wonderful folks to comment.
c u n d gulag
Best of luck to you, John.
We’ll be here fer ya!
Even those of us who’ll keep right on drinking…
You’ll be my AA proxy.
My father was a heavy smoker for decades. Then, thirty years ago, his doctor told him it would be emphysema and lung cancer in less than two years if he didn’t stop. He left the doctor’s office, smoked two in a row, and threw away the pack. Hasn’t smoked since. He tells me he misses it every day but prefers to be alive and healthy. Especially since he had taken his wife and two daughters to a foreign country where there was no family to care for them.
You have responsibilities. You have family, friends, colleagues, dependents.
You are loved by all those people.
And you have this weird crew that has assembled around this blog. Ornery, opinionated, scarred people who would take it very personally if you weren’t around.
Go for it.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Good for you and good luck John, you are going to need all of the help that you can get to beat this. You’re right that it’s not healthy and while you say that you will get this monkey off of your back if it kills you, it may kill you if you don’t.
Health is everything and if you can do something to improve yours, you should do it.
My dad was an abusive, violent drunk and the last thing I wanted to do was follow in his shoes. That made not becoming a drunk real easy for me. I don’t mind a drink or two on occasion (once a month or so), usually after a meal out, but that’s enough for this kid.
Good luck dude, you have a lot of people rooting for you. The monkey will never leave your back but you can learn to keep it under control.
JC, congrats, you’re doing the right thing. Especially if you’re still planning on adopting a kid. This is the best decision you will make in your entire life. And please, don’t begin the self-sabotage with shit like “I know I’ll stumble.” Fuck that. That’s loser talk. DO IT. I did it 11 years ago. Best thing I ever did. (Other than marrrying an amazing woman and adopting 2 amazing kids.) But it’s all part and parcel. Yes, it will suck for the first few months. And bars will forever more be a bit awkward. But you know what? You’ll never have to wake up again with that horrible, cringing feeling of “wait, I did WHAT last night?”
Good luck, John. My brother went full metal wingnut after joining AA, and IMO, it’s his new drug of choice, though he has stayed off the booze. I get the feeling this is not rare. Not to bash AA, and I’m sure AA sociology varies widely, but if a program or group doesn’t work for you, there are alternatives, as several commenters have noted.
You can do this; you have remade yourself more than once and you can do it again.
Hey John, I was where you are just about 20 years ago when I was 45. I think I was kind of lucky in that I was able to quit rather easily and the rewards were so profound that it became self-sustaining. It took a while but I could return to going out with the same people to the same places without the cravings that held me for so many years. Wishing you the best.
I went 3 years without a drink. It was due to my kidneys failing, and the resulting hangovers were so bad the mere thought of alcohol would make me dry heave. I’ve started to go back to having a drink every now and then, and recently I got out of control and had 5. Lemme tell you, I could not wait to go to dialysis because that’s a state where you can actually feel alcohol metabolites polluting your blood. Different kind of shitty feeling than a hangover, but very unsettling.
I wish you luck quitting. I hope you’re able to stick with it; you’ll be shocked at how fast pounds come off without those calories going into you, and lack of hangover is a beautiful thing.
Good luck to you. By the way, if AA etc are not a good fit, don’t feel like you’ve lost or anything. AA has the same success rate as going cold turkey solo, and significantly worse than many other programs, if you can find one. (AA gets all the money, because people and judges have heard of it and approve of the religious aspects. It’s basically the ‘abstinence-only sex education of the alcohol world).
Incidentally, for anyone disposed to be offended by this: I’m nor saying AA is useless. Different people work different ways, and people who could not quit cold turkey solo might well benefit from AA. However, many studies over the years have basically said that the percentage of people still on the wagon five, ten, or twenty years down the line is the same whether they go to AA or they just quit cold turkey on their own. If the numbers offend you, that’s your own problem.
I’m not much of a commenter but I’ve been lurking around here for years and really love the community you have built here. Please take care of yourself, try not to be too hard on yourself, and look for the help you’ll need to do this. You can do this.
Take it one day at a time. It’s a decision you need to make every day, not just one that you make on a day in August 2013. Having a mantra in your mind like “I choose not to drink today” may help – make the decision a positive one, not a negative one.
Don’t be hard on yourself. You’ve got thousands pulling for you.
Best of luck. Hang in there.
John, I wish you the best in this endeavor.
Over 30 years ago, G went to the VA hospital to get on the road to recovery. This gentle man was a mean as hell drunk. One lapse with the police coming to our house and the kids and I going to a relatives made me tell him to choose the bottle or us. He chose us. We do not even have any alcohol in the house for dinners or parties. This, I know, is something you have to decide for yourself when you have guests or dinners. I do recommend it. Your friends and family will understand.
FYWP x 2!
Good luck – you’re a good man taking a hard road.
Good luck to you. I watched a family member die of cirrhosis, and it’s no way to go.
If anyone desires an alternative to AA for whatever reason, check out SMART Recovery (FYWP won’t let me post the link, just google it). It’s been a great assistance to me.
all volunteer, online meetings and message boards, and face-to-face meetings across the country as well, and based on rational emotive behavioral therapy.
Good luck and best wishes for your recovery.
Staying sober may be the hardest thing you ever do in life. But, as better persons than I have already said: we’re here, please let us know if you need anything, or how we can help.
John – I was at the meet up the other night and have been in AA for the past 8+ years. If you want to have dinner tonight and talk about this let me know (you gotz my email from this submission). For what its worth my trajectory was quite similar to yours and I’d be happy to share my experience with you. Being sober is the best thing that I’ve ever done.
Great move, John. You can do it. I know your journey will help others as well.
@Odie Hugh Manatee: Hey Bro, how’s it hangin? Been thinking about you y’ole river rat.
@SFAW: Bah, being sober is just normal.
Good luck, John.
I’ve not been bitten by the bug. I can throw back with the best of them, but don’t do daily drinking, which I suspect to be the major marker of the downhill slide, plus now that I am a decidedly middle aged dude it hurts the next day. I also had a good example in my dad because he didn’t want to go down my grandfather’s path (who drank, pilled and gambled, primarily because he was married to my grandmother and needed relief).
I do suspect that we’re going to have a problem with our bright, talented, beautiful, directionless and clueless 19 year old who knows everything and finds the sage wisdom of her similarly aged peers to be far greater than the idiot offerings of her parents. Those who post on the Internet at 4 am (because that’s when all the deep thinkers are at their best) are particularly wise. After 25 years of criminal and family law practice and dealing with referrals to various substance and mental health therapists, I find myself struggling with someone’s brick wall of depression denial and her refusal to take advantage of the help we’re offering. If we were able to make an appointment, she’d go, but none of the providers will let us make the appointment for her – she has to do it herself.
Good luck to you, John. And may I suggest that if the desire for alcohol gets too strong, try smoking a joint instead? I’ve never met a pot-o-holic!
John, admitting this (in public no less!) must have been very hard, so you are a lot braver than you give yourself credit for. I’m mostly a lurker, but I wish you nothing but the best as you work on improving yourself and taking one day at a time.
Although I’m not in AA, a friend took me to Bill W.’s grave many years ago and it meant a lot to me.
I’m glad to know that you are making this choice to get better. I’ll continue to follow BJ and your merry group of cohorts, you have brought me a lot to think about and laugh about over the past few years.
You’ve turned a corner, John. The BJ crowd will be with you, step by step. And if venting about it helps, by all means, vent early and often.
Have known several.
Total lurker here…..
I wish you the best. You can do this! I want you around to read for many years to come.
Congratulations, Mr. Cole. I stand in awe.
Really, just awesome.
Incredible, John, and I salute you.
Be as strong as you are, and use that stiff German Will of yours and you can move mountains. We’ve seen that. This is something you can do.
We’ve got your back, and a boatload of love for you, buddy.
Too late to the thread, so I’ll be quick.
You are not alone here, but yeah, you have to do this alone. So good! And good luck. You’re lucky to have multiple communities and family to draw from, which I know you will.
first time commenter
Read this book: http://www.amazon.com/Easy-Way-Stop-Drinking/dp/1402736479/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376049927&sr=1-9&keywords=allen+carr.
It works. Seriously. It seems strange at first, but slowly everything he says starts to make sense. Since finishing it, I haven’t had any desire to drink. And I was a VERY VERY heavy drinker since high school and thought all hope was lost.
John, I’m sorry I missed everyone at the meetup, yes my sucky job took me out of town this week, of course. Sigh.
But on topic, you will make this change in your life and despite the journey, which will test your last bit of patience and humor, you will come through it stronger and happier. Will you question your sanity at times? Of course. But long term, your quality of life will be better.
Someone mentioned a mindfulness practice. I recommend this highly. I actually took the series of classes through the UW Madison to learn the practice, but google Jon Kabat Zinn or Richard Davidson. It could really help you along your journey. (Definitely NOT god bothering…)
BTW, now that it’s the morning after, recommit. Even if it’s just to the mirror.
Good luck. It can be done, and you can do it. It sounds like you’re starting the right way.
Personally I’ve traded my physical addictions for mental ones as I’ve aged. Gaming compulsion can be just as bad for weight gain, and lead to worse social isolation, but it’s cheap and doesn’t lead to hangovers except on expansion release week.
It is a lifelong struggle from what I see with loved ones. It’s good that you have decided now that it’s time to stop. Know that you have the love and support of the hundreds who read this blog- including those of us who don’t say much. Be well.
years ago I visited a dear friend who had been hospitalized with advanced cirrhosis. he had deliberately isolated himself so I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years.
the moment I first saw him will be forever etched in my mind. he was completely unrecognizable. he had lost more than 1/3 his body weight and, at 53, looked like a shrivelled old man. His dear face was so thinned out that it elongated. Plus he was yellow, from the jaundice.
He was one of my dearest, most familiar friends, but he was literally unrecognizable except for his wonderful green eyes, which I recognized immediately, and which darted around in fear and worry and confusion.
the doctors gave him a 25% chance of surviving but he had a lot of social support and so he pulled through. after he stabilized, I took someone’s advice and called AA and, within a day, a kind soul had visited him in the hospital offering support, encouragement, and a plan.
he remained hospitalized/rehabbed for more than six months, but is doing well today – he goes to AA nearly every day.
So, John, I think you’re making the right choice, and I wish you well. Be sure to tell us how we can help. I can also recommend some books:
*anything by Lance Dodes
*Abraham Twersky’s Addictive Thinking
*most books published by Hazelden are very good
Again, tell us what we can do to help – and my respect for you has only grown with this posting.
Been considering the same thing myself. Half a fifth of rum every night, seven days a week, is starting to wear on me a lot worse than it did when I was a young buck. Good luck. Let me know how it goes.
PS – I think you’ll be grateful later if you take a bold step (like rehab) now.
You don’t know me and I only know you through your writing, but I wish you success and the power to keep on.
I’ve never met a pot-o-holic!
Come with me to court sometime. You’ll meet people who know that a positive drug screen will keep their kids from coming home to them, or people who know that a positive screen will get their probation revoked and send them to prison, who are smoking weed anyway.
I don’t comment here much. Just when I’m mad, I guess. So this comment is different.
