It’s 8:30 am. I become conscious again, with no idea where I am or how I got there. I think I fell asleep, but it feels more like I’ve snapped out of some sort of autopilot mode. I leave an apartment I’ve never seen before, walk out into the daylight, and try to orient myself using street signs. I make my way home and pass out. I end up drinking again the next night.
As terrifying as an alcohol-induced blackout can be, what’s more disturbing is how an addict can rationalize it and continue drinking with full knowledge of the potential consequences. Or rather, with full knowledge that you may “take your hands off the wheel” and open yourself up to an infinite range of possible outcomes, almost all of them negative. This is how I lived for over a decade and, looking back, my irresponsibility is a lasting source of shame that I am still trying to work through. I didn’t stop drinking after waking up with a severely sprained ankle. I didn’t stop after discovering I had urinated in the front entrance to my building. I didn’t stop after a girlfriend broke up with me because of things I had no memory of saying. After a point, it became hard to imagine what it would take. As it turns out, there was no one apocalyptic event that snapped me out of it and made me seek help. Instead, the many cracks in my life gradually began to rupture, almost in sync with one another. I lost my job. I had a falling out with a close friend. I embarrassed myself in public at a bar on a night where I was just lucid enough for the searing memory to stay with me afterward. It felt like I had given over my life to someone who hated me, and it became obvious that whomever I became in this mindless state would eventually destroy me. I tried stopping on my own, with some success. Unfortunately, the sudden withdrawal from regular heavy drinking made was dangerous in its own way. For one, I became paranoid, and when you have a lot to regret to begin with, adding a layer of irrationality is a nightmare. If someone is late texting me back, then it must mean I had offended them in a drunken stupor. It became impossible to endure. After several months of this, I was at my wit’s end. I looked online for someone to help, even though I was convinced that I couldn’t afford any kind of worthwhile treatment. I came across Lifeline and called in. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had stumbled upon a way out. The free counselling I received gave me needed perspective, grounding me in reality as my system recalibrated. My sobriety became a focused goal, as opposed to the free-falling guilt spiral I had been trapped in while trying to do it on my own. As you might imagine, someone who spent years eager to escape his own consciousness has a few underlying issues to work through. And now I’m doing that. Being able to look myself in the mirror knowing that I have taken full responsibility for myself is a gift I will never take for granted.
*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved. Additionally, we would note that the reason we were able to attend to Tom immediately is because we are regularly expanding our staff in order to meet the growing demand for our services. As Chabad Lifeline is sustained through private donations, this entails significant fundraising efforts. Making a donation can help ensure that we can continue to provide timely care that can ultimately save a life or set a family on a better course, creating a positive ripple effect on future generations.