Problems with alcohol can affect anyone. There is no "type" – it could be a businessperson, a Sunday school teacher, a bus driver, a doctor and, yes, a member of the military.
Betty Currier is an example of alcohol's lack of discrimination. Sober since 1976, the 73-year-old felt she needed a way to "fit in," and unfortunately she chose a bad solution. "For a long time I felt like a square peg in a round hole," said Betty, who was 16 when she took her first drink with a group of teens outside a dance. "I didn't seem to fit even into my own skin."
It was gin, that first time, and she hated the taste. But the confidence she felt wooed her to the bottle and an alcoholic was born. But even as her problem progressed, Betty was what she calls a "high-functioning alcoholic." "I was a member of the community, I was active in my church, I was active in public service – so I had this image, but when I would get home, and behind the doors of my house, I was drinking to manage all the issues of life that were just plain overwhelming to me."
"Rock bottom" came when her daughter almost died from a cocktail of alcohol and pills. The incident shocked Betty immeasurably, but it still took the intervention of others to get her on the road to recovery, when she was tricked into going to a group therapy meeting she had thought was for her daughter.
Today Betty is sober and wiser.
"My insides match my outsides now," she said. "You've probably heard that expression. It came from my program of recovery. The biggest thing I had to deal with was the guilt and shame of what my alcoholism had done to me. And I find this is so typical of women."
If alcohol can steal a normal life away from a pillar of the community like Betty Currier, it can do it to anyone. Getting a handle on a problem with alcohol early is key. Take a free, anonymous online screening for alcohol and see what you can learn.
Adrian Zupp is the marketing and communications writer at Screening for Mental Health.