I didn’t realize I was asking for help with my alcoholism as I sat in the therapist’s office listening to her outline her no smoking treatment program. Drinking wasn’t my problem, but I really hated smoking cigarettes. The therapist had developed a program that combined no smoking techniques with weekly therapy. One of the first things we discussed were my triggers. She asked if I drank. When I answered that I did, she asked if I smoked more when I drank. “Maybe a little more,” I lied. She suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to cut down on my drinking while I was trying to quit smoking. I remember reacting like she had pulled a gun on me. “My drinking is okay the way it is, I snapped at her.” My life was going to hell in a hand basket, but drinking couldn’t be the problem because drinking was all I had left. After all, I hadn’t been arrested for drunk driving for almost 19 years. No, I didn’t need any help with my drinking thank you very much.
I was able to quit smoking with her help and a fierce addiction to Nicorette gum. But my life didn’t get any better. I was unemployed, running out of borrowed money and waking up every morning with a growing sense of hopelessness. I still had no idea that getting drunk twice a day had anything to do with my life problems, but I went back to the therapist because I didn’t know what else to do.
She said she couldn’t help me. I was welcome to visit with her every week, but she didn’t think it would do any good. “Why not?” I asked. Her exact words were, “from what I know about you Jeff, you don’t have an ounce of humility in your whole body, you have the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old and your brain is so cloudy from your daily drinking but you can’t hope to get any clarity on your life.” Needless to say I was shocked at her words. Then she looked into my eyes like she was looking directly at my soul and said, “you’re in trouble aren’t you, Jeff?” The voices in my head screamed that I shouldn’t answer this question. I looked down at my shoes for a long moment. Finally I whispered, “maybe”. I know today that “maybe” was me working the first step. Unknowingly, I had just admitted there was something I couldn’t handle myself—that I needed help.
A week later I signed up for treatment and a week after that I walked into my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It felt like I had finally found my way home after a long painful journey. I loved everything about Alcoholics Anonymous on that first day. And my love has continued to grow throughout the years.