My name is Doug. I am an alcoholic. My name is but a label. I had no say in choosing it. My alcoholism defines me and tells me who I am. I am not an alcoholic because I drank too much, but I did drink too much because I am alcoholic. I know today that I was predestined to be alcoholic and the indications were there from a very early age. My story begins as a preschool child. I set a fire and had a hiding for it. I was about three or four. I resented my father interfering with my experiment. This cannot be an accurate recollection at that age, but the resentment sat for fifty years.
I had to be moved from my infant's school aged five. I did not fit in with the other kids. The same applied at my new school too. I did not get on with my teachers either and that carried through to junior and grammar schools, where I failed spectacularly. By the age of twelve I was a loner with no real friends. I was the usual suspect for trouble and was contemplating suicide. At thirteen I found beer. Two matters are worthy of note. Firstly that first drink is a life memory. Secondly, it blew the laces out of my shoes. I lit up like I had finally found the elixir that allowed me to function as others did. I was able to connect with people and be part of the scene. This reaction does not occur in non-alcoholics. I was more or less drinking on a daily basis from the start and my drinking career went downhill very quickly. Trouble arrived from the police at seventeen, hospitalisation in a mental ward aged twenty one or two. I found AA at age twenty six. I had a slip after eight years when I lost faith in AA and after a ten year sobriety, slipped again. This time trying to go it alone. At that time I was not aware that there are different types of alcoholic and I am of the hopeless type. Some alcoholics hit the buffers with a serious scare and they quit drinking. For alcoholics like me, I will always, without fail, return to drinking. For drinkers of my type a spiritual solution is the only solution in order to survive.
There are several things that make me an alcoholic. The three principal ones are the obsession, the craving after the first drink and drinking to oblivion. The obsession makes my mind perform a neat trick. I convince myself that what happened last time will not happen again, that I am in control and a few drinks will not hurt me. Indeed they will make me feel better. When I take a drink I am overtaken by an irresistible craving which continues until my mind turns off in a black out. The resulting oblivion means I am not consciously able to control or predict what happens next. Booze was my solution to feeling restless, irritable and discontent, which is a posh way of saying I could not live in my own skin without alcoholic medication. In addition to this I could not follow the rules. I went in through the out door, lost patience in queues and it was me who walked on the grass. I would enthuse about a new project and quickly become bored with it, then discard it for good. I could not follow through to completion. I am a hopeless alcoholic, for whom the future seemed to be a wet brain and a death unloved, unwanted and unmissed.
There is a solution. The good news is for any unhappy drinker of my type, the programme of AA replaces the alcohol and fixes the need to drink. I can and do connect with the world today. I am recovered from that hopeless state of mind and body. The solution is very simple and all I need is a willingness to accept inwardly that I am powerless over alcohol and cannot cope with life on life's terms; that no one can relieve those symptoms, and that my concept of a power greater than me can and will. Then I am ready to take the steps. I made a list of all my resentments and identified the character defects which were associated with keeping them alive in my mind. Then let go of them all. There are nine steps of action to embark upon and with the help of a sponsor and the basic text, Alcoholics Anonymous, the drink problem was relieved. It just went away and I do not think of taking a drink at all. There was no effort on my part, it just happened as a result of the steps. Keeping a conscious contact with the world keeps that spiritual awakening alive on a daily basis. It is simple. It works. It is wonderful. I have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence that I previously only dreamed of in small part. My faith in this programme assures me that the best is yet to come.
Doug A, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth