Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
Words by Tony Grands
Hi. My name is Tony and I’m an alcoholic.
I started drinking when I moved out of my parents’ apartment in my early twenties, which is a bit late for the average American young person, but I quickly caught up to and surpassed my friends in alcohol consumption, turning a casual activity into my own personal hell. Within a year of my first drink, I’d developed a chemical dependency. That was the beginning stages of alcohol addiction, though I had no idea back then. I just knew I wanted to drink because I could.
My mother is an alcoholic, also. In fact, she introduced me to it. She’d buy my groceries every week after I moved out, and to a drinker, booze is a part of the Groceries Food group. Slowly but surely, I unintentionally trained my body to withstand the liquor, subsequently building up the tolerance that would push me over the wall from dependence to addiction. The fall is not as far as most people think, either. A weekly ritual of meeting up at a buddy’s house for leisurely drinking can become the daily task of drinking alone in the morning, with little to no effort. People think alcohol is harmless because it’s legal. I say it’s dangerous because it’s legal. April 1st of this year (2015) will mark my 7 year soberversary. I haven’t had so much as a sip of any alcoholic beverage since that day. No relapses, non on the horizon. AND BELIEVE ME, I’VE BEEN TESTED, but nah. No dice. That shit tried to murder me, and almost succeeded, but my blessings far outweigh[ed] my curses, so here I sit, a walking testimony for anyone willing to listen.
I drank hard. I enjoyed being drunk. I carried alcohol with me all the time. Literally. Little did I know I was creating a monster that would soon become strong enough to render me powerless. Powerless in my own body.
After becoming too sick to ignore and sometimes going days without solid food, I finally decided to get some help. Actually, I didn’t decide as much as I just felt bad. Terrible. One night, it hit me: I’m dying, right now. The rest is history…
My vessel had become so dilapidated and undernourished that even the smallest activity left me winded. That was the congenital heart failure at work. I won’t get into my laundry list of alcohol-induced medical problems, one of which landed me on the organ donor’s recipient list, but I’ll just say that life gets no more real than when a doctor solemnly and honestly says he is not sure if you’ll survive but he’ll “try his best.” WTF? Well, kudos, doc. Job well done…
I spent about a month in the hospital. 2 weeks of that in the ICU wing. Because my body was shutting down. Lungs, liver, digestive track, heart, brain, and pretty much everything in between. I was so severely ill from the side effects of years of excessive drinking that I never even experienced detoxing. I was in and out of consciousness during that process.