From the April 2014 magazine.

To Die in Albuquerque

A young woman relapses and heads west to finish the job—then one day the phone rings

By the time I made my first call to AA, I couldn’t remember when I’d had my last solid meal. I tried to kill myself with a bottle of aspirin washed down with vodka. I threw up bile and booze all night, and I had burned up my mattress with a lit cigarette when I passed out. I was only 15 and thought that I was too young to be an alcoholic. My friends disagreed. The woman who answered the AA hotline spoke deliberately and clearly, but I barely remember what she said. I do remember she told me that I had a choice, that I did not ever have to drink again—if I wanted to stop.

After I got off the phone, I had a hot meal, got some rest, and I felt better. I tried to control my drinking for another year and a half. Then I hit rock bottom. I had been kicked out of my mother’s house and had been staying here and there. Two men raped me during that time. Afterward, I thought I might be pregnant so I asked my mom for money for a pregnancy test. I took the cash she gave me and bought booze instead.

-- Rhonda Z.,

Eugene, Oregon

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