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A Recovery Story: Three Strikes and I Won

I am a lawyer. I am also an alcoholic. I drank in college, but the alcoholic drinking started in the military and persisted through law school and the next 22 years. I was a quiet drinker. I did not hang out in bars; I drank either in the office at night or at home. I thought I hid my drinking well from everyone else. For years I had seen the PALS advertisements in the Bar Quarterly. I felt that I had a problem but I would not, could not, admit to myself that “IT was bad.” I could not picture myself as one of those “losers” I represented in criminal cases or marriage breakups caused by alcohol abuse. I can remember telling clients to “get a grip on themselves” even while I had a hangover.

A few years ago another attorney dropped by to talk to me. He and his wife were concerned about my drinking and he suggested I try AA. I had long since quit listening to my wife about my drinking. I thanked him for his concern and assured him that I would do something. I did.

I telephoned a local PALS committee member and spoke to him several times about my friend’s visit and my own concern. He often invited me to meet him at his home, but I always declined. In retrospect I knew I could not face him. If I did, I would have to face myself. I finally told him that I had “IT” under control and did not call him anymore.

Six months later my friend dropped by again. He said it no longer was a question of going to AA, that I should go through a treatment program. I thanked him again for his concern and called a different PALS member. I guess I was too ashamed to call the other volunteer back again. This time I confessed that I knew I had a problem and asked him for suggestions. He told me that he had an alcohol problem, but he had been sober for over ten years. He said he had found much help through his personal religion and AA and suggested that I seek help in prayer and religion. I did not want to hear about religion. So I thanked him, like the one before, for his help and hung up.

To this day I do not know what made me call another PALS member immediately thereafter, but I did. I guess I was just finally ready. He also was very understanding. When I said that maybe I needed to go to AA, he said he was going to an AA meeting that night and he would meet me there.

Somewhat to my surprise and probably to his also, I met him. The people at the meeting were not the “losers” or “Willie the Winos” I expected to see. After all, I was used to dealing with “those kinds” in my criminal and domestic practice. Instead I felt accepted by them and at ease for the first time in a long time. These people had hope in their lives and they told me of their experiences and how they were dealing with the problem “one day at a time.” They convinced me that I was not alone in my problem and they would stick by me and help in any way they could.

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