Denny says for years life had no meaning. Denny was a practicing alcoholic.
“It was at a point where I didn’t care if I lived or died. In fact, death was more inviting then life at that time. It was pretty bad.”
How bad did it get for Denny?
"I would drink probably as soon as I got off work. When I wasn’t on the job, I’d drink probably 20 hours a day. On those days, I’d probably crack open a 6 pack of tall boys or a 12 pack when I got up in the morning. I would instantly start drinking. I’d drink everyday for years to the point of drunkenness.”
The years of drinking took its toll on Denny who lost just about everything that had value in his life.
“The only thing I had left was my job. I lost my wife, my kids and sold most everything I had. The only thing I was holding onto was my job. My boss, who was more like a dad to me, told me one day, ‘if I believed half of what I’d heard, I’d fire you today.’ That and a drunk binder at a local bar not knowing what I did convinced me I had to get help in a 12 step program.”
While in recovery, Denny traded one addiction for another.
“I had my dream---great big garage, big dog and a small house. I could fish 2 or 3 times a day. But, after 2 years, I became very lonely and stopped going to AA. At the time, I was working for a treatment center and spent a lot of time on the road. I’d stop off at a casino and spend a couple of bucks. That worked out for a while and then it became 20 dollars and eventually 100’s. At that point, I started going to Gamblers Anonymous. That didn’t work for me. Eventually, my company’s C.E.O. sent me to a treatment center in Minnesota, which I completed. It was really tough being a drug and alcohol counselor and being treated for gambling. I wasn’t a real good patient. That lasted for about 6 months and I started gambling again. It was then when I surrendered and starting attending more G.A. and A.A. sessions. It’s been a good life since then.”
Taking a look back, Denny says it was a mistake to tie the two addictions together instead of treating them as separate issues.
“I tried to match the two vices and it was impossible for me. The gambling was a different animal. Gambling never made me want to hurt anybody whereas alcohol did. But, I had never written a bad check when I drank. When I started gambling, I wrote 2 bad checks, which was unacceptable to me. Gambling was every bit as deadly as what alcohol was. I had to deal with them separately. Suicide seemed easier with gambling than it did with alcohol.”
Denny doesn’t think about suicide anymore. He’s too busy writing a daily “Attitude of Gratitude” list. It’s Denny’s way of focusing his thoughts on the blessings in his life. After all, as the substance abuse counselor tells his clients---positive thoughts create positive results.
“I’m very, very grateful today. Through the years, after losing my wife and kids, I got my kids back and watched one of them graduate. Now, they’re doing very well. I now work with addicted people. I have a strong spiritual program and life is good. When it gets kind of crummy, I make out my gratitude list and that tells me how fortunate I am that God has chosen me to get sober and clean."
In other words, Denny found hope in what could have easily been a hopeless situation. “I knew about alcohol and drug addiction when I was a child. I watched my step dad get sober. I knew it was possible. I just had to surrender to the fact that I was powerless over alcohol and gambling. That’s when it started.”
And, how is Denny’s life today?
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have 2 beautiful children that I love dearly; a new grandson and God ha given me the opportunity to work with other addicted people. I don’t think can get any better.”
Anthony Robbins has said, very simply, “life with passion!” Denny, in spite of the addictions that once overpowered him, is doing just that!