From the April 2012 magazine.

April 2012: No More Breath Mints

AA helped him remove the liquor smell and become a show-up son

It was June 1993, three years before my uncontrolled drinking and driving caused what I hope is my last accident and DUI. As 1993 began, I had accumulated four DUIs over 11 years. Then I got my fifth one. It was my first daytime DUI, which I thought of as a fluke. A sane person would have stopped drinking and driving, but I continued doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

I had a good job that paid very well. I was in my early 40s. Since a relationship had ended two years previously, I was living with my parents, free of rent and with no real responsibilities. Dad was 63 years old and his heart was weakening. Congestive heart failure shortened his time at home, increasing his time in the hospital. It was my habit to leave work each weekday at 7 p.m., stop by the popular happy hour bar at the local hotel for one or two drinks (or one or two hours) before driving home. I always had another drink or two from the bottle of liqueur under my car seat. I would eat a late dinner on top of the alcohol before falling into bed for too few hours of rest before the 6 a.m. alarm. Many nights my “rest” would have been described as “passed out” if it had taken place anywhere other than my bed. Somehow, being in bed legitimized it in my mind.

-- Clayton C.

Atlanta, Georgia

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