there is hope !!
This page provides encouragement from people that have experience of what you are going through.
Please remember to add your voice to the crowd when things are better.
""After Vanessa Mason laid a charge of assault against Patrick, then 16, they both realised they needed help. She spoke to one of the policemen and asked him to counsel Patrick. "One day Patrick came to me and said he thought he needed to go into rehab because he wanted to stop hurting me and be the Patrick he used to be," she says. "He went into an in-house adolescent facility and his has made quite a U-turn." - Readers Digest June 2003, p 44.
""Simonne Wright ... was lying unconscious on the floor ... she slept for more than two days. When she woke she told her family she wanted to go back into rehab, to rebuild her life. She was taken to Stepping Stones ... and started her treatment eagerly. She made friends of the same age with the same problems at the centre and started feeling good about herself again.
"The turning point for me came when I saw how much I was hurting my family," she recalls. "My mother cried so hard after I regained consciousness from my overdose, and I realised that I needed my family and they needed me. I also wanted my dreams to come true and knew that only I could make it happen."
Simmone finished her treatment and is now (16 and in Grade 10) a happy teenager with normal hobbies. "My school marks have improved and I've even started surfing again. And I'm always available to help other teenagers with the same problem. The thing I impress on them is that drinking does not make you happy or solve your problems. It just turns your life into a living nightmare."" - Readers Digest June 2003, p 44.
1. My name is Jacques and I am an alcoholic. I had my first real drink at age 15, I was at a cousins wedding and thought that it would be sophisticated and cool to join my sisterís boyfriend (who is 4 years older) at drinking beer and wine. I had issues with who I was as I thought that I was boring and just not quite good enough. So I had the first attempt at reinventing my personality and image that evening. Of course I got horribly drunk, passed out in the menís room of the swank hotel that the reception was at and threw up all over myself, and later on the band playing at the wedding. I blacked out on that first occasion and barely remember, but reconstructed events from what I was told.
2. I come from a family where my father drinks A LOT, and know what it is like being the family of an heavy drinker....(lets call it alcoholic).... what one goes through and the pain and humiliation that they go through, the family and the alcoholic.
3. I then had a few more attempts at school where, again, each time I drank, it was not as others do and the outcome was devastating. I am of good intelligence and in every other aspect of my life have always been very successful. In fact exceeded the average in many cases. I studied after school and thought it was normal to go out and drink at clubs and pubs on a REGULAR basis. (Every night). Hell I was a student, wasnít that what life was all about. Each time I drank, there was almost no limit to how much I would drink.
4. At first these occasions were fun and the alcohol helped me fit in with society, I could also be whatever and whomever I wanted to be. I was unable to hold down relationships for any long period of time as for the most part would feel claustrophobic in relationships. I would break up with partners for any reason.... acting like a young single and student-like person each time I did so. The party was ever going. Never ending and there was always an occasion to drink if I wanted to. I didnít drink habitually (all the time) once I started working full time, at first, but soon after living with my fiancťe I would drink on a somewhat regular occasion. Even during the week.
5. I settled down with my fiancťe and we bought a flat together a few months after marriage. I will not go through all the years leading up to that in great detail except to say that I drank more than the average person when at functions and dos. I drank at our engagement and black out; I ended up going out to a club, pretty much leaving her to one side while partying with strangers.
6. MOVING FORWARD A LITTLE.....
7. I changed career and got into a job that required me to do a lot of traveling out of the country. Here I more than quadrupled my income and had expense accounts that were almost unlimited. Add to that, freedom from a wife that I had mistreated so much that she had become sour, angry and sometimes even mean. I would go out of country, stay in 5 star hotels and drink with or without clients as I pleased. My drinking patterns really got into gear at this juncture. I was only 25 then. Commanding budgets of 2-3 million rand. Man I was doing well; I was climbing and was the new future star of a company where my colleagues were all 20-30 years older than I. So I would travel, drink party and pad expense accounts on my return.
8. Eventually, when in RSA, I started going to pubs of "lower social status" than I come from, as by then my self esteem had gotten to the point where I felt that I was never good at anything, had no talents and was becoming a waste in society.... this mindset happened quick. From a successful (over)confident person to a mental wreck. I would still find reason to drink whenever it was safe to do so without appearing to others that I drank "heavily". I began living a double life. I would go to work in the day, be cool and perform as well as was expected of me and at night, frequent bars and eventually brothels. I had at least 150 extra marital encounters in 4-5 years. I hung out at really LOW-end bars, as there I could come across as the guy with all the knowledge. The clever guy, the handsome guy.... the solution.
