The Beginning of Addiction
“My name is Luc, I’m from Toronto Canada, and I’ve struggled with alcohol for 15 plus years. I am so proud to say I am celebrating 2,015 days sober as I write this. Yes, that’s over 5.5 years and you better believe I am keeping track. My life has completely transformed for the better and here is my story:
On Dec 31, 2016, I made a very unpopular, bold, and necessary decision to end my complicated relationship with alcohol. Despite my Italian and French Canadian blood, I came to the realization alcohol did not mix well with me. It was unnecessarily complicating my life. I finally had the courage to prioritize my mental health over what I imagined others expected of me. It was not easy; in fact, it was extremely difficult. I struggled, but I reached out and got the help I needed.
My journey with alcohol was a complicated one. From the outside, I looked like a fun, outgoing, confident, and spontaneous guy. On the inside, I was insecure and full of social anxiety. You would never see me sober anywhere in a social environment. I had this life of the party image to live up to. I thought I had to act a certain way and I thought others expected me to be a certain way.
I never ever drank alone. I never drank during the week unless there was a social event of course. But when I started, watch out, because I was not going to stop. Many nights would end in me blacking out, getting kicked out, or simply running out of alcohol. If it wasn’t for friends, I wouldn’t have made it home on some nights. This was my lifestyle for 15+ years. Don’t get me wrong, not every single social event was a binge. The truth is I never knew what kind of drunk Luc would surface and that was the scariest part. I had created this outlandish, overly gregarious persona while I drank. I felt internal pressure to play this self-destructive role in many social situations. Many nights were totally fine. It was a risky game and the highs never ever made up for the lows.
I looked like I had it together for the most part. I was in good shape, I had a great career, I had a good family, had a girlfriend most times, and a lot of friends. But the truth is there was so much suffering deep down. The depression, the anxiety that would kick in the morning after was becoming so unbearable. What did I do? What did I say? I certainly was one of those people who didn’t want to believe I had an issue with alcohol. After all, from the outside, I had no visible signs of struggle. That was probably one of the main issues. I thought people needed to look a certain way or fit a certain stereotype to have issues with alcohol. That could not be further from the truth. I was in denial.
Enough Was Enough (My Journey to Recovery)
This lifestyle kept up for many years. I masked it well. I didn’t really talk about it. Eventually, I just had enough. Episode after episode, I was tired of waking up in fear of what I had done the night before. I finally decided to get help. I went to see a psychologist and we spent a few months together, seeing her twice a week, where she would help me moderate my drinking. She gave me some good advice and things to think about. All common-sense things like make sure you are drinking on a full stomach, mix in water every other drink and cap it off at 3. She also had me write down a few feelings I had or how I may feel at a particular social event, so I could read them and easily check in with myself about how I was feeling. This helped, but not all the time. That was the scary part, this moderating game was a scary one. It would work some nights and others not so much.
I was tired of playing roulette with my life. After another blackout night, I woke up and decided it was time to try another psychologist, to get another opinion as things were not really progressing with my previous therapist. After spending a couple of sessions with this new therapist, he looked at me straight in the eye, like no one had looked at me before, almost like he was looking into my soul and said, ‘Luc, you should not be drinking. You should never be drinking again.’ I was so shocked to hear this. Never in my life has anyone spoken to me this direct. My immediate response was, ‘I’m Italian and French Canadian, drinking is engrained in our culture. Are you NUTS.’ After the session, I went to my car and bawled my eyes out because I knew in my heart of hearts he was right.
Going back to more sessions with my therapist he suggested I join group therapy at CAMH – Center of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. I went in with an open mind to give the process a chance. My first few sessions were very eye-opening for me. The group of individuals in our group had much more visible signs of struggle. As we were going around the room sharing best practices of how we are staying sober, I told the group about an app I had downloaded that kept track of my days. I quickly realized no one in the room had a cell phone. That was such a scary moment for me because I knew the trajectory I was on, that I could easily fall into that. I had not technically hit rock bottom, however, if things did not change that would probably be where I could end up one day. That was such a big moment for me, it really gave me the reality check that was I on.
