I learned many things during the course of my alcoholism, some of the most valuable of which were that success is only useful if you’re around to enjoy it and that your liver doesn’t care how hard you work or how much money you make. It was not that I was overwhelmed by the pressures of success, nor was it that I used alcohol to mask depression or anxiety; I literally thought that alcohol abuse was one more in a series of situations that I could control or own. Five year and a lot of wasted time and broken relationships later, I can say that ownership has its drawbacks.
I did not think there was anything I could not do. I felt a strong desire to succeed ever since I first learned the meaning of what it meant to be rich or poor. Although my parents did not have much money, and I spent my entire childhood pre-occupied with creating a better life for myself and them. I knew that if I worked hard enough, made myself smarter than everyone else and kept my eye out for opportunity, success would find me…and it did. I went to work right after school and climbed the ladder faster than a firefighter up a burning building. By the time I was 24 I was already a junior VP.
I had achieved a lot in my career by the time I was forty, but I still only had the wisdom and life experience of a teenager. At some point along the way, I started abusing alcohol when I became arrogant enough to think that nothing could touch me. It began with all-nighters at the bar, then drinking alone and lying to everyone about how much I drank. When I got my first DUI, I of course told myself that it was time to slow down, but that was little more than empty promises. In a year’s time, I became went from the youngest VP to the youngest VP with an alcohol addiction.
My career hit a wall. I became disinterested in work, and almost lost everything I had worked so hard to achieve on my life. My parents pleaded with me to get help and enter a rehab program. Eventually I agreed and found the courage to tell my boss what was going on. To my surprise, he was incredibly supportive, allowed me to go for help, and said my job would still be waiting for me after I successfully completed my treatment.
I entered an executive alcohol rehab in Palm Beach, Florida the following week. The best part for me was the ability to continue to work part-time during my treatment program so I can stay in touch with my office. I do not blame anyone but myself for my alcoholism. During the behavioral health aspect of my treatment, I learned that my feelings towards my career accomplishments were in conflict with my previously established perceptions of life from my youth. I was fortunate enough to understand the pitfalls of this addiction at a relatively young age and to get the necessary professional help I needed before my drinking problem got me into potentially serious trouble. I do not know if it was divine intervention or I just got lucky by choosing the right rehab the very first time I went to rehab that has allowed me to stay sober for these past two years.