Alcoholism

A year ago, Jona Anies would sleep an entire day away, then drink from dusk til dawn.

It didn’t matter if she was alone or with friends. If she was drinking hard liquor or beer. Only one thing mattered — alcohol in her system.

The 19-year-old former college student said she needed to drink. She had to.

She was not addicted though.

She had no choice.

She wanted to stop. In fact, she tried quitting. But instead of getting rid of the problem, she experienced withdrawal symptoms: cold perspiration, asphyxiation, and violent shaking, to name a few.

Jona learned to drink in high school. She met friends who would often invite her to skip class and drink instead. “Just this once,” she remembers her friends saying. And she would reluctantly agree.

Drinking “just this once” became a habit. She realized this only when her grades started slipping.

So she decided to avoid her friends and quit drinking altogether. Her friends, annoyed by her decision, started to bully her. It was a difficult phase in her teenage years, yet she triumphed over peer pressure, and managed to graduate from high school with honors.

Her friends, however, were not as lucky. They were expelled from school due to misdemeanor in their graduating year.

Jona would often wonder then how the brush with alcoholism made her strong.

That was then.

Unfortunately, her serious drinking ordeal began in college. Her freshman and sophomore years went by like a breeze. She liked her courses. The people she met were unlike her friends from back home, but she felt a sense of belonging with them.

She was focused on academics and looked forward to a career in medicine.

In her junio year, her parents underwent a difficult time in their marriage. The situation got out of hand.

Unlike her previous drinking episode, this time she thought she was helpless. There was nothing she could do to fix the mess. Her parents’ marital problems affected her deeply. She lost focus and her academic performance began to deteriorate. She was back in her drinking habit.

To her, alcohol was an emotional outlet. It numbed her feelings and dulled her senses.

“Beer kept me from feeling the full blow of my depression. When I drink, I momentarily forget and I get blissfully unaware of the turmoil my life has become,” she said. She reached the point of liquor-dependency. She said she could not function without alcohol. It gave her a false sense of self-esteem.

She kept her problem from her family and seldom went home. She was clearly bothered but her parents couldn’t understand why. To her close friends, it was clear enough, and so they decided to intervene. They told her family the extent of her drinking problem; her family decided to act.

After a lot of arguments, self-blaming, unsaid apologies and realizations, Jona agreed to get inside a private rehabilitation center. She has been staying there for the past three months, and is now on the way to full recovery.

Asked if she has any regrets in life, her answer was simple: “A lot, actually. I let my anger cloud my judgment and get the better of me. The only thing I could do now is to put it behind me, move on, and learn from the experience.”

Her advice to people undergoing the same rough patch she went through? “It can happen to the best of us. The first step is to recognize you have a problem. Tell the people whom you trust most and ask help. Understand that they might do some things out of genuine concern that you might not like. Do not feel guilty. Some things are just out of our control.” (Ana Catalina S. Paje)

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