The second time he tried alcohol, at age 16, Chris Marshall destroyed his mother’s car, racked up a DUI and ended up in jail. It didn’t scare him. Marshall loved how alcohol helped lubricate his social relationships and fortified his sense of belonging. When he entered the University of Texas at San Antonio, he joined a fraternity and only increased his drinking.
Gradually, however, Marshall’s alcohol abuse worried even his fraternity brothers.
“It was clear, even in this very drunken environment, I was drinking even harder and for different reasons than my friends,” says Marshall, who grew up in Houston.
At the age of 23, Marshall realized he couldn’t quit or even cut back on his own. Fortunately, he was still covered by his mother’s health insurance and could afford drug rehab for alcoholism. An insightful psychiatrist helped Marshall understand that his heavy drinking camouflaged deeper issues: anxiety and depression.
“Recovery is more likely to be successful when you have a lot of support – from professional counselors, friends, support groups, family,” says Murphy.
At the same time, he says, new habits such as therapy, the right medications, and new activities can spark “passion, curiosity and joy” and help maintain sobriety.
Breaking the “Sober is Boring” Myth
New knowledge can sometimes help crystallize a path away from alcohol.
Tawny Lara describes herself as “a party girl bartender” who, like Marshall, started drinking in her mid-teens. Drugs were also part of his scene. Now a writer and speaker who lives in New York, Lara suffered a lot from sobriety before finally getting bored of all the “mental gymnastics” to justify it.
“Every night was basically the same: heavy drinking, emotional meltdowns, fast food at 2am, hangover in the morning,” she says. “Now my life is full of self-awareness and possibilities. I have more time and money to do the things I always wanted to do.
Lara’s new understated lifestyle has also paved the way for fully embracing her essence: her bisexuality. She lectures on sober sex and will be releasing a book soon.