90-day chips

January 14, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Today marks 90 days since I quit drinking. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they gave you a 90-day sobriety chip. It’s a good thing I’m not in AA, though — chips always make me thirsty for beer.

Junk food triggers are astounding in the world of addiction. Like Cheetos? They make me want crystal meth. Funyuns have some kind of mystical marijuana connection, because they never taste like real food otherwise. And Chicken in a Biskit crackers, for whatever reason, make me want to inject back pain medication into my spine.

I tried to hang onto my drinking habit after I got married. I stopped going out drinking practically every night, but I’d still buy myself a pre-portioned amount on the way home from work. It would be a regular bottle of wine or a giant bottle of wine or a six pack or a half-pint poured into a gigantic convenience store beverage. I drank progressively less every married year, but it was still enough to knock Betty Ford on her sober first-lady ass and still enough to give me some form of hangover.

When you get to your thirties, and you still drink like you’re in your twenties, you get hangovers like you’re in your forties. Particularly if you drank a bunch of forties just before bedtime.

A dad, especially one who’s been a stay-at-home dad since he shattered his ankle last fall, is on call 24 hours a day. He might have to jump out of bed and slide down that firehouse pole on a second’s notice at any time. There are dozens of reasons my life is better off without drinking, but the elimination of the piercing hangover headache wins the blue ribbon.

I’m proud of hitting the 90-day mark, and I’m equally motivated to put more and more distance between Sober Andrew and Drinking Andrew. I look forward to being able to say it’s been six months, it’s been a year, it’s been 5 years since I took a drink. I like being able to go hang out in bars with people who are drinking — with friends I once only felt motivated to make so I’d have people to drink with — and leave sober with almost all the money I came in with.

I don’t have the nights of crazy abandon I once did, and I do miss them, but I also don’t have the feeling that alcohol is driving a wedge between me and the positive benefits of contributing to my family. Of caring for and loving small human beings that are half me.

Some people can’t make the choice between alcohol and family. The most fortunate, put-together people don’t have to. For me, in the end, it was the only decision to make and the absolute right time to make it. I feel like celebrating. Screw it, I’m gonna eat some chips.

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

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