Peggy, 52 år, Afhængig
I was a heavy drinker for 14 years.
I never thought of myself as an alcoholic, because my drinking and occasional prescription drug abuse occurred within the confines of the upper middle class home where I lived with my husband and three young children.
I had a bunch of cars, my kids were in private school, I looked all right.
Problem was, I was dying.
It's been nearly two decades since I have taken a drink of alcohol, but I can easily recall its initial comforting, sedating effect.
I can still feel my arm going down and the alcohol going even into my fingers and just feeling relaxed.
That terrible tenseness would dissipate.
For a long time, it was easy to deny that I had an addiction.
I never drank in the morning or at lunch.
My kids never came home from school to find me drunk.
Despite a daily hangover, I would get out of bed each morning, get the children off to school, participate in community activities, keep lunch dates with friends, and shop at the supermarket.
I looked like a normal house wife.
I wasn't bleary-eyed, my teeth were fine, my clothes were fine.
I went to a lot of effort to look the part.
That was very important because if I looked okay on the outside, maybe I was okay on the inside.
In 14 years there wasn't a day that went by in which I didn't drink alcohol.
I drank in hospitals, having babies, I mean, I drank.
My drinking pattern was not that of the stereotypical alcoholic.
I didn't go out and have affairs, dance on bar tables, or crack up my car.
I drank at home.
I didn't start drinking until around seven o'clock each night.
But once I had started, I would drink until I went to bed, and, the next day, would be amazed at how much I had imbibed -- often nearly a half gallon of wine.
I felt horrible physically.
I tried to quit, but my vows of abstinence were always short-lived. It's amazing: You wake up every single day and say, “That's it, I'm not going to drink anymore.'
But by four o'clock I would have to take a drink that night.
Then I'd say, “Well, I'm going to stop at two, or stop at three".
I went to Mass every morning and I would pray that I could stop at three drinks, which in fact I did, but they were in vats.
The glasses got bigger and bigger.
Like many alcoholics, I at first drank to belong.
It gave me a level playing field, as well as boosted a low self-esteem. I began drinking at 23, after I got married.
Moving to a new community where I didn't know anyone was difficult. Felt like an outsider, but if I had a few drinks it would loosen me up.
I felt as good as everybody else.
Eventually I confined my drinking to the home, to avoid trouble.
Nor did I "booze it up" on hard liquor.
I drank mostly wine and sometimes an aperitif out of a stem glass. However, I drank very large quantities.
You don't have to be drinking vodka out of a bottle.
My drug of choice was wine, and I am a full-blown alcoholic.
It can be hard for non-alcoholics to imagine the alcoholic's overwhelming desire to drink even when it's destroying life and health.
In the morning you say, 'I'm not going to drink.'
Then you seem to hit like a blind spot in your brain, where you go on automatic.
You're not thinking anymore, 'What about the kids?
What about the marriage?'. . . You just hit this blank spot, and you go to the refrigerator, you open it, and you pull out that bottle of wine.
Today, 20 years later, I’m a recovering alcoholic.
As for many other recovering people, it took hard work in self-help groups and an intense effort to change my addiction.
I never thought I could change.
I didn't think I was born with the coping skills to get through this life.
Coming to terms with my addiction wasn't easy.
I blamed myself for drinking.
I made myself feel guilty.
I had friends that didn't drink that way.
I didn't want to drink that way, I didn't want to be that way.
But I didn't see any way out.
I had to drink.
I didn't think I could live without it.
After my marriage broke up, I visited a local rehabilitation hospital.
The visit was brief.
I stayed sober for 10 days after the visit, but then I relapsed for a year and a half.
My renewed quest for sobriety began when I passed out in my bed one night and woke to learn that my youngest child had become ill in the night and tried to wake me, but was unable to. Finally, my child had instead woken her 11-year-old sibling, who took care of her.
The thought of putting my children at risk was the push I needed to take back control of my life.
After staying sober on my own for about three days, I sought treatment.
I was "falling apart" when I started recovery.
Having to admit publicly that I was an alcoholic was one of the most difficult things I had to face.
I knew I was a drunk. I didn't want anyone in the world to know I was a drunk.
I wanted to die.
I remember thinking at points, 'I'm just going to raise these children, and then I'll die.’
I believes that one of the first steps to accepting the disease of addiction is acknowledging that the drug has taken control of one's life: "Once you admit, 'I'm completely powerless over this, it's got me beaten, my life is ruined,' then you have a chance.
Finding spirituality helped me on the road to healing.
Once I was in recovery, she says, I knew I had to pray.
I knew that I had to find a God that I could believe in.
It is now a spirit within me that gives me strength.
If I can keep connected to that, I can do pretty near anything.
It helped me enormously to think that I had a disease, that it wasn't just a moral failure on my part.
I thinks alcoholics and other addicts should be viewed as sick people.
Whenever I would think about alcohol, I would call a friend or a member of the recovery group I belonged to.
I also devised creative ways to conquer my desire to drink.
I had always started drinking before dinner.
Now, I would go to shopping malls in the late afternoon and eat dinner at four o'clock and then just walk around.
Having dinner early took the edge off that terrible urge.
We didn't ask for the disease, but it's our responsibility to -- once it's presented to you -- grab a hold of some ring and try for your own recovery.
Recovery has given me freedom to be honest and not wear masks.
Active addiction is a terrible monkey on your back, this terrible weight you carry around.
Today, after 20 years of sobriety, when I think about alcohol or looks at a glass of wine, I’m reminded of what they did to me.
I can look at a glass of wine and say, 'There goes my whole life in that one glass.
There goes the best part of me.'
Recovery enabled me to learn to love my life and like myself.
I don't want to sign up again for feeling so terrible.
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