Dear Readers - There are good reasons why I don’t publish names of people who write me about their relationship problems. It’s too personal, no one else’s business, they just want advice.
But today, a 53-year-old man named Kenny Johnston wants everyone who can benefit from his story, to know that it’s real. His wife also agreed to his going public.
Johnston is a fitness trainer who had a large, devoted clientele, and was formerly a musician who once spent three years in Los Angeles with his band.
Yet, after six years of tragic events - his parents’ severe illnesses and deaths within three months of each other, and his wife’s complicated breast cancer - he succumbed to a level of alcoholism that had him hanging out in parks drunk all day, staggering on the streets to return home, pretending he’d been at work.
I wrote about him anonymously last year, after those crushing difficulties and his wife’s insistence that he get sober or they’d end up apart.
She’d read a book by Alan Carr, whose stop-smoking method had worked for her. So, she gave him another Carr book: The Easy Way to Control Alcohol.
Johnston was doubtful. He’d been to five weeks of alcohol rehab but quit. He’d seen an addiction therapist, a psychiatrist and a psychologist and was unchanged. He didn’t connect with Alcoholics’ Anonymous.
But he knew he might die as an alcoholic. He shuffled when walking, feared he’d have a heart attack, had suicidal thoughts.
What got him to read Carr’s book? The back page, which said one could stop easily and regain control of their life. That resonated with him, rather than a group approach.
This past June 21 marked Johnston’s entire year without having a single drink. “I don’t even want it,” he says.
Alcoholism has always been a serious issue for many people when under stress. And the pandemic definitely increased stress on all of us.
According to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, pandemic-period changes in alcohol use were associated with age, household income, a person’s living situation, anxiety, and feeling lonely or depressed. Johnston ticked several of those boxes.
Now, I’m writing of his sobriety to encourage others who need a positive example.
Focus on what’s most important to you and try the alcohol cessation route that resonates with you. For this man, it’s been his wife, the book, then his music that saved him. A classical guitarist at heart, he played in heavy metal bands for years in his native Scotland and then LA, till the group disbanded.
But in Toronto, once sober, he joined a sound engineering buddy in creating dance music. He bought a music software program and the two created electronic dance music that has hit the top 100 charts, even making it to #1, with “SoReal” on beatport.com.
He’s also working again with some fitness clients while also taking a music production course to give time to the music for exposure to disc jockeys.
“The music’s been healing me. Now, if using my name to prove this story is true even helps just one person to conquer alcohol addiction, I’ll be happy.”
For the record, I’ve also interviewed people who’ve turned their lives around through Alcoholics’ Anonymous, through the “sponsor” program wherein someone who’s reached sobriety becomes a support person to a newcomer. I’ve heard stories of some who credit AA for having passed 20 years without a drink.
Choose whatever path works for you.
I'm 42, with three youngsters. My husband and I used to spend our evenings with drinks, music and talking while the kids slept. We had fun and enjoyed our relationship.
But I’ve given up alcohol to feel healthier and stop equating wine with fun. Now, my husband and I don't spend time connecting. We just watch TV.
He still has drinks but finds it boring. I never berate/insult him when he drinks, I just go upstairs.
What else can we do? With the pandemic, we haven't gone out without children. We spend family time at the beach, parks, walks, etc.
How can we reconnect? I'm concerned our relationship spark won't return.
There are films to stream about famous musicians (Elton John, Queen, Pavarotti, etc.). Or listen to music together and chat as before. Hear an audio book together and discuss each chapter. Create a mood and go upstairs together. Make love.
Tip of the day:
Surmounting alcoholism opens the door to the better life you seek.