Barry’s Story

My name’s Barry and I’m grateful to God and AA that I’m sober tonight.

I was a slow starter, being brought up in a non-drinking family, and was not the “instant alcoholic” that I hear other people share about. My drinking built up gradually over many years, going from social drinking to anti-social drinking to alcoholic drinking. I had some warnings along the way – an aunt was an alcoholic and found (was found by) AA.

I lost my licence several years ago – pulled over by a booze bus and blew 0.13. That’s nearly 3 times the limit but isn’t particularly high for an alcoholic, but I was on my way TO the party at the time!!! I realise now that I always got tanked up before going out to dinners, parties etc, so when I got there I wasn’t too desperate, and could pretend I was a normal drinker! When I lost the licence I couldn’t drive for 13 months, so my drinking just got worse – no drink driving to worry about – whoopee! When I got the licence back I was drinking heaps more and can’t believe that I didn’t get caught again. I was one WORRIED drink driver.

My boss eventually got me sober by threatening to sack me if I didn’t stop drinking. The thought of no income – no money to buy booze was a real incentive. I was put in touch with the company doctor and booked into Pinelodge Clinic in Dandenong (near Melbourne). They got me dry quite quickly and then made me go to group therapy sessions, and then to AA meetings.

I wasn’t impressed with AA at first but I think I realised that there was something there for me. They told me “don’t pick up the first drink, one day at a time, and go to lots of meetings”. I didn’t fully understand why but it did work! Now I see 2 things that I learnt then which have kept me sober for over ten years. The “ODAAT”(one day at a time) principle is so simple – initially it was just a few hours or even minutes at a time. My big problem before was that I couldn’t face the rest of my life without a drink – it wasn’t even worth thinking about, but now I found I didn’t have to – just today was enough. Even now I am not comfortable with “the rest of my life” without a drink, but I am comfortable that I won’t (don’t need to) drink today. I probably won’t have a drink tomorrow, but I’m not going to worry about tomorrow because if I do I’ll have to have a drink today!

The other big thing for me is meetings. I didn’t like them at first, but I found that they helped – after a meeting I just felt more able to cope. Now I see that it’s only at meetings that I find people who really understand me. My family and friends love me but they cannot understand, because they’re not alcoholics. So at meetings I hear the stories, get a chance to tell my story, and can share the problems that face us all. I hear warnings about how bad it will get if I pick up that first drink, and I need to be reminded – it is so easy to forget and the disease is so cunning, baffling and powerful.

So today life is good. I drive my car whenever I like without worrying (took months of being sober to get out of the habit of worrying!). I don’t have the constant nagging worry about whether there’s enough booze hidden in the garage! I am myself, not perfect but not incapacitated by alcohol either.

My family life has improved dramatically. Today I have my lovely 2 year old granddaughter in my life and I am sure they wouldn’t have entrusted her to the drunken sot I used to be.
Things are not perfect; health deteriorates a bit as my wife and I get older, but we can still enjoy life. I’m working part-time so we have enough for a few minor luxuries.
Overall, I like my life now and (as I think someone said) wouldn’t be dead for quids!
Thank you all for your contribution to my sobriety.