One run at a time – a day in EMS
[American Addiction Centers Blog welcomes blogger and Fire/EMS veteran Michael Morse with this, his first blog for AAC. Read more about this 23-year public servant below.]
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 hadn’t seen him in a few years. Back then he had been a daily caller, never gave us much trouble, always said he was going to stop drinking tomorrow.
“Paul, how are you doing?”
“Where have you been?”
“Out of state, three years sober.”
“I came back to Providence.”
He told me all about the program, the 12 Steps, his sponsor and how he let it all go just for a drink. He’d been killing himself a half pint at a time for a week now he told me, the familiar glaze of arrogance, guilt, and desperation plastered on his face. 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 while he was away. He started to tell me but couldn’t finish his story, getting choked up before he could speak. The arrogance on his face receded; all that was left was guilt and desperation, with a dash of shame.
“You need to get back on the beam.”
“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. Aging, loss, and isolation are difficult to process, especially if your addictions have caused you to lose purpose. If they have also taken family, friends, and anyone who would care enough about you to tell you what you need to hear, it’s about as bad as it gets. I could relate. I’ve been to that place, where the thought of a purposeful life becomes little more than a fantasy conceived through the bottle. I shared some of my own experiences, adding what strength and hope I’ve learned along the way. I only hope Paul was at a place where my words could do some good.
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. When alcoholism is involved, 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, unable to fully grasp the thing that will restore sanity: reaching out to others.
And for me, staying sober means helping other alcoholics. The back of Rescue 1 has been host to more than a few AA meetings.
Now that I’m no longer “on the street” doing Fire or EMS work, American Addiction Centers is taking place of Rescue 1. I’ll be doing some reaching out through these blog posts, hoping to connect with other alcoholics or anyone sick and suffering with drug addiction. Thank you for taking the time to follow these posts, and if you know somebody who might need a little nudge in the right direction, feel free to share.
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