I started drinking when I was 14. I started by stealing liquor with my friends from my dad’s liquor cabinet. Initially the first time, like so many people who start drinking, it felt dangerous and completely different. There was an element of fun and laughter at how challenging it was to walk and hide the activity from my parents. We thought we were so cool.
Before long, I was also using tobacco. The two seemed to be like brother and sister. Take a drink, have a smoke. My parents did not want me smoking or drinking though. They were and still are nice people who were thoughtful and responsible parents. And of course, it is not like I was trying to do it in their faces. I was sneaky as were my friends.
It is important to note that my use of alcohol and tobacco did not start in a vacuum. I had peers who encouraged me and shared my predilection for getting high. We also had older people in our lives who thought that drinking and smoking was cool. These were the 1970’s. And much of society was engaged in the escapism that drinking and taking drugs provided. It was normal in a lot of places for the people who were just little older to smoke weed and drink.
And I stress that it was my own choice to get involved in this activity. Although my friends and the older children and young adults were doing it too, ultimately it was my own choice. And that is where it starts. It is possible and some recovery programs will start with the premise that alcohol or drug addiction is a disease. And it may well be. I do not want to to debate that issue. I can simply say for me that starting the abuse of alcohol and drugs was a choice for me. And I made it. Likewise, getting sober and leaving drugs and alcohol behind was and still is a choice. A daily one. Sometimes, and hourly one. But it still requires that I choose. And choose to be sober.
If you are thinking that it has been some easy road through drunkenness and impairment, I will tell you; it has been a very difficult and lonely road that has resulted in the loss of many things. The loss of relationships. The loss of opportunities. The loss of resources. The loss of time. Much of which there is no guarantee I can ever get back. I know the time I have lost to partying is not something I can get back. Time can only be spent once. And I have wasted a good portion of what was allotted to me chasing a drink or a joint.
I have gone through healthy relationship opportunities and cannot recover some of them. Friends and family who loved me and who I loved have moved on. And there may not be a chance to recover those relationships.
I have gone through jobs and opportunities that will not be offered again. That have passed for good. And now face a time in my life where I have to deal with the fallout. I have damaged my body, perhaps permanently and have to deal with the loss of my personal health. The cost of the party has gone far beyond just what it costs to buy a drink or a bag of weed. And now I may have to go to my grave long before I would have if I had made better choices when I was younger. Long story, short; It has not been a party. It has been a nightmare. But there is hope.
So if you are listening to this or reading this transcript, I want you to know that today you have a choice. Just as I do. I am choosing to stay sober. To deal with whatever comes today in my right mind instead of trying to run away into a bottle or a joint. That is my choice and it is a choice that you can make too. If you are thinking to yourself that it is too hard to face life without a drink or a joint or a pill: I want to encourage you. Yes, it is painful and sometimes difficult. It can even look impossible. But it all begins as a decision. A choice to seek help. And find a way back to a life that does not have the weight of substances as a crutch. You can do it.
Make the choice to start back now. And the first thing you can do is call someone. Call someone you miss. Call someone you love who you know is sober. Call 211. Pick up that phone. Turn this off and make that call and tell the person that you want help. That is the first step. Although it is your responsibility to keep your commitment to living without drugs or alcohol; you do not have to go at it all alone. There are resources to help you start and help you keep at it. But it all starts with you letting someone else know that you want to change. You want to win.
Here are a few phone numbers if you do not want to call your family right now. If you prefer to start this process and then seek support from your friends or family, you can start here. Call 211. Three easy numbers. 211.
211 is an easy to remember three-digit telephone number assigned by the Federal Communications Commission for the purpose of providing quick and easy access to information about health and human services. Professional Information and Referral Specialists work with callers to assess their needs, determine their options and provide appropriate programs/services, give support, intervene in crisis situations and advocate for the caller as needed. 211 is currently available to 93.4% of residents in the United States. Here in the Mahoning Valley, 211 is available to anyone in this area.
Admitting that you need help can be daunting. And is not something that you may want to do. We all think at times, that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But it is OK. You are loved. And we want to help. We want you to get what you need right now. And there are people who are in your life today or have been a part of your life who want to you get what you need. And want you to come back from the dark and loneliness place of substance abuse. We will welcome you with open arms, if you just decide that you want to come back. Call us, whether it be your mom, or your dad, or your brother, or your friend, or if need be call 211. But know that we are here for you still. We forgive you and want you to heal and recover.
