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Alcoholism and Me

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

According to the blood draw they ran on the morning of my appointment, my blood alcohol content was nearly four times the legal limit at more than 0.23. It was a sunny Tuesday, mid-morning, October, 2019, and I sat in my doctor’s examination room. I was perfectly coherent, not slurring my words or stumbling, seemingly fine, but with a BAC that would put most people horizontal. After years of self-medicating, I’d finally realized I couldn’t continue drinking, and, more importantly, I wanted to quit drinking.

With my doctor’s guidance, medication, and t

he amazing support of friends and family, I stopped drinking, and it’s a decision I still stand by, but it was, and still is, incredibly hard. For one, I live in Wisconsin, where any social event is rife with alcohol, and children’s birthday parties usually have more beer than cake. Physical withdrawal was all but eliminated with medication, and I don’t really have physical cravings, but the hardest part was, and continues to be, dealing with thoughts I would once drown in vodka. The mental escape of a drunken stupor, safe from terrifying, complex, existential thoughts, more afraid of running out of booze than I was of dying, was gone.

Maintaining some semblance of good mental health is difficult in the best of times, and it’s significantly harder when you remove y

our biggest crutch. All the things I’d spent years avoiding, tried not to think about, drank myself out of dwelling on, they were all still there, waiting. I hadn’t managed to drink away existential dread. I know; I was surprised too. The parts of the world that scare me, terrify me, sadden me to the point of despair, horrify and haunt me, the type that erodes your faith in humanity’s inherent good nature; they were right there all along, and now I had to face them with full cognizance.

I haven’t fully figured out how to deal with it all without drinking, how to function, not without occasionally malfunctioning. Certain things just short-circuit my brain, overwhelm me with sadness, frustration, and despair, and crawling out of bed to make dinner is my most significant accomplishment for the day. It’s a process, a continuous struggle, an ongoing battle with the urge to quiet the screaming in m

y brain, but I’m doing better than I was.

I’m doing better, and sometimes that’s enough.

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