Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Bruce Banner and The Hulk. Reamus Lupin and Moony (yes I am an avid reader of Harry Potter). All fictional characters who struggle with an affliction or problem that they cannot control, which transforms them into hideous beasts. The book of Alcoholics Anonymous even makes reference to it – “The alcoholic is a real Jekyll-and-Hyde.” It’s true. Alcoholics suffer from exactly this kind of plight.
I would start a night of drinking as Enthusiastic Socialite Tom, and 9 times out of 10 would end a night of drinking as Shitfaced Blackout Tom. Especially towards the end of my heavy drinking, I became terrified of the latter. I would wake up each morning (or afternoon) after, with an immediate feeling of panic rising in my chest. When I would get together with whoever I had been out with (re: my caretakers for that particular bout of drinking), often they would begin sharing details of some grand adventure or happening from the previous night, but then trail off with “Oh, right, you don’t remember….” And I know that some details were specifically spared, to save whatever tattered remains of dignity I managed to hold on to.
Caleb Followill, lead singer for rock band Kings of Leon, gave a nickname to his drinking alter-ego: The Rooster. Because when The Rooster came out, he started acting like a real cock. I had no idea how to prevent this from happening to myself. I could never pace my consumption accurately. I had developed a solid tolerance, so upon taking the first few swigs the ensuing effect would be relatively mild. Then the disease would rear its ugly head, and insist that I needed more, more, faster, faster.
This is why I will never, for the rest of my life, be able to pick up “just one” drink. As soon as it hits my lips, I will instantly revert to the point where I was just before quitting drinking. There will be no gradual descent from a couple beers here and there to mixed drinks at the bar to consecutive shots of hard liquor. No; for me, it will be straight no chaser, directly from the bottle. And only get worse from there, very quickly. I have never “enjoyed” alcohol, in the true sense of the word. Instead, I obsess over it; the thought of the next drink and the drink after that constantly on my mind, preventing me from actually enjoying the present moment.
So, I must stay ever-vigilant. The stakes are high and the game dangerous. It may sound overly dramatic, but the truth is that my “next drink” will ultimately lead to any one (or a combination) of three scenarios: incarceration, insanity, or death. This disease really is that deadly, and people who don’t abide by their sobriety often unfortunately fall prey to these fatal consequences.
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