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Grapevine : September 2011
wasn't staying with my parents, I lived on campus and drank a lot---af- ter classes, after work (sometimes in- stead of work), through the weekend. Once I started drinking, I couldn't stop. I made friends with drinkers and potheads and was careless about the consequences. I got depressed easily. My family decided they'd had enough of the States and moved back to Russia. Left alone, I drank harder. By the time I left Texas, I was see- ing an addiction counselor. I was de- pressed, confused about future plans and tired of everything, so I tried sui- cide. I was about to try a third college, move to another strange country, and had no lasting relationships. I felt like a rambler and I didn't like the feeling. My family had friends who met me at the Edmonton airport. I non- chalantly asked what the drinking age in Canada was. They said it was 26. Being 23, my first reaction was, take me back to the States! I was happy to find out they were wrong about the drinking age, but, contrary to rules in the States, drink- ing in the dorms at this Canadian col- lege was forbidden. I had to hide my drinking and the bottles, unknowing- ly repeating my granddad's behavior. Within two months I was in a mental ward and put on antidepres- sants, which only made things worse. I drank harder and missed more classes. After a drinking bout that landed me in the hospital, the col- lege authorities banned me from the dorms. My parents were notified and bought me a plane ticket home. When I arrived in Moscow in the spring of 2003, I felt broken. I had ac- complished nothing. All the people I went to university with had gradu- ated and gotten themselves lives. My ex-girlfriend had married. I found a good job, but the money only fueled my drinking. I lived with my parents and they insisted I get some help. I started seeing a psychiatrist, but the desire to drink would not go away. I planned my return to Canada, because I didn't see anything working out for me back home. I also wanted to complete my degree. The Canadian college demanded I stay sober to re- main a student. I stayed clean for five months, and felt like drinking was not a problem anymore. The counselors hadn't taught me about addiction, so I felt cured and thought I could drink safely now. Within a week, I was drinking just like before. When my girlfriend and I broke up for the seventh time, it was related to my drinking. She, like my counselors, advised me to go to AA. I decided to try it. I didn't care about the coffee cult anymore. I was now tired of be- ing chained to the beer fridge. I arrived at a room that looked part school, part church. After I in- troduced myself as a newcomer, the chairman pushed a reading on the Twelve Steps my way. I didn't un- derstand a word of it, but folks were 50 September 2011