From the October 2010 magazine.

Garden variety

Addicted to alcohol, a waitress keeps hoping that someday something will change

THE best way to celebrate an anniversary is to share experience, strength, and hope. I would like to begin by saying that I am a garden-variety alcoholic. I have the obsession of the mind and the allergy of the body. The first time I picked up a drink I blacked out. I was in grade 9, 12 years old, going to a concert. My friend had brought a "mixed drink"--she had gone to her parents' liquor cabinet and emptied little bits of alcohol from each bottle into a container of her own. We added soda from our local convenience store, and next thing I knew, we were sitting on a bench at our local train station, passing a large cup of vile-tasting toxic booze. Down the line it went; we each took a sip and passed it along.

The funny thing was, I didn't like it. I didn't say, "I'm going to do this again!" I felt out of control. The concert was full of loud, crazy teenagers. I was only 12, a little drunk and really scared. I don't know when the blackout started. I know I got home from downtown Vancouver by myself, late at night. Not the safest thing for an adolescent girl. That wasn't the first time that I put myself in danger from drinking. I was always staggering around wasted, thinking that nothing bad could ever happen to me.

-- SARA S.

Vancouver, British Columbia

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