The first thing to go during detoxification is the mind. It starts to wander. Short-term memory misfires. The simplest tasks will require as much focus as defusing a time bomb.
Shit, where do you put the mustard?
There was a day in the first week of my own detoxification when I walked into the living room four times in a row to get my phone, but each time I forgot to pick it up. We've all done that before, right? The difference is that mine was ringing at the time.
Part of this lack of focus is because you're constantly tired from the insomnia/nightmare combination, part of it is the nervous system not having the security blanket of booze it's used to. And with that, came changes in mood.
The smallest things would irritate me into a full-blown rage. Little annoyances, like the person who was sitting at the same picnic table as me who wouldn't stop tapping his leg up and down, shaking the whole contraption. I wanted get a gun and murder him and all of the other people in the world who had failed to murder him up to that point.
If each of those guns held a billion bullets, it wouldn't be enough.
Some people in that situation may have a few people close to them who sympathize with what they're going through (assuming they connect the bad mood with the alcohol at all, and they may not if they've never tried to quit). But to everyone else, you're just being an unmanageable twat. Fortunately, I still had my friends to make me feel better.
Well, I would have, if it hadn't turned out that most of my friends were in fact just drinking partners. When I told them I was quitting, they'd sort of nervously laugh, waiting for the punch line. Then, they'd respond with a genuinely surprised, "Really? Why?" Then they'd reassure me that I didn't have a drinking problem (because if I had a drinking problem, it meant they had a drinking problem).
That's when I'd find out that drinking was all we had in common. Then they'd start slyly trying to get me to drink, and I'd have visions of punching all of the skin off of their faces. So, for the first couple of weeks I wound up just avoiding people when at all possible. It sounds like a chickenshit way out, but it got me through the first of the bad spots without hurting many people in the process, and I murdered almost nobody.
Once the irritability subsides, you're about to reap the rewards of ...
For a few days after a person becomes completely detoxed, his body will get an unexpected dose of oxygen, real food and natural chemicals that will put him on a natural high. It's just a symptom, just like the pooping, and likewise it won't last. Truthfully, you don't want it to.
You can't sustain this expression without being beaten constantly.
But in the mean time, rainbows will shoot out of your ass, and it will feel like the final scenes of Independence Day. You've overcome your addictions! The alien ships have been destroyed! You just did what they all said you couldn't do!
Except you haven't. There is no finish line with alcohol recovery. Ninety percent of alcoholics relapse within the first four years. There are still shitloads of ships up there, and each one of them requires Randy Quaid to improbably fly into it at the exact moment it attacks with its giant laser beam.
It turns out that drinking doesn't make a person an alcoholic. The part of a person's brain that makes him drink to excess is what makes him an alcoholic, and the mechanism for the addiction is still there. This is why people in 12-step programs say that you'll always be an alcoholic, even if you're not drinking. Alcohol isn't the disease; it's a symptom. Or rather, it's an attempt to self-medicate the disease.
It's hard for people to understand why I can't just downgrade from "alcoholic" to "moderate drinker." There are plenty of people out there who can drink in moderation. They can down a couple with their friends, shit on the hood of a cop car, go to sleep and forget all about booze the next day. I'm not one of them. Neither was my dad, who died at age 49 from this shit.
I think I'll find a better way to teach my kids the same lesson.
Perhaps some sort of terrifying puppet show ...
If you're a drunk and have started to realize that your story is going to end with a bunch of your friends telling hilarious drinking stories at your funeral, I promise you that quitting is totally worth it, despite all the bad stuff I described above. I'm one year sober as of last week, and I've never felt better or more proud of myself in my life. And in that year, I have not woken up even one time with a cock drawn on my face.
Check out more from John in Having Fun With 419 Scammers and The Top 10 Celebrity Sex Videos Nobody Wanted to See.