Five years ago, I was in the middle of the worst drunken binge of my life. It lasted 3 weeks, and it was non-stop.
Every morning, just after 6 am when I was able to purchase alcohol, and when I was at my most-sober (but still undoubtedly over the legal limit), I would drive to the corner gas station and load up on a day's worth of alcohol in the form of a case of beer. I would have bought booze instead, but they didn't sell booze, and I didn't want to venture to the supermarket in case I ran into someone I knew.
Sometimes I bought more than a day's worth, but usually not. For some reason I kept having a vague idea that this morning's purchase would be the last, after this I was going to quit. I didn't shower the whole time, I didn't shave, I barely ate any food, and I'm sure I looked like hell but I didn't care.
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Once home, I'd start pounding beers until the mellowness came back and I stopped shaking, then I'd keep drinking until I passed out. Wake up, drink, pass out. Repeat. Days turned into nights turned back into days, it was all a blur, a frightening, confusing, surreal nightmare that I could only escape with more alcohol.
This followed a series of increasingly severe negative consequences of my drinking, and my penultimate attempt at medical outpatient treatment. I could no longer even consider inpatient treatment as an option, there was no one to look after my home and my cat and I couldn't possibly stay sober long enough to make any arrangements. It was so much easier to just keep drinking instead.
I stopped, with what I knew would be the last help I would ever get before I drank myself to death. I was at the end, a decision point, and I wasn't quite ready to commit suicide by pushing the help aside. The next 3 days were a blur of a different kind, the worst detox of my life with no medications to help. I was incapable of going anywhere except in an ambulance, and so I toughed it out. I didn't sleep for days, I couldn't eat, I kept vomiting, I could barely walk, I was shaking uncontrollably and sweating profusely. Whenever it was quiet I heard faint music, and when I looked closely at the carpet it moved.
But it ended, and by the fourth day I was able to sleep, shower, shave, put myself together, and re-enter outpatient treatment. My final drink of that binge was my final drink, December 29, 2010.
Since then I have been blessed beyond my wildest imaginations. There have been ups and downs, but life has ups and downs. There have been triggers and cravings, but within the first 10 months or so they diminished enough that they didn't rattle me. There were many other changes, some good and some bad, but within the first 18 months or so I was stable and confident. By 3 years I was supremely confident and could back it up, and for perhaps the first time in my life I was centered and self-contained, and not emotionally dependent upon the approval of anyone else for my own happiness.
5 years in, I honestly have no desire at all to drink alcohol. I'm not battling anything, I'm not taking it day by day or even month by month, it's just gone. I try to give something back to the community that helped me find my way out of the whirlpool, I'm still engaged in the world of addiction recovery, but not because I think I'll drink if I don't. It's possible to fully recover from addiction, I know it because I've done it. There are as many ways out into the light as there are addicts in the dark, but all paths out of the scary dark forest and into the sunny meadow are equally good if they lead to the same place: Sober serenity.
I can't predict the future, and I can't say for sure how I'll feel in another 5 years. But I do have enough wisdom to recognize dangers, and if I keep my antenna up and stay self-aware, I'm confident that I will be able to head off any dangers long before they lead to drinking.
I would not have imagined a calm, content and stone sober life 5 years ago, but I am living it and it is good. All of us can make it, but it takes time and perseverance.