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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Interview with Neal

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to Neal about how he was doing now that the Risky Drinking documentary has aired. I wanted to know what he had been doing since the film completed until now. He was hesitant to talk to me but not for the reason that you might assume.

Neal and his wife, Kathy, have been long time readers of this blog. I had many e-mails from Kathy and knew that her husband had faced difficulties around his drinking. He was drinking excessively when I referred the HBO producers to them as potential subjects for the upcoming film. The hope was that working on the film would give him a new insight into how his drinking was ruining his life and relationships with those closest to him.

He made many attempts to get and stay sober. He even allowed the film crew to be at his hospital bedside while he was detoxing. Neal was serious about stopping even though it may have seemed he was not the least bit interested in sobriety.

After the filming was complete, he went to several rehabs outside of his home state. He finally settled down in Louisiana and it was there that he decided to try one more time. This time he had a renewed determination to make it all work. He made the decision to become totally abstinent and this time his hard work paid off.

It was a long hard road and Neal slowly walked each step. Eventually, he renewed his relationship with Kathy and they began courting as though they had just met. It was a new beginning and Neal was well aware that this would be his last chance with the woman he loved.

Neal has been sober for more than a year. He is happy. He is calm. He is working his own program that works for him. He has no anxiety attacks and he is healthier than he has been in years.

He told me that he simply made a decision to not be drunk even though the simple decision was difficult to achieve. He says he found the whole thing easier once he accepted the fact that he could not drink ever again.

Neal took a less stressful job in order to simplify his life. It involves long hours and hard work, but he says it’s just what he needs. He spends less time with his grandson but his time is of a much higher quality. He likes this new life.

So why was Neal hesitant to talk to me? Because he doesn’t want any fame or notoriety. He wants to fade into the background so as not to have the pressure from public exposure. He wants to remain private and asks just to be left alone so he can enjoy his peaceful life.

He explained that he doesn’t want alcohol or alcoholism to be the center of his life. If he is constantly in contact with the people involved with the film, alcohol would still be his focus. That’s not what he wants. Letting alcohol go means moving forward and not letting it occupy your mind and thoughts. Neal says he has better things to think about and do.

I’ve assured Neal that my readers will respect his right to let him move on and put his past behind him. 


Anonymous said...

This is wonderful news. I was very worried about Neal after watching the film; I have recently lost a brilliant colleague to the complications of severe alcoholism, and recognized a lot of similar traits in Neal, which made the segment difficult to watch. On the HBO website, there were notes about the outcomes of the other people in the film, but nothing about Neal. I feared the worst. Glad to hear I was wrong. Thank you for your blog post.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Good for him!

Anonymous said...

This news made the watching of the documentary complete for myself being a relapser and having 8 mths of sobriety I needed a hopefull outcome.Thankyou Neil Never give up

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this! I too had looked at th HBO website and read the follow up stories of the participants - and was disappointed and sad that there was nothing about Neal there.

What amazing news! I am so happy for him, for Kathy, and for his family. Wow. Great work, Neal!

Anonymous said...

Well done Neal! I also feared the worst for him. But at least as of the 11th he is sober. Stay in the day Neal!

Sonia Mendoza said...

Thank you- I was so sad when i didn't see an update.

kibokoyao said...

Thank you for this update on Neal! This all the way from Stockholm, Sweden.

Anonymous said...

I run a substance abuse agency and use that video to discuss with clients all the time. The most frequently asked question is "what happened to Neal?" N ow i can tell them some good news. After each viewing many are praying for Neal and Kathy. Just let him know that. We are happy about and pray for his continued success. Thank you.

DeJordy said...

Is Neal still doing well?

Unknown said...

As an adult child of 2 end stage alcoholics (one is sober now but was worse than Neil at one point) it is so good to learn Neil is doing well! It's so rare and there are so many words to describe watching and fearing for both yours and your children's future, but the best word to sum it up is sad. I really hope he keeps it up!