There are people you “meet” on the Internet who become as valuable as neighbors or old friends. They become constants, like the moon or morniing coffee.
You have become that to lots of people. And we all will be on your side no matter what. Even when you are wrong about pitbulls! :)
I hope that you will address the anxiety attacks. I had those for years. Thye are insidious. Heart excelerating, hands shakiing, want to curl up and cry, no reason, just overwhelming biochemical reaction to…point is medication of some kind is probably needed and since alcohol is not a good medication, find something else!
One last peice of advice: don’t go toa psychiatrist. If you decide to get professioal help for the anxiety, see a psychologist. The difference is that psychiatrists are too much into pills and formulas to see people. Psychologists, a good one, will see you, you the individual, and help you with your thought processes.
Please don’t be hard on yourself. You wouldn’t have all of us cheering for you if you didn’t deserve to be liked and loved.
The Raven on the Hill
Late to this thread and can only say–good for you John. It is an arduous road but the people who love you will always have your back. My brother was an alcoholic and going to meetings really really helped him (even if at first he thought it wasn’t his thing, it turned out to be). I think the most important thing is to be good to yourself–if you happen to fall, just get up again. The people who love you will love you still, and won’t judge and be there for you. And so will we.
The Very Reverend Crimson Fire of Compassion
Mistah Cole: You can do this. Coming from Native roots on both sides of the family, I’ve grown up around alcoholics and junkies my whole life, and I’ve watched people I love find their way out again and again. You are an amazing human being, and a great light to those around you. You cannot make this decision without drawing powerful forces to you, forces that will bear you up and carry you. And those of us who “know” you, even if only in this context, have your back. Do what you need to do, son. We’re not going anywhere.
Well said, sir. Strength.
Also, I live in the Akron area and would gladly attend a dry meetup within a couple hours of home. I can suggest some great places around here, too.
You can do this. I have, for the past 16 years (through AA), and while it’s not easy at first, it has completely changed my life. I admire your honesty and guts. And like a couple people said, you don’t have to count on relapsing–you *can* get it the first time; I was lucky enough to. But if you do relapse–come back, that’s all. I still attend meetings in the room I got sober in, and few people who relapsed have come back to the meeting and been welcomed back–there’s no judgment in AA when the meeting is doing its job right.
You have a wealth of sober friends on this blog. Please include me among them, and draw on us. We’re here for you.
Oh, and love on the animals when you get home. Sobriety helps me to feel more and love better, and you’ve got some recipients right there.
I was wondering about this. I got put off by reading your blog this past year and now it makes sense.
I’ve been where you are and the road is a long one but AA is the way to go. I came…I came to…I came to believe. I like to say I came to AA meetings for 10 years before I came to…and that’s the sad/funny truth.
Cole, If you do go the AA route (20 years sober here) we will have to protect you from the voracious females who will set upon you as soon as you have a few weeks of sobriety (or sooner).
I agree with Joe F. And cap’n mubbers. See a doctor. And don’t worry about the “religious” aspect AA. Once you know you are powerless over alcohol, the rest will work itself out if you just show up with an open mind.
We’re all here for you.
I’ve never drank, but I’ve survived someone who does-heavily-so I know your words are coming from the right place, John, and I join the other commenters in rooting for you to beat this thing.
For those of you who need help with a drinker in your life, al Anon and al Ateen are here.
Good luck. I’m not exactly in the same boat, but similar. I’ve done a few very stupid things recently, and going back a few years. Some involving driving. I’m dialing it back, as I think/hope I caught in in time.
@La Caterina: You might want to point out that he gets to surrender to the voracious females after a year. GIve the man something to hope for, love!
Wow John. I send you much love and support! I seriously could have written the bulk of this post. I have been a high functioning alcoholic for decades myself. I had my “I’m done.” moment a few months ago. It has been tough. I am still drinking but significantly less often and although I have been drunk since it is has been less and less in duration, frequency, and intensity.
It is hard though. You realize just how much of your time involved drinking. Finding other things to do with myself has been an eye-opening challenge…and also kind of fun. I am focused on a process of continuous improvement. I figure if I can end each day a little better than before then I am headed in the right direction right? When I do drink too much I try to use that as an experience to learn from and plan how I can avoid a similar pitfall in the future. It is working slowly but surely. I will take that. At least I know that I am doing better today than I was a month ago. I am okay with that…and so is my liver.
My thoughts are with you. I know you can do it. We’re getting older and wiser Cole. :)
Good for you! I’m sending you so much love. It’s inappropriate, really, how much. My bf will be jealous.
If you’re not quite ready for meetings/therapy, you might try just writing down how many you had the night before. Knowing I’d write about it in the morning was sometimes enough for me to say, No, to one drink. And then eventually another. I still drink too much, but over a few months I’ve gone from drinking seven nights a week to 1 or 2, I feel in large because of how much this increased my mindfullness about my own drinking. Still working on it, and I may need help to get over the final hill, but this was a place to start.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns about this with everyone!
Whatever route you go, good luck.
I’m very late to this thread and can’t say anything that hasn’t been said better by other commenters, but let me add my voice to the chorus of admiration and support for you. A few people noted that just about every one of us has some kind of addiction or similar issue that we need to acknowledge and deal with, so even if we are not all alcoholics I think most of us have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to feel helpless and out of control and even rock bottom. Thank you for being so brutally, painfully honest with yourself and with this virtual community you’ve built. Your willingness to be so honest is a huge compliment to us.
P.S. I think “Big-Wings Tunch” would be an awesome Higher Power, complete with his own logo!
Good for you, Cole. Good for you. I live in a family with a number of “high-functioning” alcoholics and it’s not fun for anyone. (By high functioning, I mean — as you do, too, probably — that they’re not vomiting on the streets, nor passed out on a corner stoop. They have jobs, they do “normal” stuff. But those of us who love them know the “high-functioning” is really a lie.)
Do it. Get help in meat space, though. Lotsa folks here to help but it’s no substitute for warm flesh and bone.
Do it. If you slip and fall, get up again and do it again. You’re worth the effort. Big hugs.
I have been here for the last 10+ years so I am not going anywhere. I will be in your corner brother. I put alcohol down about 22 years ago. Like you it just dawned on me one day that the shit was killing me and I didn’t want to die that way. You will do fine. One day at a time. As cheesy as it sounds that really is what it boils down to. I am just so glad it is drinking that you are quitting. At first I thought you were going to quit blogging and quitting balloon-juice would be harder for me than quitting liquor.
Stay with it.
Good luck sir.
Ahh says fywp
Good for you, John. You deserve a better life.
Just wanted to second the recommendation to check out SMART (self-management and recovery training, I think), aka Rational Recovery.
My father quit drinking about 18 years ago. I was in grad school at the time, but my kid sister was still living at home, and I still can’t bear to think about how bad it must have been for her at the end. When commenters talk about the toll that alcoholism takes on the loved ones of the alcoholic…well, sobriety is the most miraculous gift you have in your keeping to give to the people you love. Nothing could even come close.
When my dad quit, it took several tries, and he did everything that was available to him: detox in the hospital (which was awful, but probably necessary), AA, talk therapy, anti-depressants. That was all necessary as well. But, what really clicked and what he has stayed with for the past 18 years was his SMART group. (He eventually went back to school and became a SMART recovery counselor, in fact.) Keep an open mind and listen to lots of voices, and you will find a path that sustains you, perhaps for the first part of the journey (I think AA is really great for that), or for the rest of your life.
Good thoughts are flowing your way from around the planet, including this little corner of Dallas.
get the help you need. you have a whole lotta people that love you and want you around for a long time.
Howard Beale IV
Before you even think about any kind of rehab, look into the Life Process Program and the works of Stanton Peele and Lance Dodes.
One of AA’s tenants is that you are powerless; nothing can be further from the truth. What alcohol use/abuse is a way of getting out of feeling trapped. You might want to have your GP/Internist prescribe Acamprostate/Baclofen/Naltrexone as you taper down and keep living your day-to-day life. If rehab was so successful, why wo we see so many folks cycle back in and out of facilities?
Kris Benson's Wife
Hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it’s working.
One day at a time, brother
Good luck, John. We’ll be with you every step of the way.
Good luck, John. I’m doing something similar. Two bottles of wine a night, every night, just isn’t healthy and the ability to drink my older brother (who’s a distiller) under the table doesn’t seem as pride-worthy as it once did. Take care.
Good luck. Find a constructive, time-consuming hobby and build some friends around it. Otherwise you’ll get bored and regress.
JGC: good luck.
Have not heard anything recently about your hope to foster a kid in need or two.
Getting the scotch monkey off your back could go a long way towards making that work out better.
You are brave to admit your plan in public.
But we knew that.
Hey John – Long-time reader and infrequent commentator here. I just wanted to wish you the best of luck. I was where you are several years ago, and not drinking is incredibly freeing – being the designated driver all the time is a wonderful feeling. And you should know that going public with your struggle is going to inspire others here to make positive changes to their lives as well. Congratulations, dude.
This sort of reminds me of your story about your gay friend. I don’t think you know how much you inspire others. You are awesome.
Good luck. You are a strong man. You can do it. Lots of people and furry creatures (and the overlapping set of those two groups) love you. This is a very good thing — your body will thank you.
Dammit, I hate getting to these things this late.
Hi, I’m Neddie Jingo, and I’m an alcoholic. I just passed my six months’ anniversary without a drink, which puts me closer in time to your situation than many.
I was a “secret” drinker. Always alone. Hated drunks. Yuck. Wouldn’t want to be around ’em, for any reason. Just me. Alone. Loved my own company. Nobody wittier and better company. Especially after about a half a quart of vodka. Woo. Funny guy.
Can I join the folks who’ve already urged you to do the detox under medical care? I went to my GP, a guy I like and respect very much, and laid my intentions out to him. He gave me a bottle of Diazepam, and told me to plan a quit-weekend, and to take it whenever I felt like having a drink over that time. I followed the plan, and during the weekend, I gobbled the stuff like candy.
The purpose of the drug is to ward off the worst effects of detox — the pink elephants of cartoon lore. That shit really does happen.
This was in February, and I always had a fire going in the den. On Day Two, I was languidly petting our cat on my lap, staring into the fire, when I noticed faces in there. I did enough “experimentation” in my misspent youth to know that if you start to see faces where faces do not belong, you’re in for an interesting night. I can only imagine the horrors I might have seen if I wasn’t pharmaceutically inoculated.
At any rate, I had a pretty mild detox — no rages, no uncontrollable cravings, no suicidal ideation — and came out the other end pretty whole, reasonably happy, and ready to work on myself.
I never contemplated AA. I’m still pretty much an introvert, and not crazy about people — and, as many have already indicated, that godbothering aspect of 12-step programs really rankled. (I do have to say, though, that my intro-level smattering of Buddhism has really helped me. But I’d have to drive 75 miles to find a Buddhist AA group, and that just isn’t necessary. Also, my wife, who was just as bad as me, goes to meetings as often as she can, and it really helps her. Whatever works.)
Here’s what I’ve noticed about sobriety:
1) I like myself more. Sneaking drinks around my teenagers, and getting myself shitfaced before dinner, was a deeply crappy thing to do, and a horrifying example to set, and I’ve asked their forgiveness for it.
