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Grapevine : September 2011
The first time I heard about AA was in 2001, when a guy in my English class made a presentation that started with him saying he'd been chained to the beer fridge. When he realized it was be- coming an issue, he went to AA. Ap- parently, they were some sort of cult, he said, where all they did was drink gallons of coffee. Drinking was my escape from problems I didn't want to deal with. I was careless about my drinking and loved it. I didn't mind being chained to a beer fridge. I was born and have lived most of my life in Russia. The drinking tra- dition is deeply rooted there, as you probably know. I looked up to those who drank and wished to be like them. My parents had wine or liquor with dinner or at parties and never went overboard. However, my fa- ther's dad's drinking became prob- lematic and eventually killed him. In my last memories of him, he's hiding booze in the house so that my grand- mother won't know he's still drink- ing. He was a very intelligent man. After his death, Grandma showed me piles of government awards he'd received for his work. But his drink- ing changed him into someone who could no longer handle life. In high school, I started having one or two beers on weekends. Once I got to the university, it progressed. I failed to read the warning signs. By the time I left Russia to go to the U.S. a year later, I loved booze---its in- toxicating effects, how it loosened my tongue and helped me overcome shy- ness. When I was drunk, I didn't feel alone or vulnerable. Our family moved to Texas and immediately I had issues with the constant heat, the way of life. I still went to school full-time but I hated it. When I started working, half the money I made was spent on drinking. Resentments and misunder- standings were rampant. When I 49