Frederic woke up in a hospital. Tired, sore, unsure how he got there and completely hungover. It wasn’t the first time Frederic had been hospitalized for drinking too much. In fact, it was the tenth time. But this time was worse than the others. This time, the doctor was surprised he was still alive.
A multi-day drinking bender is how Frederic ended up in the hospital. After three solid days of drinking at home, he walked the six blocks to an area of town offering fourteen easily accessible bars. When he got there, he continued drinking, getting even more messed up. Then he says a couple guys started harassing him, so he went home to drink by himself.
After some time at home, he decided to return to the bar and confront the guys. But before that, he needed some “liquid courage” so he visited another bar where he did round after round of shots with whiskey chasers. Eventually he passed out, fell off the bar stool and an ambulance was called to rush him to the emergency room.
The next morning, after waking up, the doctor told him his blood alcohol level was .478, close to six times the legal alcohol content limit for where he lived in South Dakota and “astronomically, stupidly high” according to Frederic.
A bad beginning
Frederic’s struggles with alcohol began when he was 16 years old (he’s now 36). “From the time I was 16 years old to 36, I’ve been in the food service industry as a professional line cook and chef.” Frederic says. “My lifestyle was work hard, party hard. Before I went to work at 2 p.m. I drank and did drugs to get set up for the night. I’d get off at 1 a.m. and usually have a bar tab where I worked. I drank as much as I could until the bar closed but it was never really closed, just time for us to lock the doors and kick out the public. At that point, we would party till 5 or 6 in the morning. Then stagger home and sleep a few hours before starting over again the next day.
“It was fun for a long time and then it became overpowering and controlling and that became the focus—the partying, drugs, and alcohol. That lifestyle slowly started to degenerate.”
Frederic says his alcoholism has been especially bad the last 9–10 years. He went from being a social drinker in his twenties to drinking by himself at home or the bar because he knew he had a problem. He’s tried to deal with it on his own with 30-day inpatient treatments and 30- to 60-day intensive outpatient programs. He even tried changing geography by moving to different cities. Nothing helped his intense struggle with alcohol.
In the fall of 2012, just a month after almost dying in the hospital, Frederic was riding his bicycle, drunk of course, when a car cut him off and he flipped over his handlebars. He ended up in the intensive care unit for a couple weeks with a brain injury. It caused a devastating domino effect on his life. Because of the injury, he wasn’t able to return to college. Because he wasn’t able to return to college, he wasn’t able to continue his job at the TV station that was affiliated with the college. It turned out to be his rock bottom.
“I kind of went off the deep end,” he says. “Two of the worst things for an alcoholic are having a ton of free time and a ton of free money to occupy your time with. I took a nosedive. In January of 2013 I tried to go back to college but drinking everyday was much more of a priority.
“I was in such bad shape that my brothers, who live in Seattle, offered to pay for a plane ticket to Seattle if I agreed to enter a 12 month program with Union Gospel Mission. I was apprehensive at first because growing up, we really didn’t attend church except for holidays. It was never a prevalent part of our lives but I decided to give the program a try. I got to Seattle on March 18, 2013 and began the intake process.”
Connected to church
The Union Gospel Mission addiction recovery program is a year-long, faith-based program that seeks to tackle the root cause of addictions. It includes counseling, education, postgraduate opportunities, daily chapels, Bible study help and ministry training. It also includes mandatory church attendance.
“I started attending churches the first month or so and went to a couple different churches before landing at Mars Hill Church,” Frederic says. “I really liked the teaching so I kept coming. Union Gospel Mission encourages us to get involved with a church and make healthy relationships. I did that with Community Groups and volunteering in production. One of the biggest helps I’ve had is being involved with Mars Hill.”
Connected to Jesus
“Soon after attending a Community Group for the first time, I began feeling closer to Jesus. I was down on the waterfront, watching the sunset over the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains and felt compelled to ask Jesus to save me.
“Shortly after that, I was waiting for a connectedness with Jesus and how that would show itself in my life. At Ghost Ship’s CD release party I felt connected and felt a part of something. About a week or so after that, the Union Gospel Mission took all of us into the desert for a week to get in touch with God and with everything that we were going through. The morning before we left, I was baptized for the first time.”
A new creation
Life for Frederic is by no means perfect but he’s learning the Bible, growing in community, and he feels like Jesus is helping with his addiction. “This time around, the struggle with alcohol isn’t as difficult as it’s been in the past,” he says. “Before, I’d wake up in the morning and my first thought, or the thought that would propel me through the day was how am I going to get drunk at some point today? This is the longest I’ve been sober since I was 21 years old.
“I feel connected to Christ and it’s leading me down a path I couldn’t have anticipated seven months ago. They say when you become a Christian you’re a new creation and I feel like I’m a new creation and I’m completely different than I used to be. It’s 180 degrees from the way I was. I’m thankful for that.”
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