2) There really, really is an alcoholic mentality. Even at my most booze-free (like, 4pm on a Wednesday, when I hadn’t had a drink since the night before), I was making incredibly stupid decisions and saying stupid and insensitive things. I don’t expect sobriety to eliminate my stupidity or insensitivity, but boy do I think more clearly now.
3) I remember what I was reading up until the minute I turned out the bedside light. I remember my dreams; they’re incredibly vivid and coherent. I look forward to going to sleep. I wake up feeling great.
4) I like my face in the mirror. I definitely had a drunk’s face — glowing red, huge bags under my eyes. Blotchy, unhealthy, puffy, horrible. That’s gone now. I still look old to me, but it’s the kind of old that doesn’t repel. Healthy old. Wise old.
5) Lower intestinal tract. Nuff sed. You know what I’m talking about.
6) I used to know where every liquor store was on my way to and from work. I planned my routes. I used to rotate them, so I didn’t go to the same one twice in a row. Think about that: I was ashamed of my consumption rate, and I was ashamed to let an ABC store employee — who knows the worst drunks on the planet — know how much I drank. Is that any goddamned way to live?
That is a very, very short list, just the highlights that occur to me over morning coffee. I have a lot more work to do on myself. I have some relationships to repair. I know about the masks I wear when I face people — which ones are truly necessary, and which ones are caused by my hiding from the world.
I really love where I am now, and the idea of reviving all that horror is just not in the cards. Sure, I wish I could have a snifter of brandy before a warm fire on a cold night after a long hike, or a frosty beer while barbecuing a beautiful porterhouse. And maybe, someday, when I’ve truly beaten this, I can. I’m not afraid that if I have one beer, I’ll be right back in the shit, but right now I think I’ll give it a miss.
But I’ve still got some work to do. Now, about the six cigarettes I smoked while typing this…
Good luck, John.
And please, please see a doctor before trying to detox.
Don’t know if you read as far the 187th comment, but good luck to you.
Everyone here is pulling for you. Even the trolls.
Joy in Florida
John, you have 3 fur-covered, live-in support personnel who love you with all their hearts. That has to help when you can have them near you as you go through what you go through.
You do so much good for so many people, many of whom you have never met. Do this good for your self. We are with you.
Best to you, John.
Remember… every step is a journey.
Gotcher back, Cole.
John, I think I’ve commented only once or twice. I come to this site for the humanity and animals, and maybe because my family originally hails from WV (Dad grew up in Morgantown). You’ve got a good heart and a good soul and you’re honest and like so many above have said, we’re all pulling for you.
You brave darling man.
I lost a very dear friend to alcoholism last year, and can tell you what you probably already know: it’s a lousy way to die, and breaks the heart of everyone who loves you.
Another very dear friend successfully quit a few years ago, and it made a huge improvement in his personality and health.
You have an outstanding support system both here and in realspace. Use us all.
Here in Washington we have Schick Shadel, which gets people over the physical addiction part. If Schick, or something like it, is available out there and you can in any way afford it, I recommend it highly. The second person I mentioned – the one who’s still alive – went to Schick and the aversion therapy worked wonders for him. YMMV, but it’s an effective tool if all else fails.
Good fortune to you, John, and much love.
As always, I come to these threads late, but I send so much love, admiration, hope, and support.
What a marvelous thing it is to choose a destination and embark upon a new journey. Here’s hoping even sunlight feels better this morning, John.
Wow! Good for you John. I wish you the best.
As a recovering alcoholic who just celebrated her 21st birthday, I salute you, John. It won’t be easy and it never will be, but each day gets a little better. We are here for you, and that’s what friends do.
Steve, Rosie and Lily will be more important than ever.
Good luck, John. Best of thoughts headed your way.
Welcome! Remember, all you have to do is not drink TODAY. That’s it.
Well I’m REALLY late to this conversation, but I wanted to comment about the weight issue as it relates to booze. I quit drinking in 1984. I was 30 and had just gotten laid off due to a warehouse closure. I was spending my nights closing out First Avenue and then going to parties afterwards. One night while driving home from a party I just decided it was quit drinking or die. It was 2:30am at the corner of Nicollet and Franklin in south Minneapolis. I haven’t had a drink since.
About eight months after I quit drinking, I just started losing weight like crazy without changing any other behaviour. I must have lost 40 pounds in less than two months. The only thing I can think of is that I had a massive deferred metabolism change due to going sober.
If you really are going to do it, good luck. It doesn’t really make life any less painful (drinking is usually a self medication against pain), and it’s pretty easy to find other ways to practice avoidance if that’s an issue (It doesn’t sound like you have horrible problems with this, I admire the way you’re always on top of things when you write about issues). In other words, quitting drinking doesn’t suddenly make your life all sunshine and unicorns, but it has saved my life, and I am very glad I was able to quit. Life for me is much better sober.
Good luck to you John, you are much braver than you give yourself credit for. Tunch is the ceiling cat now and is looking out for you!
Relapse is a normal part of recovery but it is not mandatory. Good luck.
Please take the above advice to do this with medical help. Go to your doctor first.
I have a friend with non alcoholic cirrosis ( and other problems) and it’s not pretty. It takes away quality of life in so many ways. Like not being able to walk more than a few steps at a time. And having to use a scooter at under 60 years of age. Not being able to live alone.
When I quit smoking I found the social routines of smoking were the hardest parts. And some are unavoidable. (I always lit up before cranking the car.) After a year I couldn’t imagine putting a cigarette in my mouth. I wish you good luck.
@gbear: Damn we are on the same exact page. Pete Hamill nails it in “A Drinking Life”:
“But life doesn’t get easier when you walk away from the culture of drink; you simply live it with greater lucidity.””!
I had the rapid weight loss but I was a runner then too. After a few years I started putting some of it back on but it was the pretzels and popcorn.
Late to the thread, but let me add my best-wishes-and-support to you: it’s a tough decision, and you deserve nothing but respect for facing it, and dealing. Good luck, and remember you have all of Balloon Juice backing you up. *
*OK, that last bit might be a bit frightening, but you know what we mean….
Mnemosyne (iPad Mini)
Chiming in from vacation to add my good luck wishes as well. From what I’ve been told by folks who have been successful with recovery, finding a group that you connect with and trust is really important. You will need ongoing support to stay on the wagon, but welcome to life — we ALL need ongoing support to get through it. Anyone who thinks they can make a major change in their life through “willpower” alone is setting themselves up for failure.
@BethanyAnne: Same with my family. Good luck Cole. You have a lot of support from the community.
Haha. I love that. And I’m certain it’s true.
I’ve been staring down an addiction for more than a year now — gave up cigarettes after 20+ years of a pack a day or more in June 2012. It has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever done but SO worth it.
Here’s my mantra, which is very profound and meaningful: Don’t fucking smoke. It was so hard at first, but now it’s much easier.
Rachel in Portland
Good luck to you, brother.
@gbear: Just wanted to add that when I quit I had been drinking at least two cases of beer a week on a regular basis (not counting what I drank at bars) and had no qualms at all about having an open bottle in the car while I drove. I was so lucky that I never got stopped.
There’s nothing I can add to the wisdom of the above comments, Cole. There are a whole bunch of liberal Democrats here rooting for you and I can’t imagine smarter, better, more compassionate folk to have your back. Oh, and the three animals, of course.
Good luck, Cole.
@cob: Love your acronym. Applicable in so many situations. Going to jot it down..
Best wishes on your journey. You have several thousand supporters who will cheer you on and help hold you up during the rough times. Give yourself credit for the bravery it takes to decide you want to change and do something about it!
@gbear: When I quit I got stopped three times in a month. I am totally non-religious but I took that as a sign.
Sorry to get here so late, but I wanted to get in my two cents (even though it’s already been said multiple times). This is a courageous, caring, difficult thing you’re going to do, but you’ve got the best support group in the world–your furbabies, your family and us.
@Heather: Just to clarify what Heather said, SMART (yes, it is Self-Management and Recovery Training) and Rational Recovery began as one entity, but split apart about 15 years ago.
I have also trained to facilitate online meetings for SMART.
The Sunday NYTimes mag had a piece on the Stephen King clan. I was surprised to read that King had serious alcohol and cocain addictions.
With the support of his family, he ended the addictions.
Good luck fighting your own demons; lots of people will do what they can to help you win your battle.
Remarkable post. Big props.
You mention feeling alone, but you are so not alone, John Cole. You are the opposite of being alone. Your mind knows that because you can read all the love and support everyone here feels. You have community in your small town, you have family. You are surounded by support you can take in however you can.
People value your brains, honesty, love of the small, beautiful details of life, and your giant heart. You got big tools for living, so no question you can do this.
May your heart let in all the pixels of care and gratitude here. Also, as you have for other endeavours, take whatever you need from the good, practical advice given by those who have walked this path before you.
Do it for the kids. I come from a family of alcoholics, on my dad’s side. He died in a bar, being shot during a robbery. I was told that my mum and gran had roll him back in a wheelbarrow some nights. With stories like that, and finally meeting his family nearly 20 years later, I knew I made the right choice to not treat drinking like a crutch. Drinking and drugging just make the feelings about problems go away, not the problems themselves and then they cost you. I’m pulling for you.
third of two
Because nothing says “I’m gonna sober up” like a drunken post hammered out at 2 am. How many times have you made this internal promise to yourself?
You want to quit drinking? At your age, nothing but actual, physical rehab will work (90 days in detox…at least). And put yourself on antabuse for a few years.
Meeting List Here is a list of AA meetings in your area. Pick one and go. Tell the people there you are new and they will help you.
Also, think twice before you blog about your problems with substance abuse. Getting sober is a difficult thing and having everyone on the internets know about your struggles isn’t always the best thing for you.
Good Luck John.
Good for you John!!!! You are right – it’s time. My son, who is 43, has been drinking since high school but was also very high functioning. In February he had a stroke in his spine and is paralyzed from the waist down. Horrible. I anticipate a full recovery in time and I don’t know how much drinking had to do with it, but no one needs that kind of wake up call in order to learn that you/we/he need to take care of ourselves.
My thoughts are with you – you can do it!
@third of two: I can’t believe it took so long for someone to say this.
@Blue Neposnet: Little late for that don’t you think?
Big internet hugs, John. You do what you need to do, and know that there is an almost unlimited amount of love, support, and encouragement out there for you. I wish you great success and good health.
Best of success, John. You got guts and you will make it work.
All my best to you, John. And all the support in the world. I’m pulling for you.
God bless and thanks for sharing this with everyone.
I’ll be rooting for you (but in a totally not co-dependent, Al-Anonish way).
My dad was a highly functioning alcoholic for decades. He was able to teach and publish just fine, but the mood swings weren’t good. And it ultimately cost him a leg. Get out before the damage gets really bad.
It’s good that you are preparing for failure. It’s not a linear process, people fail all the time, and failing today doesn’t mean you’ve lost forever. Yes, other people support you, but the most important thing is to back yourself up.
Also, too: http://www.wvmtr.org/
We’re with you John. You know you can depend on the BJ hive mind (and hive heart) for support and understanding.
Hey, all those frat boys deserve to find out somehow.
