A Moment of Clarity from Inside
When David B came in for his initial interview, his story was not uncommon. Arrested for his third DUI with a very high blood alcohol level, he was looking for a quick answer that would keep him in bars, but not behind them. In describing his life situation, it became apparent he was on a vicious downward cycle fueled by alcohol. Going through his second divorce, estranged from his father, his plumbing business failing, he was nevertheless not interested in treatment. When I bluntly pointed out that the only relationship in his life not in jeopardy was the one he had with alcohol, he was unmoved. I described in some detail that entering into an approved treatment program would give him the opportunity to become sober, and reverse the damage he was doing in and to his life. Additionally, his participation in such a program might qualify as jail credits. Thus, I explained, he would “kill two birds with one stone”: get sober, and get out of jail. His response? “You’re wasting your time, I’m not doing any program, if that’s what you mean!” he sneered back at me. “Just wrap it up as best as you can”.
Because he was still on probation on his two prior cases, and the fact his blood alcohol was more than three times the presumptive level, the prosecutor wanted a year in jail to settle the case. Now realizing the seriousness of his case, David decided to cut his losses, and take the offer by the judge of nine months in the county jail. He began his sentence with bitterness, and left me feeling I had accomplished nothing in terms of helping David change the behavior that was destroying his relationships, his health, his business, and had now taken his liberty.
Six days later, David called me collect from the jail. It was a David I had never talked to before! Excitedly, he said, “Lloyd, I had a dream last night that was so real I could smell the salt in the air, I could hear the pounding of the surf, the wind in the palm trees. I realized the only reason I’m not in Hawaii, where I want to be is…I’m a drunk! I need to end this, Lloyd. Can you help me get into a program so I can stop this before I die? ”
I will never be able to adequately describe how I felt hearing this! I have been so fortunate to experience client’s epiphanies when they realize the need to change and express the desire to do what it takes to accomplish it. But I never expected to hear it from David.
Moved by this, I approached the Judge a short time later, and explained what had happened, and made an appeal to modify David’s sentence to serve the remainder of his time in the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, a modification she eventually agreed to make.
How does the story end? Every November since David began his journey of recovery, I get a brief note from him. It always says the same thing, “Still on da path. Dig ya, David” And in the card, he includes an AA chip. This year’s chip commemorated his thirteen years of sobriety. And the return address? His plumbing business…in Hawaii.
Who will be successful in the hard work needed to achieve lasting sobriety cannot be answered with mathematical precision. Clearly it’s mandatory that one must acknowledge that a problem exists, and have the humility, determination, and support to seek expert guidance, such as that provided by assimilating the concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous. For many, this requires time in a residential treatment program where they are totally immersed on the process. But for some, it also takes residence in a place where the opening and closing of the doors is under some one else’s control!
If you or a loved one is struggling on the road down or needs guidance on the road back, call us. We stand ready to help…