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One Day At A Time

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One Day At A Time

My name is Dan and I'm an alcoholic. ?My sobriety date is September 28, 2010. ?My drinking career only lasted about 8 years, but after having read "Alcoholics Anonymous" and undertaking the design for living outlined in those pages, there is no doubt in my mind that I am an alcoholic, of the hopeless variety, when alcohol is introduced to my system.

My entire life, I was missing "something." ?I grew up in a normal, loving household: ?two loving parents, two older sisters, dogs, cats, and the picket fence. ?But I was always different from everyone else. ?We lived in the country away from all of my peers. ?I never had a best friend. ?I participated in Boy Scouts and the swim team, but was still an isolating loner. ?I struggled finding comfort in my own skin, so I often went overboard in trying to gain acceptance of others. ?People-pleasing became an unhealthy habit.

My father died very suddenly. ?He was the closest thig to a "best friend" I'd had. ?After he died, the isolation exasperated. ?I looked like a trooper on the outside, but was dying on the inside, looking for ANYTHING that would take away my pain and struggle for self.

My first drink was my first night at college. ?I was pretty good at swimming and went to college on a scholarship. ?Swimming is a great sport for isolators; it literally is just yourself and that black line on the bottom of the pool. ?So I excelled. ?But college swimming brought upon teammates and a whole new world of socializing that was completely foreign to me. ?The first night I drank, I had a beer and 2 shots of rum. ?I LOVED IT. ?I had finally found my solution. ?I was deluded into thinking that I had found the solution to all of my angst, timidity, and social awkwardness. ?But the reality was, I had found the liquid form of the "sirens" from Homer's "Iliad." ?I was attracted to alcohol and everything that came with it - I was smitten.

I cannot pinpoint the exact date when alcohol ceased becoming the magic elixir that solved all of my problems to becoming a daily necessity. ?But I do remember the feeling of dread when I would wake up from a blackout, not knowing where I was, who I was with, or how I arrived at where I was. ?I was arrested for DUI, twice. ?The first time, I was involved in a violent accident that luckily didn't claim the lives of anyone; however, three cars were totaled. ?My BAC was .27. ?I was 20 years old, barely 2 years into my drinking career.

I would graduate from college with a BS in Political Science, not knowing how I graduated or what I wanted to do for a career. ?I got a job as a bartender at a country club. ?I drank on the job, religiously. ?I stole. ?I drunk drove. ?The 1st DUI arrest did not scare me one bit. ?My alcoholism was in overdrive. ?My 2nd DUI arrest was my final straw. ?My BAC was a .27 again. ?This time, however, I remember the thought coming to mind as I was hauled away in the paddy wagon, "I can't keep living like this." ?My step-father picked my up from the hospital after they drew blood, and I remember asking him if he'd take me to AA. ?To this day, I do not know how those words entered my mind, let alone came out of my mouth.

The following Tuesday evening I went to my first AA meeting. ?It was here in AA where I was told of a REAL solution in which to arrest the disease of alcoholism. ?I never considered alcoholism a disease, I thought it was just poor decision-making. ?Like most of my thoughts concerning alcohol, I was wrong. ?I was given the "Big Book" and was told to read it. ?I was told to find a sponsor, get a home group, make coffee, work the Steps, and to "Keep coming back." ?I did none of those things (at first) except keep coming back to meetings.

I found Hope at AA meetings. ?The fellowship's experience, strength, and hope gave ME hope that perhaps I too, could one day find and enjoy the solution that they had. ?I was still afraid of the legal consequences I had to face as a result of my 2nd DUI arrest, however, which included 3 months living at a halfway house and a brief jail sentence. ?Following all of those legal circumstances, specifically the experience in jail where I literally felt the true essence of powerlessness, I came back to AA with a completely open mind and willingness to "work the program" and change my life.

I got a sponsor my first meeting out of jail. ?We began to read the Big Book together. ?He guided me through the Steps. ?I began making coffee. ?I got involved in a home group. ?I went to at least one AA meeting EVERY DAY. ?Slowly but surely, the Steps of AA worked through me and I began to experience recovery. ?The physical craving for alcohol had vanished. ?In fact, putting away the drink was the EASY PART of my recovery. Learning how to live a sober life, one day at a time, that was the challenging part.

Just like how I could not pinpoint the exact moment where alcohol began making my life completely unmanageable, I cannot pinpoint the moment in my recovery where the MENTAL OBSESSION over alcohol vanished. ?I attribute this to my new found faith in a Higer Power. ?I had resented God for all of the tumult and shame that had been brought upon my life. ?But I was at such a vulnerable state of mind and being that I was completely willing to try the spiritual angle of AA. ?It worked. ?I put my trust in the fellowship: this collection of people could stay sober one day at a time, I couldn't. ?I listened, followed direction, exhibited the same patience and tolerance that was given me, and I began to recover.

I have been sober for a little over 2.5 years now. ?I have no intentions of going back. ?I am currently enrolled in graduate school to earn my MSW. ?I plan on making a career out of the 12th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous, which states: ?"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." ?I'm not sure if I want to get into the recovery field for a profession, but I do know that I want to put my zeal and desire to help and assist others to practice.

I wish everyone here the best of luck on their journeys to recovery. ?I believe in all my heart that TOGETHER, we can do what I could not do alone. ?God bless.

- Dan P.

This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

Guest Book


1. Julie
What a wonderful story, Dan. Thank you for sharing it with us and congratulations on five years of sobriety today!