My name is Severin, I was born in 1972, I live in Bonn in Germany and I drank way too much alcohol for many years. This is my story of how I slipped into alcohol addiction.
I had always been a good drinker, but within the bounds of what is considered socially acceptable: No beer before four, during the week on some days nothing or only on special occasions, during Lent nothing at all. On weekends, however, it could be more: two to three beers while cooking, then a bottle of wine with dinner, and later a Macallan on a regular basis, and more at parties. During the day, however, at most once what on vacation. I had myself under control. Of course, by strict definition I was probably already an alcoholic at that time, but many people in my environment drank and drink like I did at that time, without anyone making a problem of it.
I remember the day it started to get out of hand quite clearly. It was March 18, 2016, a Friday. I had a kebab for lunch, after which I didn’t feel quite right. Then on top of that came the news that Guido Westerwelle had died. Anyway, I had drunk an Underberg for the stomach and on the rest – and the meeting afterwards, which I also did not really feel like, then went much more relaxed.
It came the weekend with the normal too high consumption. And when I had another meeting in the early afternoon on the following Monday, I remembered how relaxed it had been on Friday. And so I treated myself to a vodka beforehand, one of the very small bottles from the kiosk on the corner. The meeting went well. I was calmer, supposedly more confident. My fears and nervousness were blown away.
And the little vodka at lunchtime became routine. So that it wouldn’t be so noticeable, afterwards there was not only a large mineral water, but also coffee and chewing gum – with pleasure also sometimes a bread roll with onions, in order to cover the smell. Yes, I even went so far as to test the different types of vodka to find out which one caused the least amount of plume.
At the same time, I also started drinking more in the evenings. Definitely a beer on the way home on the train, then one with cooking, wine with dinner. And at some point the small bottle of vodka at noon became the larger 0.1l bottle, then 0.2l.
After a few months it was no longer enough at lunchtime, I could no longer get through the morning nervously without drinking something. The first course in the morning at 8h went to the kiosk. 0.2l 40% stuff. Then at noon the same. In the evening I secretly smuggled bottles of vodka into the house and hid them everywhere in the house, because beer and wine were no longer enough. The thought of alcohol determined the whole day’s planning.
My techniques to drink more inconspicuously became more and more perfidious. I bought wine and beer once officially and once secretly double. And the official evening bottle of wine became two, one of them unnoticed on the side, plus four large beers and schnapps. When we had guests, I took over the generous pouring. At invitations at friends I glowed at home and had everywhere in the corners then various glasses stand. Waiters in restaurants in bars, restaurants and cafes were instructed beforehand and served the coffee with generous shot. The Stammitaliener put me immediately the bottle Grappa, if I came sometimes alone. A stewardess brought me the bottle of gin right away on our second flight together: “Then I won’t have to walk so often.” The kiosk owners in Bonn and Cologne greeted me from afar.
At the office, no one noticed my consumption during this phase – or dared to talk about it. Why should they, I was working.
At home it became more difficult: The fact that I had quite a flag every evening and was shaky in the morning could not be hidden. Smuggling the evening rations into the house became more and more elaborate. I then usually stuck a vial in an obvious place and let it be discovered as a sacrifice on purpose. I brought the rest into the house in my underpants and a hollowed-out power bank. The feeling afterwards: a mixture of self-loathing and clammy joy at having outsmarted everyone again.
In the morning, in front of the mirror, red-eyed and red-skinned, I made a desperately firm resolution not to drink again today. Two hours later at the main train station, it was forgotten again. The fear of having to go through the day without my thoughts wrapped in absorbent cotton was too great. I hated the first biting sip of the ice-cold Vodka Gorbachev, a very popular and quite cheap brand here in Germany, and downed the second 0.2l greedily and happily. On weekends I went jogging, 10km through the forest. After that, first to the gas station, but to fill up.
Some days I even ended up not caring about the facade: In the morning at 7:53h I sat in the train. White shirt, jacket, laptop open and a bottle of beer in my hand, plus a small whisky for a change.
Again and again I tried to get going on my own, usually the good intentions ended after one day, once in 2017 I lasted at least three weeks, because I was worried about my liver values. After the values were quickly back in line, I fell into old drinking patterns within days. The days without alcohol seemed too unbearable.
Sometime in a bright moment I recorded in the morning around 10h what I had drunk until then: 0.5l Vodka, 5 large Pils and an Elephant Beer. Shortly after that I gave a talk. It went well. By the way, I have immortalized the photo here, at the place there is also more about alcoholism.
Without alcohol I did not function any more. It was my tranquilizer, my sleeping pill, my encourager, the kick for my self-confidence. Without it, I felt small and helpless.
On August 28, 2018, a little over two years and three months after the first midday booze, I went to the addiction department of the LVR Klinik Bonn at 9h in the morning and said, “I am an alcoholic, I need help.” Three per mille I had that day at that primal time and was “gang- and stand-safe…. conscious. Oriented to all qualities.” After a week, I was discharged. I was told to try controlled drinking and naltrexone, that I was intelligent. That went thoroughly wrong, as you can read here.
Secret mirror drinking followed in the next months, longer dry periods on my own, crashes, “oriented to all qualities” with 4.2 per mille, confession to the employer, family problems. And in addition, always the knowledge that it can not go on like this.
After all, I haven’t had a drink since January 24, 2020. And I also know that I can never do that again.
This article was translated from German with DeepL. So please don’t be angry if it reads a bit strange in places. You can find the original text in German here.