I’ve been sober for 34 years. People come up to me and say ‘surely one drink won’t hurt you.’ But I tell them it’ll kill me because I can’t stop at one drink. I was 40 when I went to the doctor in Darwin. I knew him well, I even drunk with him a lot. He was very blunt and told me that if I kept drinking like I was, I wouldn’t see 45. I said that was bull because when you walk the streets of Darwin, you see more old drunks than old doctors. After the appointment, I went to the pub and got pissed. On a good day, I would drink two bottles of Bacardi. I was only a ‘social drinker,’ the trouble was that every time someone within a 3000 mile radius had a drink in their hand I would say ‘so shall I.’
I apologised to that doctor a few years later, when I started Alcoholics Anonymous.
I can blame my drinking on a lot of things, I could blame my old man probably, but ultimately it came down to me. When I woke up in the morning, I had a choice, I could stay sober today or I could go and get drunk. I am responsible for myself. When I had sobered up, I worked at a rehab centre, and many of the people that came in were my former drinking mates. Now that really pinned my ears back, bloody hell.
I’m still a work in progress and I’m still learning, even 34 years later. After my wife passed away I found it really hard, but I got through. Even today I say the Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity Prayer every night before bed.
‘’God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.”