What Inspired Me To Write Bohunk’s Redemption?

Not long after I took my last drink, popped my last pill, and entered recovery, I said to myself I told myself I’d write a book about my life with alcohol and drugs. I had survived countless encounters with death, and actually was brought back to life towards the end after a drug overdose in a suicide attempt. I felt I had a lot to say about my experience with alcoholism and drug addiction, and had lived to tell it.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that I had little to say about recovery. That soon changed after starting to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. A few months or even a few years didn’t qualify me to talk about how I had finally learned how not to relapse as I had done so many times during my active years of addiction. I had little in the way of hope to offer another person who was experiencing what I had experienced. One thing I learned as a doctor is you don’t want to tell someone they have a life threatening disease without offering a solution, especially alcoholism and drug addiction, both hopeless conditions.

As I accrued time in recovery, I had more advice to pass on to the still suffering addict. Just exactly when I would try to do that in a book was not clear to me. I had grown to realize anonymity was key to my recovery so telling my story to the world with my identity was potentially a deal breaker. In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous has traditions which members follow, namely, tradition eleven states “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films, and Tradition Twelve states. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” 

In the short form,  I should remain anonymous for the sake of my recovery and AA as a whole. These traditions were learned the hard way when early members of AA broke their anonymity and publicly announced their alcoholic identities, some high profile, and later relapsed. For many years, I was reluctant to write my story for public consumption. However, AA also has Tradition Five, states “Each group has but one primary purpose: to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. In the short form, helping others is central to the purpose and existence of AA, a magical inspiration that makes recovery work.

Why the Name Bohunk?

Bohunk is not my chosen name. I was given the name while a member of a fraternity Beta Theta Pi  at the University of Michigan. It was custom to attribute a derogatory name to a new member as practice of assimilation, usually at the time of “hell week” or initiation from pledge status to active status in the fraternity. The whole idea was to humiliate or humble the members. Why? I never bothered to research the answer. Whether I approved it or not, my fraternity name was intended to disparage and degrade the recipient. 

When I joined the fraternity I was majoring in philosophy, having gone through a particularly traumatic transformation from a devout Catholic to an agnostic. That happened when I attended a Catholic men’s college, St Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa. There I received a steady dose of orthodoxy from the priests and professors that crystallized Jesus Christ as central to Catholicism. Whereas I viewed God as one, and not split into a trinity, the Father, Son 

That created an upheaval in direct conflict with the Judaic Religion from my earlier Jewish practice and education. I had a fundamental falling out or emotional crisis that created an abyss similar to that described by Frederich Nietzsche. I experienced my own “Death of God” and crisis of nihilism, particularly Christendom. Although I was in a profound depression, I appeared and sounded lost and confused. 

Unknowingly, I became addicted to alcohol and later drugs similar to Nietzsche who used opium in dangerously high doses. He was also a heavy user of other psychoactive drugs including potassium bromide, a mysterious “Javanese narcotic”, and most unremittingly, chloral hydrate, a known hallucinogen. I took bottles of opiate drugs and chloral hydrate. Thus, I stared into the abyss of intoxication, despair and hopelessness. I had not only studied philosophy, I had adopted a philosophical perspective. Thus, my fraternity brothers called me Bohunk instead of Addict.

To some, Bohunk is a disparaging or offensive name for an immigrant from central or eastern Europe, especially a laborer. To others, it was just another way to say “uncivilized.” My heritage was Romani, Polish, and Lithuanian, so I fit. Bohunk has another derivation that fit me at the time, as a philosophy major in a conformist fraternity environment, I was unconventional and a nonconformist. My limited brothers were sages unwittingly and showed uncharacteristic clairvoyance.

While studying philosophy, I identified mostly with Plato from my universal religious backgrounds, though my addictions plunged me into the more negative and pathetic philosophy of existentialism and nihilists. As others I had rejected universal forms or established deity or truths accepted as self-evident. Afterall, Plato’s proof for the existence of God was merely that most people believed in a greater power than humans. 

Alcohol and drugs became my higher power, my abyss and ultimately my destruction. I definitely earned and lived the name, Bohunk.

Bohunk’s Redemption: Chapter 4 excerpt

“Wisdom comes by disillusionment.” -George Santayana

Photograph by Rakicevic Nenad

“My drinking began unceremoniously when my new (college) roommate asked if I wanted a drink. I had had little drinking experience to know what to do, while drinking the better part of a fifth of vodka or gin. I just recall clear liquid containing alcohol. My faint recollection was wrestling with my new roommate, obtaining a noticeable flesh wound in the bridge of my nose. Which left to this day, a telltale scar. With that badge of debacle, you can imagine what stories I made up to explain the first thing someone saw when they met me. Maybe fraternities wouldn’t judge me if I explained I was drunk, as that turned out to be a common occurrence in fraternities.