9. The truth was that I did not believe in myself anymore. I saw myself as unworthy... in fact as a devil, the son of Satan himself. My reasoning was that if I am evil, I could carry on as I do without worry of reprimand from anyone. So carry on then. I took pride in hurting people, insulting them verbally to the point that I could make strangers cry in public. It made me feel as though I was elevated to another, more respectable level of the social order. When in fact, I was trying to lower people around me instead of lifting myself.
10. Eventually my behaviour and drinking got to such a point that I cared little for those close to me. (Alcoholics take hostages in marriage not partners). My wife and I had a son; I believe I was a relatively good father with affection but not a responsible one. I drank and used our home money on my nightly activities, affecting the welfare of my little family. Eventually my drinking and selfish behaviour progressed to the point that my wife admitted herself in an institution. She had a nervous breakdown while I was on a trip. I had left no food, money or love in the house when I left.
11. Traveling had become an escape from reality. No worries of debt, bills or responsibilities when I traveled. I also did not have to face what I had done. I returned home and complained bitterly that the world was against me, I worked so hard to get my family things and the traveling had put my wife in hospital.... not me or the drinking, the traveling. I drank some more when I got back from visiting her at the hospital, finishing all the alcohol at mutual friends' home, then going on to pubs and brothels as per the usual plan. Wasnít good to let the friends see me drinking a lot, had to separate a good part of my consumption and keep it private. I drank until I could no longer walk, see, talk...etc, but still drove home.
12. The next morning the guilt hit me like it had never done before. I cried and cried and cried and cried. This was a spiritual awakening, even though I hadnít realised it at that point. My wife and I had been seeing a marriage counselor for some time. With this counselor I had admitted that I may.... just maybe..... drink a little more than others.
13. Eventually our talks had got to the subject of AA. After the break down, my wifeís and subsequently my emotional rock bottom, I made the call to AA. Fearful I spoke to someone on the other end. That call was on a Monday, 13 March 2000. I went to my first AA meeting that Wednesday the 15th. Now remember I said that I am of above average intelligence...etc. I drove to the hall, which is at a Methodist church in the town where I live. I was immediately suspicious, thinking that these people are religious nuts. At the same time I was fearful.... I also rationalised that this AA stuff was for bums and hobos from Joubert Park. People with their toes sticking out of their takkies. After driving around the block for some time, I got the courage (from somewhere else, a stronger energy) to park and go in.
14. Immediately I was greeted by people who were happy, not pretending to be happy, not being politically correct but happy from the inside. That struck me, a person who had become so dark and ashamed of myself, who had a black soul. I attended the meeting and was told that AA did not want my money, allegiance, political views or surname. All that was required for membership is an HONEST desire to stop drinking. I was given some literature to take home after the meeting, which includes the famous 20 questions, and the meeting started.
15. I do not remember a lot of detail of that very first meeting except that in the preamble, we read a portion of chapter 5 from our big book called Alcoholics Anonymous. At one point it says...."If you want what we have, then you are ready to take certain steps". Man, whatever they had looked really good, it looked pure and honest. All the things that I NO LONGER had in my life.
16. My spiritual awakening happened that evening. Again I was probably not aware of the significance at the time. I wanted what they had; I wanted it more than anything in the world. That night I knew I had found something I had been looking for, for a long time. A void in myself was filled. Love was entering. By this time I was 29 years old... I believed too young to be an alcoholic, but since have met and worked with people far younger than I was then. In fact I recently met a 25 year old who has been sober 8 years..... a 17 year old addict and alcoholic.
17. My AA program teaches me to live in society and on its terms. No longer trying to swim upstream I swim as part of a whole. AA first then the rest of the world after. I have learnt to regain control of my life and live it in a more responsible fashion. I have learnt to love others, but most importantly, after a lot of hard work and soul searching, myself. I had to forgive me for all the rubbish I had caused to others, all the wrongs I had done. That forgiveness was harder to get than the forgiveness of others. But I got there. I live with a Power greater than myself, a God of my own understanding. I no longer try to do it alone but with my HP (Higher Power). If you have difficulty in finding one, design your own concept of a power that is greater than your biggest fears, problems and your battle with alcohol... and take it from there.
18. I have a family that I love, and that respects me. I have a son that has never known me drunk as I stopped when he was still a baby. Parents that are proud of me (even though my dad still drinks, he acknowledges that AA has merit). My miracle is being achieved each day I stay away from that first drink; I havenít had a drink for 2157 days. I will be celebrating my 6th thanksgiving on the 15th March  this year. I owe that to God and AA, together with the support of my nearest and dearest. AA has given me a new family, a new life and a support network that I know is there for me wherever I am in the world. And for that I am thankful.
Last updated: 18 Apr 2007
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