(OT: Not to throw this thread off track, but curious rumor re: MSNBC.)
I quit drinking 2 years ago for the same reasons you did – with additional health problems.
I drink 2 expensive craft beers every Sunday. It is like a “cheat day” for athletes or dieters. My 2 beers on Sunday make it possible to not drink the rest of the week.
You will be deluged with advice from people you trust. Remember there are many paths to success.
Good luck, best wishes
@NotMax: I saw that, wft-k?
Mike in NC
I once worked with a guy who, in a staff meeting, mentioned that when he left the service, he got dead drunk and stayed drunk for over a year. Then he said he got sober and hadn’t had a drink in years.
Pretty much everybody around the table was impressed by this statement, yet somehow my reaction was to think he was just an imbecile with no control over his behavior.
Mezz (fpa Michael2)
I saw this at 5am with 80 comments; now it’s ballooned to over 200 (oh, no pun intended!). I’m sure that’s a good sign of the wonderful support and sympathy you will have here. I was crushed to hear about Tunch, especially since over the years I’ve been coming here Tunch “action” shots were among my favorite posts. But I hope now you’ll have another guardian angel (even if he’s um . . . too hefty to fly) watching over you as you recover – which you will. I truly wish you the best.
@Mezz (fpa Michael2): 235, dog
Wow. Good luck, man.
We’re with you all the way, John!
John, congratulations for having taken the first step. We are all with you. You can do this, and there’s lots of help out there. One day at a time.
Good luck, baby!
Good decision, Cole. But in addition to support from the AA, consult a physician before trying to quit cold turkey. Meds can help ease the withdrawal symptoms.
Good on you mate. One day at a time.
I drank, gin for me. Cold from the freezer and straight from the bottle. I drank from 6 am to 10 pm and was always smashed. It didn’t start that way but it would have ended that way. Last thing for me was when I passed out and went into convulsions. The wife couldn’t wake me or anything. I knew then I had to quit. For me, I just quit buying it. And, I switched to Cranberry Juice or club soda. One for a bite and the other for a fizz. Worked so far, I quit last October. Been a good boy since and hope to continue. Life goes on but it is slow at first. You will get better if you continue to try. Good Luck Bro.
Just one more thing to add except for a serious best wishes to you:
Deciding to stop drinking in Madison Wisconsin is like deciding to stop eating sweets in Hershey Pennsylvania. ;)
I’m glad you met up with the Veterans For Peace. I’ve always deeply admired those guys. I wish I could be a member even though I was just young enough to not get drafted to go to Nam.
Wow, John. I wish you the best. Don’t shut out your friends and family. A lot of people love and support you- let them. I’ll send good mojo your way, as always.
I’ll just add my quick congrats/encouragement. I’ve been sober 11 years after being a high-functioning alcoholic for decades.
Be careful. Smart people talk themselves out of AA all the time to poor results. AA is weird, there’s more god talk than I sometimes like, and some of the big book thumpers can be a pain in the ass. But there’s a lot of love there, and strength.
If you go AA or NA or any of the 12 step programs, try as big a variety of meetings as you can (I know you’re in a small town, but there should be choices). And keep going back for a while. It takes time to have the brain fog clear and actually hear people and experience the acceptance and humor we have about life.
If you go to meetings that don’t have humor… run to another meeting.
Oh, and I thought I’d find every party on earth boring after giving up booze. Wrong. I have a lot of fun (and I also go to some horrible parties, in which case I leave as soon as gracefully possible).
You can do this, John. A lot of people do. Welcome aboard.
you are brave and true. thanks for your testimony, and good luck.
23 years for me on 8/25. One of the best things I ever did. You will be surprised by how much money you save, how much better you feel.
And yes, drunks are now hilarious to me. I played in a band for years after I quit and it never got old.
You can do it.
I regarded myself as borderline alcoholic – rarely falling down drunk but rarely going to bed sober – for about 20 years.
And then poverty hit.
I literally don’t have the money any more to spend on single malts or weissbiers or margaritas.
And that – not some act of will (although I could still theoretically decide that being drunk is more important than eating or having electricity in my house or indeed a house) – broke the habit of half a lifetime.
I still drink but only rarely and socially and with all the shamed moderation of someone who can’t afford to buy a round himself.
That may not be very helpful but necessity truly is the mother of invention.
Anyway good luck.
You can do it, John. We’re keeping our finger, toes, and eyes crossed for you.
I’m almost all German, and I had pretty much the same experience, except for the getting laid part. :(
Good luck, Mr. Cole.
John Cole, happily the chorus of support and affection for you keeps growing no matter how late one arrives on this thread.
Your self-lacerating candor doesn’t surprise me. Your ability to reach out to others for support doesn’t surprise me. Your strength and commitment to overcome this addiction will not surprise me once you begin to embark on that process.
With the length of this thread and my late arrival, I’ve not read all comments, but there is enormous and hard wisdom in Yatsuno’s observation above (#13). Also, as several others have urged, I’d encourage you to work closely with your primary care physician to address health issues consequent upon this decision. This person(s) may also be able to advise you on other local alcohol detoxification/rehabilitation programs in addition to AA.
This is your struggle, of course. But there is a broad and deep community (on- and offline both) that you have created that is eager to help whenever, however, you need it.
Late to the thread, but couldn’t leave without adding my Good on you JGC. I love how you live in the light.
I’ve been hoping you would make this decision for a long time. It’s been clear (to me, at least, as someone going on 26 years clean and sober) that you needed to stop drinking. I just hoped you’d come to your “I’m tired and I’m done” moment sooner rather than later.
Much, much love and support to you.
You’ll get TONS of well-meaning advice. “Go to AA” “Don’t go to AA – go to this group instead” “Read this” “Watch this video about ” “Take antabuse” “Do aversion therapy at Schick” “You have to go to rehab” “Taper off”
Try not to let it overwhelm you. You’ll find the path that works for you, but it is really freaking hard sometimes to sort through all of the background noise when you are first trying to get sober. Hell, that part (hearing all the advice that gets thrown around) is sometimes hard even now, and I can’t remember the last time I had even a momentary interest in drinking. I love being free of alcohol; life is very sweet.
And that statement is coming from someone who still remembers looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself I was just going to have to die young because there was no way in hell I’d ever stop.
Anyway, people here love you and mean well, though a lot of the time they need to hush up with the specific advice and simply be here for you. If you need something from us, I know you’ll ask. I do hope you keep blogging about it if you find it helpful to do so…you have so much support here.
Given your current tolerance level, the one piece of advice that you really should take is to check in with your doc. Let him/her know exactly how much you’ve been drinking so that they can decide on the best next steps that don’t involve you having a seizure or something =P
Blessings, strength and love to you. You can do this. You deserve to get free.
@third of two:
Dude, people get sober all sorts of ways. Some never go to treatment, some go 5 times, whatever.
I did a 28 day outpatient program, M-F two hours a day after work – that was after decades of very heavy drinking. No detox, certainly not 90 days in treatment (oh, and detox not treatment – detox is the first few days of managed withdrawal to prevent seizures and such).
That was in 2001. I did relapse one more time, but have put together 11 years since then the old fashioned way: weekly AA homegroup meeting (where, over the course of a year we read the entire big book three times with small group discussion), having a sponsor, and having a community of AAs and regular folk who love and support me – and I, them.
Its not complicated. Not easy, either, but then not much of life really is. Its worth it, all the same.
Good for you, John. You’ve a really tough road ahead. You have lots of friends, here, and if you turn part of this blog into “John Gets Well”, you’ll have lots of support.
(And reading through the 200+ comments gives me some hope for humanity.)
You’ve just taken the biggest step a person can take in their life. This was my field. I spent my working life helping people do what you’ve now set out to, training and supervising others, etc. Please feel free to email me, any time day or night, re: any part of it, and I’ll be happy to lend a hand.
Sarah in Brooklyn
John, every time I think I can’t admire you more, you do something like this and I do. I am one thousand percent behind you in whatever way you need. I don’t post here a lot, but this community is one of the best things on the internet, and it’s because of you. Good luck.
PS: I wonder if one of the VFP you talked to was my dad – Jay Wenk, [email protected] vet. I think you’d like him.
Hang in there. You’ve made the right decision. And I second and third the commenters about the weight. It’ll start to come off.
Michael in Kansas
John, excellent choice, please feel free to contact me if you need someone to talk to concerning your decision. I found recovery 8-30-87 and been living the life all these years. The one thing that helped me the most was this, if I drink or use is it going to help me deal with what I am facing. Meetings have always been important and I have had two sponsors in 26 years. I am currently looking for a new sponsor to work through some issues I want to deal with right now. If you want someone to bounce things off of during this crucial first 90 days, you have me email address.
Good on you, mate. Godspeed.
The Moar You Know
Well, I’ve done this dance with a family member before. First: good for you, John. The pictures you have posted of yourself over the last year were not the pictures of a guy who’s going to live too long if you keep on as you have been. Funny to worry about a guy who I’ve never met and likely never will, but I do.
Second: AA is a great tool for getting sober. Over the long haul, it’s actually a pretty shitty tool for staying sober. Contrary to what AA claims, you’ll have to learn how to do that on your own. And it’s hard. But it is doable. My family member has been sober for thirty years as of this past April. I’m grateful for that. She’s mean and shitty even when sober. Add alcohol and she is beyond unbearable. Which brings me to point three:
Third: AA isn’t going to make you a nice guy or make you less depressed or anxious, although there are those who claim that it will. They are wrong. You’ll have to deal with those issues separately – and you will HAVE to deal with them or you’ll be back on the bottle pretty quickly – but at least you’ll have some space to deal with them and not just medicate them into silence. Because as you’re finding out, that shit doesn’t work.
You’re a good guy, John. The world needs good guys right now. I sincerely wish you all the luck in the world. You can do this.
ETA: kdaug had some good advice above. If you’re a heavy drinker, and it does sound like that’s the case, do the initial quit under the supervision of a good doctor, who may send you to a rehab facility. I’d forgotten about that part. kdaug is right. Cold turkey can kill a hardcore drinker.
You just did the absolutely hardest part of getting better. go to meetings. figure out what you have in common with the people who are talking, not how they’re different from you. never give up coffee. and peace. lot’s of folks are pulling for you.
I’ve been there, and now sober for 7 years on Sept 1. There’s been a lot said, so I’ll try to keep it short.
1) As everyone else has said, you need to get sober under medical supervision (I was prescribed Ativan). Twice I ended up in the ER after withdrawal seizures when I was drinking – I’d gone too long without alcohol. It happens without warning. DTs can kill you, etc. This is a big fucking deal.
2) When I sobered up I read everything I could get my hands on about alcoholism. If you have a used bookstore in the area, check it out – mine has a constantly changing supply. Knowledge, from a lot of sources, is a good thing. There are many paths – you’ll find one that works for you.
3) The book with the most impact, by far, was “Seven Weeks to Sobriety” by Joan Matthews Larson. Her son was an alcoholic who committed suicide. After he did, she began an intensive search for answers – why rehab failed him, what solutions might work, etc. Essentially, her premise is that alcoholism is a chemical imbalance in our brain, a sickness, disease, and we get better when that chemical imbalance is made right. Lots of medical evidence suggests she’s correct. The program is essentially supplements (Vit B, fish oil, Eve Primrose oil, etc.) available anywhere. All I know is what she wrote rang true, I saw myself in her words, tried the program, and it worked. Could be because I WANTED it to work, who the hell knows, and I don’t care, but at worst you’ll learn another viewpoint about addiction.