Finding My Why
I knew I wanted to be a father one day. That became my ‘WHY.’ Having such a powerful motivation really helped me stay on track, especially at the beginning. Even now, over 2,000 days sober, I still have my bad days and days I really think to myself, ‘Come on Luc, you’ve been sober for over 5 years, you can have one drink.’ It just isn’t worth it. I know my track record. Why go backward? I’ve made so much progress. What is the upside of having one drink? What is the downside? What is the risk/reward? It‘s just not worth it. I am so proud to say, I have a 2.5-year-old daughter who has NEVER seen me drink. I got sober before she was born and do you know how proud that makes me? She will never have to worry about her dad not being there for her. I have the mindset and the clarity to be the best father and husband I know how to be. I am nowhere near perfect. But I am better than I was when I was drinking, and that is all the reason for me to keep going.
With all the extra time I had being sober, I picked up a new hobby. Something I had never really done before. On May 12, 2019, Mother’s Day, I ran my first ever distance race; it was the Sporting Life 10K race downtown Toronto, Canada. This was the first time I ever wore a race bib. I fell in love with running and racing. Something about the adrenaline, the people, the cheers, the competition, and the mental and physical challenge was all so fascinating to me. I was hooked. Having played team sports my entire life, I had no idea how much I would enjoy this individual sport. I had been working out for years, about 4-5 times a week; I was no stranger to fitness. However, running hit me differently. It gave me a different feeling. I think it’s the you vs. you mentality I love most.
I was 2 years and 5 months sober at the time when I began running. I was doing pretty good overall, but little did I know running would help me so much with my sobriety. A few weeks later, I picked up a running program online to start training for a half marathon that I signed up for in October 2019. Just 5 months after my first race. The Scotiabank half marathon in Toronto.
In May 2020, I got myself a running coach. Someone who would create custom workouts and training plans for me on a monthly basis. This really transformed my running journey as it became so much more accountable and there was so much more strategy to my runs. I was so committed and I would never miss a workout and I would execute every single workout as prescribed or as best as I could. This was around the peak of the first wave of Covid, and while many people were slowing down their runs as there were no races, I did the opposite and I doubled down on my training. I did this all the way until my first marathon on October 17th, 2021. I qualified for Boston and ran the Boston Marathon in April 2022. I brought my wife and my daughter and my mother-in-law with me. What an incredible experience having them there. My daughter often imitates me and says, ‘Look, I’m running like daddy.’ She also randomly tells people, ‘My daddy run Boston.’ She doesn’t really know what that means, but to hear her say those words makes me so proud to know I am on the right path and a great example for her.
The road to recovery continues and my passion for running has turned out to be one of the most influential parts of keeping me sober, strong, positive, and on track. You spend so much time alone as a runner, deep into your own thoughts. In doing so, I started to really get to know and love myself. It was exactly what I needed and I am so proud to say running has become so much more than just a sport for me. It has made me a more patient person, a better friend, father, and husband. More importantly, it has helped keep me sober. I am my best as a runner and I hope my knees don’t give out on me because I hope to be running for a very long time.
Looking back, I am so glad where I ended up and frankly I have zero regrets. I have nothing against alcohol and never want others around me to act any different because I’m sober now. I couldn’t be happier where I am at today. You don’t need to be a daily drinker to have gained a ton of weight, lost a ton of weight, have bags under your eyes, or scars on your face to know you have a problem with alcohol. What keeps me motivated is my 2 1/2-year-old daughter who I am so proud to say never got to meet drunk daddy and I plan to keep it that way.
Here are a few pointers for anyone thinking about making changes to their relationship with alcohol: you need to want to do it for YOU. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, you need to want to do it in your heart of heart. Stay close to your why, especially on hard days. For me, it was my family I always wanted. Don’t do this alone. Seek help. There are so many free resources online including Facebook groups, Instagram accounts, and podcasts. Start there for sure.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Luc. You can follow his journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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