In my past articles I have spoken of my great blessings in life, especially since my treatment and sobriety. As an alcoholic I wanted to speak on a few of my personal struggles concerning sobriety and staying sober.
The fact is, I am an alcoholic and cannot drink at all. I cannot control or stop my drinking once I start.
At the height of my drinking I knew I needed to quit and that it was causing harm, but I could not physically quit. I wanted too and I tried. I would attempt to bargain with myself by saying, “I will only have three drinks tonight.” The problem being once I started I couldn’t stop drinking. I never drank on duty or while at the fire house but once at home, it was over. I tried to stop several times and was successful twice, but after several weeks or a few months, I would relapse, either by attempting to cope or thinking I could handle “just a couple.”
The fact is, I am an alcoholic and cannot drink at all. I cannot control or stop my drinking once I start. All of this is to say if someone speaks up, reaches out for help, don’t wait, they want to stop. They are just unable to do so on their own. I was very blessed throughout my times of heavy drinking to have close friends and family that recognized it in me and tried to help. I had a large group of caring co-workers several years back who formed an intervention for me while I was wanting to stop and knew I needed to. I just kept finding excuses not to get professional help, pushing all those feelings and emotions deeper down until May 5, 2014, when I hit my breaking point — described in my first article. Never give up on your friends, family or co-workers. Those with addiction problems aren’t going to accept treatment until they are ready to commit 100 percent.
One aspect that I have found difficult since sobriety is learning how to “feel” all over again and to express those feelings. I drank for so long to suppress my feelings and emotions, I forgot how literally, to feel. This has been difficult for me, not how to love, but how to express certain feelings or how to handle stress. I coped through the effects of the job, normal life, going through a divorce by drinking, pushing it all deeper and deeper so I didn’t have to deal with it. With sobriety I have to deal with all these bottled up feelings. On top of handling these feelings, I find it difficult to handle the daily stressors of life, because for so long I drank to handle them. People describe me as an easy going, laid back individual, and it takes a lot to get under my skin. Well, my wife and I determined that even little things are causing major stress on me now, because I don’t know how to process it. This causes undue hardship and stress on my family.
I find trying to communicate openly and with an open mind with others — communication skills are new to learn in some cases of sobriety — helps me to cope and grow today rather than use alcohol. Find a counselor that is the right fit for you as a responder. For me, becoming closer to my family and God, having a hobby and using my past experiences to help others, is therapeutic. I don’t tell you these “side effects” of sobriety to deter anyone from it, but so that one that is starting at sobriety understands it’s not always easy, but it is most definitely worth it! A strong support system is a mus
Perry Hall grew up in the fire service with his father in North Carolina. He went on to become a career firefighter — large municipal department 500+ members — with over 20 years in the fire service, both as a volunteer and paid firefighter, holding various positions. Throughout his career, Hall obtained a number of certifications, B.A.S. in Fire Administration and is currently very involved as a Fire/Rescue Instructor. Currently, he is an advocate for first responders and works to educate others about the effects of trauma among first responders and how important mental wellness is for emergency responders.
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