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May 7, 2021

Introspection of a Recovering Alcoholic: How 2 Near-Death Experiences Saved my Life. 

Alcohol is widely accepted in our society.

We see it on TV and in movies—with some shows being dedicated to showcasing alcoholism as a glorified lifestyle. We all know that this is not the case. It’s also deemed completely normal by some of our family and peers.

My relationship with alcohol was always rocky. From the feelings of just wanting one drink to loosen up for a gig to having eight beers before a gig and then playing some sloppy music.

Did my genetics predispose me to the burden of alcoholism? Quite possibly. I believe that’s only part of the problem, and conditioning is the other half.

This is mere speculation on my part, through my own personal experience. Battling alcoholism is a living hell that people willingly put themselves through.

I would tell myself each morning, “I’m not buying beer tonight,” only to remember the aforementioned mantra halfway through my tall can at night.

It wasn’t always this way though.

At age 16, I began hanging out with some college-age friends and, on occasion, we would drink various wine coolers. We would usually have one or two drinks, a light buzz—that was until New Year’s Eve 2005 when I got drunk for the first time. I loved the feeling and hated the hangover when I had to work the next day.

My drinking ceased for a few years as I drifted from that group of friends and didn’t have much interest in drinking alone.

I was 19 years old when my addiction was in full bloom. Living in a party house and hanging with people who liked to party all day, every day. By age 20, I knew this was not a good way to live.

Struggling badly with impulsive tequila shots, frequent bar visits, and a plethora of embarrassing drunken nights. My early 20s felt like the song, “Here Comes a Regular” by The Replacements. The song describes a character similar to Norm from the show “Cheers.”

When I was 23 years old, I had the flu but continued drinking alcohol. My liver felt like it was going to explode, and the right side of my head was throbbing. I was sure that I would die.

At the tail end of the sickness, I went to a small concert at a bar with one of my bandmates. I had a sip of beer and immediately felt the pain in my liver and in my head. It was at this moment that I decided to take a break from alcohol.

Three dry months, then I joined a new band; we played a gig at a party, and I resumed my addiction for the coming years.

The following year, I entered a toxic relationship. My drinking and my entire life began to spiral out of control. After three long years, we ended our relationship, and I once again realized that alcohol was destroying my life.

I started driving for a rideshare company to curb my nightly drinking. It worked for about a month until I was recruited for a job that would consume the majority of my time, which led to me quitting the rideshare company and getting right back to my old habits.

Alcohol once again became my coping mechanism.

Two years into working myself to death, I had two near-death experiences.

I was in the shower—when all of a sudden the music started swirling and I was wondering why “Fallin’ Down” by The Goo Goo Dolls was sounding like a psychedelic trip. Then, I collapsed to the ground and hit my throat on the diverter valve (the thing that turns on your shower.) My teeth clenched and I began shaking uncontrollably. I was having a seizure!

I took a deep breath and thought to myself, “It’s not my time to die.” With deep breathing and a strong will, I was able to snap out of the seizure and regain control of my body.

This near-death experience put things into perspective for me. I hadn’t achieved anything I had wanted to in my life. I had no kids, never released any music at a professional level, and had not yet truly been in love. I was 29 years old and had nothing to show for my life.

I decided that it was time to take control of my life and quit alcohol. This was no easy task, and the cravings were intense. I weaned myself off by drinking two beers one night, then one beer the next, then I stopped. I utilized this elaborate plan to avoid the withdrawals. If only I had known about near-beer back then.

I went a few days sober, then I had an accident on an electric scooter. I landed head first onto the asphalt (wear your helmet, kids.) This traumatic experience led to my next relapse, and I briefly continued the destructive cycle, then stopped drinking again.

A few weeks later, in May 2018, my maternal grandmother died. I decided that a relapse would be a terrible idea, so I remained sober.

In August 2018, I met the love of my life, and we began blossoming together. Not knowing the severity of my addiction, she offered me a shot of vodka, which led to my next relapse in October 2018. A few months into this relapse, I begged her to “never let me have alcohol again!”

I’m currently 32 years old and have remained sober from alcohol for the last two years.

The most difficult thing about quitting the alcoholic lifestyle is the fact that we will really have to face ourselves and face reality. All the emotions that were numbed with alcohol will surface, which will require new coping mechanisms. My first two dry years were full of anger, depression, random crying, and a ton of anxiety.

Despite these issues surfacing, happiness, and emotional vulnerability are now attainable.

I still do have a drink on occasion—whether it be a beer in Hawaii, some champagne at a family gathering, or the varieties of near-beer that I dearly enjoy—but I don’t foresee myself ever getting drunk again.

Drinking alcohol seems like a normal thing—that’s the narrative told by society time and time again. From religion to music, to films and TV, alcoholism is portrayed as a normal lifestyle.

Just because a drug is legal and widely accepted, does not mean that it is safe to consume large amounts.

If you feel the need to drink alcohol, please drink responsibly.

 

 

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