The morning after I hurt all over, even my hair, from a hangover. From the bout. I was terriblly sick when I rode my bicycle to the church for Sunday Catholic mass, clinging to the last vestige of hope. You’d think I wouldn’t ever try drinking like that again anytime soon, but I did. As it turned out, over and over, repeatedly, and got sicker and sicker. Had I known what I know now, I would have recognized I was an alcoholic from the start, putting family history, genetic makeup, initial black out drinking, fighting, malignant hangovers, and many, many regrets.

My hopeless gloom continued as I meandered around campus, searching for my God who was dead. I was spiritually lifeless, and emotionally helpless. So, I turned to the study of philosophy, to understand why I felt lost as I did. To unearth what happened to my God or did a God, or I, ever really exist. These were my questions I never contemplated before, nor knew existed. Why would I ever doubt I existed, or whether I was mind or matter, being or nothingness, an idea or forms? My introductory philosophy course focused on Plato, as most philosophy courses do, and did not ask many questions about God, not religious based. Still, I discovered questions about reality, if it existed, as well as knowledge, if we could know anything, and what was matter, if it even mattered.”

***

Bohunk’s Redemption, my recovery memoir, is now available to purchase on ebook and paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

You can even read a free instant preview of the first couple of chapters: here!

Walking Away from an Addiction

I felt like someone was holding onto me and dragging me up, down, everywhere.  I was on a roller coaster out of control, heading towards crash after crash.” –Bohunk’s Redemption

Leaving an addiction can feel like an impossible task. However there are ways to make it easier, manageable, and even achievable. Here’s a few ways that can help:

1) Don’t look at who you are now, look at who you want to be.

Negative thoughts and guilt towards yourself are not helpful, especially since you’ve already decided you want to change. Instead, channel that energy into setting new short and long-term goals on helping yourself become free from the addiction.

2) Remove easy access to the addictive substance(s).

At some point, you will likely want to go back to your addiction, even when you know it isn’t in your best interest. If you have the ability to easily access the addictive substance, it will be even more difficult to resist the temptation. Make it difficult for yourself to go return to the addiction, so it will be easier to stay on the path of quitting.

3) The first step is usually the hardest.

Being aware and reminding yourself that it will get easier over time can be significant motivation when trying to navigate through the beginning.

4) Reach out for support.

You don’t have to go through this alone. The knowledge that other people care about you or know what you’re going through can help strengthen your resolve. There is no shame in seeking a support group, or opening up to a close family member or friend.

5) Consistency

Above all else, keep trying, keep chasing your goal of sobriety. If you stay on your path, you will reach it!

Like this post?
Check out the new memoir: Bohunk’s Redemption, a captivating story of the struggles through extreme addiction and the ability to recover, an inspiration for everyone in recovery: You can still achieve great things!

Check it out here!
https://www.amazon.com/Bohunks-Redemption-Blacking-Showing-Adventures-ebook/dp/B07RT6QD65

Please note: This blog post is to be used for inspirational use only, and not to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Quitting an addiction is fantastic, but it’s also important to know the safest methods for quitting your specific addiction, while minimizing any withdrawal effects.

Recovery is Always in your Reach

When suffering from an addiction, recovery can feel like one of the tallest mountains you could ever climb. It can be a challenge that you can overcome though, and it is within your reach. Following these steps can help you along the right path:

STEP ONE: Set short-term and long-term goals for yourself.

Expecting to get better overnight can be setting yourself up for failure. Quitting an addiction is not an on/off switch, it’s a process. Having short and long term goals can help keep you on track and give you more control over your progress. What will you accomplish today? What will you accomplish tomorrow? What would you like to see 3 months from now?

“Fortunately, I didn’t expect and demand results overnight, and gradually began to see that I accomplished movements towards my goal.” — Bohunk’s Redemption.

STEP TWO: Be proud of each step you take, no matter how small.

Recovery isn’t a competition or a race, it’s your own personal path to healing. Every step you take down the path is one step closer to your goal, so be proud of yourself, you CAN do this!

STEP THREE: Be positive and productive.

It can feel discouraging not reaching your goal as quickly as you would like. But as long as you making progress in that direction then you are on the right path. Keep your focus on the destination and your hopes high; we can accomplish great things if we simply continue to believe in ourselves.

STEP FOUR: Keep going!

Recovery is a journey, but the empowerment of gaining control over your life is worth it. Be consistent in your goals, be proud of your progress. Keep up the great work! You can achieve this!

Like this post?
Check out the new memoir: Bohunk’s Redemption, a captivating story of the struggles through extreme addiction and the ability to recover, an inspiration for everyone in recovery: You can still achieve great things!

Check it out here!
https://www.amazon.com/Bohunks-Redemption-Blacking-Showing-Adventures-ebook/dp/B07RT6QD65