Magazine

From the April 2015 magazine.

Out of the foxhole

After his pink cloud went away challenges hit, and isolation led him down a tunnel of white-knuckling pain

I got sober in March 1991, five days after my 23rd birthday. I still remember sitting at a bar in Portland, Maine, drinking that final gin and tonic. I had just come back from visiting my family in New Mexico, and it had gone as it always did—with lots of drinking. In other words, I felt sick and stuck.

I am what’s called a back-door drunk. I had been attending Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) meetings for two years before I got sober. After almost killing myself in a blackout in front of my friends, I began to think I might have a problem. Not willing to give up alcohol, I did some controlled drinking for two years and attended ACOA meetings. I worked the ACOA Twelve Steps with my therapist. I attended meetings regularly and a local roundup. People nodded when I shared. I had close friends for the first time. Still, I continued to feel lonely and isolated. Everything that happened to me was everyone else’s fault. I was difficult, demanding, unreasonable and angry. I still prayed like I was in a foxhole. I couldn’t manage my life; I always needed help. I had been homeless a couple times, had trouble at work and could not pay my bills. I was academically capable, but unable to get beyond my GED and six weeks of training as a certified nursing assistant. After two years like this, I was still in crisis, still putting the blame on everyone, still choosing the chemical solution.

-- Patrick D.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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