Alcoholism Stories: Steady as She Goes!
By Ned Wicker
Keri leaned back in a large easy chair at the treatment center and started to tell her story about her failed marriage, loss of a high-paying job, her alcoholism, but mostly a story about how she fooled everyone into thinking she was just fine. She was in for detoxification and it was amazing how well she looked, considering she was just admitted the night before. It was a command performance.
She can “hold her liquor”
She admitted to being an alcoholic, but came short of saying that she had a problem with it, mainly because she prided herself on being able to hold her liquor. In her case it was vodka and she went through more than a liter every day, mixing it with fruit juice or diet soda.
“When I was married,” she recalled, “my husband questioned me about my drinking before I went to work. I was made up, had on a business suit and high heels. I could walk a straight line, do the usual coordination things, but he knew I was drunk. He called the cops and they came over and gave me a breathalyzer. I blew a .3”
I don't look drunk
Her story centered on her ability to not “look drunk,” and do be sure many alcoholics are good at this. She described the situation with rhetorical flair, and it was easy to get caught up in her story because she was charming, but underneath it all was a profound sadness.
Here she was in detox, but still clinging to the idea that she could drink and get away with it. The husband was no longer in the picture, there were no children, but at 41 years of age, she was starting over again in life. There was no job to go to once she got out, mainly because her employer has seen enough and done the dance with her. He had fired her a couple of weeks prior to her being admitted, which prompted her to drink beyond the limits of any mortal.
I needed to “calm” myself
“I went to the liquor store and just bought a small flask,” she explained. “I was just going to have a drink to calm myself down, but you know what happened next, don’t you? It was just a tiny bottle, but I went back out and bought quarts.”
Her relationship with alcohol was difficult to understand, yet so common. Here she was in detox and told me she didn’t want to drink anymore, but she knows that’s a lie and I know it’s a lie. She knew the treatment center drill, as she had been through it all before. “I needed to come in, I really did, but I’m feeling better now.”
She wants OUT!
It had been less than 24 hours since her arrival, but she was formulating her plan to get discharged and go home. She said she had a million things to do. She knew of a place that as hiring and was keen on getting her application in to their employment office as soon as possible, then she was going to find another place to live, because her rent was due and she knew she couldn’t afford to live in her apartment any longer.
She was going to call per parents and move back home. It was sort of a default position for her something she had done several times before.
I should go to AA, I know that
“I know I should go to (AA) meetings every day,” she said, looking over at me to make sure I approved. “I can’t afford treatment, so I have to do something. She could recite many of the 12 Steps, but she did not demonstrate a deep understanding of what they meant, especially what they meant to her in terms of a practical way of getting sober.
When reminded of the statement “It works if you work it,” she seemed less than convinced. To her this was just part of an endless cycle, so she really had no expectation of a positive outcome. She just wanted to get out of the center.
No idea of how not to drink
When asked if she was going to be “safe,” she thought for a moment and replied, “Ya, as long as I don’t drink.” She, of course, had no plan for how she would avoid drinking, but she did say she had a friend who would look in on her. She muttered something again about going to meetings, but that would have to be put on hold until she got her living situation straightened out.
She seemed to reason everything backwards, as if her detox was the only treatment she needed, as if everything would fall into place. I asked her what was going to make everything fall into place. “I don’t know, but I have a million things to do.”
She will likely relapse immediately
The most likely thing that will happen to Keri is that she’ll quickly relapse, regardless of how sincere she is about quitting. She may want to quit, but the disease doesn’t. The alcoholic mind does not necessarily reason in the best interest of the alcoholic.
The staff knows all of the tricks, all of the faulty reasoning, all of the manipulation. They can’t force her to go through the program, be compliant on all points and be vigilant in her recovery. She has another idea. That’s what got her there to begin with.
Common alcoholism stories
Keri's story is a fairly typical alcoholism story. She thinks she is in control of herself but anyone looking at her knows she is totally out-of-control. She knows she needs to go to AA but she doesn't. She knows her husband cares about her but she doesn't listen to him at all. She is proud of how she can conceal her drinking, alcohol has truly become her best and probably only friend.
Outlook not good for this and other alcoholism stories
People with a
story like Keri rarely have a good outcome. Alcohol is destroying her
brain, her body, her relationships and her life. Hopefully someone
will get through to her and help her to get the treatment she needs
so she will stop using. Hopefully this story won't end as most alcoholism stories do. Hopefully this will become like other alcoholism stories of intervention and redemption.