I'm beyond grateful to be sober today, especially as the holidays approach. Sobriety has made me healthier and happier, has improved my relationships and has taught me about my strengths and weaknesses. The pros outweigh the cons by a long shot. But that doesn't mean the cons don't rear their heads once in a while.
I viewed Bukowski as only doing a limited shtick -- he rarely came into the office himself, but I knew all about him because my friend Judy Lewellen, the city editor, used to go pick up the column. I guess I hadn't understood how popular Bukowski was getting until I was confronted by a book display in London.
Not one of those hours was spent wasted drinking at a bar, being drunk, or hung over. I didn't make any trips to the emergency room. I didn't spend any nights in jail. I didn't waste one hour in court. I haven't wasted an entire day sleeping it off and feeling miserable because of drinking the night before.
Words like "addict," "abuser" and "alcoholic" are widely used indiscriminately to describe people who struggle with substance use issues and are laden with negative connotations for much of the culture. As a psychologist who treats substance use disorders I usually discourage my clients and their families from using these words to describe themselves or their loved one.
I know that substance abuse problems vary in terms of severity, fright and heartbreak, and yet I am optimistic! In research and clinical work alike, I've seen the evidence over the past 40 years that families and friends make a difference in helping someone who struggles with drinking, drugs or other compulsive behaviors. Often, it is the critical difference.