Escape from Alcohol, Tobacco and Illegal Drugs
In my early years after high school, I really enjoyed drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and eventually taking illegal drugs. I was raised by strict religious parents in the ’50s and ’60s; developing into a paranoid, fearful, mommas boy, who was picked on mercifully by other kids throughout grammar and high school. I finally escaped by joining the military in 1966; clueless about what I was getting myself into. I remember most of my first experience drinking alcohol. I boarded the first plane ride I ever took in my life with other recruits; and the older men bought me some beer. To this point, I had never tasted beer before. I remember how good I felt about myself, and even more importantly, the stewardesses found me cute. I gained recognition for the first time in my life; and people, especially females, were taking notice of me. Being young, immature, and hungry for attention, I found a way to happiness.
Four years of military service, mostly in Vietnam, introduced me to alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs. I loved all of them. They were my means of escape from a reality that I was leaving behind; including my childhood and active duty in a war. I remember one time when I was given a little white pill called peace; and being told not to worry, that it would make me relax. I did not completely remember the next 24 hours. I believe to this day that it was LSD; and some people were pulling a joke on me. The joke turned ugly that week, when the drug dealers feared a military inspection one day; and threw their stash into the harbor. The inspection did happen; but what interested them the most was why all the fish in the harbor were floating on the surface dead. Two persons were court martialed and thrown out of the service. In the middle of all this chaos, I also fathered an illegitimate child.
I was drinking hard liquor daily; then beer with whiskey chasers. One of my favorites was what is called a boilermaker; where you drop a shot of whiskey into a mug of beer, and drink it down. I was smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day; and breaking into a fourth one into the night hours. I couldn’t sleep, so I stayed up pacing the floors at night drinking and smoking. I was haunted by my childhood and my experiences in Vietnam. I was also sniffing cocaine, smoking marijuana, and eating mushrooms. I even experienced LSD, mescaline, and quaaludes. Unfortunately, I was developing a very destructive personality that was causing harm to others. I had a nasty temper, I was abusive to others, and sadly, an ego that projected pure evil. The worst was yet to come, as I became suicidal as well. I was out of control.
My long road to alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug freedom happened by circumstance over a period of years. One day, at the age of 22, I became extremely sick; suffering from viral pleurisy, bronchitis, and pneumonia. I was in the hospital for a week. During that time, for obvious reasons, I was not smoking cigarettes. I actually felt more energy, and the smell of other people smoking nauseated me. My first day home, I went for a pack of cigarettes; and stopped myself, and put them down on the coffee table. I really thought long and hard. If I pick those cigarettes back up to smoke, I will never get away from smoking. In a temper tantrum, I went around the entire apartment gathering up every cigarettes and ash trays; and tossed them out into the trash can. I was angry at myself for doing it. I felt weird about the whole experience; I started getting nervous that I was making a mistake. I was a nervous wreck; pacing from room to room, walking the hallways at night. The worst moments were in bar rooms, partying with friends, and being at work; where smoking was allowed back then, and quite extensive in use. Surprisingly, I stuck with it. I stayed away from bar rooms, and started disassociating myself from some friends and acquaintances who were compulsive smokers. In retrospect, I believe the memory of being so sick in the hospital for a week, influenced my thinking about cigarette smoke. I was also introduced to an exercise program that absorbed most of my negative energy. I became addicted to exercising, which was a good thing. Unfortunately, my alcohol abuse and illegal drug use continued. I mistakenly concluded that removal of tobacco from my life and building up my body gave me the stamina to hold down a job, drink alcohol, and use illegal drugs in a perfect balance. I felt I was in control of my life.
Fast forward the next 15 years of my life. My destructive personality had been tempered by the ability to make serious money in the work place. I went to college on the GI bill, and held various positions in business, was married and divorced twice, lived in 3 states, and remained an abuser of alcohol and illegal drugs. I was making very good money; and purchasing alcohol and illegal drugs was like going to the store to buy milk and eggs. That is one point I would like to make here. The availability of illegal drugs is huge; worse than anyone could possibly imagine. When the authorities state that they are in control, they are fooling themselves. The drug community thrives very well under the leadership of very wealthy and intelligent business people. Anyway, I was scaling down my alcohol consumption to only beer, and my illegal drug useage to only smoking marijuana and speed. There were no reasons for the changes, I just transitioned to this lifestyle without much thought behind it.
