Hey guys, what’s up this is Erik Johnson, I want to talk about my descent into hell with alcohol, and diving deep into my story, because I feel like I can help somebody out there who’s struggling with alcohol and realize it just gets worse, it’s a progressive disease, it doesn’t take a break even if you do, and I’ve witnessed that hundreds of times.
You know I relapsed hundreds of times, and I finally got sober and I’ll tell you how I did that but I want to start at the very beginning how I discovered alcohol, what it did to me, how I felt and what eventually happened.
So I was brought up in a very sheltered family. My parents were pretty strict, and they sheltered us . I grew up in a small town in Washington State. I could see Canada from across the water, and it’s a very beautiful, very idyllic, Victorian town. Lot of 18oo’s houses, and you could walk from one end of town to the other without being harassed, there were no gangs, predominantly white, and you know it was just a very beautiful childhood.
But my dad was very strict and he had a scary temper and I was highly sensitive, and I liked to play alone, and I started to rock back and forth as a toddler, and they call that stimming – it’s called self soothing – maybe because my environment was scary to me.
I don’t really know why I started but I couldn’t stop. In fact, I stopped rocking just three months ago after doing it for 46 years. But that’s another story in itself.
So basically I was sheltered and I wasn’t exposed to any drugs or alcohol until I was 17. I finally tried some alcohol, and I was scared of it. I didn’t know what it was going to do. In fact, when I was about five years old, I saw a drunk person walking on a wharf in California and I asked my dad I was like, What’s wrong with him? And my dad was like, oh he’s drunk.
And I didn’t even know what that meant but he said that man scared me. It was unpredictable. I thought he was crazy. And my dad just shrugged it off, but that stuck with me because I would soon become that man, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
The first time I had a beer, my friends gave it to me. They were like stoners and jocks and they were already partying, and I drank like half of it, and then I went around the corner and poured it out in the sink without them knowing. I pretended like I had finished it, I was scared I was gonna get drunk, I really didn’t know what a beer would do.
The Magic Illusion of Alcohol
The second time I drank was a couple months later, and it was wine coolers, wine coolers were all the rage back then, and I got a four pack, and it tasted like koolaid so it was easy to drink, and I believe I had maybe two out of the four pack at a dance and actually had the courage to ask a girl to dance with me.
I’m like wow this is like liquid courage, you know, this is great, and I had a lot of energy when I drank. It just did something to me when it hit my mouth, I could instantly feel the effervescence going through my veins. It was almost like a magical potion.
It gave me incredible energy, because maybe I felt suppressed my whole life. My dad was strict, and I didn’t feel like I could really speak my thoughts or be me, or anything like that. So when I had alcohol, all this weight lifted off my shoulders. I could be me, I could feel free. I could laugh, I could be talkative, and it literally made me maniacal.
Later on when I would drink I could stay up all night, laughing, running around the streets just insane energy, just going into Mania with drinking. You know a lot of people when they drink, they pass out or they get sleepy but not me it was like speed, and I just got really crazy and just lit up.
I would just run around and I wanted to talk to everyone in the world like it was my last day on earth, because I couldn’t feel that free when I was sober, I felt like I was in some kind of prison.
So I really liked alcohol, and all my role models were alcoholics, you know from the rockers to the writers, I just romanticized alcohol completely, but I really didn’t hit it hard until I was 19 or 20. I started to get drunk probably two times a week, between the ages of 18 to 20. It was about two times a week.
I was still really scared of the hangover. I hated it. I would get really hungover and vomit. You know the next day if I drink, you know, strawberry milk at work I would be vomiting in the toilet. I hadn’t discovered yet that I could get rid of the hangover by just drinking more alcohol in the morning to get rid of the hangover. That came later.
When I was 20, I met a woman at the restaurant I worked at and she was 20 years older than me, and we were both artists, and so she invited me over for some wine, and I stayed the night and then eventually I moved in with her, and we would drink red wine and talk about literature and art, and watch movies together a lot of like cult classics.
She was a rocker as well. She was just older than me and she was really cool. She wore black leather and had tattoos and I’d never seen a girl with tattoos before. So she turned me on to the art world. I started to drink more with her, and it was up to three to four times a week at that point, drinking to the point of blacking out.
