by Calvin Hunter
(Grants Pass, Oregon, USA)
I am an alcoholic who hasn't consumed any alcohol for more than 13 years. I don't have physical cravings for alcohol any longer but do carry some fond memories about how it felt to have a couple of shots and few chasers. Nothing like it. I also try to remember what it felt like after a half dozen shots and then the next morning violent headaches and sickness. This is what keeps me from drinking alcohol again.
At the end of my drinking career, I became so physically ill that it outweighed any pleasure. I almost died during the years following the beginning of my recovery. My life has been hell because of the health problems that I created for myself. I am fortunate that my health is all that I lost. It could have been much worse.
I personally don't believe alcoholism is a "disease" in the traditional meaning of the term. It is not a disease because it can be prevented by refraining from 'bending the old elbow'. I don't believe alcoholism is some kind of character or moral flaw. It is simply a cause and effect relationship between the chemical and the body. Anyone can quit drinking alcohol but not many people have the will power to stay quit. Things get tough and old learning patterns return to cause the drinker to take a drink to relieve the stress. It is an easy way to relieve stress.
Learning new ways to cope with life's stresses is key to success. It is very painful to quit and not many people have the 'guts' to go through it cold turkey. I quit many times over many years but I only managed to succeed when I became so physically ill.
Quitting tobacco was even tougher but I have been clean of tobacco now for several years. Chemical addictions are a 'bitch' and quitting is even 'bitchier'. Last year I quit taking pain medications (narcotics given for spinal disease) and that almost killed me. I am now completely chemical substance free. I feel like I have complete control over my life and mind. I am near 60 now and hope to live drug and alcohol free for the remainder of my life. I know now that I can do it.
Anyway, if you are at the beginning stages of quitting some chemical addiction, get ready for some intense pain for several years. How tough it gets depends on how long you have been addicted and how deep your addictions have become. Get help if you can find it but in the end you are on your own. I have made it and so can you but it will be the toughest thing you will ever do in your life. But your life is worth the effort.