Then one day, after my second divorce, I decided to pack up and move back home to stay with my parents. I became concerned that my parents and siblings were living there entire lives without me; and, more importantly, all my nephews and nieces didn’t even know who I was without looking at a picture, and someone pointing me out. I remember one time when I flew home to visit my family for Christmas; my brother and my 2 nephews came to the airport to meet me. When I cam up to them in the waiting area, the younger of the 2 nephews backed away in fear of me. The kid didn’t have a clue who I was. This left aan awful feeling in me. Forty years of life had just zipped by with a blink of an eye. However, my decision to move back home created a problem for me that I hadn’t thought about. How was I going to purchase illegal drugs? In the past, I had built up so many connections, that I never worried about where to get them. Now, I was living in an area where I not only didn’t know any drug dealers; but I was very concerned about how to ask without getting into trouble with the law. Just by circumstance, I was unable to acquire any drugs. I actually drank more because of that. In addition, I became greatly involved in family activities, especially sporting events with my nephews and nieces. One day, a few months after moving back home, I went to the men’s room during a football game; and smelled a very familiar aroma: marijuana. I didn’t see anyone; but the aroma was sure good to smell. I caught myself reminiscing and smiling about the past. I also thought about how I hadn’t even thought about drugs during these last few months. I didn’t experience any withdrawal problems at all. Then the light bulb came on: the positive relationships I had built with my family, involvement in their activities, and the joy of visiting my parents had filled my life; I was not dependent on illegal drugs anymore. Unfortunately, I remained an alcoholic; free of illegal drugs and tobacco.
During the next few years I drank quite a bit. I was able to fool the public in holding down some very good positions in the business arena. The fact that a majority of business people are alcoholics probably helped my lifestyle. I became overweight, I actually have a picture of me camping with by brothers and nephews with my belly sticking out about a foot with a beer can balanced on the top of my gut. Very ugly, but funny to most. I started developing quite a few medical problems that required prescription drugs to counteract; like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and ulcers. I started getting confident that I could continue drinking with the aid of medications such as prilosec and nexium. It worked. I wasn’t exercising either, which added to my physical probelms. I was basically living a life of working full time, coming home to drink a 12 pack of beer every night, and consuming pizzas and cheeseburgers. I was consuming large quantities of non-nutritional food. I was becoming a mess.
Then one day years later, after 15 years of being a single, I fell in love for the first time in my life. I met an angel; very intelligent and warm human being. She remains a person who puts others before herself. She walks into a room, and people flock to her. To this point in my life, I had loved my parents, loved my siblings, loved others; but I had never been “in love”. I didn’t even understand it. We never fought about anything; disagreed here and there. But we would always communicate very well; and always resolved conflict through conversation. Together, we took off on a life of dining out, outdoor activity, and traveling. More importantly, I was trimming down my alcohol consumption; she had an occasional drink of wine.
After a couple of years, she started to take note of my prescription drug use and alcohol consumption; or at least observed it, and waited for the right moment to question me about it. She was just concerned, and wanted to understand what the medications were for. She never asked me to change, she just listened and gave her honest opinion. She is a person who refuses to take medications, and will not submit to any invasive medical procedures. In her mind, there are better ways. That attitude had a positive influence on me. I had to admire that. Through research and watching various television programs, especially Dr. Oz, she insisted that if we ate healthier and exercised regularly, my dependence on alcohol and prescription drugs would dissipate; and possibly be eliminated. Along with other circumstances that came into my life, my wife and I started eating healthy, exercising regularly, and not drinking alcohol. I was climbing the walls for a while; especially every time I passed by the beer aisle in the grocery store. I would often joke with my wife by turning the grocery cart into the beer aisle, exclaiming that it was the cart and not me. The exercise program and healthy eating really helped. I even forced the issue with myself by leaving three bottles of beer in the refrigerator; they are still there after an entire year. In retrospect, I’m convinced that my love, respect, and admiration for my wife was the answer to my alcohol abuse.
I have been alcohol free for a solid year. I am really becoming an entirely different man. When I think back to my early years, I shutter to think about the person I was. I must say that alcohol, illegal drugs, and tobacco are the root of most evil; influenced greatly by greed. There are facts concerning alcohol and illegal drug activity that would scare the ordinary human being; but I will save those stories for another time. A person can escape alcohol, illegal drug, and tobacco abuse by permanent changes to your environment, serious support systems, and the desire to do it. I am a weak person; and I did it.