More that 10 years ago, I took my last drink.
Getting there was a tragic journey.
I remember my first drink of alcohol. It was three cans of Black Label beer. I was 16 and this elixir was the thing I had been searching for.
I come from a family of alcoholics and inherited the gene for dependency. I was alcoholic from the first drink.
Going to college opened the door to alcohol fueled events. This met my desire to fit in and drink without guilt or shame.
Somehow, I managed to obtain a career in the pharmacy world as a corporate officer. A functioning alcoholic was what I became. As the disease progressed and drinking escalated, it didn’t go unnoticed.
One day the vice president of the company approached and asked, “Mike, do you have a drinking problem?” I was shocked by the question, and of course said, “NO!”
That evening, the corporate staff went to a baseball game. Everyone was drinking beer, but NOT ME. I was determined to show them there was no problem with me. That was a difficult game to get through.
Some weeks later, drinking a liter of scotch daily, I visited the vice president and asked for help. I went to a 28-day rehab and stayed 33 days.
Five years went by abstinent, no recovery program in place. I became performance-driven, switching one addiction for another. Acquiring a lot of material things and a second wife, it was time to celebrate. After all, how could I be an alcoholic? Look what I’ve accomplished!
I lost everything, including a good woman, money, homes, job and all self-respect. The debilitating guilt and shame was overwhelming. Wanting to just STOP, but how?
In and out of multiple 28-day programs, it would be 18 years before another chance of a drug-free life would present itself.
As addiction does, I became a slave to a drug. I went to jail more than once and prison once.
I entered a long-term program, hopeless and broken at the age of 52 and a minimum two-year program. I stayed five years.
In my last rehab program, life and behaviors began to change. I was liking myself again and remained in the last program, after graduation, to work helping others. I became hungry for recovery.
I became a certified counselor and found my purpose.
Today, I am the executive director of a drug and alcohol facility helping others.
I have a home and a dog. There is joy and gratitude in my heart.
Looking back on my broken years, I now know God had his hand on my back. By His grace, I’m not six-feet under. It was divine intervention that steered me to my last cry for help.
Not a day passes that I don’t remember the ugly past and find gratitude that God helped save me.
Not a day passes that I don’t look in the mirror and say, “Mike, you are a miracle and today you will RUN TO RECOVERY!”
Today I know true freedom.