4) On a related note, quitting drinking can cause/exacerbate depression. Many of us drank to self medicate for depression, and taking our drug of choice away has the predicable effect. Be aware of it, if it happens, don’t worry, you can get pharma drugs if needed, and it gets better as your body heals. But you should be aware that it’s a common, perhaps nearly universal, result in the early days. Again, see your doctor!
5) AA is great, I go weekly, but you have to find a group that suits you. The religion thing turned me off at first, but I got over it. It’s not me, but I learned quickly there are many ways to get sober, and to those for whom religion works, I say “Good for you!” and mean it. Whatever it takes is a great thing.
6) You CAN do it. And when you do your biggest regret will be not getting sober sooner.
Sarah in Brooklyn
@Sarah in Brooklyn: That should, of course, be WW2 vet.
Sending lots of love through the intertubes, John. Coming here late, I did read all the comments and this group is amazing and lovely and all with you. You can do this.
AA is a good starting point. It may not be where you end up. But it’s there, and available most everywhere. Just go today and see what happens. But yes, don’t just stop suddenly without medical assistance. As a number of folks have said, the DTs can be fatal.
“Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” – Homer Simpson
Why do people get all sappy about someone stopping drinking?
The man took a drink. The drink took a drink. The drink took the man.
And for variety’s sake —
Comedian Doug Stanhope Rants That Alcoholics Anonymous is a Poorly Constructed Cult!!!and Making Up a GOD of your Own is also a joke…
You can do this. You don’t have to do it alone. Use the resources available to you if you think you should. VA, family, AA, hell even the collection of misfits and cranks on here. One of the hardest parts of giving up any non beneficial habit, be it smoking, drinking or sex with farm animals (for you Montanans out there) is getting to where you WANT to quit. Sounds like you are there. Welcome to your new life.
Good for you, John. Sending best wishes and lots of support through the interwebs. One step at a time. All you have is now and now is a good time to be the person you want to be.
You’re my goddamn hero Cole. Keep up the good work (both personally and on this site!)
And a plug for godless sobriety. I’ve met Jim Christopher and he’s one hoopy frood.
@first time commenter:
I don’t know what it is about those books, but it seems like everyone I know who has successfully stopped smoking swears by his books.
@Maude: I don’t see sappy. I see support. Quitting drinking can evidently be difficult. Difficult things can be easier with support. Why be judgmental? If John has an addiction, he has a medical problem.
John, my wife realized she had to give up her 20 year career in nursing because she kept diverting meds. It’s been 12 years since and she is now in social services working with the mentally ill. She has never looked back.
3 stints at Gateway Rehab, years of NA, in and out patient stuff and you just realize that the pill culture of nursing is like being an alcoholic and trying to have a career as a bar tender.
I hate to say it but smarter BJ folks than me will probably point out that there is some mental health issue that drives the drinking or pills or whatever, not the other way around. So AA / NA is great but don’t consider yourself less of a man if you need to seek some professional counseling and medication as well.
So hang in there and keep us in the loop.
the fake fake al
I am done too. Oy. Health going bad, drinking everyday, costing money, driving when I should not, hungover at work. I used to be more functional, used to be more in control, but lately, its getting worse. Pick a date and stop, then hang on for the ride. Quit before and it was great, felt better, slept so much better, lost weight. Booze just seeps into every part of your life and kills slowly, for me anyway. Will be 50 this year, supposed to do something great for your 50th, so my gift to myself is to stop drinking. It won’t be pretty, Mr Cole, but keep at it.
Wow, I spend a day with the house guest and this happens….
I know you really mean it about quitting, John, or you wouldn’t have announced it to world (and us) here; it’s that open heart that has drawn all your friends, pixelated or meat space, to you. You have worlds of support to get through this, accepting it is probably going to be your toughest hurdle. You’ve already proven you can accept the love of your furbabies. People love you, and you are worthy of their love; let them be there for you.
I come from a long line of alcoholics, so when I felt myself getting sucked that direction by the social scene of my late 20’s, I backed out. Too bad my folks haven’t, aside from being a Fox-watching rageaholic, my dad is also rapidly losing bodily integrity to Type 2 diabetes and yet won’t quit drinking. My younger sister’s alcoholic husband is finally getting clean, but only after dropping his liver function to less than 15% and being told he can’t even be placed on a transplant list until he’s been clean for a year. We all want to live well and happily for as long as we can, and yet so many of us willing ingest things that make that impossible. Good on you for recognizing that, and recognizing that it is time to deal with it.
Somehow this does not surprise me because I felt from your posts on that you tended to drink a lot. You mentioned that you had anxiety. I had panic attacks for many years before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. After being on thyroid medication they disappeared. It might be a good idea to have an endocrinologist check you out. It’s funny how much and in how many ways hormones effect us. A sluggish thyroid slows down metabolism making it almost impossible to lose weight. You don’t want to start out trying lose weight, but having the biological deck stacked against you. Wish you all the best luck in the world and stay strong.
Another lurker (mostly) here, John, with absolute support for you. Your story sounds a lot like mine, though you’re taking the first step earlier than I did. Had my last drink three years ago, and while it didn’t fix everything it certainly was one whopping obstacle removed. And I don’t miss the 25 pounds I dropped. Good on ya, bucko.
Good luck, John. There are a lot of us out here pulling for you.
hedgehog the occasional commenter
Way late to the thread, but co-sign on love, support, and hang in there!
John, here is the good news: if you quit drinking you will not need to go on a diet at the same time. You’ll probably drop 20-30 pounds pretty fast.
You may need a distraction in the beginning. AA works for some, the gym works for others. some people thow themselves into good works. But choose something you can make a rut out of and do every day. The idea is to have different places to be and different thoughts to think as you give up something that has been central to your life. You are trying to burn new pathways in your brain. Find a crutch to help.
Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (Mumphrey, et al.)
Good luck. I’ve always been lucky. Not much of a drinker; nobody in my family ever was. But I’ve seen people who are alcoholics and it looks hard. I have to say, from what I know of you from here, I wouldnt have pegged you as an alcoholic, but then, you’d know that better than I would. But good luck. I guess it’ll be hard sometimes, but it’ll be worth it, too. You’re lucky that you have people near you who care aboout you, and a whole bunch of people you’ve never met in the flest here who care about you, too, and I guess that can only help.
This kind of thing is hard. As I said, I don’t know much about alcoholism, but I’ve had severe ADD my whole life, though I only learned this 3 years ago, and now that I know what’s–for lack of a better word–“wrong” with me, unlearning a whole lifetime’s worth of thinking of myself as an inadequate, incompetent lazy bum is hard fucking work. I guess the path you’re heading down won’t be any less hard. So, again, good luck.
Wow. That’s a hell of a missive. Best of luck to you, John.
Start with AA and see if that works for you. Try a different meeting if the first one doesn’t work out.
I’ll be thinking of you.
Karen in GA
Late to this, but adding my voice to the choir anyway.
You’ll handle this. You’re a fucking German, for chrissake. You’ll get this shit done.
Oh. If you’re like me, you’ll have a shit time sleeping when you abstain. I’d touch base with your doctor about a short term sleep aid, and alcoholics who quit are at a not insignificant risk for DT’s which can be alleviated by a benzodiazopine which may also help with your anxiety.
TL/DR: see your doctor first.
Good on ya! I come from a long line of alcoholics and you’ve made the best decision for the best reason: you’re quitting for YOU. Add me to the list of people you can email to vent how much this fucking sucks and how much you want to crawl back into a bottle of sweet, sweet booze. And I will tell you to breathe and take a walk.
Break a leg, as we say in the theatre. You’ve got a long road ahead, but you won’t be travelling it alone.
Well, I’d love to say I saw THAT coming.
Don’t have time to review all the comments but:
Get to a doctor and get help with detoxing. Stat.
Rehab is another thing, but we don’t want to lose you just when you’ve figured out that you’d like to live to be old.
“No matter how far you’ve gone on the wrong road, turn back.”
Have you considered using a tool like stickK.com?
You can pledge a goal like lose some weight, drink less and track your progress. And for punishment you can have the website make a donation to a charity or anti-charity.
I used this tool to drop about 40 pounds – the weeks I missed my schedule weight I ‘donated’ $25 bucks to some woman hating charity. It was excellent motivation and I only missed 2 weekly goals over 30 weeks. Putting your goals in a public place where we can all follow you and support you have been proven to be very helpful.
Once again – good luck!
I am not a kook
Wow, in before comment #300. Like everybody else, I’m rooting for you. I’m also taking a hard look at myself, so put that in your positive influence column.
Be safe. Don’t feel like you need to blog everything. You don’t owe the peanut gallery here on the blog anything. Shut it down if you have to, take care of yourself first.
Good luck, man.
I’m an old hand at this, John. I’ve been clean and sober since 9/27/1979. I now have to do an arithmetic problem to remember how many years I have. My husband, since 1981. My daughter, since 1971. Her husband, a few more years than she has. We have collectively 100+ years of sobriety between us. Each of us did this in AA. Here’s all you need to do for the first 90 days. Go to a meeting every day, don’t drink in between, and read the Big Book. That last, if you don’t know what it is, you’ll find out.
If there is anything I can do for you, let me know.
I count the day I walked into AA, which I considered the low point of my life at the time, the very best decision I ever made. I thought that what people did in AA was sit around a table and talk each other out of getting that drink they desperately wanted. That’s not it. It’s so much better than that–the first step on a road to a joyful life, and I knew that was what it was within the first half hour. I never knew any happiness before that day, and my life has been getting steadily better since. I now know that what drove me there (and this is different for everyone, so you may not identify here) is an intense, all-consuming self-hatred from which I could not recover as long as I drank. Somewhere around 13 years sober, I realized that I hadn’t hated myself for a very long time. AA is the one thing in life that I know that is completely benign. So, go to meetings, don’t drink in between, and read the Big Book. Let me know if I can help.
Good luck with it John. I’m going through the same thing right now. I have always drank far too much but early last month I lost my life of 22 years to a brain aneurysm.
Talk about falling into a bottle. I’d start on the scotch at 6:00am and keep tossing them back all day till I finally passed out. I realized I was killing myself (which didn’t really sound like a bad idea at the time) so I slowly began to cut back, switched to beer, and just this week gave it all up. Talk about DT’s… I shook like a leaf.
Next I think I’ll try to give up the cigarettes. Baby steps dude….
John, PLEASE see a doctor who understands this and come down easy, you can fuck yourself up cold turkey. Also please pmail me at [email protected]; we are so in the same age, same place, except that I’m a month down the road and have a ton of advice, lots of which comes from research my awesome PharmD wife has done; there are lots of help/rehab things that, to me, are BS, I’d like to help you sort that out. And finally, Naltrexone has been a total miracle drug for me, has made stopping easy! Best of luck, man!
