by Charles Moses
As I begin this article, it is now the 2nd day of the New Year, 2020. First off, as an introduction, I am an alcoholic and August 2019 marked the 30th year of my sobriety.
Whenever I state this, I forget to mention that I was drinking for 9 (nine) years as an alcoholic. What’s even more revealing to me about this incurable illness I have is the fact that it took less than a year for me to get addicted and that I was trying to quit drinking for 3 (three) years on my own before I was finally able to give up alcohol with the help of a treatment program.
The reason why I say “revealing” is because someone once told me that I was very susceptible to alcohol addiction because of the fact that I am a Yup’ik. Meaning that my ancestors didn’t have alcohol in their history as part of their cultural development, so they hadn’t developed alcohol-tolerant genes to pass on to me.
I didn’t believe the person at the time because I was in deep denial. I have since discovered that it doesn’t matter if you have alcohol-tolerant genes or not, everyone has a deadly virus of Alcohol Addiction that is dormant, waiting. Once awoken, it will ravage without compunction or restraint and it doesn’t care who you are.
Of a 100 people I can name who drank or drink, I know of only 2 (two) who can drink sociably.
Like most Yup’ik people my age, I was very shy in my teens. Those of us who were raised traditionally we’re all like that. But that shyness was not because of what we normally associate with being bashful. Rather it was a shyness that came from a deep respect for those around us, especially those older than us. This reality sometimes made for some interesting situations back then, some funny, some not.
When I first started drinking, it was so amazing! It was fun. It made me feel like those people whom I admired because they were funny and outgoing. I guess I can state with certainty that it made me “brave” when I was “feeling high” to approach anyone and interact with them. It was like I was on equal footing with everybody.
For a while it was a good life but eventually alcohol also began to make me do “stupid” things which embarrassed me when I was hung over and sober. I still respected those I was taught to respect but very shortly that respect got lost in “drunkenness”.
It turned out I was a “mean drunk” when I had too much to drink. I was destructive. That wasn’t who I was raised to be. That’s when I started trying to quit.
When I look around today, I am deeply saddened by all the needless dysfunctional behavior caused by the addictions to too many different things, especially mind-altering substances. Many families are suffering today because of addictions. Of the 100 people I mentioned earlier, over half are gone. Alcohol, Marijuana, and drugs killed them. Some drowned, some froze, some overdosed, some got into fatal accidents, some were killed by others, and some killed themselves. Many of you know who they were.
Please…let us all help and support each other to try and stop this cycle.