Today’s Magic Number: 23

Worshiping at the porcelain throne required instructions when I was bombed.

If I get through today without a drink–and one presumes that will happen–I’ll have 23 consecutive years of sobriety. Add that to 23 years (and a few months) without a cigarette and I’m looking like a healthy fool.

The 23 years off booze has, quite frankly, been easy. It was not easy making the decision to turn my failed life around, though. I first entered AA in 1971 and it wasn’t until 1994 that I took what I hope is my final drink. That’s–ta dum!–23 years.

Reversing–or arresting–an addiction is difficult. During those 23 years between recognizing my alcoholism and kicking it out the door, I built a little clean time here and there–once up to a year–but I was not committed. The day I made the real commitment, I felt it, and that feeling was one of safety in the decision, not the uncertainty that had plagued me for years.

It was the same experience I had putting cigarettes away, but the physical addiction there was more powerful. From what I’ve read, nicotine is as addictive as cocaine (with which I have no experience). I used the nicotine patch to help reduce the craving and it helped a great deal. But I would still be smoking, patch or no patch, if I hadn’t committed to being cigarette free. I mean really, truly committed.

The truth is that putting aside the drink–after having moved away from cigarettes–was relatively easy. I don’t recall once during the past 23 years when I seriously considered drinking. It is repulsive to me now. Cigarettes are even more so, almost to the point of projectile vomiting when I smell them.

Still, as I have noted before, addiction is a bad man waiting around the corner with a baseball bat, waiting to smack me between the eyes. And I must be aware of that every day.



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