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From the Bottom of the Bottle to the Top of the World: How Two Recovering Addicts Took Their Lives Back
“Stop thinking about it and just do it. … Don’t walk away. Don’t say, ‘maybe later.’ Don’t think about it.” – Lewis, Recovery Warrior
If you ask these two recovering addicts about their drug of choice, you might be surprised by their answers. Although beer isn’t often thought of as addictive, for those who can’t stop, it is the exact same thing as a drug. For them, an empty bottle is met when an intense need for more. We talked with two recovering addicts about how they hit the bottom of the bottle before choosing a sober, happy life.
Kip’s tale starts at the young age of 18. He was at the peak of his high school career, enjoying teenage freedom.
“I was a senior quarterback in high school, dating the head cheerleader, and driving a new Mustang. Life was good. However, I started drinking more and more,” Kip said.
Kip looked much older than the kids his age, so it became his summer job to sell alcohol to local, underage teens. However, Kip didn’t stick to just the entrepreneurial side of alcohol. He began sneaking alcohol to school in a Nyquil bottle.
“I kept that bottle in my locker, and I’d hit it between classes. I was drinking every day at school, Friday nights after football games, and every weekend,” Kip said.
Kip’s drinking followed him into college, becoming a daily habit.
“My DOC [drug of choice] was beer. No drugs, and besides my year of vodka with Nyquil, no hard liquor. I thought beer was the healthiest way to go: it was 78% water. I loved the taste — in fact, I still do,” Kip said.
Kip drank every single day for 30 years, until his wife took his daughter to a therapist for depression. When his daughter revealed that her father drank too much, DHS got involved, requesting that Kip seek treatment. In the blink of an eye, Kip set out for the Treehouse – http://www.treehouserehab.org/ in Texas.
“I had my last two beers at the airport before flying down to Texas. From that day, my life changed forever,” Kip said.
Kip quickly realized that alcohol doesn’t define who he is.
“Beer was my security blanket. I was afraid I wouldn’t be fun at parties, or that I wouldn’t be funny or sexy. People always laughed at my jokes at parties, or told me how good I looked. And I was drinking when those things happened — so it had to be the beer, right?” Kip explained. “It was all a lie. I’m much more confident now, and I feel better now than I ever did with a beer.”
Kip credits getting treatment for not only saving his life, but saving the relationship with his wife and kids.
“My wife… there hasn’t been a day that has gone by she hasn’t told me how proud she is of me. And it melts me every time,” Kip said, adding, “And to hear my daughter say she’s proud of me is incredible.”
If you decide to seek treatment, Kip suggests embracing the new journey wholeheartedly.
“You can either do it, or you don’t. I never missed a class. I was there for my own benefit. What did I have to lose? If you go there, you have to embrace it. You have a better chance if you embrace it,” Kip said.
Lewis’ childhood was a lot tougher than Kip’s. When he was 5 years old, his parents got divorced and he was sexually assaulted. Constantly moving, zero stability and friendships, two remarriages, and an abusive stepmother led Lewis to block out most of his younger childhood. As a teenager, however, he got involved with the wrong crowd.
“I started hanging out with the wrong kids — smoking weed, drinking and partying mostly on the weekends. But as I started smoking weed more regularly, it caused strife with my father. I was bitter, acting out, and frustrated,” Lewis said. “I felt like no one [cared] about me. When I was 16, my father kicked me out because he told me he wasn’t going to be the dad of a bum.”
Wanting to build a life for himself, Lewis got his GED and earned a bachelor’s degree. He met his wife shortly after and moved back home.
“I straightened out for a little while when we moved back to Texas in 2001, but it didn’t last long. For almost 15 years straight, my drinking slowly became worse and worse,” Lewis explained.
He continued, “I mostly drank beer, but in mid-October of 2014, I started drinking whiskey. I remember buying 2 bottles of whiskey and polishing them off in about 2-3 days, picking fights with my wife. That’s when she grabbed the kids and left.”
Instead of that being a wakeup call, Lewis drank even more, sometimes drinking 14 beers at a time. The final straw came when Lewis somehow managed to go out and buy more beer when he was completely intoxicated, leading him to realize how dangerous he was to himself and others. At his treatment center, Lewis was able to refocus on what matters to him most — his family.
“I now have the opportunity and the blessing and the privilege to be a father to my amazing kids, and to be a husband to my amazing wife,” Lewis said.
For those on the fence about seeking help, Lewis has the following piece of advice.
“Stop thinking about it and just do it. If you’re reading this, you’ve already realized that you need help. Don’t walk away. Don’t say, ‘maybe later.’ Don’t think about it. Don’t take that extra time. You’ll talk yourself out of it,” Lewis said.
No matter what your “drug of choice” is, it doesn’t have to rule your life. Like Kip and Lewis, you can beat whatever demon you are currently fighting. Remember, you are never alone. Help is never more than a phone call away.