The Grateful Alcoholic

By an Anonymous Contributor

From time to time, in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I will hear someone introduce themselves in the customary way, “My name is ____________ and I’m an alcoholic”, however before the word alcoholic they will insert the word grateful. When i first heard this I was struck with an instant disgust for the term. How could someone be grateful for their alcoholism?

The affliction has more of the tone of a curse rather than a blessing. An alcoholic will drink to the point of endangerment, be it to themselves or those around them. After lengthy periods of drinking their health will deteriorate as well as their social and professional lives. No matter how much they want to stop, they find themselves unable. Some may keep up a charade of a life but many of us find it, after many lost nights and terrible experiences while drinking, to be impossible.

So came that fateful day when I found myself at rock bottom, begging either for mercy or for death, perhaps both. I awoke to the grim setting of suicide watch in King County Jail with no recollection of the previous night, awaiting a felony conviction and detoxing. It was pain like nothing I had ever felt. Upon sentencing, it was recommended to me by the courts that I undergo a drug and alcohol assesment, leading me to inpatient treatment, and eventually, to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the beginning I was a broken shell of a man, lost and hopeless. I could never drink again, for if I did I would eventually wind up dead. All the wishing in the world could never turn me into a normal social drinker, what a pity. I could never share in the fun; for to me. drink is shame and misery. So who in their right mind would find a reason to be grateful for this disease?

The answer is in the rooms of alcoholics anonymous and the twelve steps, spelled out clearly, not hidden between the lines, in the big blue book I have come to love. Through these rooms I have found hope, friendship, love, and faith. More importantly a design for living that relieves me of my self loathing and hatred for others. Ways of dealing with life on lifes terms, and a support group of like-minded individuals to vent to when I cannot.

It was when I started to see this program of recovery work in my mind and my life that I realized that this is something that not everyone has. As alcoholics we are blessed with these rooms, these people, and these steps. Those who are without this disease will never know what it is to have a complete stranger understand entirely what you went through and are going through now. Though our stories may differ, there is always that underlying empathy for one another's feelings. That, to me, is one of the most important things that I never had in life.

So if you ask me if I am grateful for my alcoholism, I would say yes; for not ever have I known a peace like this. The worst times in my life were able to blossom into the best times in my life, and without Alcoholic's Anonymous, I could not have tasted a single drop of sanity.