Alcoholic ‘agent of chaos’ who loved downing Miller unrecognisable 6 years clean04/15/2023
An alcoholic who has been sober for six years says he would have ended up killing someone if he'd continued boozing.
Paul Holley, 46, described himself as an “agent of chaos” ever since he had his first beer aged 18.
His first driving under the influence charge came at 23 and his fourth was at 39, which landed him in jail.
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He would down bottle after bottle of Miller Light and would feel like an “untouchable 6ft7 giant” before blacking out.
His destructive reign included getting bladdered and breaking a piano at his mum’s 50th – resulting in his heartbroken parents losing faith in him.
But since then he's been sober for six years and he shared his story or recovery with Daily Star.
And asked what his earliest experiences with liquid courage were, he laughed: “I never touched alcohol as a child.
“I remember having a sip of my dad’s beer as a curious kid but that was it and it was disgusting.
“I didn’t drink or smoke in high school and growing up it was golf, basketball and baseball.
“I then graduated from a private Catholic school and I think there were only 25 to 30 people graduating and I ended up at a university with 20,000 people.”
Paul's downfall came in the first week of university, when Paul was invited to a party that ended up being the beginning of his downfall.
Desperate to fit in and make friends, he drank Boone’s Farm wine, a six pack of beer and a Mad Dog wine.
He eventually blacked out and this became a common occurrence over the next 20 years.
Paul told us: “Before I blacked out I remember that warm sensation, this really good feeling where everything went away. You are in euphoria.
“But then you wake up from a blackout and you hear all the horror stories. It was a laundry list of ‘do you remember doing this and that’ and that was my first time drinking.
“The drinking kept going and it was never one or two.
“It didn’t make sense for me to have one or two drinks, what is the point? I just don’t get that and I am not wired like that.
“I would drink as many as I could as fast as I could. A normal person would have a beer in 30 minutes and I would have six in 30 minutes to get there as fast as I could.”
Speaking more on his perilous journey with alcohol, he added: “Here is another crazy thing, I thought an alcoholic or a big drinker was the guy having a drink in a paper bag or waking up in the morning and having a drink or hiding bottles.
“I didn’t drink every day but it was multiple times a week but every time I did it was black out drunk.”
Paul, who lives in Virginia, US, became so powerless to the bottle that he would order two tipples at a time while at the bar.
But things became more serious after multiple driving under the influence charges.
He remembered: “After the first three I had the same lawyer and he said if I get another one he is not representing me.
“Anyway, I got another one… and the new lawyer said 'wear all white under your stuff' and I didn’t know what that meant but it means you are probably going to jail and I got sent to a year.
“But here is the crazy part, that was still not the wake up call man. You think a normal person or a rational person would be like 'alright dude you got four DUIs and you don’t have a licence'…”
Asked what prison was like, he said: “I had to do weekends for a year. I did 20 weekends or something. I had to check in at the city jail every Friday afternoon and then come out on Sunday.
“It was brutal, just miserable. No TV, no golf, no windows, all you had was time. It was brutal, that was what it was.”
Thankfully, Paul’s turning point eventually came on New Year’s Eve 2017.
Reflecting on it, he said: “I was 39 and I went out on New Year’s Eve without a licence. I told myself I was going to have two drinks and I will be fine.
“Anyway, my car is sideways and I am like ‘I can’t believe I have driven my car without a licence’. It was 6am and I texted a buddy of mine who I used to party with, he had been sober for two years at that point.
“He responded and I talked to him and I kept thinking that I was going to end up in prison or I am going to end up killing somebody in this car. I won’t die but I will hit a family and I will be that guy.”
That afternoon, his friend took him to an AA class where a man who had served time inside spoke about killing an entire family while driving drunk.
“It just clicked,” Paul said. “I knew I couldn’t keep going and that was the last time I drank.”
He described week one as “miserable” and he was physically sore from withdrawals.
Paul, who works in technology sales, also avoided bars and sports games for six months and he started hanging out with different friends.
And now, six years on, his life is unrecognisable.
“They talk about miracles happening,” he said. “I never had kids because I was partying and I told myself I was never going to get married.
“I thought if I can make it to 30 then I have led a full life.
“But I ended up getting married to an amazing woman who has two kids and I consider them mine.
“You get all these things start to happen. Don’t get me wrong I still have problems like bills and stuff but life is unbelievably easier and better when you are not that agent of chaos just stirring up the hornet's nest every other time.
“If I had kept drinking I wouldn’t be talking to you and I would be in prison because the next phase of my court would have been five years or it would have been longer for killing a family.
“I don’t know if I am proud of myself but it is a feeling of accomplishment doing this every day because it is not easy and for your readers I want to make clear it is the hardest thing I have ever done.
“I am not going to lie. But the things I see now like my wife smiling at me or the kids being able to count on me. They won't ever see me have a sip of alcohol or see the person that I was luckily.
“And my parents are proud. My mom once said she would leave me in God’s hands because there was nothing more she could do.
“I didn’t understand it at the time but I do get it now. You have to do it for you.”
There are still times when Paul misses booze, particularly when out at social events like sports matches.
But he either leaves the situation and goes home or he phones a friend who understands what he has gone through and talks it out.
And he added: “You just get through, it is a one day at a time process. But it is so worth it.”
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