I started drinking at the age of 13. It wasn’t in a closet or hidden from the world but rather whenever my friends and I could sneak some liquor off the top of someone’s parents liquor cabinet. It was the occasional venture to the forbidden for me. This continued until I was 15 and a freshman in high school; I was a starter on the varsity soccer team so naturally I spent a lot of time with the older guys in my school. These people became my examples for how I wanted to be when I was a sophomore, junior etc. I was introduced to my first real party my freshman year and all I remember is suddenly I became the person I thought I wanted to be when I drank. These guys I looked up to were suddenly patting me on the back, I was actually on the inside of inside jokes and most importantly, I didn’t have to worry about how I was stacking up against the people around me. My priorities instantly changed at that moment. I now had a solution to all of my problems, the best part was: I could get it easily.
Fast-forward through the typical party every weekend High School experience to my freshman year of College. I moved out of my parent’s house and never looked back. Unfortunately I never looked forward either, I made drinking a priority and became known for all the wrong reasons. Looking back this is where my drinking started to take that dark turn from heavy drinking to needing it more and more. By the time my friends graduated and I had dropped out of school and returned to my parents house I was clinging to alcohol to get me through life.
Fast-forward a few more years of heavy daily drinking and I find myself at the beginning of the end of my oppression under King Alcohol. June 2014 finds me at the end of a particularly long run of about 2 weeks straight; 8 gallons of vodka, no real food intake and certainly no sleep to speak of. I was in the process of attempting to dry out, essentially living on the bathroom floor for a few days until I started to notice blood in my vomit. I went to the hospital and was medically detoxed and told that I had an ulcer or two. In my delusion I returned home and continued to drink under the guise that I was “weaning” myself off. Two days later I was in a hospital ER again, this time all I recall is being admitted and getting IV’s… waking up at 3pm the next day confused about my lapse in memory, when the nurse comes in and tells me that I had a 3 and a half minute seizure, was lucky to not have bitten my tongue off. My mother witnessed the whole thing. My mothers witnessed her only child turn blue, and lose consciousness for 12 hours, due to my drinking. This experience was simply not enough for me to even consider changing my ways.
Throughout the next 11 and a half months I would attend 5 treatment centers, 4 of which were in-patient. A continuous cycle of treatment then “relapses” (I hesitate to call them relapses because that implies I had any intention of getting sober at the time) became my life, all the while my health was declining at a devastatingly brisk pace, I was burning nearly every bridge I had with every relationship I had. I was entertaining the idea that it may be easier to just end my life. I was not the person I wanted to be in my life. March 6, 2015, I had just gotten out of a 30 day inpatient, moved into sober living in San Antonio, and was as serious as I had ever been about giving this thing a shot. I made it 3 days… It took another 2 for me to be drinking more than ever before and only 1 after that for me to end up in the hospital for the 17th time in 13 months. My blood was drawn and found to be a mere .35BAC, at this point I was gastro scoped and found to have a total of 5 ulcers, a varicose vein in my throat and a nice case of pancreatitis to top it off. This was bad news, and I heeded the doctors warning to not drink, for as long as I could. But if it were that easy I would have stopped the year prior after a seizure… “Lack of power, that was MY dilemma”. I managed to end up at the same hospital, exactly 7 days later. No kind words were exchanged with the nurse I had seen a week earlier as she brought me the results for this blood test, .43BAC, GGT 950 and my electrolytes at a dangerously low level. This was the last straw for my family. Sitting in the hospital room with me they told me that I was on my own, in the most extreme and complete way possible if I decided to not go to a 90-day treatment center my mom had found. Obviously I was not happy with my life, but I couldn’t fathom life without alcohol and it was clear it would kill me if I didn’t make a change. This was my jumping off place indeed, I smugly asked what this place was called and she replied “The Last Resort.” I laughed and asked if that was her name for it or if it really was called that, she never responded.
I had reached my breaking point and just threw my hands up and said whatever ill try it but when it doesn’t work ill be the first to tell you, “I told you so.” I was discharged from the hospital 3/21/15, went home, packed my things, had some of the most intense DT’s I have ever even heard of and was at TLR’s door by 2pm the next day. Still detoxing and passing blood and bile, continuously I fought the ideas of surrender and willingness with what little strength I had. I bucked the system, broke the rules and tried to disrupt the process until finally something broke in me, I saw these guys, these guys like me, just like me, but happy. They had to be full of it, how could they be happy if they had problems like mine? I decided I would give it a shot, take direction and be 100% open and honest. TLR gave me the space and the tools to get free from my innermost fears and delusions. My only regret is not surrendering sooner!
I was able to experience some truly awe inspiring God moments there, things that had to happen to me or around me for me to understand exactly how I had impacted others in my addiction. I found a sense of empathy, compassion and mostly freedom I had not known existed. I found that it is possible to have fun without alcohol. I learned it is possible to have friends without alcohol. And I learned that it is possible to be successful in EVERY aspect of your life without having to be just like someone else. When I got out of TLR in June of 2015, I followed suggestions: I lived in sober living, I got a sponsor, I did the work to clean up my side of the street, I got uncomfortable and vulnerable, I made my sobriety #1 in my life. Next thing I knew the things I thought mattered didn’t matter so much anymore and I found that the world is an amazing place and I have a purpose in it.
Since March 23, 2015, I have been sober. I cannot begin to adequately describe the level of gratitude that fills me when I see how much my life has changed since then. Things I had no idea were even possible for me to accomplish are now the foundations for my future growth and success. I have an amazing network of people in my life. My family has come back to trusting me and actually wanting me around. I have an amazing job that I am good at, and most of all, I don’t live in fear of anyone or their opinions. To perpetuate the cliché, from my own personal experience… “It works if you work it.”
Nate O. (Alumni of The Last Resort)