Exit Now for Recovery
Did you know 1 out of 10 people are alcoholics? 5% of alcoholics know they need help, but do nothing about it. 8% seek treatment. The remaining 87% of alcoholics don't even know they have a problem!
I'm not exactly sure when I knew I was an alcoholic. I remember admitting it to myself about a year and a half before I ever admitted to anyone else and got help. The disease of alcoholism is cunning. I would justify drinking. I would compare myself to others who I thought were way worse than me. I would tell myself day after day that I wasn't going to drink, yet, I would go to the store after work to grab something for dinner and go in the doors telling myself I wasn't going to buy any alcohol. It never failed that I would be standing in the check out line with a couple bottles pinot or a 12 pack of blue moons....or both. It was baffling. I couldn't understand why I couldn't just stop. That's when I knew I had a problem.
In the first week of rehab we were given an Evaluation Chart of Stages, Results, and Recovery of Alcoholism. Starting at the top-left of this U-shape road going down were the stages of addiction. There were 31 "signs." Out of the 31, I circled 31. I stayed in the preliminary signs of alcoholism for years without having a clue I had a problem. I thought it was normal to "sneak" drinks before a social function or have occasional memory lapses after heavy drinking. Heck, I even thought most of the critical stages of addiction were normal. I was struggling to control my drinking for years. I constantly made excuses for drinking. You know, the..."you'd drink too if..." I was a big fan of that game. Not once did I ever think all those "ifs" were happening because I drank.
After number 31, which was acknowledging defeat, I had two choices. #32 was a desire to continue addiction. This was something I had done for a couple years. I had no desire to change for a long time. Then I spent a year enduring the stages of addiction...wanting to change, but not doing anything about it. The second choice was to start the road to recovery. Thankfully and by the grace of God, I chose recovery. Had I continued on the road of addiction, I had the following steps to look forward to...
33. Unwilling to accept help.
34. Health wastes away.
I was 4 steps away from death. My brother, like many, skipped a few steps and hit #36 before his health wasted away or becoming insane. Some skip many of these steps before acknowledging defeat OR death. The thing is, once you are on the road of addiction, you are increasing your chances of death anywhere along that road. Death is just the final promise. You will eventually get there. It may have taken me days, weeks, months or even years to get there, but it's where I was headed. The alcoholic death is a sad and miserable way to die and being an alcoholic is a sad and miserable way to live. You can lie to yourself all you want, but your health will prove you wrong. There is a "liver disease crisis" according to new studies that show a drastic increase in hospital admissions for liver disease. And the kicker...a large percentage of these people don't think they have a problem with alcohol. So, whether they can admit they have a problem or not, they now have a liver disease problem.
So, I looked at the evidence in front of me at the road I was on and chose recovery. It's a choice I make every day...sometimes a choice I make several times a day. It's not always easy. But what is easy? My life as an active alcoholic was anything but. I was at a crossroads where I saw a skull and cross bones just 4 steps away or there was a happy face with all these great promises that were 12 Steps away. Yeah, it's looked like a little more work to get to the happy face, but let's face it...the other road wasn't looking good and I was awfully close to the end of the road! The great thing is, you can choose recovery at any point along the road. Don't wait until you have circled all 31 signs along the road. Alcoholism is progressive. It never gets better. Alcoholism is chronic. It never goes away. And alcoholism is fatal, if not treated. You will eventually end up at sign 31 if you don't die before that. Save yourself the rough road ahead and exit as soon as possible.