It’s better to be “sappy” than to be a mean-spirited narcissist who just has to post something snide in response to an honest and courageous post by John.
I’ll take the rest of the “saps” around these parts any day over that.
Michael in Kansas
I agree with the Moar you hear, 12 step model recovery works at helping you get clean and sober, the real problem is dealing with life on life’s terms and staying clean and sober. I spent a lot of time working on familial issues and my own abuse of others to make sure I did not go back to the committing suicide on the installment plan. Early in my recovery I went to a meeting everyday for the first year and probably did about that during the second and third years. Remember that it is not a race, staying clean and sober has no destination, it is the journey and it can be one hell of a journey and other time boring as watching grass grow. Here is the anomaly of 12 step recovery, by surrendering to our disease, we defeat it.
Welcome John…many of us are friend of Bill W. Me? Over 25 years…I just turned 50. 90 meetings in 90 days? But just one day at a time. You might give it a try. We tend to think and often say in the recovery community, “there are no coincidences.” I have found sobriety through recovery meetings, the people I’ve met there and I work to never get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, aka HALT. It could have gone into the third generation with me. It didn’t…with my change of action and some grace. I send you peace and warmth at the start of your journey.
You’re a good man, John Cole.
Much love, much peace, bro.
Not a regular commenter–just here to say good luck.
My 20+ year recovered stepdad freely admits he was an asshole during recovery until he started attending al-anon.
An infrequent commentator, and avid reader, you’ve helped keep me sane in the crazy years.
All I can say is good luck.
I never got stopped but sure should have. You can’t be a “functioning” drunk in very many places in this country without driving drunk. My greatest fear was killing someone with my car. Didn’t let that stop me for a long time but that fear was there. Once rode my motorcycle half drunk and stoned. That was not a fun ride.
@lojasmo: How would that be different? I mean, John regularly makes front page posts calling us assholes…OK, MOST of the time we earn that, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.
I work representing many addicts and alcoholics in court for commitments, criminal matters and family law matters. I assist them get to programs that treat their addictions. The VA system has some good programs. There are many good hospital and community based programs as well. AA is a good long term help. But I agree with others up thread, go to your doctor before you change anything. You may need a specialist in detox. You can do this and you will be so happy you took this step! I have seen many successes from people with far far worse addictions than you are dealing with that I never expected to make it but did make it. I am thrilled to hear you are making this decision, John! It is a great day to begin your journey!
Good for you John. Try to plan for replacements for the behavior. Maybe it’s just observing the people drinking (which is frequently hilarious). We got your back.
@third of two:
Does it really matter what the circumstances are when you make the decision?
Everyone uses whatever it takes to make and keep that decision. Is it what you or I did? Can’t speak for you but for me, No.
Does that make it wrong for John? Only he knows but what difference does it make for anyone else?
I just kicked the soapbox back under the table.
This is a good direction, and I am rooting for a renaissance of the Sober Angry Progressive Freedom Bombs John Cole of The Left and less of the Watered Down Milquetoast Obamabot.
Feel free to take it out on us.
Also, try getting a personal trainer who will bitch at you twice a week. You need just as much motivation on the physique as you do on the liver.
I wish you well, and like so many of the BJ community, want to help as much as someone who’s never met in meatspace can.
I’m not an addict myself, but I also recommend what NotMax way up in comment #6 says about the SOS alternative. My few atheist and addict friends who tried AA and similar were thoroughly alienated by the “higher power” concepts, especially when the organizers/sponsors/etc. prescribed prayer as a useful and effective means of dealing with cravings, feeling crappy during detox, brain retraining, etc. One friend said half the group’s talk time was various stories of how prayer wasn’t working, and instead of finding something that did, the participants were kicking themselves for not praying right/hard enough/often enough. Kicking addiction is hard enough without introducing irrational thinking into the mix.
Please take advantage of all of the offers of help from people who have offered, and we’re all rooting for you.
Rosie, Lily & Steve should be very, very proud to have such a brave dad. Let their love help you through this. Let your love for them help you save yourself. I don’t know if this would help, but when I quit smoking after 22 years, there was one idea that made it a lot easier: telling myself I am a non-smoker who doesn’t smoke, rather than thinking of myself as a smoker who is trying to quit. It did a real psychological number on me. Smoking became illogical, so I never wanted to smoke again. Maybe that mindset might help you as you quit, too. All the best.
I applaud your honesty and resolve John Cole. Can’t think of better support system than this community.
Let me give you one piece of advice.
You say you know you will mess up. And here’s the advice: don’t.
Here’s the thing. You’re not a “drink to get drunk and wake up in a pool of vomit” drunk. So you’re going to think that “just one drink” won’t hurt you. And it won’t, physically. But it’ll tell you that you can keep drinking. And you’ll take a couple nights off, just to prove you can, and then you’ll have another drink. And the next night, you’ll think “it’s just *one* drink; heck, that’s actually a bit healthier than being a teetotaler!” so you’ll have another. And the pattern will start again.
Maybe you can look me in the eye, and say, in perfect confidence, that you know I’m wrong. Okay, maybe I am. But this is like how a great many people think they can just stop smoking cigarettes one day. One in a great many are correct; most are completely wrong.
Now, I want to emphasize why I’m giving this advice: it’s because what you have is a habit, and it’s an easy, well fitting habit, and you’ll fall right back into it if you give yourself a chance.
If you really want to put alcohol away, you need to make it forever. And yes, you might fuck up. People do fuck up.
Okay, but – but what you’re like is a diabetic who needs to control his carbohydrate intake. And they fuck up too. But if they slip back into the habit, the disease doesn’t just recur, it gets stronger. So they (for some value of ‘they’ that is not ‘all’ diabetics) need iron clad discipline – “no, I can’t have ‘just one slice’ of pizza, because then I’ll want a second; it’s better not to have the first than to deny the second.”
Listen: I don’t like saying this, because if I were in your shoes, this would make me feel even worse. I’d be thinking “never to just have a nice shot of whiskey, just to appreciate the amazing quality of this particular tipple?” and it would feel awful.
Okay, but I am saying this because you need to think about the stakes. This is your life – no, it’s not going to kill you next year, but it’s going to *rob* you of your life if you let it. Demand your life back.
(You are, of course, under no obligation to take the advice of random weirdos you meet on the internet. But I do hope you will strongly consider this.)
Way^2 late but still wishing you good luck in this. Just keep taking steps, even if some of them are sideways.
This. Detox from alcohol can kill you. Get medical supervision and look into a program that offers meds.
Good luck from a lurker.
I second (third, I think) the recommendation for Allen Carr’s books. I used The Easy Way to Stop Drinking to quit a 20+ year habit. It took a few tries, but finally stuck about five years ago.
There are many different ways to quit, but staying sober is the real challenge. And it’s a challenge for a couple of reasons: one, you’ll be confronted with just how prevalent alcohol is in the culture and how much of your life and social life revolved around drinking; and two, you’ll be forced to confront all the issues you’d been avoiding by drinking.
The danger is that you’ll find something else to cope with if you don’t deal with those issues — for me, that substitute was an eating disorder, which I’ve just dealt with via an outpatient program. I don’t want to fall back into either drinking or bulimia (I’d like to keep my teeth), so I’m finally in a couple of different therapy programs to deal with those underlying issues I never did grapple with. It sucks, I’m on an emotional roller coaster, I have to make myself vulnerable and drop the armor/prickliness, but I’m making progress.
Another book I found that resonated with me was “Drinking: A Love Story” by Caroline Knapp (she also wrote “Pack of Two” about her relationship with her dog, which you might enjoy). It’s from a woman’s point of view, but it’s universal enough that you’ll probably get something out of it.
Also, a website recommendation: thefix.com. Articles and blogs by people in recovery, who tell it like it is. Lots of reviews of various treatment programs and arguments about AA.
Oh — and stock up on zit cream. You will be visited by the Acne Fairy as your system clears out all the crap you’ve put into it.
Came here to post that your animals will help you through, and I see that others have also mentioned this.
You can do it!
I’ve rarely commented at this site, but I read it constantly. I have some experience in this area, and the thing that terrified me when I went to rehab about 6.5 years ago was the thought that I would never have any fun again. I’ve been amazed that life CAN BE fun without booze, and the improvements in both my physical and mental health are astonishing.
Hang in there – you’re doing a great thing, but it may suck for a while.
Wishing you very good fortune in your quest for sobriety, Mr Cole. Take care of yourself.
One of the hard things about not drinking is the time at night. If you have a drink with dinner, it’s eleven before you know it. Without the drink, you have the whole night, which is a blessing and a curse, if you know what I mean.
Good luck, and stick with it.
Well the good news is that John is already an asshole, so this can only work out better.
I’ve got a family of AA members – not many drunks, but a lot of ‘can’t sleep without 2-3 drinks in me’. I’m one of the very few who didn’t go down that path. Every one of them turned out a better person. They got better at their jobs, they lost weight and got healthy, they saved a ton of money and did fun things with it. My grandmother used to take me to AA meetings with her, usually on her anniversaries.
You can do it. You’ll really like the new you.
My wife quit just over a month ago after a similar issue with balancing “maintenance drinking” with occasional full-fleged black-out nights. Quitting was the best thing she’s ever done and I couldn’t be more proud of her, but it’s obviously a struggle.
Ginger Ale and Law and Order episodes with Lenny Briscoe.
The website “Rethink Your Drinking” has helpful information and tools to help people assess their drinking and seek help if needed. http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/default.asp
Best of luck, and by sharing your concerns about your drinking & health, you are helping others as well,
And again I have to say, you’re a mensch John. Changing any part of your life is hard, and I’ve watched the alcoholics in my family struggle and mostly succeed. You can too. Others have given you lots of great advice and you can follow all, or none of it. There are many paths so find the one that works for you (and different ones at different times may be what works for you); but the important thing is to always put one foot in front of the other and keep walking on your path to sobriety.
We all do love you, you know.
This is a very good thing you are doing for yourself (and your family, human and non-). A close relative was also a high functioning alcoholic and she quit years ago and is very glad she did. I know it will be difficult and I wish you all the best. We want to keep you around for the long haul.
As a 61 year old drunk, it was tough. I found a good detox facility who also introduced me to AA, even though I am a practicing anti-theist and atheist. Try a large number of different meetings until you find one that really suits you. I found one that delights in good food and we “break bread” together before a meeting. Life will keep coming at you and you must prevail. August 1st I received my 6 month chip.
Best of luck.
I want to thank you for your blog – I’ve been an avid reader for years, but haven’t posted any comments until now. I wish you the best of luck in making this big lifestyle change. It’ll be tough, but you’ve got a bunch of folks in your corner! Be well!
Paul in KY
Best wishes, John.
John, best of luck to you.
Keep on going. My Dad died from cirrhosis of the liver at 60 and it’s a bad death. You deserve tremendous credit for walking straight up to this and calling it by its name.
Don’t worry about us, we can take it if you’re cranky or pissed off. so much good is going to come to you, simply from making this decision and starting the journey.
The Moar You Know
One last thing from me and then I’ll leave you alone. A lot of good advice on this thread (see your doctor today would be #1).
