Calvin's Story

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.

Comments for Calvin's Story

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Mar 21, 2012
Narcotics for pain update.
by: Calvin

I kept my appointment with my doctor and during the appointment he asked me about the pain I was experiencing associated with my spinal disease. I told him it was intense at times and it monopolized most of my waking hours. He asked me again if I wanted to go back on the pain medication (vicodin)? I had given it a lot of thought over the past several months before the appointment and had decided not to go back on pain pills. At that particular moment in time, I changed my mind and asked him to fill a prescription for me again. He is aware of my past drug and alcohol addictions and especially the hard time I had last year getting off the vicodin and medical marijuana. He also was aware of my addiction to alcohol many years ago and nicotine addiction that I kicked several years ago. At that moment in time I wasn't concerned that I would abuse the drugs. I am now 2 weeks into taking a low dose of vicodin several times a day and I have to admit that it is helping improve the quality of my daily life. I am pain free many hours of the day and feel upbeat. I am going to trust myself to monitor my usage and trust that I am capable of making rational decisions about usage. I will try to make honest posts throughout the year about my usage and try to continue to do the other things like proper diet and exercise to manage my spinal disease and associated pain levels. I hesitated making this post because I wasn't sure how other people would perceive my decision. My first instinct was to hide the fact that I was using pain medication again. This is an old behavior and not something I want to return to. I feel better when I am honest and open. Hope this all helps someone out there struggling with similar issues. I can be be pretty hard on other addicts and have unusually high expectations of myself and other people. Sometimes it comes across as judgmental because I am. Nothing worse in the judgmental department than a recovering alcoholic. I have always done it the hard way, cold turkey, because I understand the importance of experiencing the pains of withdrawals in order to help long-term recovery prospects. Anyway, there it is and there I am.

Mar 03, 2012
by: Anonymous

Loved your story. I can relate to it well.
the idea that addictions are a tough gig is quite an under statement now when I think of it.
In many ways they are connected to you to your core and part of you that remain there until you are ready to detach them painfully and methodically. It is a paradox really that something so simple as lifting your arm is so difficult to stop!!

I too find it hard to believe that alcoholism is a disease. I have had many times where I believe that alcohol is a very hard thing to stop but you're right, anyone can choose to put it down.

It is hard to stay put down and there are always times when it will be hard to get yourself to stay stopped. It is different for everyone and mainly there will be people who use just one method of staying sober. I am always looking for other ways to remain sober and believe there is a strength that is deep within each and everyone of us and I believe we can all tap into this resource constantly.

Feb 29, 2012
Thanks for being here.
by: Calvin

I just wanted to express a note of appreciation for this web site being here for me in a time of need. I have been clean of prescription pain medications for more than a year now but am in constant pain due to my spinal disease. I have been on the alkaline/acid diet for more than a year and do 1 hour of moderate stretching/exercise every day. It has really helped me manage the pain and stopped it from worsening. Last week I got a message from my doctor reminding me of my yearly physical next week. I began to think about how bad the pain gets in my back during the day and made a decision to ask the doctor to renew my pain prescription (narcotic). It's a good thing I had several days to think through the consequences of this decision. I still am unsure if I would be able to control the use and dosage of narcotics. I know how they are. You begin with a couple of pills a day and within a short time the cravings develop and the dosage needs to be increased to control the pain. It is a vicious cycle. Now that I am able to verbalize my thoughts and feelings and able to review my addiction history (here on this site), I am not going to get the prescription renewed next week. I am going to continue with the right diet and exercise and live with the effects of the spinal disease rather than go back through another addiction recovery cycle. Thanks for being here Alcoholism

Jan 28, 2012
Just remember the pain.
by: Calvin

Thanks for your comments. When I get cravings for alcohol, tobacco, narcotics, I just let them happen. With time and practice of abstaining they lessen over time. The main thing to do when you are in craving mode is to remember how sick or dysfunctional you became just before you quit. The sicker you became then the easier it is to remember why you stopped poisoning yourself. It really does feel good to be free from addictions and the lifestyle. We are taking responsibility for our own actions when we choose sobriety. I really hate being a slave to anything. I have to admit though that it took many many times of trying to quit before it finally sunk in but each day is a new start. Don't ever give up even if you have relapses. Good luck.

Jan 28, 2012
by: Anonymous

That was an amazing story. I can relate to the idea that alcoholism isn't a disease and that if we believe this it puts us in victim mode.

I have been sober for over 10 months now. You are exactly's a tough gig and one of the hardest things I have done. In effect alcoholism is a life sentence really. I get huge cravings regularly and not sure how to handle these so good on you for making it this far!
I feel better for not drinking now but drank for many years...maybe that means it will take many years for the cravings to go?

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