Written by John Adams, Indianapolis business leader and recovering alcoholic
I’ve had a great life. I was born into a loving family. I never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or where we would live. My parents are still married and supported us into adulthood. I was raised Catholic, attended private Catholic grade and high schools, and went on to a small private college where I received a BA in psychology. I never had any issues making and keeping friends. I was a pretty decent athlete and a successful high school student athlete. I’ve always had good jobs. In fact, I owned my own successful IT recruiting firm for a time. I married a successful attorney, and we have two beautiful children. I served on the Board of Directors at Fairbanks and liked it so much that I work there as a manager of its Supportive Living Program. It took me a long time to get here, but I finally made it.
My point is this: with all of these “advantages,” I was still susceptible and succumbed to a disease that affects millions of Americans and their families every year. I am not different, and I am not special. I still managed to nearly ruin my life, as well as the lives of my loved ones, by making poor decisions while under the influence of alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines an alcohol-use disorder, or AUD, as a diagnosable medical condition in which an individual’s alcohol consumption causes harm or distress. While this disease has no known cure, it can most definitely be treated.
After admitting to myself and others that I was an alcoholic, some people couldn’t believe it. I was never homeless. I never drank cheap booze out of a paper bag. I didn’t hide bottles of vodka around the house. I did not drink daily. I was not abused. I was not violent or destructive. I was not chronically unemployed or underemployed. I was your everyday person.
Negative stigmas associated with alcoholism prevent so many of us from seeking treatment out of shame, embarrassment, or even fear. There are so many negative connotations surrounding alcoholism that they can actually convince alcoholics to deny their illness. If to be an alcoholic one had to be unkempt, homeless, and broke, of course we would convince ourselves that we are not sick. If one has to drink every day and be unemployed to be an alcoholic, again, who among us would think we were an alcoholic?
I have been sober for more than eight years and have experienced the benefits of recovery firsthand. Individuals who embrace recovery achieve improved mental and physical health, as well as stronger relationships and a sense of self-worth. Alcohol is a drug – a powerful, mood-altering drug – and alcoholism is a chronic disease, from which people can and do recover.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, an initiative sponsored by Facing Addiction with NCADD, to bring awareness to this disease. It took a life-altering situation while I was under the influence to help me become sober.
My name is John; I am a grateful recovering alcoholic, and there are many just like me. Open your eyes to the disease, be aware of the stigmas and offer to help – or get help yourself.