Not all alcoholics lose their jobs and end up on the street. Just ask Rick Fowler. Rick is a Navy Veteran from Hot Springs, and after leaving the service, he always had a job. After various types of employment, he drove a cab for thirty-four years. “I did great on the job. Never late, did well on my shifts. But once I was home, I drank.”
He has five children, though he is not in contact with them. “After all the times I went back to drinking, they don’t want contact. My younger sister keeps them up to date on what I’m doing.”
“I started drinking young, and it was beginning to be a problem while I was in the Navy. I was a functional alcoholic and didn’t believe I had a problem.” Eventually, the drinking interfered with his marriage and his family relationships. In 1999 he got a DUI and was ordered into outpatient treatment. He went his classes but continued drinking in the evening stopping early enough to pass his alcohol tests the next day. Like so many, he still didn’t recognize his alcoholism. Rick was in and out of treatment and was diagnosed with depression in 2010, but not put on medication at that time. The drinking continued… and got worse.
Rick went to the hospital for an alcohol-induced coma in 2014 and at that time was also put on medication for his depression. “Even that didn’t stop the drinking. I’d get depressed thinking about all the mistakes I’d made and would have a drink to feel better. Trouble was I’d wake up the next morning, and the mistakes were still there.”
More treatment programs followed, but it wasn’t until recently Rick decided enough was enough. He and another Veteran had been on a hard-drinking binge, and Rick had to call 911 for his friend. His friend ended up in the hospital and Rick admitted himself to a treatment program. After completing the program, he was referred to St. Francis House. Rick will soon be moving to Russellville. “I don’t know anyone there, it’s a dry county, and I can start over. I’m not making promises my kids this time; I broke too many of those. I’m going to show them that this time is different. To anyone going through this, I hear you say during groups that the counselors don’t know; they just have ‘book learning’. But that’s not true. Listen to your counselors. Many of them are Veterans too and know what you’re going through. And get a sponsor. Don’t just try to do it on your own. That support really helps.”