Gail offers advice to women who are struggling to take the first step toward alcoholism recovery.
When I meet women who are struggling with alcoholism and I see them at the hospital or on the street or in the store, you know I have been taught that I can help an alcoholic but I can’t carry an alcoholic.
I can just share my experience, strength and hope with them about what I have experienced and what I have gone through and how recovery has saved my life – that’s what I can offer another alcoholic is just my experience, strength and hope.
And if they are not willing, you have to admit that you are an alcoholic. From within yourself you have to acknowledge that you are an alcoholic.
And if you cannot be true and honest with your innermost self that you are an alcoholic then you are not done.
If you are done then you know in your heart and in your head that you are an alcoholic but you just don’t know how to get help, look in your phone book. Look on the internet, closest crisis line, how to stop drinking.
There are many different avenues to take, treatment centers, detox. I hear a lot about treatment centers that, you know, I know that when I knew I had a problem I started researching online for a treatment center and they wanted $50,000-$60,000 dollars for treatment but I didn’t know what else to do.
I didn’t know where else to go and so I went into one of our county medical facility in my town and I said, “I need help to stop drinking.”
I know when I got there, when I walked in I didn’t think, I knew I was an alcoholic but I didn’t know that they could smell the vodka coming from my pores.
I used to drink whisky. I quit drinking whisky because you could smell it on my breath. So instead I’ll drink vodka.
That’s how alcoholics think. We call it stinkin’ thinkin’. We don’t think like the average normal person who can drink with impunity.
Some people say, how do you know if you are an alcoholic? Well if you pick up a drink and you get drunk every time you pick up a drink then you are probably an alcoholic.
If you are like me and you were the last one to leave the bar or if you are with a bunch of people and we were all leaving and you saw half a can of beer or half a drink or half a glass of wine and you wanted to grab that because you don’t want to waste it, that’s alcohol abuse.
You don’t want to waste that – that was Gail. That was me. I had to have that last drink, the last hoorah, I had to be the last one out of the bar and I realize that now. I never knew that before how far back my drinking went.
From the time I was 18, I started drinking when I was 13 years old. My first concert was Foreigner and we were eating hash brownies and people were puking next to us, and for me that looked like that was the normal thing to do, I just didn’t know.
I didn’t know that I was allergic to alcohol. There’s been times when I told people, I am allergic to alcohol.
And that’s one gentleman said to me one time, he goes, “I don’t know what I do if I had that.” And it’s pretty simple, if you can’t pick up a drink and stop then you are probably an alcoholic.
People who can go to dinner and have a glass of wine and go home and go to work and not have a glass of wine the next day or beer the next day then you are probably not an alcoholic.
If you come from a history of alcoholism or alcoholics in your family and you drink a lot or every day, you are probably an alcoholic.
To thine own self be true. You have to know within here if you think you can’t stop once you take that sip, and that’s what I am. I am one sip away.
You know, it’s not the fourth or fifth drink that will get me drunk, it’s that first sip. It’s a progressive disease.
It’s a craving and once that alcohol hits my tongue it’s a phenomenon of craving that kicks in and I want more, and I want more, and I want more, and that’s how it works for me.
So I have to be real vigilant on my recovery. I spoke with a gentleman couple of months ago who had three months sober and he said, “Oh god, I am so worried about losing my driver’s license. I don’t know what I am going to do.”
And I thought to myself that’s all he was worried about was his driver’s license, not worried about how he was going to fix his drinking problem.
If you have 3 DUIs you are probably an alcoholic. That’s how I think today. Before I would have said, I would have been on his side saying, “Oh gee, well you might have to go to court and you might have to do this and.”
I don’t think like that today. I think I need to let him know that well do you think you have a problem with alcohol? No, no, I don’t.
Well right then that tells me that he is not done because if he would have admitted to me immediately, “Yeah, I think I have a drinking problem.” Then I would have known he was done.
And when I try to help other women and I go to their homes and I see them with the drink in their hand and consider sitting down and talking to me they are worried about where that drink is, it’s on the counter or it’s over here.
To me that tells me that they are not, they are still in their disease. They are still in the disease of alcoholism.
For me I was throwing up all of the time. I wasn’t eating and that happened within a couple of years. I mean I knew I always had a problem but the past, the last two years of my drinking were the worst and it got really bad, really fast.
And alcoholism is a progressive disease, that’s what happens. It gets really bad really fast. And I have been told from people who have relapsed, that when you pick up that drink, if you have been sober for a while when you pick up that drink again it will get worse a whole lot faster.
I have a choice today. My choice is I don’t have to drink over anything, over a man, over a job, over a death - I just lost a dear friend two days ago.
She was a great lady, reached her hand out to everybody, anybody that was an alcoholic she reached her hand out to.
She died sober but I don’t have to drink over it. You know, I don’t have to drink over a death or resentment.
If I do something wrong I try to apologize right then or that day because when I lay my head down at night and I thank God for a great day and I also ask for him forgiving me for being selfish or self-seeking or dishonest or manipulative, I try to ask him to keep me free of the bondage of myself.
I want to look and review my day and was I a real bitch, do I owe that person an apology? And if I do I promptly admit it.
And that’s stuff that I get drunk over. Resentments are the number one offender for alcoholics to get drunk over.
And today if I have a death in the family or I have a problem or a financial issue or whatever, I just pick up the phone and I call another alcoholic and I go, “This is what I am feeling, I need to throw up.”
And I just spill it to them and they get it and they go, and then I feel better. It takes one alcoholic talking to another, that’s all it takes.
Interview Scheduled By In The Rooms®: A Global Recovery Community.