HaroldMar 5, 2017
From Wine for Breakfast to Two Years Sober
By Harold Williams
For years, I didn’t think I had a problem with alcohol. I believed I simply drank too much – I had too much fun.
As a TV producer in advertising, I worked in an environment where alcohol was prevalent. And I was brought up in a family that drank. No one seemed to be falling down drunk. It was a natural thing to offer drinks around on a daily basis.
Like most middle class people, my family thought alcoholism was for tramps, hobos, derelicts. Not a problem you encountered in golf and tennis clubs. Most people believe alcoholism to be a deficiency of character, a choice. I felt alcoholics were people who couldn’t control themselves, who should know better, who should be sensible.
I had my first inkling that alcoholism was a disease when my sister died at 41.
Then it hit me personally when I retired. Suddenly, I didn’t know how to fill the days. Alcohol, I think, was a means of blotting out the void of the empty day. If you don’t play golf or tennis, what else is there to do?
I was waking up with a hangover. And they don’t get any easier as you get older. The only cure was a drink. I had white wine at breakfast time and finished off a bottle over the course of the morning. So the circle would start.
It got worse. I had a go at giving it up on my own and stopped drinking for six months. Well, there you are, I thought. I’ve proved I don’t need anybody’s help. But then I had a drink — and was flat out again. I hadn’t cracked it at all. I was caught again in the spiral.
In 2015, feeling very ill, I called David Lawrence Center to be their Crossroads Detox program. I had to be in a safe place where they would use medication to keep me alive while getting the poison out of my system. Then I could start afresh and really address this problem.
The Crossroads staff was very caring, very professional. They weren’t judgmental. You felt there was nothing they hadn’t seen. It was absolutely the right place for me to be.
After withdrawal, I committed to stop drinking. DLC staff felt I didn’t need their residential program and suggested instead their Crossroads Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). So three times a week, I met with seven others for three hours, and we talked about our stories. Our leader used the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach.
I learned why I drank. I used alcohol as a crutch in social situations and in stressful situations. I used to think I drank because I was depressed. Actually the drinking caused the depression. I still have the odd off day…but I no longer feel the need to drink.
Now I’m at peace if I have an empty day in front of me. I travel and go on walks. When the wine comes around and everyone else drinks, I have a glass of water. I thought it would be hard to carry on normal life and not drink. It isn’t.
The Crossroads IOP at David Lawrence Center achieved the results I wanted. It’s a medically-supervised professional program that addressed the psychological aspects of my drinking and enabled me to carry on with normal life and to involve my family.
The program saved my life. If I hadn’t turned up that Sat night, I wouldn’t be here now. I thought DLC was the place to go. I was right.