The Silent Invader -
Alcohol Fools No One
By C. RANDALL SHUMAN
Herald  Staff  Writer
Rodger G. is a Delco-Remy supervisor ... and an alcoholic.

"I thought I had everybody fooled until that 8:30 a.m. management meeting. We were
in a closed conference room when someone leaned over and asked,

"Rodger, what kind of face lotion do you use."

Rodger, not his real name, had gulped down an orange juice and vodka earlier that
morning, a daily routine for him during the last three or four years.

"I knew what he smelled and so did he …. I could have crawled under a rock," he said
ashamedly.

The electronics engineer did not have anybody fooled except himself, which he
readily admits. He had been in trouble with superiors four times because he frequently
came to work drunk," his absenteeism was becoming more regular and his production
was falling off.

"Many mornings I staggered outside to find the paper so I could tell what day it was. If I
didn't find a Monday paper, and there were no Sunday papers lying around, I knew it
was Monday and I had to go to work."

It wasn't until one of his many "blackouts" (loss of memory) that management
apparently had enough. "I showed up drunk at a plant on a night shift," he explained.

"To this day I do not know what I was doing there or why; I don't even remember being
there, except that a supervisor took me home."

The following day, he was asked if he wanted to join Alcoholics Anonymous and he
was ready. Rodger admitted he could not control his drinking anymore, much less stop
it.

Rodger has been sober 15 months. He has not taken a drink because he can't, it
would continue to ruin his personal life, his career. Eventually, liquor would kill him as
it has other alcoholics who had refused help, or who had not been courageous
enough to admit their drinking disease.

Rodger now attends Anderson AA meetings every night. "For me, it means getting into
the program and helping others recover from their drinking," he testified.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been quietly working in Anderson and Madison County 26
years, though membership has soared during the last five years.

According to another recovered alcoholic, those twice weekly meetings conducted five
years ago with eight or ten regularly attending have been replaced with local meetings
every night, and two week-day mornings.

"About 35 alcoholics attend every meeting," said the drunk, now sober six years
through AA participation and self-determination.

According to its literature, Alcoholics Anonymous is a "worldwide fellowship of men
and women who help each other stay sober," offering the same help to anyone who
has a drinking problem and want to do something about it.

"Since they are all alcoholics themselves, they have a special understanding of each
other. They know what the illness feels like and they have learned how to recover
from it through AA."

When you picture a "meeting of alcoholics," you may conjure an image of drunken,
staggering people. That despicable sight is far from the truth.

I attended an "open" meetings two weeks ago. What I found were 37 friendly, laughing
people with a profound interest in others, not with a nib-nose attitude, but one of
letting others know they were available to help if needed.

Another recovered alcoholic whom we shall fictitiously call "Sarah," age 54, knew
before she was 20-years-old that she could cure a hangover with a morning drink.

Sarah contends women alcoholics are "sneakier," and "more protected" than men.

She has been married nine times, mostly to men she met in bars. One of her earlier
husbands was opposed to her drinking. They were married six years, though they
lived together only half of that time because she didn't want to give up liquor.

"I was looking for someone to dominate," she now admits, "I was running from one
husband to the next looking for what I thought was happiness."

"Really, it was with husband No. Six that I finally admitted that I was an alcoholic."

Sarah is now content with No. Nine, a recovered alcoholic. "For the first time in my life,
I am able to put someone else's welfare above my own."

She was at the point of suicide when she was introduced to AA.

However she was never confined in jail or in a mental hospital as have been many
other alcoholics.

"My husband says I have never lived until I have been committed to Logansport," she
laughed. A family joke.

Paul, an hourly worker at Delco-Remy, has been in Madison County jail twice and
both Logansport and Marion Veteran Administration hospital numerous times in his 34
years.

He is now a recovered alcoholic through AA, but he has gone through some of the
"typical" symptoms of alcoholism: solitary drinking, sneaking nips and hiding bottles,
defensive excuses, and guilt.

"I started in the morning with a shot in my morning coffee when I first arrived at the
plant." He had purchased a bottle about 6:30 a.m. on the way to work."

"Liquor is not supposed to be sold then, but if you know the bartender …"

Paul would hide his 100-proof cache in a water cooler at work (after removing the
front panel), submerged a half-pint in the commode tank in the plant restroom, or hide
it beneath the battery in a Corvair.

"People knew I was a drunk, though I conned myself  into believing  no one else  
knew. The way I walked and talked most of the time made people start thinking I was
either drunk or crazy."

Paul has lost some companions since he has been sober these nine months.
"When I first joined AA, everybody would slap me on the back and wish me luck," he
indicated. After a few weeks, especially when friends learned he was serious in his
sobriety, and the common bond of liquor was removed, "old friends" started avoiding
him.

"Drinking creates problems in most every department in all the plants," according to
Paul and Rodger, who were interviewed separately. Rodger added liquor-related
problems are common among management as well as hourly employer.

The following questions were drawn up by the National Council of Alcoholism to help
individuals determine symptoms of alcoholism:

1.   Do you occasionally drink too much following a fight with a friend, a
     disappointment or when your employer gives you a hard time?
2.   When you are under pressure, do you drink more heavily than usual?
3.   Are you able to handle more liquor than when you first began drinking?
4.   Are there times you feel uncomfortable if liquor is not available?
5.   Have you noticed you are in more of a hurry to get to the bar for that first drink        
     than you used to be?
6.   When drinking socially, do you try to get in a few extra drinks when others won't
     know it?
7.   Have you wakened in the morning and been unable to remember parts of the night
     before, although you’ve been told you did not pass out?
8.   Do you sometimes feel guilty about your drinking?
9.   Does it make you angry if your friends or family talk about your drinking?
10. When you are drinking heavily, do you usually have a reason?
11. When sober, do you often regret things you've done or said while drinking?
12. Have you failed in promising yourself to cut down on the amount of consumption  
     and control of drinking?
13. Have you changed jobs or moved to a new location in an effort to control your
     drinking?
14. When drinking, do you try to avoid family and friends?
15. Do you eat irregularly when drinking?
16. Are you frequently absent from your job?
17. Do you buy liquor at different stores so as not to frequent one place too often?
18. Do you have a hidden supply?
19. Do you occasionally have the “shakes” and seek relief by taking a drink?
20. Do you sometimes stay drunk several days at a time?
21. Do you often feel depressed and wonder if life is worth living?
22. Following a "bender" do you see or hear things that are not there?
23. Do you sometimes feel frightened after you have been drinking heavily?

On Sunday, March 18, from 12:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., Alcoholics Anonymous is
sponsoring a public celebration of their 26th anniversary at the Local 662 Union Hall,
at Hillcrest and the 109 By-pass.

The public is invited to hear special speakers and to learn what AA is doing in
Madison County.
Anderson Herald
week of March 18,1973