I’ve never been much of a drinker. As in, a couple of ceremonial/holiday drinks per year. I don’t particularly like alcohol and I can’t stand how even one drink makes me feel an hour later, and that nastiness carries over into the next day. In spite of this, I have a great social life, and people rarely ever ask why I’m slamming down water and Cokes. My answer – and this is always true – is that I’ve got to drive home. If they get shitty about it, which has happened twice in my life (I’m a very tall and fairly muscular guy, so I rarely get shit about anything) I tell them the story about my wonderful family doctor getting killed by a drunk driver. Which is also true.
My point is this: there is such a thing as life without alcohol.
You may go through a lot of this, especially number 2:
but there is life and pets and wonderful, delicious women out there and you don’t need to drink to take part in it. As regards the women, they are never impressed by your drinking prowess (and if they are you want to run away as fast as possible), but I have yet to meet one who is not impressed by a guy who takes care of the girls by staying sober and taking them home safely.
Speaking as an old roadie who had to make the same decision 15 or so years ago: It gets better.
I did it, ain’t had a drink since. Never did AA, and an AA speaker, upon speaking to me in a social setting, reached in his pocket, handed me his 10 year coin and told me I Get It. FWIW. Remember
:AA ain’t for everyone. Oh well. Doesn’t mean you have to dive back into a bottle.
Secret: Don’t drink and never forget how miserable you feel RIGHT now. Keep the memory of this miserable time fresh and green in your mind. That way, you will not grow proud and cocky and slip back into misery.
Look, bubba, life does not get one bit better when you are pissed as a newt. You won’t miss it, eventually. All you do is just don’t drink. Everything folllows on from there.
As you move forward and away from this time and things get better, you will find yourself being the recipient of many blessings, such as the strong arms of others who will lend you that strength, as well as their complete understanding. Blessings come with a price too often not stated:
Blessings need to be kept fresh and sweet. They are very fragile fruit. You keep those blessings fresh and sweet by passing them on. Every day. Every way. As often and as aggressively as you can muster.
John, I do hope for all the best for you in your quest for a new you, sober and happy.
Since you had the cojones to share your first step in this quest with the good and caring people here, I would suggest that you keep all updated as to your progress and HOW you are feeling about things as they arise. Who knows? It might help someone(s) else that reads here to take that next step too, if they can see how the process works. I’m looking forward to following your Road to Recovery (Crosby and Hope, mostly Hope) if you choose to share. Mostly, I’m sending positive vibes your way.
As always, VERY late to the party, but I also wish you the best in your efforts. We’re here for you.
I know how very difficult that was for you to write. It is one thing thinking it but actually coming out and saying it is a whole different matter. I know because I lied, rationalized and denied that I had a drinking problem when deep deep down I knew I was fucked and I had to quit drinking or I was going to be dead by 45. It was’nt easy for me and I fucking hated having to go to AA meetings. Who were these people and why are they all laughing and having great lives? I hated them. You might say I had some anger issues in early sobriety (still do but not nearly as destructive)
I’m not going to tell you that it was easy for me to quit drinking-took me 26 months to get 12 months of sobriety and my first year of sobriety sucked big time. I relapsed plenty and people were taking bets that I wouldn’t make it. I kept at it just to shut those fuckers up! 15 years now and it still amazes me that I don’t drink copius amounts of beer and tequila on a daily basis. John-if you have a friend in your area who is in AA call him or her up and ask to go to a meeting with them. You have many, many people rooting for you. If you relapse, you relapse-so what. That’s why I kept going back to AA meetings. No matter how many times I relapsed those silly drunks always took me back. Good luck to you.
Very proud and excited for you. It won’t be easy. My wife’s side of the family has a few alcoholics in it – it’s been difficult, but they all got help when enough was enough, and they’re better for it.
Tunch would be very proud, and whatever method you choose, this post is such an important step. Thank you for sharing it.
Good luck John :)
I wish you the best. Even though you haven’t met most of us in person, be assured that there are hundreds (if not more) of people out there who are pulling for you.
Congrats on taking the first step by recognizing the problem. The hardest part for me was accepting that I couldn’t stop drinking on my own – I tried, believe me, I tried. I wanted nothing to do with AA – I’m an atheist, I’m not a joiner, blah, blah, blah. As I became more desperate I tried AA a few times and hated it. Finally I ended up there again after rehab and stayed. Next month I’ll have 7 years of sobriety (after 38 years of drinking) and AA has been a big help. Don’t worry about the higher power thing – for me, it’s just the fellowship and support of alcoholics working together. It’s being with other people who get it.
It’s not easy but it’s worth it. To me, sobriety is freedom – no longer being a slave to alcohol, never waking up hung-over, never worrying about what I may have said or done the night before.
Try not to focus on never being able to drink again, just focus on not drinking today. The days add up and eventually you’ll find that life without alcohol is just fine. Better than fine.
@T. Scheisskopf: I only went to one AA meeting and I’ll admit that I did it to try to score points with someone I wanted to date who suggested it might do me some good.
I’m going to break a rule and describe what happened:
There were too many people for a single group so it split into two and my heartthrob made a bee-line for the other group. The group I was in had some folks who were having a very difficult time of things and needed lots of support from the group, which the group provided. It came around to my turn and I admitted that I’d already been completely sober for 10 years and everyone just rolled their eyes. I suddenly felt like my feelings didn’t matter much at all and couldn’t find a way to say why I thought it might be good to be there.
I’ll agree with those above who say that if you’re going to go to AA, make sure you find a group you feel comfortable with, make sure that there is a sense of humor in the group, and make sure they’re cool with non-religionists.
Good for you, John Cole. It won’t be easy, and you have to do it all alone — only YOU can do this. At the same time, you’re not alone. Please keep letting us know how things are going, whether you’re on or off the wagon; you’ll still have my support.
Oh, and one more thing:
Why did I drink? Anxiety, which lead to Major Clinical Depression which lead to self-medication with ETOH. So sayeth the professionals. Amen.
How did I fix that? Appropriate medications, taken with near-religious attention to detail and therapeutic regimens.
At the end of the day, I had to commit to what worked for me and stay the course. I even did some time in a group home. Not very salubrious surroundings, all in all, but I did cook and taught them guys how to really eat well and enjoy it.
You will find your path. Just commit to not drinking and keep not drinking. The Tao of Sobriety will find you.
One more thing: Not drinking is what you do. Sobriety is what others see in you. You cannot aspire and obtain sobriety and know it in yourself. Not unlike Satori.
….which was part of the reason my buddy thought being part of a group would be good for me. I really did need to be in a place where I could talk about things that I had bottled up.
This isn’t a struggle I have had personally, so I can’t say that I understand or know what you’re going through.
But you have my support – and there are plenty here who DO understand and know.
You have a lot of people pulling for you.
Wow … what a brave post, and what awesome, supportive comments.
i celebrated another year of sobriety on May 27 (my date was 5/27/19-coughsomething) and it’s the best thing i ever did for myself. I’d be dead for sure, the path i was heading down.
For the early years, AA worked for me. My first sponsor was a confirmed atheist so don’t worry about the god-botherers. His advice was, AA is like a bar, yanno, there’s just some bars you don’t feel comfortable in but other bars feel just like home. Look for a meeting like that.
And my last decade of sobriety isn’t as hard as your first day. or your first three days, or your first week. It gets easier. you have a great group here to support you who wishes you all the best.
My name is Jenny Krieger and I am an alcoholic, too. Bottom line, just don’t drink. It took me years to get to that point. Good luck.
I was already in therapy when I came to the realization. I’ve met a lot of people for whom AA worked, but I didn’t go that route. I have heard good things about SOS. Having support helps, and whatever works for you is good. It’s OK to shop around for a therapist or a group. I wish you all the best and when you need to vent, I’ll read.
Ridiculously late to the thread, but I can’t not post and wish Cole the best. I’ve got no magic bullets, but that’s fine. None exist. You can do it, Cole.
Good on you, John Cole. Both for recognizing it was time to change and for putting it out there to hold yourself accountable.
As an adult child of an addict, all I can say is that living with addiction is a terrible thing. It isn’t living, it’s existing. I wish my mom would take this step. I will root for you from the sidelines and send you all the white light I can muster.
May the will be with you today as it was last night.
Two people very close to me have successfully accomplished what you want to do. While never much a drinker myself, I completely stopped in support of one of them. She has been sober for over 12 years now. She, in turn, has helped her dad to do the same. Sadly, for her dad, it was a bit too late to prevent the onset of some serious illnesses.
Some folks up-thread mention personality changes. I have noticed changes in both of these people, but these changes were only temporary. They both regained their full selves (even better selves) after what seemed to be a short adjustment period. Ironically, her dad has now become something of an inspiration to me as he seizes each and every day as best he can in spite of the horrible medical difficulties he had to endure.
This is far from impossible. You can do it, too. Sooner the better.
I too, wish to congratulate you on having the self awareness to know when you have a problem and the character to do something about it. I read this blog every day, though I rarely comment, and I am very happy you are making the kind of decisions that will keep you around for a long time.
A couple of suggestions:
1) At some point, try probiotics. I think there may be a connection between cravings and the bacteria which have populated one’s gut. I know my own cravings for sugar have been much reduced by eating unpasteurized cultured foods like raw sauerkraut and coconut kefir (from the health food store). I’ve heard alcohol and sugar have similar metabolic effects.
2) Also, if one can address the emotional component to the addiction that ought to help. The best technique I’ve found for this (not to replace the work of a trained psychologist) is EFT tapping. I read a book called The EFT Manual by Gary Craig, and it described a quick series of points on the face and chest one can tap to relieve messy emotional reactions. I’ve been using it to try and relieve my social anxiety. It works!
Please ignore this if suggestions are unwelcome at this time. Obviously, the important thing is the decision. The path to achieving it will open as one looks.
For what it’s worth (from someone with a very heavy-drinking brother who quit cold-turkey last fall and as a lighter but regular drinker suffering from GAD and a short depressive period who quit a couple of months ago), you can do this.
But I would suggest that you see a practitioner who can prescribe Alprazolam for your anxiety, at least for the near term. It will make quitting and avoiding relapse much more feasible.
Best of luck.
PS, I started commenting and eventually blogging because of Esmay (he was a drunken prick at the time).
Just home after a couple of days squeezed into airliner seats.
Belatedly joining in the chorus of approval.
There is a very useful saying about alcoholism:
If you think you may have a problem, you do.
Doug Milhous J
Guess I might as well be the closer on this thread, which I’ve been following off and on all day.
My dad went to AA when he was in his 40s. He and my mom had 40 more years together that they would not have otherwise had, and they died within 3 weeks of each other.
Good luck, John. It will be difficult at times but you will not regret it.
Singing Truth to Power
John, you are so loved – you have this huge cheering section out here. I hope you can take all the help there is, and keep us in mind, all of us caring greatly about you (except for the real cranks, and they don’t count for anything).
From the few not-long-enough conversations I had with Vets for Peace guys this week, they are a pretty amazing bunch, and maybe another good source of support for you. I look forward to hearing of many good days for you after you’ve gone through the work and pain of getting clear – peace.
We’re behind you, John.
Lots of support!
