The Hell of Alcoholism

The Hell of Alcoholism

By Andrew Michinard 09/14/17

I was alone and looking at an endless night of withdrawals and panic attacks. My worst nightmare was about to come true.

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Andrew Michinard and child

“Please God, don’t let this be happening.” I could feel the withdrawals coming on. I could feel the panic attacks coming. I thought I was going to be able to make it through the night but I was wrong. How could I not be prepared?

I always made sure that I had a survival supply of alcohol in my apartment in case things like this happened, but tonight I had nothing. At 3AM all of the liquor stores and bars in New Jersey were closed. The terrifying reality started to set in of what I was about to go through. I was alone and looking at an endless night of withdrawals and panic attacks. My worst nightmare was about to come true.

In my desperation, I started tearing apart my apartment looking for hidden bottles. There had to be a stash I had forgotten about. At this point I normally had booze hidden everywhere in case people were over or my girlfriend was watching. I would hide vodka in frozen food boxes, underneath the bathroom sink, inside of heating grates. I was a drinking boy scout. Always prepared. When you are lying to people and saying that you are not drinking you need quick fuel stops to get your fix. God, I was sick then.

There was nothing. I was doomed. I remember just sitting on the kitchen floor of my apartment feeling completely hopeless. I was shaking, I was sick and I was scared. There is a level of desperation that comes over you in these situations. Survival instinct, I guess. As I lay on the floor of the kitchen shaking, I looked over at the recycle bin and realized that this was my only hope. I didn’t even give myself a chance to think about how disgusting what I was about to do was. I was desperate and would do anything to make this go away.

One by one I tipped back old beer cans, wine bottles and vodka bottles. The beer was the worst. I can still taste the warm nothingness of it and swallowing extra hard to somehow get it down in my system faster. Insanity! And some people still think this is just a choice or morality issue? This is the disease of alcoholism at its worst.

When I was finally done I just remember sitting there thinking to myself, “How did it get this bad?” This was a new territory or dimension of alcoholism that I never thought possible. My problems were spiraling out of control and I was getting into a really dark place. I can’t describe the feeling I had sitting there but it is a feeling that I can still feel. Equal parts shock, disgust, awe, relief and sadness. What had I become? When did things go so wrong? How did I slip so far and turn into this person? How do I stop? What will I do without it?

This was July 2008 and I still had two more months left of this hell.

One of the ironies of that night as I lay on my kitchen floor is that I had remembered watching a movie called Leaving Las Vegas back in college. At the time, I thought it was just some Hollywood produced fairy tale about an alcoholic and that there was no way things could ever get that bad.  Even though I thought a lot of it was BS, the movie still affected me because I had already begun to realize that I had an issue with alcohol.

There was one scene in particular that always stuck with me. I remember watching Nicolas Cage struggling through a night and ripping open his fridge and slamming booze on the kitchen floor to stop his withdrawals. When I watched that as a 21-year-old kid I thought it was so ridiculous and made up. Yet here I was 10 years later living that exact reality. That was an awful and scary feeling.

You would think that going through a night like this would be enough to scare me straight. It wasn’t. I was in the middle of the storm and wasn’t ready to admit defeat. Instead of asking for help I went the other way and revamped my supplies. The issue wasn’t my alcoholism, the issue was that I didn’t have the proper supplies on hand. That’s what the alcoholic brain will do to you. It is a powerful force and will make you believe anything so that you don’t stop drinking.

It took another two months for me to finally hit my breaking point and ask for help. I am fortunate that I have been sober since. As I look back on my alcoholism this has to be one of the worst nights. I can’t fathom that I actually did all of that. I can’t even believe that my life used to be that way.

Alcoholism is a scary disease that will literally bring you to your knees. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that will continually bring you to new lows. As soon as you think you’ve hit your bottom there is another one waiting for you around the corner. I’m so glad that the nightmare is over and I am able to write a new script for how the rest of my life turns out.

Andrew Michinard is a champion for those that are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. The mission of his blog The Alcoholic Next Door is to change the stigma associated with the disease so that more people will feel empowered to ask for help. He is a firm believer that we should shine a light on recovery and celebrate it. “How can people have hope if they can’t easily find role models that have lived through the same experiences and now have a life they never thought possible?” 

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Andrew Michinard is a champion for those that are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. The mission of his blog The Alcoholic Next Door is to change the stigma associated with the disease so that more people will feel empowered to ask for help. He is a firm believer that we should shine a light on recovery and celebrate it. “How can people have hope if they can’t easily find role models that have lived through the same experiences and now have a life they never thought possible?” Find Andrew on LinkedIn.

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