It was fun for a while until three years into that relationship I started to become a angry drunk, and I would take out my anger on her, and mainly that was because I was giving my parents a silent treatment that had lasted a couple of years, and it was really hard on me because I loved my parents but I was being rebellious and so it was eating me alive.
There was a lot of stress in my life, and the alcohol wasn’t helping it at all, and dating a woman that was basically the age of my mom was confusing to me, and I wondered why I just couldn’t date girls my age. So that started eating me alive, and I was getting to the point where I was getting drunk five days a week.
I was either drunk or hungover, I could barely hold on to a dishwashing job. And then when I was 24 I finally left her to go to Job Corps, and that was on the Oregon coast, and I trained on tugboats for a little while and I was sober. That was when I got turned on to AA. I got turned on to it before I left for a job corps, because I got in trouble with the law, and had to do anger management and go to AA.
I felt like this guy was laughing at me. He’d been sober for like 10 years to 20 years and he just kind of laughed at me when I shared my story. I was literally homeless – like she kicked me out of the house and I had my bag at the meeting.
Job Corp Gave Me My First Sobriety
Literally everything I owned was in this bag and this guy laughed at me so I was like, screw you, I’m out of here. But then I went to Job Corps and I tried again to find a cool sponsor.
So I was sober for nine months in Job Corps, when I got out I was 25, and I had made amends finally to my parents, so things were finally okay with them after years of silent treatment and telling them to f off. You know, It was hard, you know I had been giving my dad the silent treatment since I was 16, and then again, from 20 to 24, and it was eating me alive.
But, I finally made amends and my parents went to counseling while I was gone. So we had a better relationship, And they helped me move on to their commercial property back in the small town I grew up in. I lived in a 15 foot trailer that they bought for me. I was hanging out there having a good time. I started writing a novel on a little old typewriter and riding my bicycle at night and being healthy. I had no credit card debt or any bills and I used to ride my bike around at night and listen to music. I was really happy and writing a novel.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest of Alcoholic Madness
Then six months into that I met my neighbors, and they were on Social Security Disability – they’re crazy. And I was like these guys would be great in my novel so I’m going to start hanging out with him, kind of like doing my own little private research on them. They’re like, literally out of the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – crazy guys.
One guy was from Haight Ashbury. He was a hobo; he was deaf. And so he would just talk super loud, and he couldn’t hear anyone, but he loved to drink, and he would walk throughout town in the morning, checking the dumpsters for bottles that had a little bit of alcohol left in them and he’d pour it all in one cup and drink it.
And I just thought that was great, you know, because I’m 25 I’m kind of romanticizing them a little bit and eventually I was like why not just join them. So my nine months of sobriety got shattered, I started drinking with them and going over there, I started experimenting with more drugs, and I was starting to get really drunk.
I was getting more drunk than ever before. The progression of the disease is that, you know the nine months of sobriety didn’t matter, I was back to my old drinking and worse after just drinking for a couple of weeks with those guys. I was starting to blackout. I was starting to get really crazy and I would pound my fists on their floors and their trailers and do crazy stuff and just whatever I wanted to do.
I would just run around wild, and sometimes I would get thrown in jail and sometimes I would even get lost, you know, I’d get so drunk I got lost on their property, literally like tangled up in the blackberry bushes and Shawn, one of the people over there who I really liked, he was like the alpha male, came up and gave me a hit of meth, and it instantly popped me out of this drunk, and I knew where I was and I was like this, oh my gosh you know I just snapped me out of this drunk and now I want to go out on the town and I hopped in my car went downtown and hit all the bars and did this crazy stuff.
So it was a wild time, at least I thought, you know, things were still good, I was listening to awesome music you know nu metal just came out, you know, Linkin Park, Korn and Limp bizkit And I used to drive around with these guys in my Honda Prelude and we’d have a case of beer in the back and just drinking and driving everywhere just blaring Limp bizkit and feeling cocky, listening to this jock rock and Weasel in the back, the hobo from Haight Ashbury just yelling. This is great. This is great.
Shawn would be in the front seat, and he was just rocking out because they weren’t used to this kind of music, they’re living in their commune, listening to old, you know, Creedence Clearwater Revival. I turned them on to limp bizkit, and they’re going crazy in my car.
