This will be my last column on the subject of alcoholism.
For the past few months, I have been writing about alcoholism and the workplace. I have been reading a lot about alcoholism. I have talked to hopeless and incurable alcoholics. I have spent time with recovering alcoholics. I have read the Big Book put out by AA, paying particular attention to Chapter 10, which deals with employers. I have even begun to question my own and my friends' drinking behaviors. I am looking at alcoholism in a way different from I did before I began writing about it.
I have received more e-mail than I usually get about columns that I write for MMS. I want to thank those folks who have shared their observations and stories with me. This has been a topic that has affected many lives in the home and at work.
I began this series in April by relating a story about a friend who was released from a 30-day alcohol rehab program last March. After his discharge, he was gung-ho about getting and staying sober. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous. He willingly aligned himself with a sponsor he described as the "Drill Sergeant From Hell." He took in a "recovering alcoholic" roommate he met at the rehab program so he could share the pain and anguish and the loneliness of his troubles. He cleaned himself up physically, spiritually and emotionally. He took his medication regularly. He stayed away from his favorite haunts and disinvited himself from gatherings where alcohol was served.
He was on his way to reincarnation. . . until the cravings began. And they came with the vengeance of a tsunami until he could no longer tread water. So he grabbed on to a fifth of whiskey and sank into the hellhole of alcohol-oblivion that he knew all too well.
He is still treading water in a dazed, bewildered and stupefied state . . . assailed by the demons that torment him every waking moment. He is in no better condition now than he was before he entered the rehab program months ago. Perhaps he is even worse now that he has learned he has advanced liver disease. And he's only 38!
I am a manager, and I have owned and directed my business since I was 27. I'm 53 now. (Don't let the picture above fool you.) I have dealt with all sorts of people, from the high rollers of the Fortune 500 to the moms and pops of small business. I have been involved with startups, downsizing, rollovers, mergers and acquisitions. I have seen it all in more than 25 years of experience, and I have been very successful in every area of business except one—dealing with alcoholics. And I know a lot of them!
I feel inadequate dispensing advice on this subject. From my experience, this is one of the most difficult, gut-wrenching, personal and social dilemmas of the human condition. All I can do is say the Serenity Prayer, cross my managerial fingers and hope for a cure. And I keep in mind something my grandmother said: "There, but for the grace of God, go I."