From the February 2010 magazine.

No escape

Drinking for relief stops working for this bar-hopping mother of two

The first time I drank I liked it very much, so much that I'd do it again and again for the next 25 years. I started out drinking on the weekends, then sometimes during the week. I had two children and I stopped for a few years. But I resumed my drinking and fell in love with it all over again. I felt like I was finally finding my happiness in life. It made my problems seem less like problems. It made me feel stronger, more courageous. It even made me feel smarter than everyone else. Vodka was always there for me when I needed a pick-up or an escape. I always had time for drinking. It kept me sane. Other people just didn't understand that it was a release. The world they lived in must have been boring, not like the fun world I was living in, the real world.

About 10 years ago I started drinking heavily. I was drinking 12 hours at a time. Many days, by noon it was game on, and I was free again. I stayed out of trouble most of the time. I was always careful when I drove drunk, never speeding or doing something stupid like taking my eyes off the road. I was a safe drunk. My relationship with my boyfriend suffered a bit, but we had good times and tons of laughs, too. We saw lots of the open road together.

-- SUE N.

Menomonee Falls, Wis.

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