So it was fun for a while, but I was still getting in trouble and breaking up with girls and doing crazy stuff. And just, you know, I could barely hold on to a job. I was cooking now in the restaurant business, all the cooks drank, you know the waitresses drank, people were sleeping with each other, it was just a big orgy, you know, living in the small town with everyone drinking and everyone drinks in the restaurant business, so I was having a blast.
Near Death with the Widow Maker. . .
Until I was 32, and I had a heart attack at work. It was my new job. I’ve been there only for a day, and I was dehydrated and hungover from Cinco Demayo and drank almost a fifth of tequila, and I felt my chest get really tight, and I turned white. I went outside and then I felt nauseous ran to the bathroom vomited and then I had diarrhea at the same time and I could barely get on the toilet. I almost messed myself and then I went out on the sidewalk and I laid down, and I was trembling. I was freezing and all of a sudden the waitress stood over me, and she was a born-again Christian and she started praying for me.
I had a lot of people talk about Jesus in my past and I just ignored them. And so I just waved her off, I was like thank you and then the paramedics came and flew me to the hospital and I had a stent placed in my left artery that was like 80% clogged, so I could have died from that.
But it didn’t stop me from drinking. I was like that was just a fluke, I’m gonna keep drinking, and I was drinking more than ever. In fact, the last couple years, I stopped eating because I didn’t want it to ruin my buzz. I had no money, I could only afford malt liquor. You know the $1.62, 10% Alcohol steel reserve and Mickey’s, you know, the old English 800.
And I’m like pissing my bed every night now and I don’t have a girlfriend. I’m just hanging out with the bums from next door – this guy called animal who had stringy greasy hair and just grunted and I would party with him because he was the only one that drank like me, and he was literally homeless, and he smelled bad and I smelled bad.
Dirty and Almost Homeless
I wasn’t showering anymore, and I was getting drunk twice a day. I would wake up in the morning, and drink, and then pass out and then I’d wake up again and drink into the evening, and I couldn’t even afford anything really. I just drank with those guys. And, you know, my last girlfriend at that time we we’re having huge fights and it was just crazy.
It got to the point where I was only working two days a week as a caregiver and I drank at work. I cared for a guy who couldn’t really speak so he couldn’t really tattle on me. He liked drinking Coca Cola so I brought him over a Coca Cola and I would drink beer. That was my only job and I almost got fired from that because I was starting to – since I wasn’t eating, my brain was shutting down.
So I would be at work, doing a shift change with the other caregiver and the caregiver could smell the beer coming off of me, and I was literally like passing out while trying to talk to him, just for a split second, because my brain was shutting down. I wasn’t eating food and getting drunk twice a day, and it was very scary.
I looked at my eyes in the morning after that shift, before the shift change I was, I slept over at his house. It was an overnight shift. And I drank all night, and I looked at my eyes and I just looked like a dead fish, like, my eyes were glassy, I could barely see straight. And my brain was, I was woozy and passing out and you know I was dying.
Even my best friend at that time was like dude, you’re going to die in a year if you don’t stop. And he was one of my drinking friends but I was so pathetic he didn’t even want to drink with me. It was just me and the homeless guy, and I was pissing in my bed every night, and I could barely drive to work, and cops were watching me. I was drinking and driving, I didn’t care.
I had like 200 empty beer cans behind the seat of my car. My car stank like beer and old cigarettes. My house had beer cans all over it. I lived in a converted school bus that I moved into after my parents 15 foot trailer, and that was my upgrade to a better living, which was just a converted school bus, so it was really scary, and my heart was still hurting.
And in my insanity I thought if I drank more beer that it would help my heart, it would thin the blood and help my heart, but I was very deranged, you know, I was living off of alcohol only.
Now I’m 36, four years after my heart attack, I’m drinking more than ever, not eating, drinking literally around the clock and having shakes overnight. I couldn’t sleep, so I always had a Tallboy of beer on my bedside table, and if I woke up at 4am I would grab more beer and slam it. And then in the morning, my girlfriend at the time would go to work at 8am, and I would be laying in bed and I would pop open a beer, a steel reserve and vomited all over the place because my stomach was so sensitive because I wasn’t eating, and I couldn’t hold down the first beer.
