From the December 2013 magazine.

December 2013: Christmas in a bar

The call to come home pierced his empty soul. It was from his 12-year-old son

I drank socially until I was 9 years old. I sipped the beers of adults at parties and enjoyed small tastes of my mom’s whiskey sours—they were liquid candy! Alcohol made me feel a part of; but mostly I just liked the effect.

At age 9, I made that conscious decision to get drunk: I slipped through the jail bars securing the room that “protected” my father’s wine and liquor from his four resourceful sons. Once in the room, my friend and I were unable to uncork the wine bottle we chose. With a nail, I drilled a small hole through the cork so that I was able to suck out the contents. My friend barely got a sip. In short order, I ended up in the hospital in my tiny little town in Virginia. The perplexed doctors smelled alcohol but couldn’t believe this little kid was drunk (they probably thought it was my parents).

-- Mike H.

El Cajon, California

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