Joyce Kirtley World staff writer
Alan G. remembers the days of flipping a coin to decide whether
he should celebrate a week of sobriety by drinking a quart of vodka.
In his 25 years of drinking, he tried to quit on his own several times and even entered detox centers and hospitals before making that right turn on the road to recovery.
Now, Alan boasts three years of not taking a drink and has channeled his energies toward a hobby that he says keeps him sober.
He has set up two web sites to help other recovering alcoholics and anyone else suffering from an addiction.
Working from his computer at his Owasso home, Alan designed his first site, Original Group on the Net, in December and later set up a site called Tulsa Support Groups.
"When you're an alcoholic you have to have things to do," he said of his reason for setting up the web sites. "It's something that keeps me sober."
Alan, who didn't want his full named used, credits Alcoholics Anonymous for helping him beat his 25-year addiction, and most of his two web sites contains material he learned in AA.
The sites include a listing of Tulsa AA meetings, motivational phrases, area support groups, the 12 steps of AA and questions and answers. Alan added a disclaimer that sums up how he feels: "Original Group on the Net isn't affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous or with anybody else, but I sure thank God I found them when I did."
Alan's recovery has been a long battle of ups and downs. He tried his own program to quit drinking, but when that didn't work, he sought help at a detox center in Oklahoma City. (Alan said he cannot remember the name of the center.)
He spent nine days there before coming back to Tulsa, where he began attending AA meetings. After a couple of months, he quit going to the meetings, thinking he was on his way to recovery. But the recovery period didn't last long before Alan started drinking again. He drank almost non-stop for 10 days when something hit him.
"I knew the 10th day I was dying. I knew I had to get to a hospital, but I didn't have control of my muscles," he said.
He got someone to transport him to the hospital, where he discovered he was dehydrated and had alcohol poisoning.
"It taught me something," he said, taking a drag of his cigarette. "That was a good relapse to have because when I was in detox, on the seventh day, I would have thrown a bottle in a liquor store to get a drink."
The day he left the hospital, the doctor wrote Alan a prescription. It simply read, "90 meetings in 90 days."
Alan took the doctor's advice and is thankful for the frequency and availability of AA meetings. "Some days I'd go to three meetings a day just to keep from drinking," he said.
Alan compares helping others through his web site to sponsoring someone through AA. His schedule of 60-hour work weeks as a habitation training specialist in Tulsa prevents him from sponsoring another recovering alcoholic, so he uses his web site as a way of "sponsoring" others.
"The best thing about being an alcoholic is that you can be given the gift of sobriety," Alan said. "To keep it, you need to pass it on. That's what keeps you sober."
Alan formerly worked in sales and traveled frequently, which gave him an "excuse to drink," he said.
"I knew I couldn't work that way and not drink. I changed my profession, went back to school and became a habitation training specialist."
As a habitation training specialist, he provides support for people who experience a disability in their home or community and helps them function in society.
Although he makes much less money than he did in his sales job, Alan said he finds it very rewarding, and he has "a much better life than I had then."
Alan said he believes his alcoholism stems from his upbringing. His dad was an alcoholic, and he knows drinking played a big role in the breakup of his three marriages.
He said when he thinks about taking a drink, he stops himself and remembers "where I've been, where I'm at now and where I want to be tomorrow."
"I ask God in the morning to keep me sober and thank him at night for keeping me from taking a drink," Alan said.
The target audience for Alan's web site is alcoholics, but he said it is a useful source of information, not just for alcoholics but anyone who suffers from an addiction.
He said he hopes the web sites will grow to include links to other sites dealing with addiction and recovery on topics such as eating disorders and drugs.
Alan still struggles with his recovery every day, but a new- found spirituality has contributed to his sobriety and given him a new outlook on life.
"You're never cured, but it does become easier for most people, especially if they let God help them," he said.
"Religion is for those who have this fear of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have been there."
On-line visitors can check out Alan's web sites at www.webzone.net/original
Copyright 1996, World Publishing Co. All rights reserved.