One of the things that have and still does help me is having something else to do besides drink. Giving myself a healthy alternative to partying. For me, it is doing this podcast and finding people to help online and off. Making it my personal mission and penance if you will, to help people. If you want help with some problem you are having with the internet and your desire to use the internet to communicate; then I want to participate. I want to help you from a place of experience and knowledge. I do not know everything about using this here internet thing, but I know some things and I know people who know things I do not. If you want to put us to work on your problems or challenges online, just let me know.
You can call me at 330 519-1205 or reach me on my website. I would love to talk with you about using the internet to communicate.
By now anyone who listens to this podcast knows that I like free events. Tomorrow, Laura Schroder of YSU will be discussing the Saga of the Mahoning River at YSU. as part of the Spring Semester Speaker Series on Energy and the Environment YSU CUSHWA B112. Free and open to the public. There is ample free parking at the on-street metered-parking spaces along nearby streets. Anyone needing assistance getting to the room should call the YSU Student Security Service at 330-941-1515
This will be a part of the Lecture Series on Energy and the Environment at YSU going on through April Click the link here to find out more.
Back to the Mahoning River:
According to a story on the WKBN Website, The Mahoning River has been part of our area’s history since day one. It was how John Young got here, arriving on the river’s bank, to land that would eventually bear his name. But mention the Mahoning River around Youngstown today and it’s more infamous than famous. Youngstown of the mid-1940s was the poster child for industrial pollution. The steel mills fouled the air and dumped their waste directly into the Mahoning River.
I am fairly certain that Ms Schroder will be discussing how far our community has come in restoring the River to a balanced and healthy waterway. In fact, the good news is that this once dangerous and polluted waterway has recovered so that when the weather breaks if you want to; you can kayak down the river and see the Valley from a whole new perspective.
Just a couple of years ago, our own Stan Boney proved this by kayaking down the river with a guide. According to WKBN, On Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 WYTV 33 News anchor Stan Boney was part of the first TV News crew to ever kayak down a stretch of the Mahoning River, which was once considered among the most polluted streams in the United States. What he discovered is that this river, which was once a centerpiece of America’s industrial might, is now being used for recreation.
His trip down the Mahoning River began at the kayak launching dock at the B&O station adjacent to downtown Youngstown. He was joined by Christine and Gerald Hurayt, a father and daughter from Austintown, and April Shirilla of Warren, a co-worker of Christine’s at Delphi in Michigan. Their guide was Chuck Miller.
“Water is low and very forgiving today. The level’s about 3 foot. It is recommended for beginners to go at this level,” Miller said.
Chuck Miller has made the 8-mile run to Lowellville 100 times. He did a small video on Youtube here to give you a little taste No offense to Mr. Miller, but you may want to turn the sound down just a little if you view this. This is of course is Mahoning County, but Trumbull County also offers many opportunities to put in and a few different locations.
According to The Trumbull County Metroparks Website, there are six different locations where you can launch your kayak to traverse the River. Click on the link above to find out more. You can also meet with some of the Friends of the Mahoning River at an event this Friday coming up.
According to their calender, Eclipse of the Hunger Moon on Fri, February 10, 7:00pm – 8:30pm at 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Rd., Canfield, OH, 44406, United States
February’s Full Moon AND a Lunar Eclipse! Hope for a clear sky as we walk beneath the only lunar eclipse visible here in 2017. Meet at Kiosk at MetroParks Bikeway Trailhead at MetroParks Farm. Call Ford Nature Center for details. Easy, 1.5 mi.
You can also join the Friends Facebook Group here.
Congratulations to the Lowellville High School Band who has been selected to play at the Ohio Music Education Conference on Saturday in Cleveland.
According to the Vindicator, Bob Antonucci, Lowellville’s high school band director, sees an upcoming showcase as the culmination of decades of work.
The Ohio Music Education Association has selected the band to perform Saturday at a professional-development conference in Cleveland.
Lowellville’s band submitted a recording last May to OMEA. The state association, which is an affiliate of the National Association for Music Education, selects the ensembles it will feature via a blind audition process.
“What OMEA has realized is that they’ve been focusing on the big schools from the suburbs of the big cities – the school districts that have thousands of kids, tons of money, tons of teachers,” Antonucci said. “They’re realizing that there’s good things happening in school districts that don’t fit that. … So, this year they’ve made it a point to feature the top programs in rural and urban school districts, as well.”
About 3,000 music-education professionals will attend the OMEA conference this week. Lowellville’s band, which comprises about 65 students, will play six pieces from a variety of genres.