December 8, 2023

The first time I drank alcohol, I was disgusted by the taste. But I felt something happen. I felt good about myself. Alcohol became my answer. Alcohol allowed me to be a person that I liked.

Throughout high school, I waited for the weekend so I could drink. I could come out of my shell. I could flirt with girls. I had an easier time socializing with guys. Every weekend party would turn out the same: Me blacking out, hungover, and puking the next day.

But that didn’t matter because alcohol was doing for me what I could not do for myself—it became my confidence.

David Masson Alcohol Addiction
David Masson pictured before (L) and after (R) quitting alcohol.
David Masson

I wasted a decade of my life drinking alcohol. I spent my twenties drunk. It started out as what I thought was probably normal: Partying on weekends, having a few drinks with the boys, and getting annihilated on a Friday night after a long week.

But my drinking progressed. I became a daily drinker at 20, I was regularly drinking the next morning to curb my hangovers.

At 22, I started drinking in the mornings as soon as I woke up. I kept a bottle of Jameson on the floor beside my bed. Upon gaining consciousness, I would top off my morning coffee with alcohol on my way to school.

It only got worse throughout my twenties, and so did my shame, guilt, and loss of control over my life. When I was 27, it got out of hand. That’s when I started to feel the consequences of my actions. I had zero self-control, but I kept drinking.

I thought: Why would I continue drinking so much despite negative consequences? I was damaging relationships, sabotaging my career, hurting my body and my self-respect.

I became a liar. I would lie straight to my friend’s faces about something I already knew they knew the truth about. I became controlling in my relationships, and I tried to manipulate other people’s thoughts about me. I became very self-obsessed and concerned with my identity and how people perceived me.

Alcohol began to stop working like it once did.

Now, I was drunk and depressed. I found solace in materialism. I bought a fancy BMW and paid thousands upon thousands of dollars for clothes. My need for validation grew stronger. It was stronger than it ever was before.

I did what was necessary to get the attention of other people. When I didn’t get the attention I was seeking in the way that I wanted it, I became resentful and angry. The pattern continued, and alcohol was ceasing to work.

I was drinking about half a bottle to a whole bottle of whiskey—14 to 26 ounces—per day. I swore off drinking countless times, only to return to the bottle. I was wasting so much money that I could have done something else with, roughly $2,000 per month.

I tried going sober a few times, but after a few weeks my mind would trick me into thinking I’d be able to control my usage. The same exact cycle would continue, except it would get worse every time.

I knew I had a problem. I knew I was an alcoholic, and I was okay with that. I romanticized it; I related myself to Don Draper from Mad Men and Hank Moody from Californication. In my mind, I was a rock star. And if someone thought otherwise, well, then there was a problem with them and not me.

At 27, I discovered what cocaine can do. I’d experimented with cocaine in the past a few times but was never crazy about it. But because alcohol was failing me, cocaine became my new best friend. It now did for me what alcohol could not.

I became a daily and morning cocaine user.

I would wake up and snort it on the car ride to work, all day at work, and all evening. There were weeks where I would get only four hours of sleep. Cocaine took me to new levels. I loved it and I told myself that I was going to do it for the rest of my life.

And alcohol? Well, I continued to drink it as much as I ever had, going as far as to drink Listerine when I would run out of booze.

I didn’t care about anything except for cocaine and alcohol. I started missing work more and more because I didn’t care. I stopped talking to everyone who loved me. I isolated myself from the world because they didn’t get me.

In 2019, I spent $40,000 on cocaine alone. Being high every waking moment, I would stay up all week on it, drinking and snorting, sleeping for 24 hours straight only on Sundays. I sold my BMW for $30,000 and it all went towards drugs and alcohol.

I depleted all the money I had and racked up $20,000 in credit card debt, all for drugs and alcohol. After heavy use of cocaine for a couple of years, I had a breakdown.

I had been hiding in my basement for a couple of weeks, scared of the outside world, urinating in empty whiskey bottles because I didn’t want to go upstairs to the bathroom.

I realized I was at the end of my line: I was out of money, I ruined my relationships, work was going to fire me, and I was missing bill payments. I was done. It was time to take control of my life. And I knew I had to do it sober.

Being sober terrified me. I was dependent on drugs and alcohol for 15 years. Drugs and alcohol treated the internal condition I was suffering from. That condition is my hatred for myself.

Drugs and alcohol were the only things that made life bearable, they made life easier and they made life more interesting. And what would happen when I can’t use them anymore? I would have to be sober in this world.

I was afraid I would become boring, and uninteresting. I would lose my edge. It’s ironic because the way I was living was animalistic. I was depressed and miserable, and I was worried about being boring. I had no other choice but to be a little boring.

After speaking with a therapist, it was cemented in my mind that I could not control my drinking. And if I were to return to drinking, even just a sip, I would go down the path I did every time in the past.

My therapist helped me audit my past use of alcohol. Every time I tried to control my drinking, I failed. Every time I told myself I’d only have one drink with dinner, I failed. Every time. I planned on only getting a six-pack and going to bed right after. I failed. Every time I ran out of booze, I would always find a way to get more.

That’s when she recommended that I go to rehab.

I was torn down into pieces. The unhealthy ones were discarded, and I was rebuilt with the healthy ones.

I came out of rehab with a different mindset. I could no longer lie to myself, no more bullsh*****g myself. I would catch myself making excuses. I would catch myself trying to be a victim. I would catch myself trying to blame others. I could no longer do it.

I adopted a mindset of acceptance and responsibility for my past and for my future. I came out of rehab understanding that I needed to stop pretending to be somebody I was not. I was more motivated than ever to find out who I was.

I had my reservations about Alcoholics Anonymous. I thought it would be a bunch of drunk people whining to each other, but I couldn’t keep lying to myself. I found that AA actually works for people.

There’s nothing special about me, every reservation I had was just my warped, alcoholic ego trying to protect itself; trying to maintain control over my life.

I must say, there is not a single greater influence on my sobriety than the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

After completing the fifth step, I was driving home and I was overtaken by a fulfilling, warm feeling inside of me. A feeling that I never felt before, a feeling that drugs and alcohol never gave me. I started bawling in my car.

I felt a wave of immense love for myself. AA was doing for me what alcohol and drugs never could. I was comfortable in my skin.

I continued working on the steps and healing. And best of all, I had absolutely zero desire to drink, because that’s what the problem always was. The problem was never me being drunk, although I created a lot of problems while drinking; the problem was my desire to drink, which always led me back to alcohol.

AA taught me that this problem was a sickness of my spirit or a spiritual malady.
And that’s what AA does. For lack of a better phrase, it heals your spiritual malady or spiritual sickness. It’s that spiritual sickness that blocks us from living as the person we truly are.

I began to live a life with new freedom and happiness, not regretting my past and not wishing to shut the door on it because I understand how my experience can help others.

My feelings of pity and uselessness had disappeared. I started to lose interest in selfish things, and I gained new interest in my fellow humans and the world around me. My whole attitude and outlook on life changed. I live with peace in my heart. I’ve stopped trying to control everything and I’ve surrendered to reality.

Whatever God is, I experience it in everyday living. God is everything, and it is everywhere. God is the flow of the universe, and I am a part of that universe connected to everything and everyone.

I look back at my old self—the insecure child and the scared and very intoxicated adult—and I feel nothing but love for him. He was just doing the best he could and if it wasn’t for him, I never would be where I am now: At peace and sober.

David Masson is a power engineer at a Canadian oil refinery. You can find him on YouTube.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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