Don: Fighting the Devil Within

Don P
A man shares his story of recovery from alcohol dependency.

I never wanted to admit defeat. It is not in my nature. What makes it even more difficult for people like me is what I did. I was supposed to be the invincible one, and, for the most part, I was. But ultimately I was human and not invincible.

Pressure, stress, and pain are pretty much unavoidable in all forms; both physically and mentally or a combination of both. How each one of us deals with these stresses; such as drinking, self-medicating, and isolating is what separates us from our families, loved ones, and careers.

I grew up in a middle class home on Long Island, attended good schools, and was active in my community and successful in my career. In my mind nobody knew about my drinking, and I was great at hiding it, or so I thought. What a fool. The talk behind my back was always there from my family, co-workers, friends, and ultimately, of course, the guys at the firehouse. I chose to believe that nobody would suspect me to be a drunk. I was, after all a firefighter, Station Lieutenant, Assistant Chief, and then Chief of Department, and we are all supposed to know better than to drink on the job or anytime else that it isn’t appropriate.

The addiction and the progression of the disease brings all things to an end sooner or later, and, more times than not, it’s a bitter end. Things like marriages, families, jobs, friendships, and ultimately for me my fire service career, are lost or at least strained to breaking points. Having been asked to resign after 17 years of service because of my addiction and lack of desire to get help, I continued to drink and it progressed to the point of me going into detox and treatment for the first time.

I was not successful with my sobriety after my 28 days there as I was still not ready or willing to accept that I simply could not drink like other people and I relapsed. I was then in a drunken fog for over two years and completely miserable. After two very dark years in my life that included more detoxes, seizures, hospital stays, legal issues, and living as a non-person, I was finally able to see that if I continued on this path of destruction, I was going to die.

Alcohol had defeated me and I had to admit to that. I finally reached out for help and got into a residential treatment facility and did six months inpatient treatment which I completed successfully and have not found it necessary to drink since July 13, 2011.

It’s an amazing feeling of freedom and spirituality that I have never felt before in my life. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing the words of encouragement and support from the people in your life about how you turned your life around and that they want nothing but the best for you and your future; a majority of whom where the ones talking about how much of a loser you were not so long ago. Help is available today to just about anybody who truly wants to start their lives over again or can see a pattern forming and want to get help before things progress. Addiction crosses all lines and genders. It also can affect our loved ones as well. Taking the first step isn’t as hard as you think and the rewards are priceless.

Last Updated: 04/25/2017