The False Reality Alcohol Gave Me

Sober man
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When I was in grade school, my parents and teachers told me I was bright and creative and that I showed a great deal of promise. I experienced pressure that came with this foreseen high level of expectation. I wasn’t terribly interested in other kids my age and didn’t feel like I had much in common with them. One school year, I attended a program for gifted students, but I didn’t quite fit in with them, either.

It’s safe to say I was an outsider. At the same time, I was afraid of being wrong and experienced a lot of self-doubt. I didn’t know how to cope with the crippling anxiety and low levels of self-esteem and confidence that followed. I spent most of my free time alone in my room reading encyclopedias and dictionaries just to learn random facts and vocabulary words. I felt emotionally vulnerable, mainly due to my inability to adequately express my thoughts and feelings.

Once I got to middle school, I was tired of being alone. Instead of finding other kids similar to me or who would at least accept my eccentricities, I aligned myself with those I perceived to be the cool kids. They were edgy, dangerous, acted out in class, didn’t care about anything, stayed out all night, smoked pot and cigarettes, and drank beer. The kids that were actually most similar to me were regarded as nerds. Definitely not cool. So I hung out with the cool kids and did what they did.

This solved two problems for me: First, I felt a new sense of belonging with a group that was regarded as popular. Second, I no longer had to worry about not being smart enough because I established myself as a grungy slacker who didn’t care. When smoking pot and drinking alcohol, it seemed acceptable to express unusual thoughts and what I felt were profound insights into existence. It made me feel like I was performing for people. I was positively reinforced by my peers, so I kept perpetuating my behavior.

All of this together provided me with a sense of belonging, a role in the world of social functionalism. This instilled in me a newfound level of self-confidence. I also experienced what I now view as a false sense of social responsibility. I aimed to impress and entertain others with an air of existential profundity. I became the philosophical drunk, and I played that role for the next 20 years.

I went to college to study psychology and anthropology, then got a full-time job in the humanities. In my own right, I was well-educated and uniquely bright but still somehow believed I required alcohol to be the person that people were drawn to. The bar became my sanctuary, a place of belonging where I could continue developing my character. I blinked and a year would pass. I sighed and realized another decade was gone. Time was flying by so fast because I spent so much of it talking about life instead of living it and creating my own identity based on my experiences.

What’s ironic is as much as I thought I understood the human condition, I knew very little about myself. While I foolishly believed I needed alcohol to connect with other people, I was drinking so much that I was pushing everyone away. I became physically dependent on it to function in everyday life. What gave me a sense of belonging and self-worth was destroying everything in my life—relationships, jobs, finances.

My entire existence revolved around drinking. I romanticized being the sad, scraggly guy at the bar, believing that to truly understand life, one must endure some element of despair. But I know now that place of neverending sorrow is not a place to be dwelled in forever. At that point, I had never felt so alone. That’s when I knew I needed to make a change. But I couldn’t do it on my own. That was when I reached out to Narconon for help.

D.W., Narconon Graduate


Alina Snowden

Originally from Kentucky, Alina decided after changing her life that she wanted to help others understand the dangers of addiction and help families know what to do if their loved one is struggling. She now writes articles to spread awareness and positivity about how those with addiction problems can turn their lives around.