Mr. Cole, as a fellow hillbilly from the southern part of the state, I say good luck to you. I tried NA when the need to stop the cocaine became clear. Worked for some just not for me. I just quit. Stone cold. I will admit that during that time I was an extremely unpleasant person to be around. I had a couple of good friends who kept watch on me. I tend to be a loner, so their help was invaluable. That was the hard part for me, finding something to fill the empty spaces as they say. Been without for 2 years now and the only regret I have is all the time that I wasted. Good luck to you, you will see this through, of that I have no doubt.
Best of luck, and may the FSM be with you. Sometimes, there are worse things than being miserable. Hang in there, and we’ll hang in with you hanging in there.
Very, very late to thread but as one who values this blog and you, John, I want to wish you the best in your new life.
I wish you great success, John. I hope you do take some of the advice here and check in with your doctor. As an anxiety sufferer, if I don’t take a long walk every day, I can’t sleep at night. But when the anxiety was greatest, it took medication and some cognitive behavioral tricks before I could get it under control.
This is only my second time posting on this blog. I love reading the things that come through here and I have found lots of things to love about all of the people who post. You and I have never met, and we may never, but you have brought an amazing amount of information, joy and, yes, dare I say it, love into my life. I follow your posts about your animals with great glee. I still grieve for your loss of your buddy, Tunch. Don’t worry, I am not a stalker chick, I am married, and have a wonderful family, but here, on Balloon Juice, I’ve found other people who make my day. I have never struggled with chemical abuse, but I know lots of other folks who have…I was in the theatre for a long time. Healing takes a lifetime. Every single day is about not doing the thing you used to do. I wish you all the best, and like all of us who rarely if ever post, please know that we have your back. We are all pulling for you. We all wish you well. We all hope you come through this. People you have never met, love what you do and stand by you. Thank you for everything you have given to us. Now, give something back to yourself. Be safe, and get sober.
Hey John, my best wishes for your sobriety program.
I mostly lurk here (hence my handle’s name) but I read your blog religiously every morning.
You’re a good guy, JC. You are not afraid of displaying your humanity and that’s one of the reasons that I love your blog.
Make Tunch proud. And remember that three four-footed furry, lovely, creatures depend on you for their well-being.
Best luck on your endeavor. It’s going to be a difficult, long, road, but you’ll make it.
I completely agree with you. John, I too have been on the road you are to embark upon. The fact that you so many friends and family who care will go a very long way to helping you to sobriety.
Good on you, John. Rooting for you.
Best of luck to you, and I wish you well. Good for you for taking that big first step. May the HP of your choosing be with you.
John, you don’t know me and I don’t know you, but I’ve been a follower/friend for over a decade. I’ve commented here a couple of times, I’ve lauded your ‘turn from the dark side’ and linked you a whole bunch. We are not ‘friends’, but I’m looking to you now as if we are.
I ‘got’ the same malaise. The sarcastic apathy, the humor that says I’m a be okay, the warm attachment to the world based on how many beers I’ve had. (Yeah, I know that beer isn’t as cool as scotch.) I wake up every morning with a slightly upset stomach, rather successfully get through my day, and come home to crack another beer. I’m beginning to feel that the term “high-functioning” is a lie. When I ‘function’ for everyone else, it’s pretty good. For myself? Not so much.
I have no intention of obligating you to anything; I am not a stalker. I’m just someone else who is tired, tired beyond belief. The only things I can find to care deeply about are music, my wife and my pets, and frankly, I cried for two days after your post concerning Tunch. This is not right. I am not right. No matter how many beers I have, or tequila or scotch or vodak, I get that this is not right. Then I come here and read this from you.
I seriously hope you can pull yourself back from whatever brink you find yourself on; that will give me hope that I can as well. Best of luck to you, John Cole.
If you have no experience with alcohol addition I would suggest you keep your nose out of here.
John – this you can do! Ballast – that is what the BJ community will be for you.
John – this you can do! Ballast – that is what the BJ community will be for you.
Like many, I’m way late to this too, but I really wanted to add my own words of support to all the great things others have been saying. I wish you the best in this, and I am sure it will be an amazing experience for you. Well… ok… in retrospect it will be amazing. As you go along, it will be hard and challenging, but I’m pretty sure it will be one of the more worthwhile things you do. (The others being adopting all your lovely and wonderful pets and being such a great all around guy hosting this blog, and likely many I cannot think of now when I’m tired. :) I’m very happy for you and I wish you all the strength in the world. Looking at the number of comments here, I’d say we all love you and want you to succeed totally. :) Please keep us informed as you feel you can. There seems to be no lack of support.
I have been privileged to meet you in person, John Cole, at the Austin meet-up. That felt like a big step in your evolution from being closed-up inside to being open and free. Like the others who have posted here, I marvel at the intensity of emotions you elicit from your readership. (Really, does any other blogger have so many middle-aged married women stalking him? Just asking.)
As goblue72 said a few hundred posts above, “Most people in the media . . . wear some form of mask, that they rarely let slip. But you seem continually driven to rip the mask off and be…human. And it’s fricking awesome.” Maybe that’s the best explanation for why so many of us do, in fact, love you. You are loveable.
I haven’t seen anyone mention an obvious benefit of cutting out alcohol– you are going to save A TON of money. And although some of that may need to go to therapy, new yoga clothes (;->), or acne medicine, you should still have plenty left over to give to animal rescue organizations. And that would be a very, very good thing.
Godspeed to you, and congratulations on taking the first step. We’ve got your back.
pseudonymous in nc
Be well, John. You’ve got a lot of people here to look out for you.
Sister Inspired Revolver of Freedom
Blessed Be, Perfect Love, Perfect Trust, and, because I am a Believer, I will ask the Goddess and the God to send you the help and support you need. Come to think of it, they already have, by showing you all the support you already have. You did an amazing thing just by making this decision. I know you can do this. I have faith in you.
You have to make the decision. That is the first step. The second step and beyond depends on you and your personality, likes and dislikes.
You can make that decision when ever you want or feel the need. It’s an individual thing. One day you will just know.
And that’s the decision. One day you will know. It maybe some outside thing, it may be that you’ve had enough, it may be that you never know why but that’s the day, the decision.
That is the lamest excuse ever. “You don’t know how I feel or what I’m talking about, Fuck You!”
Any one can lend a shoulder, an ear and may be able to give advice about being human. Most people who drink have an underlying problem that needs work, that non drunk may just have your key. You don’t want that, OK but you are the one that loses. Me I take help from anyone who is willing to give it when I need it. YMMV.
@Ruckus: I don’t think it is a bad idea for people who who don’t have experience with the issue to stay clear of offering advice. Offering support is a different matter.
John, congratulations! Thank you for your openness and honesty as well. I love you; we love you.
This alcoholic just began his 11th year of sobriety. John, like you I knew I had a problem with alcohol the last few years. Like you, I found that a very difficult thing to coexist with. You know you’re doing the wrong thing, spiritually and physically, night after day after night after day. The great news is that it gets better from here, it really does.
Find the path to sobriety that works for you. I found AA, and the rooms helped me maintain physical sobriety, but I was still a drunk emotionally. Eight years in, I had a real emotional crisis. Actually working a program and working with a sponsor helped me get better again; so did time. Thank God I never drank. There is no one way to stay sober, but getting plenty of caring, experienced support sure increases your odds.
John S Roszel
From someone who’s been there and done that and who’s still struggling I wish you the very best.
I used to think that. But over the years I came to realize that people may have the key and not even know it. Like Higgs, John is asking for help. He may not and in fact probably would not admit that but we all are asking for help when we are in trouble and we tell someone. I do think that it is less likely that someone will be able to understand what it’s like to be a addict but that really doesn’t make them unable to understand why someone would drink in the first place. There are many different reasons why someone uses excessively, for me personally I’m willing to listen to pretty much any one who can explain it except someone who tells me my problem is gods will. That’s where I draw the line. Your line may be different.
Number one, the key point of ALL addiction are the feelings that drive you to whatever you use to cope with that addiction.
Number two, I wasn’t an alcoholic, neither was my direct family. But when I called a friend and spoke about my need to please and tiptoe through my mother’s rages and never being able to say no and being terrified every time anyone was angry at me and cringing as if I was going to be hit (like I was all the time growing up) they said that I should try Al-Anon. That was when I found out that my great grandfather wasn’t just an alcoholic, he was a gambler and abandoned his family. Which shaped my grandmother and shaped my mother and her other two daughters. No alcoholism but my mother went to OA and food, especially sugar, is my poison as well. My mom’s sister and other sister also are compulsive overeaters. So don’t say that if we have no experience with alcohol we should STFU.
And John, sweetie. I was in Al-Anon for two years, it helped me immensely. Whenever you feel that your life is out of control – and I believe that all addicts are control freaks – just say the Serenity Prayer. I always do.
G-d grant me the Serenity.
To accept the things I cannot change.
The courage the change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference.
We’re all routing for you!
Tell her you’re taking her to dinner. and then stick around and have the first session be a father/daughter thing. No fraud/foul, ‘cuz you get to talk to her masks-off with an audience where she can’t hide behind the napkin-dispenser. That see-saw teenage shit where we’re both terrified of our parents — even when there’s no reason to be — and madly in love with them in all the same moments — maybe couples therapy is worse, but I can’t really imagine how.
But you can’t guilt her, not even for a nanosecond; in a perverse way it has to be all about how tired and scared and on the edge you are. Treat her like the grownup she’s almost on the edge of becoming, not like the fuck up kid you’re secretly afraid she’ll always be.
If you have no experience with alcohol addition I would suggest you keep your nose out of here.
Most commenters here seem to have considerable experience in adding alcohol.
One thing I was unprepared for when I took my early retirement:
Alcohol is the ONLY drug for which people give you shit when you stop using it.
And it’s really obnoxious…
You state you are a very high functioning alcoholic. You have not hit your bottom *yet* it sounds like to me.
However, going to AA is a good idea as you will see and hear others and hopefully you will realize how much the booze can and will kill you.
I too come from a family of alcoholics. I gave it up myself in 1986 and have not gone back to it thank god for that. I had no help to pay for rehab. so I went to AA myself and managed to quit for good.
Best of luck to you as you search for sobriety. It is a lot better than it is made out to be, this much I can guarantee.
john, i use a medication, baclofen, for pain and muscle tension associated with my arthritis, researching the drug i found many arrticles referring to a physician who used baclofen while kicking booze. he found that the anxiety and obsession for a drink was greatly lessened and he was able to then deal with simply not drinking. perhaps this therapy will aid you in kicking your habit. (mine is smoking) good luck and god bless
John, you never cease to impress me with your openness and honesty even if sometimes I disagree completely with what you are saying. Good luck to you on your recovery. You have a huge support system, starting with your animals to your family and friends IRL and ending with thousands of anonymous people on the intertubez with funny sounding handles.
All you can deal with is now. Just take care of today.
By stringing together days in this way, I have been alcohol free for over 20 years. Let’s see, make that 28 years come September. I did not have my fog cleared up in time to get an actual day, I just have a sobriety month.
And, for me, tobacco was tougher. I could not drop nicotine until I was sober for a while. I did not become a non-smoker for about 7 years. Having someone tell me that she did not smoke for 8 years before she became a non-smoker helped me as much as anything anyone said to me.