When I walked into the doors of HT almost in a blackout (having downed a magnum of Chivas in barely an hour) I did not have any idea that I am about to embark on a totally different journey of my life.
I was immediately in an observation room and went off to sleep in my drunken stupor. When I woke up I saw a hospital like room with a few beds and another guy watching over me with concern. When I asked for a cigarette it was readily given. I settled down back to sleep again, for once relieved to be away from the mess I created for myself outside. I didn’t really know where I was, but sensed that it was a safe, friendly place. One thing I do remember though, the beds were painted in a bright, cheerful orange colour!
Next day the reality dawned on me that I am no longer a ‘free’ man and will have to live by whatever rules, regulations and schedules of this quaint institution.
It was then that I was given the most precious of my processions – AA literature. For sheer lack of anything better to do, I started reading LIVING SOBER and for the first time in my life there came a thought in my mind the may be, just may be, I could be an alcoholic.
On the evening of the third day I joined the group for an in-house meeting and that is where the foundations for my recovery today have been laid. I was astonished when I observed every one sharing honestly their inner most secrets. When I quietly asked a young man how he could do it, his answer stumped me. “Uncle”, he said “I do not care what you think of me. We will be together for not more than 3 months and afterwards we will just be strangers. It does not matter to me what you think of me, but I share for myself”.
This set me thinking and from that day onwards I constantly practiced sharing honestly in the meetings. It made a world of difference. Suddenly I, who was unable to catch a couple of hours sleep even after downing a full bottle, was sleeping like a baby.
Each day was a revelation regarding my addiction being a disease and the way to combat it. It was great relief to know that I was not such a miserable, selfish, self cantered jerk after all, and I was just a sick person.
Though initially I had my own reservations and grandiose opinion of myself, thinking that the counsellors with an exception of one or two, are stupid dropouts dishonestly parroting program, the place is not properly run and needed my expert management touch, and since I assimilated the program now I can go out and take care of myself etc. thankfully I continued my program.
Not that I liked the idea of having to do the things I did not like or not being able to do the things I like. But Big Book reading reinforced my belief that I needed to work this program if I wanted to be alive. And I very much wanted to live.
This brought me face to face with the disease in all its power, day in and day out. When I saw a fellow going on hunger strike asking for freedom (to drink?)from the facility, another jumping from first floor and breaking his arm just to be free to do what he wanted I could see my disease in all its glory and gore.
But the most profound impact on me was the time I spent taking care of the newly admitted fellows in the observation room. Here I got to see what this disease can do to me if I don’t do anything myself.
Especially this gentleman, who helped the director of the centre in to recovery but could not himself to stay sober, was there for almost 3 weeks. He was unable to eat, drink, walk, sit or stand by himself. He did not know where or how he was. He was unable to take care of his basic toilet needs. I needed to clean and wash him after his urination or stools, bathe him and ensure that he did not pick up infections, feed him to keep him alive. He did not comprehend any of these things.
But the only thing on his mind was “HIS DRINK”. He was thinking that I was his helper and was demanding that I pour him a drink from time to time. When I dutifully poured fruit juice for him he used to drink it as if it is his favourite drink. He was evidently hallucinating, as part of acute withdrawal.
If this disease could do this to a rational, well respected human being and turn him in to a hallucinating wreck, I shuddered to think of my future. THAT WAS WHEN I SURRENDERED TO MY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY.
From then on it did not matter to me weather my stay was comfortable or not, weather my co-inmates thought better of me or not, weather some of the counsellors in their own ego trip or manipulation called me dishonest, manipulative and all other things, I wanted my recovery at any or all costs. I WANTED WHAT THE DIRECTOR HAD.
The journey was not easy on the surface but the program and God’s grace in the form of extended stay along with the opportunity to work the program laid a solid foundation of recovery.
I am grateful to Hope Trust for giving my life back. And so much more!
The last three words of the sentence were the most difficult for me to admit for many years. I commenced on my drinking career when I was just over fourteen years old. My family, a typical Indian one, didn’t mind me having a drink every now and again. When I picked up my first alcoholic beverage, I was hooked. I do not remember a single time when I did not drink to get drunk or get tipsy – which is not how a ‘gentleman’ drinks. The frequency of my drinking progressively increased, as I got access to more money and the freedom of growing up and having a life of my own. The warning signs that my drinking was problematic probably showed up by the time I was sixteen or seventeen, where I started showing absolutely no fear (or rather arrogance), and turning up at home drunk or overdoing it at parties became a regular occurrence.
