Cunning, baffling, and powerful, that is how alcohol has been described in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. I did not plan on becoming alcoholic. It was a slow, relentless process. Growing up, I was not subjected to the effects of alcohol. No one in my close or extended family drank. I experimented with alcohol in high school, but had no consequences or problems.
In college, I drank with friends at times, but only after my studies had been completed. Again, there were no problems. Dental school was a bear. Studying, exams, and clinical experience were placed first. When all of these were completed, it was time for “reward and relaxation.” Fortunately, alcohol did not have any adverse effects on my dental education.
After graduation from dental school, I didn’t have to worry about continuous studying, the exams, getting clinical requirements, and passing state licensure examinations. I only needed to concentrate on my practice. Of course, this is stressful also. I began to “celebrate” each week gone by with my “reward” — a drink, or two or three on Fridays and Saturdays.
It was in my late 30’s that the good feeling I would get from alcohol — ease and comfort — was something I sought on a regular basis. I began to need alcohol. I began to conceal how much I drank from my family and friends. I would “spike” my beer or wine with vodka to get quicker and more profound effects. I began to drink alone. I had “crossed the line” over which I could never return to normal drinking. I had a good practice, I attended church regularly, my family was still with me, and I had no DUI’s or other legal problems. How could I be an alcoholic?
My years of trying to control my drinking and its consequences were to no avail. My family, office staff, and friends were concerned. My last nine years of “controlled drinking” were “out of control.” I went to three different treatment programs and irregularly attended 12 step recovery meetings.
Fourteen years ago, I finally “got it.” I began the recovery process as a participant, not as an observer. I joined the NC Caring Dental Professionals Program and continue today as a volunteer to help myself and my fellow dental professionals on our journeys in recovery. I have been given a new life and a new way to live it through the 12 Step Recovery Program. The problems I have today come from the blessings of sobriety. I realize that nothing would be improved by a drink. If I should ever choose to drink again, my life would get much worse instantly.
Sober & Free Dentist