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Tough Times

Sobriety and fellow AAs helped him to face life's challenges

Alcohol was a big part of my life growing up. When I was a baby, teething, my mom would rub whiskey on my gums. This was a doctor-recommended treatment in the 1950s. My personal theory is that this was when I developed my love of alcohol. When I was a few years older, I was served wine mixed with ginger ale at Sunday dinner, and always tried to get more. My parents kept a well-stocked bar in the house and there was always beer in the refrigerator. They had cocktails every evening and entertained regularly, so I was constantly exposed to drinking.

I spent my formative years in Scranton, Pa.—well know for the TV show "Office," coal mines and a bar on every corner. I felt early on that drinking and smoking cigarettes were a way to behave like a grown-up. Unfortunately, I didn't wait until I was an adult to start trying to act like one. I was not what anyone would call normal. My mother had died of cancer when I was four, and my father married another woman three years later. I hated his second wife and felt constantly angry and unloved. At around the age of 13, I had my first time at getting a "buzz" off of beer. Some of my neighborhood friends had gotten a hold of a case and I drank three bottles. Well, at that point I was feeling very grown-up and I remember thinking how great everything was, forgotten were my resentments and I was angry no more. I was hooked from the start!

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