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It’s Still There (My Hidden Bottle)

It’s Still There (My Hidden Bottle)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Author: John Herdman, Ph.D., LADC, ICADC Categories: Behavioral Health, Clean Living, Relapse Prevention
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Here is a story, Mark’s story-- his second. Struggling with addiction is not an easy thing to do. From a cognitive-behavioral therapy point of view, Mark is learning that it takes serenity to accept that he does not control things outside of himself – the he, she, it, them. It takes courage to change the three things that he does control – his own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. And, it takes real wisdom to know the difference. As a take on what Aristotle has said about anger, I like to apply his words to abstinence. “Anyone can become sober. That is easy. But to be sober with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy.” Please enjoy Mark’s story as a true effort to change one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

This is the way it WAS…….

It’s the fourth of July. It’s going to be my first day out of residential treatment. I’m so excited to be free again, sleeping in my own bed and with my family again. Getting to spend a holiday with my family after missing Father’s Day while I was in treatment. I will be stepping down to an intensive outpatient program.

I pack my bags. This is coming at a good time since all my clothes are dirty and I don’t want to pay to use the washing machine again. I tell some of the people goodbye and I’ll see you tomorrow.

My wife comes to pick me up. On the way home we discuss how it was and what other steps I’m going to take. I tell her I am going to attend AA meetings and I still have a week and a half of IOP. After that I’ll be an outpatient with one group meeting a week and one individual meeting with a counselor once a week.

We get home and it feels great. My body feels great. My mind feels great. It just feels good knowing I had gone thirty days without alcohol and I don’t really want any now.

The fourth is on a Wednesday this year. We are talking about what we want to do that night. I decide I want to stay home and watch all the neighbor’s fireworks with my family. I don’t want to go to any parties, especially after just getting out of treatment, plus the fact my wife has to work the next day. I just want to spend time with my family again. We decide to get take-out from our favorite Mexican restaurant. The problem is I don’t have my truck. My parents took it to their house when I went to treatment and I need it the next day to go to IOP. My wife takes me out there to get my truck, and I head to get the food so she doesn’t have to get our son out of the car. After getting the food without incident, I immediately go home and enjoy the evening with my family, watching the fireworks before going to bed.

On Thursday I wake up and go to IOP. It was good sleeping in my own bed. At the treatment center, some clients ask me what I had done for the fourth. It is good talking to the clients I had just spent a month in treatment with. At the end of the day, I leave and go to my truck. Driving home, on a whim, or out of habit, I reach back and check under the back seat. IT’S STILL THERE!” Most of the bottle of vodka from my last purchase before treatment was still there. I can’t believe they didn’t check and throw it away. Lucky me.

Thursday evening I get a call from my wife that our son is sick at daycare and we are told to take him to the hospital. He has RSV. Sitting there at the hospital I have this battle going on in my head. Should I drink? I want to drink. I can’t drink. I know I’ll get tested at treatment. I really don’t want to drink, but I also don’t have the nerve to throw the vodka away. I don’t know when I might need it.

As I drive home, I really want to have a drink, but I keep telling myself “Don’t do it!” That night I keep thinking about it. Knowing it is in my truck is eating at me. Knowing it is that close, I can taste it. I then think of the past 30 days and how I really want to stay sober. All the work I had done… I didn’t want it to go for nothing. My wife had taken care of the house and our son for the whole 30 days. I feel like I owe it to them. That night I do not drink.

I wake up on Friday morning. My wife is staying home with our son and I am off to IOP. Driving to treatment, I keep thinking how crazy it is that I had a bottle in my truck parked in their parking lot. I go thru the day going to my classes and learning to stay away from alcohol and all I can think about is my hidden bottle. I keep telling myself I’m going to throw it away as soon as my classes are done today. I still am very motivated to quit drinking. After IOP is over that Friday, I get into my truck and start to drive home. I keep thinking of places where I could throw my bottle away. Every time I see a possible place, I drive by. I just cannot do it. I leave it in my truck and go home.

When I get home my wife had made dinner and we sat down to eat. All through dinner I kept thinking about that stupid bottle. Why didn’t I dump it? Then I would think about “when can I get a drink.” Then I would think “I don’t need a drink.” But it would always go back to “I want a drink.”

