Mark Alan Whittle with his son Logan


Facing the demons head on:

Hamilton, Ontario -Sunday, December 1, 2002 - by: Mark Alan Whittle

years dry

While all the drinking and partying is going on this holiday season, I like to reflect on my own ordeal with the demon created by alcoholism nine long years ago. Little did I know then, how my life would improve for the better, allowing me a second chance to live my life to the fullest in a new and exciting way.




I have proven time and again that taking pride in my abstinence has given me the extra leverage I needed when I went head to head with the demon created by alcoholism.




I feel proud and lucky that I have turned my life around and given back to my family, friends and community, the real Mark inside that was made mute by the devastating physiological effects of this disease. To me, why and how matters less than giving back to my family a heart and soul that is free from the ravages of alcoholism.




Contrary to the notion that those who fall to the demon are weak, why is it that so many recover going cold turkey, going on to lead much better lives? Perhaps facing that demon head on like I did will reinforce the belief that it takes inner strength and faith in the conviction that you are in command of your life, and not willing to fall from grace and throw it all away for just one drink.




About six years ago, during the troubled birth of my son Logan who has cerebral palsy, I almost met my match and was on the edge of the abyss until I realized that my little boy Logan needed me and I had to put my own feelings on hold. It would have been easy to take that first drink knowing my wife and family would have surely forgiven me this once, but I would have lost something inside me that I cherish and could never be replaced.







A second but weaker challenge arose when I was pulled over for speeding. After three days at McMaster University Hospital for Sick Children I was stressed out and in no mood for a paternal attitude from the police. I could have easily said "what the hell" and fallen back into the old ways of living. Sure, I could have hidden it for a while, but eventually it would have all come crashing down. Though each alcoholics story may be different almost all include a fall from grace and a descent into that lonely place so many of us have visited.




It was a white knuckle ride past two beer stores and an L.C.B.O. on my way home. Eventually I arrived at our apartment to feed our starving pets, who all survived. This time alone gave me a chance to take stock of my emotions and reflect on my victory over the demon, and how I survived the seductive allure of this progressive and deadly disease called alcoholism.




I vividly recall the time I spent at Moreland House putting in the sweat equity so vitally important to recovery. A mixture of fear and trepidation of the unknown called for a deep draught from the well of strength inside each and every one of us. I couldn't sleep for days, but I refused addictive medication not wanting to replace alcohol with another more addictive pharmaceutical. I survived the withdrawal and haven't had a single drop of booze since then.



life and

It is my heartfelt belief that the fundamental decision that must be made by those in distress, is to take responsibility for your plight and move forward with support. Mending the broken spirit and bringing back a persons heart and soul is a matter of life and death for some.




There is no time frame for when this happens. I was lucky, but for some it is too late to prevent an ugly and painful death.




Alcoholism is a disease like any other and should be free from the perception of weakness placed on it by society. Alcoholism has stigmatized many good people and their families, who have suffered greatly. Those of us that have been there and back should stand tall and be proud that we have changed our lives for the better and helped others to get there too. Our stories are strong medicine to those of who have taken that first step. It gives them the impetus to have faith and continue down the road to recovery.




The proudest moment in my first year of abstinence was a speech I gave at an alcoholics anonymous meeting in my neighborhood. The look of wanting to be where I was, reflected in some of their faces, had a profound effect on my will to stay sober. It was an amazing feeling, even more satisfying than a glass of the best scotch money could buy.




We as society, should have come to the realization by now, that booze kills and knows no social order or selection of its victims. Young and old alike could fall pray to this killer, if not for one fact above all others. If you never take that first drink you can take comfort in the knowledge that this lonely killer will never visit your soul.


Mark Alan Whittle



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