College was a great experience! Sadly, I do not remember any of it. I hear about it from people I know and some pictures on my social media pages from the time. But if you ask me, I have no clue. I got into a relationship, with a woman, in college, that lasted five years, and I managed to throw that one away because of my alcoholism. I almost dropped out of college too. My parents used to send me money for my tuition and expenses, and thought that they were doing the right thing by sending me a lumpsum, so that I learned how to budget and manage etc. That ‘budget’ was exhausted within the first month, and the other two and a half months I lived like a pauper – a rather drunk pauper! I picked up my secondary addiction in college, which was gambling. Gambling seemed to be the answer to all my money issues (I wouldn’t have an issue in the first place if I didn’t drink so much and spend lavishly on golfing and parties, etc.). With some initial luck at gambling, I thought that I would make a career out of this. I did win, I did lose, but the margin seemed to be enough to get me through. As my drinking progressively got worse, I started gambling compulsively and impulsively, and managed to lose everything that I had made, my expense kitty, my credit cards over-maxed out, and finally my tuition money.
Bad time for me. I did not know what to do, or how to explain to my parents what I had done with their hard-earned money. Remember that relationship I mentioned earlier, well that bailed me out, or rather she bailed me out with a loan she gave me to pay my tuition for my last semester; she had to accompany me to the registration counter to make sure that I did not got for a drink before and then to a gambling den, and ensure that I paid the tuition.
I graduated, by some miracle; miracle because – I am not incapable, miracle because I thought that opening a text book was best for time spent on the can, the morning of the examination! After graduating I started working almost immediately, and fortune was at my doorstep. I was in the right place at the right time, I am good at what I do, and in the process, I did make some money. I ended up being the youngest sales and marketing director of a publicly listed entity in the industry. Life was destined to be a success, right? Yes, only if I learned not to be pissed-drunk all the time. I was quite disciplined for the first couple of years of my career; binging on weekends only. Slowly the work dynamic (that’s the dynamic I wanted to see) caught up with me, and I was drinking heavily everyday – no drugs (which I experimented in college by the way), just good old fashioned drinking heavily. Somewhere in-between making my career and drinking, I found the time to get married. A lovely woman, a woman of my dreams. Things seemed to be going ok for us if she did not comment on my drinking or the associated antics post drinking. She did not comply, which made us fight a lot, I became physically and verbally abusive – I became a monster! If that wasn’t enough, I started blatantly cheating on her, and made a mockery of the institution called marriage. Things were getting way out of hand. My parents, extended family, everyone, could see what I was doing to myself but didn’t know what to do about it, or rather I never gave them the opportunity to express themselves and what they were feeling. I had made everyone an emotional-hostage. 2016 was very eventful for me; without going into detail, I got drugged and kidnapped, went to jail and missed all my family events like birthdays, anniversaries, festivals etc. because of my alcoholism. Icing on the cake – my career was in the toilet, because I’ve developed this reputation of being a very capable, smart, presentable, but a hopeless drunk, in the industry I operate in.
What does the future hold for me? I know I can work and bring back a good reputation – because there is the good stuff about me too. My wife and I have separated, happened sometime mid-2016, but we are trying to work things out, my family has a new-found respect and happiness toward me. Life is good, and there is only opportunity waiting for me.
How did all this happen? My family cared for me and got me help, when I couldn’t see that I needed help, or didn’t want to see it, rather. They got in touch with the good people at Hope Trust, Hyderabad, in the month of August and got me an admission for a residential program at the facility. That has been one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten in my life; which is my life back. The facility operates in a very professional manner, where they use intellect for persuasion and motivation, rather than brute force, and they get the message through. If you think that I have a good way of expressing myself, from the above content, well, Hope gave me the hope to do that, honestly, being open-minded and willing. If you asked me in August, before I went to Hope, to write something like this, I would have said that I am a playboy-millionaire and I drink socially! Ah! That makes me laugh a bit now!
Hope Trust is managed by professionals who have extensive experience dealing with alcoholism and drug addiction. They have a wonderful in-patient facility, with regular input sessions, 24/7 in-house medical staff, and counselors accessible at any time. They follow a 12-step recovery program, which if followed by anyone thoroughly, will ensure sobriety; examples are there in your community. I am grateful that I got the opportunity to get my life back, with a big thank you to Hope Trust.”
I came here 3 months ago with lots of uncertainty and many more questions in my mind. But today I am going back with lots of hope and good memories about the centre, the way they took care of my husband with love and compassion. I owe a lot to you. My best wishes.