After dinner, I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. My wife put our son to bed and we sat down to watch some TV and relax. As we are sitting our favorite show, Shark Tank, my wife makes the comment that she feels like some ice cream. I immediately offered to go get some and she agrees. I think to myself “This is my chance”. I grab a coke out of the fridge, without my wife seeing, and go get in my truck. I sit in my truck for a couple minutes thinking about what I was about to do. I thought about going back inside and showing my wife the bottle. Then I wondered if she’d think I had just bought it. Then I think do I really want to give up that easy. I had just gone through treatment.

The alcohol won. I started my truck and headed to McDonalds’s for a couple milk shakes. Before I got to the end of the block I poured some vodka in to a cup I kept in my truck. I drank as much as I could on my way there and on my way back.

This is the way it CAN BE…..



It’s the fourth of July. It’s going to be my first day out of residential treatment. I’m so excited to be free again, sleeping in my own bed and with my family again. Getting to spend a holiday with my family after missing Father’s Day while I was in treatment. I will be stepping down to an intensive outpatient program.

I pack my bags. This is coming at a good time since all my clothes are dirty and I don’t want to pay to use the washing machine again. I tell some of the people goodbye and I’ll see you tomorrow.

My wife comes to pick me up. On the way home we discuss how it was and what other steps I’m going to take. I tell her I am going to attend AA meetings and I still have a week and a half of IOP. After that I’ll be an outpatient with one group meeting a week and one individual meeting with a counselor once a week.

We get home and it feels great. My body feels great. My mind feels great. It just feels good knowing I had gone thirty days without alcohol and I don’t really want any now.

The fourth is on a Wednesday this year. We are talking about what we want to do that night. I decide I want to stay home and watch all the neighbor’s fireworks with my family. I don’t want to go to any parties, especially after just getting out of treatment, plus the fact my wife has to work the next day. I just want to spend time with my family again. We decide to get take-out from our favorite Mexican restaurant. The problem is I don’t have my truck. My parents took it to their house when I went to treatment and I need it the next day to go to IOP. My wife takes me out there to get my truck, and I head to get the food so she doesn’t have to get our son out of the car. After getting the food without incident, I immediately go home and enjoy the evening with my family, watching the fireworks before going to bed.

On Thursday I wake up and go to IOP. It was good sleeping in my own bed. At the treatment center, some clients ask me what I had done for the fourth. It is good talking to the clients I had just spent a month in treatment with. At the end of the day, I leave and go to my truck. Driving home, on a whim, or out of habit, I reach back and check under the back seat. IT’S STILL THERE!” Most of the bottle of vodka from my last purchase before treatment was still there. I can’t believe they didn’t check and throw it away.

I keep myself calm by thinking “I just got out of treatment. I’m sober for the first time in years. Drinking now would not help me repair my relationship with my family or reach my goal of sobriety. Taking it one day at a time, I know the right thing – the only thing to do is to throw that bottle away.” I continue to drive home feeling confident in my sobriety. “No bottle of alcohol is going to destroy what I have going for me. I don’t have to drink. It’s a choice and I choose to not drink.

I drive into my garage and turn the truck off. I take my homework from treatment and the bottle of vodka into the house. I go to the sink and dump the remaining vodka down the drain leaving the bottle on the countertop. I think it would be a good step to tell my wife I found this bottle left over from before treatment, and to share with her that I dumped it down the drain. I also plan to share with her that I love her and my son so much that I wasn’t going to let this derail me.

Mark O. is a 34 year old man struggling with alcohol addiction. He is in recovery and is using a cognitive-behavior therapy approach to abstain from all use of alcohol.

John W. Herdman, Ph.D., LADC is a licensed psychologist and licensed alcohol and drug counselor in Lincoln, NE who uses evidence-based treatment for addictions. He is the author of three books: Global Criteria: The 12 Core Functions of the Substance Abuse Counselor, Sixth Edition; A Rational Workbook for Recovery From Addiction, Second Edition; and, A Rational Workbook for Anger – Help for Those with a Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder. He can be contacted by email at johnh@parallelslincoln.com.

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