Ep. 184 – Darell shares why he turned to alcohol to deal with night terrors and PTSD – His treatment experiences and the path moving forward

“At Rock I’m getting to talk to people and come to an understanding of what each of the twelve steps means.” -Darell

Today, Ben and I are chatting with Darell, who served 13 years in the United States Air Force as an EOD. We talk about his challenges post-service in the military and his progression of alcoholism through childhood, the military, and how he found solutions to his addiction when he returned to civilian life.

Darell’s History with Alcohol

Growing up in New York, Darell can’t remember when alcohol wasn’t in his home. His first memory of his grandfather around the age of three was giving him tobacco to chew. So Darell spits it out, and his grandfather gave him a beer to wash it down.

Growing up on a farm, he always had early morning farm chores with his siblings. His older sister would drink beer with his dad after chores in the morning. In addition to the morning alcohol at age five, he also remembers large parties at his farm where his parents would truck in kegs of liquor.

Addicted to Alcohol as a Teen

At 14, Darell was an addict, inviting friends over for drinking parties. “Once I started my goal was to get blackout drunk.” He refused to stop drinking, and as his disease progressed through his teen years, he came to a point where he would drink an entire bottle in one night.

Joining the Air Force as an Alcoholic

Darell says, “I wanted to get away from where I was because everyone was on their second or third DUI.” He realized that this was where he was headed if he didn’t change his environment. Since many of his family members had positive experiences in the military, Darell thought this would be an excellent way to sober up and reclaim his life.

“For me it was a no-brainer just do what you’re told and you’ll get through this,” he says of his first days in the military. His job was to dispose of explosives and other weapons in his unit. He spent three tours abroad, disarming bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Listen in and find out how Darell was able to get alcohol while on tour, why being in the military didn’t stop him from drinking, and why he decided to quit drinking.

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Show Notes:

  • [01:40] Growing up with alcohol on a farm in New York. 
  • [04:30] Starting his alcohol addiction at age 12.
  • [10:00] Addiction norms depending on your culture and location.
  • [15:26] Ben’s inability to stop drinking while addicted.
  • [18:35] How different people get into alcoholism.
  • [20:11] Why Darell decided to join the Air Force.
  • [25:57] His job and the responsibilities that came along with ammunition disposal.
  • [27:52] How Darell was able to acquire alcohol while on tour in Afghanistan.
  • [33:37] His exit from the military and circumstances leading to his medical discharge.
  • [37:09] The diagnosis of PTSD and how that led him to medical treatment.
  • [45:01] Transitioning from military to civilian life.
  • [49:00] Changes that happened when he exited the military.
  • [53:30] What’s different for Darell now that he has his second round of sobriety.

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