From the June 2011 magazine.

The Miracles of Recovery

A sober man recounts his experiences in repairing relationships with his family after the ravages of alcohol

In the early winter of 1990, I was in the midst of yet another bender, one that had lasted just over a year. I didn't drink everyday, but all I needed was a reason, and I'd hit the road running. Things had definitely gotten worse. In the old days, back when I was in my early 20s, I could go out on the town without too much concern for my friends or family. In my eyes, I wasn't hurting anyone. I had survived much: wrecked cars, multiple day blackouts, and more than the occasional hospital stay for one traumatic injury or another. In the past, when such occurrences became too frequent, I was able to put down the drink. I was really good at stopping, but really bad at staying stopped.

Before this bender, I had stopped drinking for over a year as a result of a blackout bender that had left me unconscious for 17 days in a hospital in Morristown, NJ. The police report reads that I tried to jump between two levels of a hotel parking garage and didn't make it, falling 50 feet. My dad left his job in Baltimore to be by my bedside. No one was sure if I would survive. This was not the first time. Believe it or not, I still wasn't clear on how my drinking was hurting people around me. I come from a big family with 11 siblings and I made a commitment to some of them that I would not drink or use drugs for a year. Again, I just thought I had survived another one and that I could take care of it.

-- John Z.

Baltimore, Maryland

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