Healing from alcohol addiction

R. S. (59), Bremen (Germany)


I started drinking alcohol when I was 16 years of age. For example, I drank 21 glasses of schnapps at an engagement party. After that I didn’t notice anything anymore. I also drank at social events such as fairs or gun club events, but above all at home-sweet wine or beer, for example. During my tour in the army 1963-66, I would drink a bottle of vermouth in particular on weekends. I drank especially heavily and continually during my 30 active years in merchant shipping. I started at 24 on a deep-sea fishing steamer and ended at 53 in April 1996 on a container ship.

Compulsory drinks with the captain

After all the many years of active seafaring I became aware through a test in a newspaper that over all the years I virtually hadn’t lived three days in a row without alcohol. Before lunch there were the "compulsory drinks" - at least three triple Bacardi-colas - with the captain; and before supper there were the "compulsory drinks" - at least three triple Bacardi-colas with the captain. After the evening watch the drinking would either go on with the captain or with other seamen or, alone in my cabin, I would go automatically to the refrigerator and drink until "normally tired". If other colleagues came by or I went off looking for open cabin doors, it would often go on until long after midnight. The evening rhythm was postponed when we were sailing into port, the authorities were coming on board, etc. After that "relaxation drinks" were usually on the agenda-not to speak of trips ashore at port, when we would first "get a good glow on" on board before going off until late in the night - with total crashes every few weeks followed by memory lapses. Nevertheless, I always tried to stay fit by playing table tennis and jogging.

A loner since my youth, without friend or girl friend, I also drank on board alone 80% percent of the time. For nine months at a time I would sit in my radio shack like in a prison, drinking for consolation or to be able to bear the situation. There was always the coffee cup with a "mixture" nearby hidden among the equipment. Otherwise I was a typical "cupboard drinker": over to the cupboard, a swallow from the bottle is good for or against anything. Ashore, too, I usually sat alone at the bar. When the girls came, I would concentrate all the more on the next full glass.

Alcohol - that was my life!

Therefore my crashes in different countries of the world were not without reason. Either I landed in a drying-out cell or fell headfirst and plastered down a set of stairs. My usual withdrawal symptoms were restricted to a hangover. Only seldom did I have to drink a mixture of coffee and brandy to be able to function.

Alcohol-that was my life! It was my consolation, friend and helper with all difficulties such as, for example, with technical problems; against loneliness; against bad weather-simply against everything. At home when on shore leave it was even worse because I didn’t have to function for the job. My wife at the time would always say, "come now, let go of the glass-just put it down!" I never let go of the glass. It held me in its grip. It was indeed my life-crutch.

The end came with the sale of the ship in April 1996 and the forced signoff of the entire crew and an uncertain future. After putting in to Miami the flight back left two days later, so I, along with many others, practically drank through three straight days. On arrival at Munich airport I didn’t know whether I should drink one more so that my heart wouldn’t stop, or whether that would finally make it stop. I did know one thing-it couldn’t go on like that.


In the beginning of April, 1996, at the end of my days as a sailor, my wife, who has since passed on, told me about the Circle of Friends and Bruno Gröning, about whom I had already seen reports and pictures in magazines while still a schoolboy. A few weeks later I was introduced to the teaching at an information lecture in Cuxhaven.

A few months after my introduction to the Bruno Gröning Circle of Friends I lost my desire to drink. It happened without a battle, pain or relapses. The schnapps was the first to go, then the beer, but I still drank a little beer-fizzy mix and once in while a glass of wine.

I drank my last alcohol in November 1997-a little carafe of red wine at an Italian restaurant, a supposed "must" one had to have. The next morning I felt like I had a real hangover from two or more bottles of wine. Since then I haven’t drunk a drop of alcohol. I have never felt the slightest need for it; there was no effort involved.

Doctor's commentary:

Mr. S. suffered from alcohol addiction for more than three decades. This is a serious, chronic disease. Normally the treatment is a long and troublesome path marked by considerable desire for alcohol consumption (addiction drinking) mostly with symptoms of deprivation and often with relapses. The first and most important step is the firm decision to live abstinently.

This healing report, however, describes how the urge for alcohol disappeared almost by itself. I can't explain this with my psychiatric experience. Normally a long lasting process of getting away from alcohol would have been expected.

H. B., Physician


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