Letter to Oscar De La Hoya
I’m sorry to learn you’re back in rehab but glad you went. Most alcoholics never submit to inpatient treatment. I never did but should have…
I’m sorry to learn you’re back in rehab but glad you went. Most alcoholics never submit to inpatient treatment. I never did but should have during three decades of excess. I’ve read enough about you to conclude you probably didn’t drink and use daily. Neither did I, and that’s how I so long justified it: I only do it on weekends. Right, people said, you’re whacked out two days and then need two more to recover.
Now I’m approaching sixteen years of sobriety, a feat no one imagined, so I’d like to offer some things I learned. Alcoholics are usually nervous people and often depressed. If the latter is true, daily prayers to a higher power will not be enough to sustain sobriety. I’m not suggesting you run and get a psychiatrist, if you haven’t already, but I am guaranteeing that a large slice of alcoholics are undermined by brains that are naturally hyper and anxious, and people in pain will seek medication. Look at history. Glance around your AA meetings: how many people have ten or more years sobriety, and how many have less than thirty days? Those answers won’t be encouraging. At least you have a better chance than poor alcoholics, who likely won’t have the opportunity to undergo rehab or consult experts in psychopharmacology.
I’ll make a few suggestions regarding slippery situations. No one can eliminate all of them, but you can erase most. First, don’t keep alcohol in your home. You can’t handle it, and your guests don’t need it. Sober alcoholics learn, often to their surprise, that most people either don’t drink or drink damn little. Avoid those who think drinking is obligatory and fun. They’ll ruin themselves, and they’ll help you ruin yourself. Also, stay out of bars and nightclubs. And don’t claim you’ve got to be there for business. Bullshit. You’re the Golden Boy worth a hundred fifty million bucks. Do your business socializing in wholesome restaurants or private homes. Make a list of where you were and how you felt the last several times you lurched off the wagon. You’ll see handwritten confirmation of what you already know.
If AA works for you, great. The fellowship has helped millions of people save themselves and others from self-destruction. Though I learned much at AA meetings, I may be biased against them since I never reached thirty days sobriety during the two years or so I regularly attended. For me, the unrelenting “war stories” about drinking and drug taking and the sordid tales of domestic violence, divorce, poverty, jail and death were depressing and actually made me dwell on drinking and using more than I otherwise would have. Of course, I did need the learning and support, or I wouldn’t have been advised and eventually compelled to attend meetings.
It’s better I simply say, stay with AA, Oscar. Since after drinking you often charge toward cocaine, a sequence I regrettably understand, then you must do everything to avoid taking that first drink because, as all alcoholics should know, “one drink is too many and a thousand are never enough.” And we can add that alcohol isn’t enough, either. One night of cocaine can blow out any heart, and the places users have to go to get it are rife with bullets and bad people. I’m confident you already know you will die well before old age if you continue drinking and using. Like many, I wonder how I survived until I established permanent sobriety, at age forty-five. Only luck, the empty chamber in a recurring game of Russian roulette, saves people who abuse. Those are wretched odds in a degrading process. So throw away the gun forever. And good luck.
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