To be sure, I loved drinking and the bar room atmosphere. I loved the people, most of them, that frequented the local bars and had adopted the lifestyle that consisted of drinking and partying. Many of these people were able to adopt this way of living on the weekends or their days off work and the majority of them led relatively normal lives. They had kids, houses, cars, and productive jobs. They were in the majority of drinkers who were able to control their drinking and lead a life without DUI’s and other drinking related problems.
Then of course, there were the remainder of us who went over the deep end in drinking and had continual problems with the law and financial institutions. We were the ones who could not take care of our responsibilities in life. We eventually made alcohol our priority in life. Whether it was to get rid of our inhibitions and allowed us to be more extroverted or just because we liked that way of living really made no difference. The fact was that alcohol ruled our lives and we were convinced that we functioned better when we were drinking. I knew many people who felt that they drove better when they were drinking. To the non or moderate drinker this may seem absurd, but it is the truth. Drinking, yes drinking to excess was our way of living. This was a matter of choice and was not because of some concocted disease theory that made treatment houses and facilities rich. We did this because we wanted our lives to be this way. That warm glow in my belly when I had my first drink after waking up with a hangover from a night of excessive fun and drinking, was something to which I looked forward. I liked it. It was my choice.
I cheated slot machines for a living in Nevada and made a lot of money for over twenty five years. After about forty years of continued excessive drinking my body just began to say no. I had gone too far. I needed a break. So I quit for five years and actually ran a bar for two of the last five years of my abstinence. Then my body became rested enough that I figured that I could fire drinking up again, so I did. The results were not bad at first and I drank reduced amounts of alcohol compared to my previous years of drinking. But then I decided to start drinking like I did before because it was more fun that the subdued way of drinking. I actually made that choice. And I did have more fun, but living a life of fun seemed to be diminishing on my life’s priority list. I was now 55 years old and made the decision to stop drinking and stay stopped.
I went to Alcoholics Anonymous and went through their twelve steps. But most of all in AA I experienced a bonding with other people who wanted to stop drinking. Hearing their stories and listening to their experiences seem to further my desire to not drink again. The steps, the god thing, I never had a sponsor, and the rest of AA all seemed alright, but none of it really stopped me or contributed to my staying stopped. That choice was mine and mine alone. I choose to stop and of course stopping was not a problem for most alcoholics. It was the staying stopped that was the big deal. Once I made up my mind not to pursue the life in the bars and the lifestyle that accompanied it, I was able to stop and stay stopped. I am not saying that AA and the other people who spoke with me about stopping and staying stopped did not contribute to my final decision; rather, I am saying that the ultimate choice was mine and once that choice was made I stuck to it.
I have been alcohol free for over ten years now and have no intention of drinking again. I do not believe that alcoholism is a disease. I believe that excessive drinking is a choice and that we do it for pleasure. Surely the non drinker or even the occasional drinker can not possibly see the pleasure that we derive from our drinking. Maybe if they pursued it to the extent that we did, they might not only understand but might enjoy it also.
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