Helping other alcoholics

July 17, 2017

Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department

I saw him while driving to work, standing on the corner, sign in hand, people passing, not giving a second glance.

He looked familiar, but they all look alike after a while, I kept driving. An hour later I was in my other seat, Rescue Lieutenant in Providence, and we were called to the same corner for an intoxicated male. This time I couldn’t just keep driving.

It was Paul, and I haven’t seen him in a few years. Back then he was a daily caller, never gave us much trouble, always said he was going to stop drinking tomorrow.

“Paul, how are you doing?”
“Drunk.”
“Where have you been?”
“In Maine, three years sober.”
“What happened?”
“I came back to Providence.”

He told me all about the program, the twelve steps, his sponsor and how he let it all go just for a drink. He’d been at it for a week, now, he said, killing himself a half pint at a time. He came to Providence to visit some friends, had a pocket full of money and good intentions. But he knew I knew he was lying. He came back to Providence to get drunk, and stay drunk, and die drunk.


Something happened in Maine, he started to tell me but couldn’t finish his story, getting choked up before he could speak.


“You need to get back to AA.”
“That’s why I called you.”

It was a short ride to the ER, but long enough for two drunks to have a little meeting. I shared some experience, strength and hope, and hope that it does some good. It’s a little different getting a life back when you have nobody who cares telling you the things you need to hear. So I told him what he needed, and can only hope he’s ready to listen.
People who suffer with alcoholism give everything up for what to most is a take it or leave it substance, a little buzz, something to do or a way to get the wheels of conversation turning. Families are destroyed, relationships ruined, fortunes lost and self-esteem and confidence drowned in a sea of nothingness; no job, no friends, no money, no hope.
To beat it, one needs to ignore the million dollar advertising campaigns, the endless billboards and attitudes glorifying the very thing that will be your undoing.

It is a disease of isolationism, most die broken and alone, yet to fully grasp the thing that will restore sanity reaching out to others is imperative.

And for me, staying sober means helping other alcoholics. The back of Rescue 1 has been host to more than a few AA meetings.

It will be seventeen years in a couple of weeks, as long as I remember to take things one run at a time.

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