Anything, Everything, Not to Take a Drink

I am one of the predictable casualties of community violence. I began to drink in Blacksburg, Virginia, during the year of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. When I realized I could not stop drinking, I did what was popularly believed to be the only choice in southwest Virginia in 2012: tell no one of my shame and go to a support group meeting.
First step towards addictions recovery: hug yourself
In 2016, thanks to heroic efforts by people in recovery from addiction, relentless researchers, and intrepid public officials, we know now that abruptly stopping using a substance to which one is addicted releases one – not into just a world – but into a universe of pain. That anyone with alcoholism remains abstinent in year one is nearly impossible.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things so differently. First, I would have hugged myself…

I cried when I read Nora Volkow’s essay in the Fall 2015 issue of Advances in Addictions & Recovery : “People suffering from addictions are not morally weak; they suffer a disease that has compromised something that the rest of us take for granted: the ability to exert will and follow through with it.”

I thought alcoholism was the final eruption of the inner pox I believed was who I truly was and had worked with all my might for a half-century to remedy. My formidable will failed me when I tried to stop drinking. I didn’t know that my first drinks were volitional but then something turned. After that, I didn’t have alcoholism. It had me.

– Excerpts from Anything, Everything, Not to Take a Drink, by Anne Giles, published by The Fix, 5/26/16

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Thanks to Laurel Sindewald‘s editing and mastering, you can listen to this podcast of me reading aloud “Anything, Everything, Not to Take a Drink” from my podcast channel.