From the September 2010 magazine.

MY EXCUSE

Drinking eased his cerebral palsy symptoms, but drove away his friends

I WAS born with cerebral palsy. My cerebral palsy affected my speech and my ability to walk. I talk more slowly than most people, and I shake a lot, so it takes me longer to walk from place to place. I have a very close family, and many relatives and good friends live close to my parents' home where I grew up, so I was always surrounded by people who loved me. They did a lot to help me not feel different. As a kid I went to special schools and had friends at those schools, but still, most of my social contacts were family and neighbors, and after I graduated from high school I wanted to have some friends of my own.

I started going out to local taverns to be part of a group and one of the guys, and I made some bar friends. I also found that I didn't shake as much after having a couple of drinks and that made me want to drink more often. I began drinking more and more, and socializing became less and less important. Finally, there came the day when I drank bacause I had to drink and it didn't matter if there were other people there or not, or whether it made me shakes less or not. When I drank I felt sorry for myself because of my disability, and the more I drank the worse my self-pity got, so nobody wanted to be around me anyway.

-- DALE K.

McKeesport, Penn.

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