- Friends & Family
submitted by: Susanne Johnson
Don has been an alcoholic all his life. He has been in an out of 12-step meeting fellowships multiple times. He started drinking at the age of 11, whenever there was a possibility to get alcohol. He was born in 1960 and at that time it was usual for people to have cocktail parties at their homes and him and his little brother had the duty to clean up. They sampled and drank all they could.
It got really bad in Don’s early teenage years. At the age of 16, he had seen the court several times already, mostly because of some stupid teenage drunk behaviors. The judge sent him to his first12-step meeting after seeing that alcohol was always the cause behind him acting out. His parents were divorced by then and his stepdad kicked him out of the house and he spent the following years living at his uncle’s home.
All meetings or any consequences did not stop him from drinking. He worked hard and drank much after work, just as he has seen it from his father since early childhood. He graduated from school late, but already had a job making good money and working many hours. He made his career and made it into supervisor positions despite all his drinking. His over-achieving and high capability gave him still a successful career.
At some time in life he even sobered up for some time and got married for a while. He did not want to have children in his life. He always heard that alcoholism runs in families and he was sure that no next generation should follow his footsteps with this disease. He relapsed and got divorced. He was attending meetings, but never worked the steps, read the materials or worked the program. After a short while, he was worse than before and his life went downhill fast.
Even drugs were part of his journey for a while, but it was always the alcohol that attracted him. Drugs were okay, when they were available additionally, but he always needed to have the liquor first. Finally the drugs took from his alcohol money and he started to give them up entirely.
He was moving between his hometown in Connecticut and Florida back and forth several times until he finally found himself at the end of the downward spiral of a human being. He was homeless at times, was only living for the next drink, and became dirty and disgusting in his appearance. A lot of criminal charges and arrests happened in this time of his life.
All he wanted at some point was to die to escape this inhuman way of living. One day, he remembered things he heard at the 12-step meetings earlier in life. He decided to give it another try. First he went to a detox, then to two months of treatment and later lived nine months in a sober living facility. During this time his parents got sick at age and needed help at home. He drove every day multiple times back and forth between the sober living and his parent’s home to help them out in daily needs.
At some point it became too expensive to drive and too time consuming and he moved back in with them, where he resides today to take care of his parents. Now, he openly talks about his experiences in his old life and shares what alcohol did to him, choosing his mugshot as his picture without shame.
Don knows that without his sobriety he would not be able to help his parents today and he is happy that he is able to do so. He discovered a severe memory loss and other functionality issues recently and got tested at the last treatment center and it was diagnosed that he has severe brain damage from the alcoholism in his past. The neurologist and psychiatrist can’t help him so far and it is really difficult for him to follow simple tasks some days. But he never gives up hope that there will be an improvement over time.
Don goes to a meeting every day and has close to four years of continuous sobriety today, and works the steps with his sponsor. He is not completely happy yet today, because his mental health issues give him enormous trouble in life, but this does not stop him from doing the next right thing today and hoping and praying for improvement. He is on disability today, unable to work, but his dream it to improve his mental health capabilities so that he is employable again and can live an independent, happy and sober life.