- Friends & Family
Submitted by: Susanne Johnson
Larry never did any drugs, he stuck solely to alcohol as his substance of choice in addiction. He grew up and lived all his life in a small town in Kentucky. He started drinking as a young teenager. His parents did not drink, but an uncle living nearby was an alcoholic and enabled Larry’s early consumption. Larry’s uncle would have bottles hidden in the barn and at the tractor, and did not mind some drinks disappearing from them, and eventually would buy the liquor for Larry and stick it behind a tree for him to pick up later on. It progressed from there.
He joined the army and was first stationed in Washington, D.C., where the legal drinking age at that time was 18 and Larry thought he arrived in heaven. He stayed there for only three months and went to Vietnam, where he drank even more. He did not smoke and traded his cigarettes for whisky and would keep whisky with his coffee in his canteen at all times. “I felt ten feet tall and bullet proof most of the time,” Larry says. He didn’t finish his tour because he was hurt. Instead, he went back and stayed in the hospital for several months. Since he was in the hospital for a long time, he gained some medical knowledge and they changed his military career from a combat engineer to a medic.
He got married shortly after and as he got out of the military his drinking continued with his party life on weekends. His drinking still got progressively worse, although he never missed work, never got arrested or got in any other trouble. He worked doing maintenance at a paper mill and could either drink during his shift or drank before he went to work.
At the age of 44 he went to into treatment and made it over 22 years of continuous sobriety.Before he entered treatment, he drank a fifth a day. At this time he was listening to an advertising of a hospital in the radio every time he was on his way to work and it made him realize for the first time that he had a problem and he decided to take care of it. He told his wife that he was an alcoholic and admitted himself to treatment. “It was the scariest day of my life. I did not know what the future going to hold,” said Larry.
Before he got sober, he was working against everyone, especially authorities. After he got sober, he had to go around and make amends to over a hundred people, and that was only his work place. It was not easy, but it changed his life and he stayed sober. During his years of sobriety he often drove by the club where 12-step meetings were held and he thought he did not need the meetings and that he no longer had a problem. He often smiled and felt sorry for the people who still had to go there. “I’m not like that anymore,” he thought.
In June 2015 he was suddenly triggered by anger and had a drink. He really didn’t know how it happened– he felt aggravated about politics and fixed himself a drink. It took only a week and he was right there where he stopped over two decades ago. He obsesses all day about where he was going to buy it where he would hide it, and when he could drink it.
He went to different places and was scared to be seen at a liquor store. He used the drive-through lane and was trying to get through it as quickly as he could. His wife knew something was going on, but was in denial as well and had no idea that Larry had relapsed after such a long time. He was hiding his alcohol in his truck and driving somewhere every day so he could drink. He kept teaching Sunday school and pretended his life was normal as always, while he was drenched in shame and guilt through and through.
“I didn’t realize that I turned my back on the Lord while doing this. After I had walked with him for so many years, I let that bottle get between me and him,” Larry said. “I got to where it dominated my life, my wife, my church, my belief and everything.” In the mornings, Larry told himself that he would not drink that day and could not hold the promise he gave himself. He even tossed full bottles of liquor in the creek just to find himself buying a new one just hours later.
It took Larry about six months of drinking again until he found the courage to get help. He asked God for help and one day he fell drunk out of his deer stand while hunting. Nothing was hurt, just his ego and pride. He always went hunting by himself, so he is able to sit there and drink. He turned down some hunting trips with friends, because he was afraid he could not drink as he like during this time.
He admitted himself again to treatment and did 28 days and now attends 1 to 2 meetings every day. “You are comfortable in your misery, because you understand it, and you are afraid to step out because you can’t see what the future is going to hold.” Larry wants to tell all those, who have never tried recovery, “the life without a drink is better than the one you are having.”
Larry is 68 and retired. He loves to hunt and fish sober. He volunteers with children and takes wounded soldiers hunting. He did not do it this year, because of his relapse, but he is looking forward to doing it again in 2016. His wife is very proud of him and their relationship is back to how it was before his relapse.