And I was crying more than ever, I had an imaginary friend, which was a bumblebee that hung out in the closet next to the bed, and I called her Mrs Bumble, and she had big innocent eyes and she cared for me, she loved me, and I cared for her and she would make me cry. You know, I didn’t think she was real but she was, I was so lonely and distraught from my disease that I created this imaginary Bumblebee that cared for me. It’s the only thing that cared for me.
Even my girlfriend beat me up and she went to jail. I was just a mess. And so Mrs Bumble looked at me with her big eyes from the closet and she’d make me cry because I was like this is the only thing that loves me is this imaginary Bumblebee. I mean it was pathetic.
It was to the point where I couldn’t even listen to music anymore which is my number one love, because it irritated me. I was irritated about everything, even when I was drinking the euphoria was gone, the dopamine was depleted.
I had no more feel good chemicals in my brain to make me feel good. Alcohol just barely got me by. I wasn’t even normal, it just got rid of the hangover and that was about it. There may have been like a 10 minute window of a buzz, and then it was gone and then I was pathetic. And I was drunk.
So one day I was at my girlfriend’s and I picked up my beer and I was shaking in bed, and it was like 8am, and I was trembling with withdrawals. And my last few beers were in the fridge. I was trying to space them out because beer to me was like my savings account, and if it got less than two beers I got really nervous, because it was like my lifeline.
And this guy came over looking for my girlfriend. He was a skateboarder, and he came into my bedroom and I was naked because I slept in the nude. And I couldn’t get up, and he just sat in the corner and he picked up my girlfriend’s guitar and started making songs about me, he must have been up all night on meth or something, and he came over to see her and she was gone to work already, but I was there.
This was her house. I was living with her, even though I had my school bus down the road. I lived with her, and this guy came over and he didn’t really like me, he thought I was weird, and he started making these songs about me.
Even though I was almost dying, everyone was telling me I was gonna die, that didn’t matter to me it didn’t matter, it didn’t matter if I had a heart attack or anything. What mattered was he was making fun of me and I felt so helpless. I couldn’t kick him out of the house, and I just listened to his stupid songs about me. He was singing, you know he was being really immature and just being like Erik’s weird He’s a weirdo Erik’s like nobody I’ve ever met. And just being stupid.
I’m like 36. He’s like, maybe 29, skateboard, punk guy. I couldn’t kick him out. And that was the moment I was like, This is it. I am done. It took someone shaming me to make me stop. And that was it. I grabbed the last two beers in the fridge. I put them in my backpack and walked back to my house. And I said after these two beers I’m not drinking anymore.
Those two beers probably saved me from dying from withdrawals because I was such an alcoholic and you can die from withdrawals, so be very careful on how you quit, you might need supervision from a doctor, but those last two beers probably saved me.
Then I slept for like two days, went back to work. Got two jobs when I could, when I regained my strength and actually started eating food. Got two jobs, broke up with that girl just stayed home, went to work, came home, I would eat a candy bar as a treat, and I would drink tea. And I just stayed by myself for two years and then I finally met my current fiance who wasn’t a drinker, and she helped me quit cigarettes and eventually sugar and I had a couple two day relapses but I didn’t count those as relapses, I didn’t go back to AA. I just did it on my own.
Then I found God again, and started doing spiritual healing with my fiance and started doing better, and I never wanted to go back to drinking. It’s a lie. Every time I went back, it would be worse than before. I quit hundreds of times. I could never quit. Until finally I hit bottom, and the weirdest thing happened was I got shamed by some punk, and that was enough. And I stopped, and a year or two later I drank, I got drunk for two nights and then a year or two later after that I drank two nights and I just hated it. I hated the feeling I never wanted to revisit that place.
So I stopped, and that was it. And that was 13 years ago. Now I’m, you know, my life is not perfect but I have to remind myself where I come from periodically because I’m very thankful to be alive, but I forget that when I get back into life and I’m doing normal stuff and you know I forget where I came from sometimes but I was about dead.
That’s why I’m doing these videos because I was drunk. I was self centered, I only thought about myself. I hurt a lot of people and I was a taker, and a lot of addicts and alcoholics are takers, they just connive and they manipulate, they just want to get their high on.
