April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This month, we will publish stories from real people dealing with alcoholism. Click this link to view all of our alcohol-related resources and tools. Please also visit Alcoholics Anonymous in Vermont. Our third and final personal story is from Peter. 

As a teenager, I already feared that I was corrupting myself away from my true nature. The man within, whom as a child I felt I was later to become, became lost to me. I was to be in the dark for some time before anything would change.

There was no particular reason I first drink. I was living in California and I was eleven years old. I drank a huge quantity of boxed wine that was left out on the kitchen counter. When I drank and used later, it was always in similar quantities. I wrote constantly in journals of the irrevocable, irreversible damage I thought to be inflicting on myself.

I went to rehab at fifteen. Relieved at the help placed before me, I told my parents everything for the first time. I then stayed sober for a year and became a nationally recognized honor student.

Soon I drank, tore it up, and graduated high school by little more than the generosity of my administrators. For three years after I drank every day. Alcohol launched me into elation while my external life eroded, and my health became worrisome. I was horrified at the volume I’d consumed. My parents flew me to Vermont for another stab at rehab. I stayed here, thinking this was my final safety. It wasn’t. Five more years of increasingly sordid living, detox after detox, rehab after rehab… Finally in late October of 2010, I end up once more in a bed at a detox center in Burlington.

No great moment came. I easily could have walked out, no different, and kept on.

Then, a few guys came into the detox center and talked to me. I asked one of them what to do; he told me to call him. I had long since abandoned any idea of real hope, but I called. This man gave me some suggestions and I took them. He told me to do things that were frightening. Each day, I found myself having done more of those things. Slowly, things changed.

It was that simple. I felt that I was not going to get any better, and then I did. I’d assumed that some great emotional upheaval would surely have to take place for me to change, but it just required taking simple actions from those who had recovered. Alcoholics like me die every single day. I was fortunate, rather than destined, to have had a chance offered to me.

Today, I live a life of utter elation, every day, dark days and bright, at the exhilaration of having survived my sure demise. I am in love with being a part of humanity. And now I show up for my relationships, and for those who might benefit from my unique experience, just as someone had done for me. Now, it’s my job to simply show up: the only thing asked of me in return.

Peter is an undergraduate student of the University of Vermont with four years of sobriety from alcohol and drugs.

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