Despite losing his wife and kids, Pete continued to drink. He didn’t see a problem with it and never thought he was an alcoholic. Then one night a family intervention put Pete on a road to recovery. This is his addiction recovery story.
Hi, I’m Pete, I’m 57 and a recovering alcoholic.
I served in the army in my early twenties but didn’t drink much then.
My drinking really started socially in my early thirties and as the years passed, it became more and more excessive.
A couple of years into my social drinking, my then wife and I decided to brew our own spirits. It was a cheaper option, and my drinking became a daily habit. We had that much alcohol in the house that you could pretty much name your drink and it was there.
My wife was also a reasonably heavy drinker, but the difference was that she could stop, and I couldn’t.
I was a workaholic as well and always looked forward to coming home at night and drinking which would give me a bit of a break from the daily grind or at least that was my excuse.
Back then, I didn’t see my alcohol use as problematic. I thought that I could stop at anytime I wanted to.
Drinking would also help me sleep. That was my reasoning behind it at least. That was followed by, “why should I stop?” “I’m not hurting anyone else; I drink at home and I’m not drinking in public hurting anyone”.
I never drank in the morning if I had to work. I would wake up early so I could have about ten coffees before I went to work, trying to get going as my job demanded a lot of me mentally.
I did however drink in the mornings if I didn’t have to go to work and those drinks are what I’d call “sneaky ones”.
Before I started drinking in my thirties, I was obsessive about fitness – I was the National Powerlifting Champion. As a matter of fact, that was my addiction back then – I trained for two to three hours a day, five days a week.
Yes, it was an addiction but a socially accepted one. One that also would not have taken me to a rehab like the Hader Clinic.
Over the years, I found I couldn’t stop drinking.
My first wife asked me to leave home about ten years ago.
I was still drinking when I met my next partner and she has also left me.
My kids don’t speak to me either (unfortunately, they haven’t yet had a change of heart since I completed my time in rehab).
Despite my wife and kids leaving, I continued to drink. I didn’t see a problem with it and I certainly didn’t think I was an alcoholic.
However, my sisters and their husbands and my niece were the ones that said, “enough is enough”. They invited me over for dinner one night and ambushed me, trying to convince me to get help and go to a residential rehab.
I had brought a few sneaky drinks with me in the car, and throughout dinner, I was excusing myself to head out to the car to have a drink.
Anyway, I agreed to go.
Then I put if off for a week, then for another week. Because I own my own business I was worried about what would happen to it.
Then, eventually, I spoke to Hayden at the Hader Clinic Queensland and organised to head into rehab on the following Monday.
On the Monday I was reluctant, but my family convinced me to get in the car and dropped me off at the Hader Clinic.
At the time, I couldn’t believe that I agreed to it, thinking that I wouldn’t do the full ninety-day program.
I thought that I would go there, they would give some pills and I would be cured in a couple of weeks and then leave.
After four weeks, I had planned to leave. I was all good. I thought, “I know what this is about, I’m not stupid, I can handle myself, I will be fine”.
However, the staff convinced me to stay for another thirty days and at the sixty-day mark, I realised that I would not have made it had I left at the thirty-day mark.
Again, I thought I would leave at sixty days, but the same thing happened – as I progressed towards ninety days, I realised that for me the sixty-day mark would have been too early.
I completed the ninety days.
Towards the end of my drinking I was starting to lose some memory and cognition, but I had been able to do what needed to be done in my business.
My employees were also a great help in keeping things going.
While I was undergoing rehabilitation, I learned that alcoholism is a disease.
I didn’t believe it before my admission to Hader, but I believe it now.
Learning about the AA steps and realising that my life had become unmanageable as a result of my alcohol intake was another watershed moment for me.
Five years prior to my admission into rehabilitation, I went to AA meetings.
I was in denial – I didn’t think that I was an alcoholic, reasoning that my life wasn’t unmanageable, I thought, “I run a business, I go to work every day, I also thought “I do what I need to do every day to live, so I’m not an alcoholic – and I manage my life quite well”.
However, our minds tell us that we’re doing well but often we’re not.
When I was in rehabilitation, I did everything I had to do. In fact, I went back to the Rehab last week for a meeting and I still can’t believe how many people both male and female came up and gave me a hug.
What made me stay a bit longer each time? It was the staff.
If it wasn’t for the staff explaining addiction and other things to me I may have left.
The staff were brilliant with a person like me.
I like to work for myself and have done so for most of my life in several different businesses. I also have two university degrees and thought that I was more intelligent than the average person, so reasoning with me could be quite hard, but the staff managed to convince me to stay for sixty, then to ninety days.
I now average four AA meetings a week – often I’m away for work where I have no access to a meeting.
However, when I’m in town, I’ll attend several meetings a week.
I love the meetings because they keep me focused.
On the days that shit happens, the fellowship of AA really picks me up as I can identify with their shares.
There’s some merit in confessing your defects, troubles, shortcomings and whatever else, through sharing.
I’m much better at expressing my feelings since rehab.
Before my time in rehab, there would be no chance of getting me, this “tough man” telling you how I felt.
I thought expressing feelings was a sign of weakness, along with the fact that I didn’t want to bother anyone else with my crap.
Pre-rehab, I wouldn’t open at all. Post-rehab it’s one of the things that I’ve learned is so beneficial in life as a healing tool.
I honestly think that because I plan things to the minutest detail, the best thing I can do for myself is to take one day at a time, and practice patience and tolerance, simply because that works for me.
I’m was a bit slow on the uptake of the higher power thing. But since accepting the spiritual side and the 12 Steps of the AA program, I’ve now got the tools to be able to live without alcohol.
I’m learning not to be so pedantic and rigid about planning because things don’t always go to plan. I’m learning to be open minded about that.
Acceptance, patience, tolerance and one day at a time are some of the keys that I have to be aware of daily for continued sobriety.