Hi, my name is Joel Gallermay, I’ve struggled with alcohol addiction for over 6 years and felt like I should share some of my experiences to help those of you in similar situations find a way to overcome this seldom-discussed topic.
My experience with alcohol began when I was a teenager at a close friend’s party. After refusing to drink at several previous parties, I decided I would try it to see what it was like. I loved the feeling and began to look forward to the weekends when I would get super drunk.
Weekends continued like this for a couple of years, having a good time and enjoying myself until one occasion I drank far too much and got alcohol poisoning. My friends rushed me to the hospital and my parents figured out I was binge drinking. They grounded me, but I still managed to sneak out pretty often and continue going to parties and having a great time.
There’s a common saying that you’re not addicted to alcohol until you’re drinking alone in broad daylight. I can say that while that aspect is true, you can become addicted far before that stage ever occurs. If you’re only living for the weekend as I was, you’re addicted. While there’s nothing wrong with going out on occasion and having some drinks with friends, if you dread your entire week and just live for the weekend, you’ve become addicted to alcohol. The best way to enjoy your work and have a productive week is to have a clean mind and body, which is incompatible with alcohol addiction.
In order to have a clean mind and body, you must be able to practice self-control, a common trait I find missing in young people today. In an age of Amazon Now, smartphones, Google Fiber, and instantaneous connection patience and self-control seem to have gone missing. If we have a craving for something we just take out our phone and order it. In the case of alcohol addiction, if I wanted alcohol, even if I didn’t have any on hand I could get it within 20 minutes.
As I developed into my young-adult years, partying became an even bigger part of my life. As I attended college I would drink nonstop through the weekend. Once I was 21 and over the legal drinking age I would even drink through the weekdays when I was alone, oftentimes before class to get me through the day. It became my crutch and any time I tried to slow down my body would crave more.
I knew I had a problem, but I knew that if I were to quit it would be difficult. My friends were sympathetic, but didn’t take it too seriously and despite my best efforts to stop I found myself unable due to constant pressure from friends and a personal desire to continue. I found that every time I made progress in quitting, something came up which sucked me back in.
In my youth I remember hearing a quote by Mark Twain which said, “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it a thousand times.” I always found this particular quote funny, but it’s true. It’s easy to quit your addiction, but true change requires more than just a desire to change, you have to be passionate. I found that in order to quit drinking I had to have an external factor working upon me. Whether it be a loved one, or an accountability partner, I found I was just not strong enough to beat it on my own.
The final straw for me came when I attacked my mother, not with violence but by my words. I remember she was simply trying to help me because she loved me and I pushed her away. I had previously pushed away all of my family members and she was the last one clinging to the hope that I would overcome my addiction. Realizing what I had done I agreed to attend addiction recovery meetings and she became my accountability coach. It did not happen all at once, I continued to drink for almost two years after that initial meeting. I tell you this so you don’t get discouraged. Just because you put forth serious effort does not mean that you will instantly achieve significant results. If you truly desire it though, the results will come as long as you persevere.
I hope that through my story I will be able to help those of you who are now suffering through an addiction, whether it be alcohol or something else. Continue to battle each day to overcome your battles and don’t be afraid to get help. Do not make the same mistakes I did and push away your loved ones because at the end of the day, they’re all you have.