As I watch my former state of New Hampshire’s politicians squabble over how they will allocate a minuscule portion of the revenue generated from alcohol sales to substance abuse programs, I can only laugh at the absurdity. As you enter the beautiful state you’ll find big bold State Liquor stores in the rest areas of its interstate highways. Their logic behind the masterful creation of the states appropriately named “Alcohol Fund” makes about as much sense as building a crack house in the rest areas and creating a “crack fund” with a tiny portion of the proceeds going to treatment for the many lives they will destroy.
Despite the great debate over the table scraps that fall to the floor from these legal and lethal beverages, it’s very clear that alcohol and its sales have opened many doors for New Hampshire. I thought I’d take a moment to share the many doors it has opened for me while growing up in the beautiful White Mountains.
Over the past 25 years in and out of recovery rooms I’ve heard thousands of people share their war stories around addiction. Regardless of the drug or behavior that seemed to be the theme of the room, I noticed that an overwhelming amount of them began their stories with their introduction to alcohol.
I haven’t done any other research around this because I’ve found that statistics are usually flawed anyway. Statistics can be used to manipulate any agenda so I just use my personal experience as my guide.
This awareness has led me to pause and reflect on my own journey with alcohol. Since my first drink at 11 years old, my life has taken many twists and turns with addiction. I refer to the term addiction in a singular term because I define it as the underlying thought process behind all the different drugs and behaviors I’ve used to self medicate from a pain which was never dealt with correctly from a very young age.
I’ll concede the argument as to whether alcohol is a gateway drug or not, to those who get the big bucks to argue while people are dying. I’ll only speak from one man’s perspective. One man who spent a life time doing the addiction dance with many different partners. Partners with names like sex, food, heroin, cocaine, gambling, and the list goes on. I was never faithful to one partner. In hindsight, maybe if I had been she would have given me the gift that comes with hitting rock bottom a lot sooner but one can only speculate.
Looking back, I see that alcohol has opened many doors for me over the years.
The first doors entered me into a world where I felt accepted; a place where I belonged. This was important to me in the aftermath of an extended visit with sexual abuse which spanned over a few years.
Next was an exit door from the baseball team, a sport I truly loved and had great potential in. But’ like they say, “when one door closes another opens.” What opened for me was a door to a world that I never wanted to enter prior to that moment but it was where I found acceptance once again. I was now a member of the tribe commonly referred to as the “heads” back in the early 70’s. This was the group of lost boys like me who had found relief from their pain through self-medication. I soon found a whole assortment of substances which allowed me to escape my pain. Substances that I had been taught to fear but, thanks to the courage alcohol gave me, I was easily able to overcome.
Then another exit door…the door that I was directed through as a result of getting permanently expelled from school at the ripe old age of 14. This came with an instant opening to the next door…Juvenile Detention.
There were many doors too numerous to mention individually, like back doors of police cruisers, courthouse doors, prison doors, rehab and therapist’s doors. Each one charging a hefty price for admission. Since then I’ve been labelled a junkie, an over eater, a sex addict, a compulsive gambler, an alcoholic, etc. etc. and they all began with the opening of that first cabinet door that contained that legal but lethal poison.
Finally, I walked through a church basement door and began this path to enlightenment that I now see myself on.
This is not a rant, blaming society for the journey I’ve traveled. I’m grateful for the many doors that have been opened for me for without them I wouldn’t have the experience to teach that for which I was sent here. Nor would I have the passion it takes to convey a powerful message in the way it needs to be heard. I’m also grateful for the many loved ones who traveled this road with me, especially those who didn’t survive the trip. They are my “WHY” and continue to remind me that I have a purpose on this earth that is no less significant than any other man or woman who has walked it before me.
I’m simply pointing out the welcome mat provided for our youth should they choose door number 2 when nobody is listening.
My fellow recovering addicts… you are not the afflicted. You are the chosen ones. Now go out there and get rich, get happy, GET POWERFUL, and tell your story.
THE WORLD NEEDS YOU!
“Your Greatest Struggles In Life Are The Things You Were Born To Teach” -Greg Boudle