By the end of tonight, it will have been 12 days since I’ve had my last drink. This will mark the longest period I’ve gone without alcohol while at home in a very long time. The other times last year I went without was because I was on orders for the Army and didn’t have much of a choice.
Things had actually been going ok the last few months, or so I thought. I sat in front of my psychiatrist and chatted, letting her know things were going pretty well, I’d started a new job, I was “good.” She then asked if I was still drinking nightly. I had reported consuming roughly 4-7 beers a night for the past few years, 7 days a week. Days I didn’t drink, it was because I was too sick from the previous night’s drinking.
I’d convinced myself since I was only drinking at home mostly, it wasn’t a problem. I wasn’t going to get another DUI, a la’ 2013. But for some reason, my doctor asking me again if I was still drinking, I hit the wall.
Once I heard the question I broke down and admitted to not changing anything as far as my alcohol consumption went. Previously she had prescribed Naltrexone, a medication in pill form that not only curbs cravings for alcohol, but also blocks the opioid affects if I did happen to drink while on the medication. Basically, if I took the meds, I wouldn’t feel “drunk,” while on it. The only problem was, I didn’t seem to find the time or desire to actually take the pills.
I was angry at myself. How did I let it get to that point? On the outside I functioned alright. Granted the job situation was a little rocky for a bit, but I was still actively looking and doing all the things I needed to do in order to be considered a productive member of society.
Only thing is, my productivity ended around 7pm every night, where I cracked the first beer, guzzled the first one down in roughly 3 and a half minutes. I would then continue to guzzle until I blacked out into my bed around midnight. I’d wake up the next day, do what I had to, then do it all over again. Sprinkle in some major depressive episodes and well, you had Laura in her 2019 form. Pretty haggard, but still there.
My psychiatrist advised that there was a possibility of getting the Naltrexone in shot form. She then referred me to a substance abuse specialist at the VA. I met with that counselor the next week.
After a short survey, the counselor advised me I fell into the severe category of the Alcohol Use Disorder spectrum. (It’s not called alcoholism anymore). This was shocking to me. “What do you mean I drink more than 99% of other women my age?”
I see all those dumb housewife shows where the ladies match their wine glasses with their outfits. Hell, even my self-help books inevitably involved the author talking about having some wine to wind down. It didn’t occur to me that that’s not normal. Ingesting poison to make yourself feel better is pretty counter-productive. Alright fine, I suck, is what I thought.
The next week, I received more results from a different survey I’d taken. I won’t bore you with all the details ( I know this post is dry as MRE crackers, but hang in there, I just have to get this disclaimer post out). One interesting thing though was the shear volume of units of alcohol I’d had. My results showed that in the past year, I’d had roughly 1,768 drinks.
I thought of all the wasted time and money. I thought of the 1,768 chances I had to work on my dream of being a writer or doing ANYTHING else besides drink. My years of use stunted so much potential I had to guide my life where I wanted. We won’t even get into the walks to the edge I made over and over the past year, magnified by being on an extreme form of depressant of hops and barley. That day I decided I couldn’t afford to lose anymore time. If I wanted to stay in this world, I had to do something. So I got the shot.
Look, I’ve had my share of shots in the Army, but this gotdang thing hurt like a sumabidge. It felt like thick oatmeal going into the top of my butt cheek. It was sore for an entire week. I gladly iced ma’ butt though.
I find myself with a lot more time now. I’ve managed to fill all of it up though and so there’s still never enough of it. But it’s my time. It’s not stolen by the dark void of alcohol.
Either my mind is right, or these shots are a miracle. There are beers in the fridge as I type. I spent a whole weekend by myself with it there. It crossed my mind once to try it and see how it felt while on the shot. But then I thought of the days I had under my belt so far. I dared myself to see how far I can take it.
How long can I keep from poisoning myself?
So, I may be around here more than normal, or less. I’m not sure yet how this will impact my writing and living. I still have work to do. I’ve agreed to start going to meetings, as well as work a form of the steps on my own. I’m never alone though. I have the support of so many people. I know even if I trip, I’m not going to fall.
I grieved a bit at first. I grieved at the “good times,” I thought I would miss by NOT drinking. How dumb is that? Not once, after a hangover, have I ever thought, “Holy shit I’m glad I drank last night.” I have so much more to gain.
It’s a bit scary to think I’m on a bridge that may perhaps lead me to a solid place. I sometimes wait for the other shoe to drop, for something bad to happen and mess it all up. So I am taking it slow. I am deciding what I can and cannot handle on my plate right now, as it’s pretty full.
The day I got the shot, I pulled into my driveway after leaving the VA outpatient clinic. Amy Winehouse’s song, Rehab came on. I am glad for myself, that I said yeah, yeah, yeah, instead of Amy’s no, no, no.