And so now I want to give back, that’s why I’m still alive. I’m here to help people, because I was just so self centered. You know my dad hurt me when I was a little boy I just put up all these walls around me. I self isolated, and even the alcohol didn’t get me out of my shell. It did the first couple of years but after that, I was drinking alone. I was self isolating more than I was ever sober, you know, it didn’t help me socialize, it did for maybe two years out of the 20 years I drank only two or three years where you did no good. And that was just the illusion of alcohol, telling me that I was the life of the party, or I was so cool and rebellious, it was all a lie.
All it did was tear up my life and I saw some really crazy dark perversion with alcohol and drugs, and I never want to wish that on anyone. You know with the opiate crisis now, and the meth epidemic. It’s not even being talked about. They want to keep that under wraps because they have something else they want to talk about. You know what I’m talking about.
So, people are committing suicide every day or they’re od’ing. And it’s really scary right now so the least I can do is share my story, and hopefully this helps someone out there because it is life or death, you have to treat it like it’s life or death. If you want to drink a beer, or shoot up or whatever you want to do, think it all the way through till the next day, and realize you’re gonna feel like crap the next day, you’re gonna do some crazy stuff and you won’t even remember it, you’re gonna hurt some people, if you choose to drink or use today.
Play it all the way through, because when I wanted to drink, I would always just think about the good times, the first hour or two, but it never lasted first hour was good second hour was okay, third hour I’m starting to blackout; fourth hour I’m getting in fights or getting beat up or kicked out of bars, or pissing myself or vomiting or or sleeping with some girl that’s horrendous. You know, just stuff I would never do sober, and you’re a good person.
The only reason why you’re messing up right now is from the drugs and the alcohol it’s a lie. It makes you think certain things, I thought I was cool when I drank and it was a total lie. It never did anything good for me, it never improved my writing, it never improved my art. I wasn’t an artist because of alcohol and drugs, I was an artist because of the gift God gave me. Alcohol was a lie that made me think that, you know, I need to be damaged to be a good artist. That was the lie.
And then the why was you need to drink beer to thin your blood so you don’t have another heart attack, or you need to drink beer because the carbs will keep you alive, instead of starving, really crazy thoughts, And it was all a lie. Okay. I don’t really have regrets except for hurting others. But now I can turn this into a gift, and help others, and tell you honestly, it doesn’t ever get better. If you’re turning to alcohol and drugs. Do you have a problem? Okay, it’s just going to get worse every single year. It’s not going to get better, you’re not going to age well because of it. You’re not going to get any wisdom, that’s a lie. The only thing you’re going to get is better and better lies from Satan. And you’re going to get so entwined in it, you might not ever return, you’ll either wind up in jail, or you’ll go insane, or you’ll die. Those are the only three options.
You can choose to do counseling, you can do hypnosis, you can start fasting and doing a juice cleanse. Get the toxins out of you start looking up books on sobriety, start doing the work, and all you gotta do is improve a little each day it’s only one day at a time, and when it gets really tough sometimes it’s one hour at a time, day by day, you will put your life back together, you will rebuild your foundation, and you will look back and be like wow I can’t believe I’m still here.
Let’s do something with this life. It’s never too late. It’s never too late to turn it around, but you gotta get out of the clutches of that, that lie. Addictions are so brutally dishonest, and they’re so convincing, but once you finally get out of it, you will look back and you’ll be like wow that was a lie. You know, I thought I was a big shot, but really I was pathetic and people are laughing at me. It was really bad.
So, at least I can, you know, hopefully this gives you some insight. Watch intervention on TV. That’s a good show you’ll see how pathetic they are and how they turn around in just 60 days of treatment. I love the before and after video of these people that are good on the show intervention. They’re just destroying their family. It’s such a, it destroys your family so bad. And then when they get sober and they come back 60 days later or 90 days after the treatment, they look awesome, they get light in their eyes again, they’re smiling.
They never smiled when they were using, you know, people think they’re having fun with when they’re using they’re not, there’s usually lots of crying, and there’s lots of heartache and the whole family gets torn up, but when they come back after 60 days, or 90 days of sobriety, they’re smiling, they got light in their eyes, and they’re like, Alright, I am alive, let’s do this let’s go help some other addicts.
I love you guys, I hope this will help you. It’s definitely worth living. It’s definitely worth living. Just get out of your addiction one day at a time, get your help, get help. And I love you guys, you’re gonna do it. You’re gonna be fine. And we’ll talk to you soon.
Erik C Johnson