The Demon of Addiction: My Family's Generational Curse

April 20, 2024 (2mo ago)

Alcoholism runs in my family. Many of the males from a certain point in my family have some sort of alcohol or addiction issue. Uncles, grandfathers, cousins, and eventually me too. My parents, however, did not drink anymore after having me. I, even having a predisposition to being an alcoholic, did not really start drinking until I was around 18 years old. And even then, it was just a couple Coronas snuck out of a friend's dad’s garage refrigerator, nothing serious. When I got older, my drinking increased, as did many people my age. Again, not alcoholic level. I had never needed to use alcohol as an escape. I had never needed to feel numb before. I did not have night terrors and demons that I needed to go away. And one night all of that changed.

How It began

I will not go into deep detail here, as I have other content that covers it but 15 years ago, at the age of 21, I was jumped and shot point blank in the head. I had over a dozen surgeries rebuilding my jaw. After leaving the hospital I had horrible PTSD. Now as I was home recovering, I started drinking. First, it was just with friends when they came over. However, this escalated quickly and became me drinking hard liquor by myself. My mental health was not great at this time by any means, and I was drinking away my paranoia (as my shooter was still not in prison or anything and would eventually be released) and my body dysmorphia as I still thought I looked like a Frankenstein's monster at this time.

How It Escalated

Now, during the 8 long years I was a drunk, it was not just me being smashed all the time. I had moments of post hangover clarity, where I would vow to never drink again, take a week or so off, then fall right off that wagon again. This Rollercoaster led to horrible depression as I had zero control over my life. Soon, I was being babysat by my friends at outings because I would drink so much before we even spent time together, that I would become blackout drunk by the time that we took a few shots. I was even hospitalized a few times because of falling in public, or even getting hit by a car turning while walking home one night drunk as a skunk.

At this point, I was ruining relationships I had with women, friends, and family. alcohol was more important than their opinions. And jobs were being quit left and right because my withdrawals were so bad that I was having issues making it past lunch without drinking again. My mental health was destroyed, I had no confidence, I felt inferior to normal guys around me, and the loneliness and depression were soul crushing. I drove everyone away. Soon, I am alone, sitting on my parent's couch smashing a half a handle of vodka by myself daily and just blacking out, waking up, and doing it all over again. None of this was good, and it was destroying my body, mind, and soul. I was in an 8 yearlong silent battle with some powerful demons, and the demons were winning.

The Shame That Changed Everything

It was not until I was about 28 years old that everything changed. One night, after I had been on a 3-day bender, I was very, very drunk. I decided it would be a clever idea to drive down the street to King Soopers and grab some food. (Yes, I know it was an extremely dangerous and stupid idea. I learned my lesson as you will soon learn.) I did not make it 100 feet outside my road before hitting a guardrail and getting my truck stuck, resulting in a DUI. This DUI however was not the end of my drinking. I was going to be sentenced to some jail time soon, due to me blowing a .34 in my breathalyzer when I got the DUI. I had a pushed back court date due to my lawyer pushing it back. So, before court, I kept drinking. A week before my sentence though, I was so drunk I called up my sister and asked if she could drive me to the hospital. I went there and had a blood alcohol level of .35. Over four times the legal limit. My sister and mother were rightly pissed.

However, even after all of that I still did not care. The next day, I was on my way to work, and decided to stop by the liquor store and grab something so I would not have to worry about it after work. I grabbed my usual. A 14% alcohol level 40 and a small bottle of vodka. Should be a usual night. When I go up to the register, the cashier goes “Hey man, I have to talk to you about something.” I was a regular there, and we chatted before, so I was not sure what to think. She goes, “Your sister was in here yesterday. She told all of us that we are not to sell you any alcohol ever again. She explained your situation, what you were going through and what your family thinks.”

As She's saying this, my jaw drops to the floor. I could not believe my sister would do this. I did not know what to think. The cashier finishes with, “But, you are a grown man, and can make your own decisions. Also, I run a business, and you are a legal paying customer. I will let you decide if you want to buy this today.” At that moment, it was clear. I was now the “drunk” of this establishment. And for some reason, this shame hit me harder than anything I felt from family or friends. More than any physical pain or mental strain. And against all odds, I said “No, I'm good.” and I walked out and have not had a drink of alcohol in over 6 years as of writing this. My sister saved my life that day.

The Battle May Be Won, But the War is Far from Over

I think one of the biggest misconceptions of addiction is that people just “get sober.” Like it is a light switch we just turn off and are like, “ahhh now I do not want to drink or do drugs! How easy!” when it could not be farther from the truth. Being sober was a struggle. Not so much with the urge to drink, more where my mental health went to once I had to start processing all the emotions, I had been pushing down for so many years. Let us just say, anxiety, depression and body dysmorphia ran my life. I felt like a freak, I was so stressed out constantly that it was just ruining my life, and the depression led me to feel like I was all alone.

This is where I found stoicism. I was looking for ideas, philosophy, and ways to look at life that could possibly change my perspective and I came across the teachings of Marcus Aurelius and his personal writings in Meditations. From there I fell head over heels with this ancient philosophy. Teaching us how to be resilient to the thoughts of others, how to have emotional self-control, something I was really lacking in, and how to only care about the things that actually matter in my life. It was a helping hand out of a dark place and I owe it my life. It gave me the courage to get into weightlifting, to start dating again and to create this company. I am now 37 years old, will be 7 years without alcohol in august, in the best shape of my life and in an amazing relationship. All things that if you had asked me 10 years ago if I would ever thought possible, I would have laughed and offered you a shot.

Final Thoughts

Even if we are predispositioned to the possibility of negative traits, such as addiction or mental illness, there are still things we can do to not be a slave to this condition. For me it was physical fitness and stoicism that saved me from the demon. It is why I created this company. I wanted a platform for which to explain what I have been through and what I have learned in hopes of helping others going through the same thing. Just because someone in your family says you are going to turn out a certain way because this person was that way does not make it so. Just like in stoicism, our moment of power is when we have the ability to make a choice. I chose to give up alcohol, and if you need to, so can you.