I Needed a Drink at 6

"I started drinking at the age of 12. I think I needed one at the age of 6. That is about how far back I can remember where I didn’t feel like how other people looked. I felt I didn’t fit in. I felt alone in a group of people. I was riddled in fear. I had this constant feeling of impending doom. I was always scared of getting beat up, dying from a fatal illness or harm coming towards someone I love. It just always felt like something was about to go wrong.

These feelings had little to do with the environment I grew up in. My parents were loving, I was involved in sports, and excelled in school. While my life as a child wasn’t perfect, I was blessed to have such amazing parents who truly did their best with the tools that they had.

When I discovered alcohol, it took all of the fear away. At last I felt comfortable in my skin. I could talk to girls. I wasn’t afraid to fight. I felt at union with others. Alcohol was my solution to being maladjusted to life.

I can safely say I was better with alcohol. For many years it was my best friend……until it quit working and things began to go dark. Alcohol no longer had the same positive effect on me as it used to. I soon found that cocaine was able to help me continue to drink without getting messy. It was basically a vitamin to allow me to keep drinking and bought me a couple of extra years of relief. Soon after, things got even darker.. While my intentions were always to have one or two drinks to take the edge off, more often than not, the night would end with me alone, drunk and high in a complete state of paranoia staring out my window for hours on end with a baseball bat in my hands. While I didn’t contemplate suicide during this dark period of my life, I did have constant and intense feelings of impending doom. These are feelings I had when sober and inevitably always drove me back to the alcohol and drugs.

To others, my life looked perfect. Even with all the alcohol abuse, I was still able to maintain a high level of perceived success. I had a good job, great family, lots of material possessions and many of the external benchmarks that society would deem as a success. But I was dying on the inside…..What I have come to learn with a level of certainness, is that your can’t alleviate an inside malady with outside stuff. All the outside success in the world can’t fill the whole in the soul that is alcoholism (addiction).

I know that men are often encouraged to reach out when struggling. I am the guy that did reach out. I started looking for mental help in my late 20’s. Over the next 15 years I had been to counsellors, therapists, treatment centres, doctors, and private coaches. I have been diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar, manic, PTSD and depression. At one point in time, I was taking as many as 20 prescription pills a day. My mental state was really starting to deteriorate. I felt I had become a fraction of the man I was meant to be and the doctors told me I was going to need to take meds the rest of my life to maintain any kind of mental health. In addition to all the pills, I still couldn’t stop drinking.

Now I do want to really clarify, that anyone that tried to help me truly had my best interests in mind. I also don’t want to minimize any of these other mental conditions in any way. They are very real, cause immense suffering, and require medical help. It just wasn’t what I was suffering from. The professionals didn’t know what to do with me and unfortunately most didn’t have the humility to say so, At the end of the day, I was an alcoholic. I can still remember sitting across from a recovered alcoholic and having him go through a certain chapter in their textbook for 12 step recovery. He was explaining how I was physically and mentally different than my fellows and it had nothing to do with choice. It felt like the gates of insanity were finally starting to lift. It was like holy shit…….that’s me! For the first time in my life I finally knew what I was! Not only did this person explain what I was suffering from, but they also assured me there was a solution. I finally had some hope!"