Usually when you get older, it’s customary for the normative traits of one’s youth to go out of the window: you don’t drive as fast, you stop eating like you have the metabolism of a 15 year-old and you stop putting so much stock in New Year’s Resolutions. Unfortunately, addiction renders gender stereotypes meaningless, and “acting your age” ceases to be an option when you suffer the daily indignities of alcohol dependency. The only role that age plays in addiction, as far as I’m concerned, is that it provides that much less time and physical resources for you to recover.
When I was 48 years old, I began drinking more heavily than I ever had before in my life. I was having an incredibly hard time facing the fact that I was approaching 50’s and had just gone through a divorce, which meant I was no longer accountable to anyone. My ex-wife got half of what I made every two weeks and that was enough for her. So I just casually and quietly slipped into a pattern of substance abuse and addiction without anyone finding out until it was too late. For my 50th birthday, I had little desire to do anything but drink; this is when I realized that I had a serious problem.
As the months went on, I got more and more frightened at my inability to stop drinking and as the holidays rolled around, I made a sacred New Year’s resolution: get help for my drinking. I hadn’t even thought about making a resolution since I was about 14 because I was never good at keeping, and somewhere along the way, I came to regard making false promises to myself as an unhealthy and counterproductive habit. This latest resolution, however, was too important to break. On January 3, 2012, I checked myself into a luxury alcohol treatment program and never looked back.
I’m still embarrassed to disclose the number of times per day that I wanted to just get the hell out of there and find the nearest bar. I thought about leaving every single hour for my first week in treatment, but I suppose that’s all part of the process. If alcohol recovery was easy, everyone would drink themselves sick every night and detox the next morning. I had been drinking my entire adult life and it all sort of built to this uncontrollable monster that just got completely out of control. I wasn’t going to recover overnight and I was prepared for a long journey.
My New Year’s resolution has turned into a five-year resolution and I’m going for six in three months. Since getting treatment, I’ve been able to abstain from alcohol and once again live my life the way I did before I had my meltdown. It’s refreshing beyond description to be able to avoid running to alcohol to cope with adversity. Perhaps New Year’s resolutions aren’t strictly for the young, after all.