The Art of Binge Drinking
                                                                     The Art of Binge Drinking

    I don’t remember my mom drinking until I was eleven or twelve and she quit by the time I was sixteen but throughout her brief drinking career, she was an oblivion drinker.  By the time she quit, she was a binge drinker.  Predictably she binged more frequently and her binges lasted longer.  She often drank herself into a clumsy stupor but only one really sticks out in my mind.

    Following a two-day binge, my stepfather was trying to coax her into the car to take her to the hospital for detoxification.  The three of us were standing in the kitchen and she finally agreed to go provided she could have a drink from an open fifth of whiskey sitting on the counter.  I handed her the bottle and she turned it straight up like a thirsty athlete trying to get hydrated.  I watched for several seconds before grabbing the bottle and saying, “That’s enough.”
    After she left, I studied the bottle and its dark-brown contents as if trying to find whatever magic it seemed to hold for her.  After staring at it for several minutes, I placed the bottle under my nose and took an enormous breath.  The aroma was nauseous and I could not imagine drinking anything that smelled so vile.  However, there was a lot I didn’t know about oblivion drinking or people who had so few coping skills that anesthesia was their solution to everything.

    I was a heavy closet drinker when I met my next binger.  I was a probation officer charged with supervising a forty-year old man who had already been arrested for D.W.I. an amazing eighteen times.  It was during the early 1980s before uniform sentencing and most of his charges had been reduced or otherwise disposed of.  During the eighteen months I supervised the man, he was arrested three additional times for D.W.I.  Treatment centers were still relatively rare but my probationer had already been through several.

    One hot summer day, Judge Sam Rowe called me to his chambers and told me to arrest the man.  Judge Rowe had gotten word that he was binging in the back of a small liquor store just across the Parish line.  I arrested the probationer that afternoon but I couldn’t book him into jail without first letting an ER doctor examine him because he scored above .25 on the photo-electric-intoximeter.  It was dark by the time I booked him and notified Judge Rowe.

    The next week I was in Judge Rowe’s court for criminal jury week.  Judge Rowe called me to the bench and explained an offer that he wanted to make to the probationer.  On my way to the probationer’s cell, I felt certain that the man would thrilled by the judge’s offer.  If the probationer would admit in open court that he was an alcoholic, Judge Rowe would let him go.  Otherwise, the probationer would have to spend six months in jail for violating his probation.

    As I explained the judge’s offer, I watched rivers of sweat drip from the probationer’s face.  To my absolute amazement, the probationer responded by slowly shaking his head from side to side.  “No,” he finally said, “It’s the principal.  I can’t admit something that isn’t true.”  I couldn’t believe what I had just heard.  Alcoholism isn’t a disease, but mental illness.  It was also just starting to kick my ass.

    Five years later, I was an advanced binge drinker, gulping assorted clear and brown liquors straight from the bottle.  Whenever I drank, the goal was oblivion and all I wanted to feel was anesthetized, which is the absence of feelings.  The good news is that it worked.  The bad news was that it didn’t just get rid of unpleasant or negative feelings but wiped the emotional slate clean.  I didn’t feel love, joy, happiness or anything positive.  Life between my ears turned into a secretive, desperate kind of hell, albeit self-imposed and I became overtly self-destructive.  During that five years, I got divorced, fired, stabbed and shot.  The fun was just beginning.   

seeker561   seeker561 wrote
on 5/9/2008 8:17:27 AM
"I didn’t feel love, joy, happiness or anything positive. " ...................................................... Oddly enough or perhaps not, that describes my wife during the time she was on properly prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication. While she avoided anxiety attacks and serious bouts of depression, she never smiled or seemed to have any fun either. Hell of a way to live!

StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 5/8/2008 11:55:59 PM
I can relate to you. I too drank too much, and smoked a lot of pot. It took me almost killing myself to realize if I did not quit, I would be dead. So January 1, 1992, I quit them both cold turkey and took up long distance running. 16+ years clean and sober later, I realize I am glad to be alive. The price I paid in lost years I can never get back. But I did regain my most valuable asset: My mind.

danicpa68   danicpa68 wrote
on 5/8/2008 11:05:28 AM
Oh my it sounds like it was a slow decent into hell. I'm glad I only drink occasionally and being almost 40 the physical cost is just too high to drink.

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Becoming something I didn't understand.