By the time I was 7 years old, I had been introduced to and discovered I liked the taste of alcoholic beverages. I knew that beer tasted great with boiled shrimp, and that wine was good with anything cooked in butter or had a red sauce. I also knew that champagne meant holiday dinners, and martinis meant my mom and dad were trying to learn how to cha cha to a Rene Touzet 33 rpm. I knew that green olives tasted particularly good after a good soaking in Beefeaters, and that maraschino cherries were unedible unless marinated in a sweet Manhattan.
I was armed with this knowledge the first time I got drunk on beer at age 15. I discovered what I considered a huge bonus. Not only did it taste good, but it was fun! With this first drunk came my first addiction. I believe my first addiction was strictly psychological and remained largely that way for decades. My first addiction allowed me to consider my actions and reactions without fear. I was no longer shy about making my presence or my desires known. I didn’t have to take into account that whatever I did may actually affect anyone else. The fact that I could see nothing wrong with my new approach to life has enabled me to almost put an exact date on the day I stopped all progress in terms of any hope of claiming maturity.
I suppose I was so comfortable living with my first addiction, I didn’t notice addiction #2 sneaking up on me. My second addiction is physical, medical deterioration of my body and mind that should inform me that all’s not well. And it tries. My psychological addiction will have none of this.
My physical addiction was simply this: I needed a certain amount of alcohol in my bloodstream at all times or I would be physically sick. Period. There was absolutely nothing I could do without alcohol in me. Sleep, wake up, eat, work, talk, name it!
Meanwhile, my first addiction is telling me I’m going through a temporary rough spot. Alcoholics are some other guy who drinks Draino out of a brown paper bag. Besides, aren’t both your parents dead? Didn’t your dog die recently? Isn’t it Tuesday for Chrissakes?!
In the circle of addiction, all of my “considered” actions and reactions are now completely fear based. The biggest fear: what will happen to me if I stop?
I used to drink when I was conscious, today I haven’t.