MY NAME IS JOHN. I AM AN ALCOHOLIC…
I had the good fortune to win a gold medal as an oarsman in the
1960 Rome Olympics. For ten years after leaving college I did not
drink, but then I started on beer and wine. I moved on to whisky
and my consumption grew. In time it became obvious to my family
that my drinking was a problem, although I would not acknowledge
that it was affecting my life and work.
Things came to a head when a business venture collapsed and we
lost several hundred thousand dollars. I began drinking even more
heavily, and became critical and verbally abusive. One day in May
1985, after I'd drunk a bottle of whisky, my wife confronted me.
I flew into a blind rage and threw dishes at her. My 25 year-old
son intervened and, although I threatened to kill him he overpowered
My wife tried to phone a friend, but got the operator instead,
who heard what was going on and called the police. By the time they
arrived I had cooled down, but the next thing I knew was I was handcuffed
in the back of a police car. Soon I was in a filthy cell with 30
to 40 others - car thieves, drug-pushers and other drunks. I was
angry at my own humiliation, but also blamed my family's over-reaction
to my drinking This was typical drunk thinking, blaming someone
else. It was a long way down from the Olympic victory podium in
When I was released the next morning. My wife greeted me coolly
and said: "I've found a treatment centre that can take you
today. Will you go?" My mind was clear enough to realise that,
unless I chose to go for treatment, I would lose my family for ever.
Two days later I entered a recovery centre for a 28-day course,
whose basic philosophy was the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step
Programme. You admit you are an alcoholic and are powerless to change,
and you turn your life over to God as you understand him. It also
means taking a fearless look at your life, putting right things
where you can This simple programme not only lets you deal with
alcohol, it also lays out a method of living that can guide you
throughout the rest of your life.
As I began to get honest with myself and my family, amazing things
began to happen. My eldest daughter who had left home at fifteen,
and had been deeply into drugs and alcohol for several years, came
to see me at the centre. My change affected her and she realised
how much trouble she too was in. A few days after I had left the
centre, she and her boyfriend
I owe my life, my family and my sanity to Alcoholics Anonymous.
(Abridged from For a Change magazine)