In Recovery: "First Things First"
anonymous Asks ...
I drink every day. I got very drunk a couple of nights ago and then I got a panicky surprise phone call in the morning from my ex wife to go get our son from school. He had fallen at morning recess and they needed a parent to take him for x-rays since they thought he had a broken ankle.
I went to the school to pick up my son and then they asked me to wait while they coordinated his homework with is homeroom teacher. I thought it was a bit weird to have to wait but my son was not in pain when he did not stand on the leg so I obliged. 10 minutes later a police officer walked into the principal’s office and I was asked to take a breath analyzer test, which I failed with a 0.085. I was very surprised but I guess I was still drunk from the night before and I must have really smelled of booze which is why they called the police instead of letting me take him in my car. I probably didn’t look too great either.
They threatened to charge me with DUI and child endangerment but in the end because I was there in an emergency and because I had only been drinking the night before they let me off with a warning and I had to walk home. My ex wife had to come from work to take our son. All in all it was one of the most humiliating and degrading days I have ever experienced. And my son saw it all and now my ex wife is saying that she won’t allow me to see my son for a while. And the worst thing is I was feeling so bad about it all that I stopped off on the way home and bought a bottle of rye. I have been drunk ever since. My car is still at the school and I am too ashamed to go and get it. I am going to lose my kids unless I stop drinking but I just don’t know how to do that. It is noon right now and I am staring at a bottle and trying hard not to take a drink but I think I am about to have one. If this isn’t rock bottom I don’t know what is. I am ready to stop drinking but I don’t know how to do that. What’s the first thing I need to do?
Delisted Expert Says ...
First, I would like to acknowledge the embarrassment and pain you have encountered as a result of your recent encounter with your son, your son's school, the police, and your ex-wife. When someone starts to lose things, or people, they love as a result of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, it can become very painful, hard to manage, and has been referred to as "hitting bottom." From this request, I sense that your children may be more important to you than your relationship with alcohol. If this is accurate, then there is hope for you and this painful situation if you take action.
Although you gave good reasons for your high alcohol content, it must have been readily obvious to the school personnel that you were under the influence of alcohol. Often when there is alcoholism or other addictions, the tendency is to use minimization, justification, and pure denial about the real problem. I do hear some minimization in your description of your alcohol problem. However, are you an alcoholic or do you simply abuse alcohol? I would recommend that you take an alcohol screening test at http://alcoholism.about.com/od/tests/l/blquiz_alcohol.htm or The Michigan Alcohol Screening Test. Please note there is a free assessment offered on the front page of http://www.choosehelp.com.
I strongly recommend that you determine the extent of your alcohol problem, how and where it can be best treated. For example, you will have to undo ambulatory detoxification or inpatient detoxification to avoid the potential dangerous effects of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. For more information on alcohol withdrawal symptoms, go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001769/.
If it is determined that you need treatment, then depending on your financial and employment situations, you would need to find a treatment program in your community. There programs in community mental health agencies, private agencies and hospitals.
This type of decision is better made with the help of a substance abuse professional. If possible, I would ask you to seek an assessment from a local substance abuse professional and find what local resources are available for substance abuse treatment.
I hope this information becomes useful to you and your family. Disrupted family relations, due to substance abuse, can have devastating effects on children. By taking responsibility for using alcohol excessively and as a coping mechanism, you may be able to protect your children and restore their important relationship with you, as their father by obtaining an assessment and treatment.
If I may be of further service to you, please contact me. I wish you and yours all of the best.
John W. O'Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC