The Athlete

Drug Abuse Stories

Abstinence makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I always wanted to quit drinking but somehow I knew I was doomed to the bottle for life. I never really had any fun during my drinking days. I thought I had fun. Every thing was funny and I could care less about my attitude and the price I had to pay for my faults. I couldn't stand sober people. They were a bore to me. I liked being carefree and irresponsible. My motto was, get drunk and be somebody.

When I tried getting clean and sober, I knew I had to give up the friends that I partied with for years. That wasn't so easy for me. I knew what my friends would say. Some of their remarks would be, come on, you can have just a couple, you don't have to get drunk or you can still hang out with us and you don't have to drink alcohol, you can drink pop or coffee and you can be our designated driver. Their ideas are not going to work for me and a lot of other alcoholics. Recovering alcoholics are going to have to hang out with people who don't drink--that's all there's to it. Hanging out with your friends that drink usually only last a short while. Relapses are quite real.

Like in my case, some friends would taunt me and thought that I was being too good for them and that I was a snob. I had a childhood friend that would purposely brandish his bottle of booze he was drinking and give me a sarcastic dare to take a swig off his bottle. He knew I was in my early stage of sobriety and that I was vulnerable. Needless to say, I no longer associate with him any more--and we knew each other all of our lives. Friends and acquaintances will be cruel, so one must be careful and guard against any temptations.

Then there are friends who care. I have a friend and co-worker that drinks but he is not an alcoholic.

I have never seen him drunk. He drinks responsibly and abides by the law. I stock my refrigerator with a few beers but only offer them to guests that I feel comfortable with, like people who won't get drunk and obnoxious around me. My friend usually declines my offer of a beer. Then he'll see me drink bottled water or pop and he'll join me and drink the same. These are the kind of friends to keep. They are no threat.

I was devastated when I made up my mind to stop drinking. I didn't even know myself. What if I don't like myself? I was scared to death at the thought of getting clean and sober. I wondered how boring my social life would become. I thought of the friends I wouldn't have any longer.

I thought of the fun I wouldn't have any longer. I dreaded the thought of socializing with sober people. I dreaded the thought of attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and being truthful about myself. I was scared to death of sobriety.

I think most alcoholics, early in their recovery, are frightened of the notion to get clean and sober. It was the ultimate culture shock to me. I drank since age 14. I was an alcoholic by age 22. Then I continued drinking until age 50. During all those years of drinking, I probably quit drinking only three or four times. The longest period of abstinence was only 60 days--and 30 of them were spent in jail or in an inpatient alcohol treatment center.

The story of my life, as an alcoholic, is no different than most other alcoholics. We all have a lot in common--some have more severe

problems than others. We are not unique. To put it mildly, we all are short-sighted and we create our own problems. We blame other people and dwell on the past. We hate ourselves as we hate other people. We hate our addiction but do nothing about it. We abuse our health and laugh about it. We laugh at things that aren't funny. We complain like there is no tomorrow. Our life sucks, the law stinks, our boss is an idiot and my girlfriend or wife are driving me crazy and sending me to an early grave.

If a person believes getting clean and sober will change their world for the good completely, they are foolishly misled. It takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of sacrifices. Bad days will still happen. Arguments with your significant other will still exist. Automobile accidents will still happen and may be your fault. Being fired or losing a job from a layoff is still a reality. Someone close to you or yourself will become ill and maybe die. Do not be fooled by sobriety. Shit will still happen. Be aware of it. The good thing about it is--being sober, you will know how to react rationally to problems as they occur. Your mind will accept these things because you'll have a clear mind. Self-respect will return and good things will happen along the way.

When I sobered up, I realized where my relationship was going with my live-in girlfriend. I was not happy. I drank when I met her and when I sobered up I realized what little we had in common. She was a city woman and I liked the country--meaning I liked living away from the suburbs. I liked camping and fishing, I liked gardening and staying home. I liked the easy way of living and appreciating the simple things. She was none of these things--so we split up and went our separate ways.

It was the first time and only time sobriety was to blame. My other failed relationships through the years--when I was drinking, always managed to be my fault--every one of them. Being sober this time, I knew how to accept it and deal with it logically.

There are wonderful things that have happened to me since I stopped drinking. My attendance at work improved greatly. My quality and quantity of work excelled. I felt I didn't need to smoke--so I quit. I slept better. I looked better. My health was restored. My depression improved. I didn't feel the need to bounce into a relationship because I thought I needed to. Feeling lonely was less frequent.

There are so many positive things about being a recovering alcoholic. Life seems so much better--and easier. I feel at peace with myself. I no longer hate myself and the others around me. I enjoy the simple and easy way of living. I have discovered many ambitions and talents I possess after I quit drinking. My love of writing has

consumed much of my time. I have had my stories published and I am looking forward to continue my newfound journey of sobriety. I have become fond of many things I never knew existed. Abstinence from alcohol are the only plans in my life. This is all because abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.

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