At first I didn’t know how to react to a question asked of me recently. I had to think about it to provide an answer that made sense. A friend of mine asked me how I could be so public and proud of being an alcoholic.

I told him that being public, honest and open about the fact that I am an alcoholic helps me very much to stay sober.

My personal experiences and research has shown me that the biggest roadblock in the way of sobriety for many people who are alcoholics and drug addicts has to do with denial. Actually, I have discovered that many who have the disease of alcoholism don’t ever grasp the opportunity to understand that they have a problem with drinking or drugs. This has nothing to do with how intelligent, wealthy, educated or cool you are, but it does have everything to do with the fact that an addictive substance affects your brain in a way that makes you crave for more of it. Somehow, addiction interrupts any healthy response to the terrible things happening in an addict’s or alcoholic’s life. I know that sounds really weird but I know it is true.

It is easy to prove. Just look around at people you know, maybe yourself, who are out of control with alcoholism or some drug addiction. They could be doing all kinds of dangerous stupid things while they are intoxicated. They could be driving drunk, binge partying to the point of blacking out and not remembering where they were or what they did. They might be driving automobiles, snowmobiles, boats, four wheelers or snow machines while they are bombed out of their minds. Perhaps they are having trouble showing up to work, taking care of their loved ones or keeping a job because of alcoholism or drug addiction. The strange thing is that with all of these things happening in an alcoholic or drug-addicted person’s life they still don’t think they have a problem. That reality of denial stops a person from realizing they have a problem and getting the help they need.

So, the strangest thing about these situations with alcoholics and addicts like me is that most of the time everybody else we know around us realizes that we have a problem with drinking or drugs but we don’t. We just can’t see that we are alcoholics or drug addicts because our brains are playing nasty tricks on us so that we can keep feeding the addiction. The last thing the pleasure point in our brain wants is for us to stop drinking or taking the drug that makes us feel – for lack of a better word – good.

I can remember falling down drunk, blacking out on binges and not remembering where I was and what I did the night before, missing work, driving drunk and waking up feeling depressed and sick. Yet, when people suggested I might have a problem with booze I protested and I thought they were nuts.

The experts in the area of addictions tell us that most people just don’t realize they have a problem until they hit their bottom. Many times we alcoholics and addicts like to surround ourselves with caretakers who are family members, spouses or friends who will simply allow us to carry on as drunks and addicts without having to face the fact we have a problem. They call work for us and lie when we have terrible hangovers or we just disappear on a tear. They go looking for us when we are out of our minds on booze or drugs and drag us home and take care of us only to brush us off and send us on with no realization that we have a big problem. In these kinds of situations, drunks and addicts can go for many years without hitting a bottom and therefore never get any help.

That instance when an alcoholic or addict grasps the fact that they have a problem with booze or drugs is like a small miracle. It is like being hit by a lightening bolt of truth. The denial falls away and a person has to really deal with their problem. Once out of denial then an alcoholic or addict can start making moves to seek help. Help can be there in many ways through local health personnel, addiction workers and counsellors, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and people who are already on a path of sobriety. The key to staying sober and doing something about it is to make sure to not slip back into denial and pretend everything is OK or you are cured. There is no cure for the disease of alcoholism or addiction as there is only recovery.

So, that is the reason I am so public, honest and open about being an alcoholic and addict. It is the most powerful thing I have that keeps me out of denial and on the road of recovery. Thanks for letting me do that.