Jomtien, 28th November, 2009

Today I have been sober for 90 days.


I had to make the 9 a.m. meeting for my “90 Day AA birthday”, and managed it by the skin of my teeth.

I was very preoccupied by events of which I wrote briefly yesterday, and will write more below, and had trouble falling off to sleep.

Eventually I fell into a fitful sleep only to be woken at 5 a.m. by my condo phone ringing. As there is no one who would dream of calling my on my land-line at that hour of the morning, (hardly anyone has the number and even those who did would always call me on my mobile rather than the land-line), I avoided answering in the hope it would go away. Well it did, and then rang again five minutes later, just as I was dropping off again. I ignored it again, and it eventually stopped, only to ring a third time a further five minutes on. This time I roused myself to get out of bed and answer it, but it stopped ringing before I got there, never to ring again.

My night was in ruins, and I was still awake when my alarm went off at 7 a.m. As is the nature of these things, I then fell into a deep sleep, only to waken in the middle of a vivid dream at 8.15 and as I have already said, made the meeting with seconds to spare.

After the meeting, I met with my sponsor over coffee and related the events of the previous day.


Dave’s ex wife called me yesterday morning with the news that Dave had started drinking again. This was a shock, for although I feared he may well start drinking again one day, I thought that the day was still a long way off.

Ever since he had collapsed in a coma and rushed into hospital a couple of months or so back with a cracked liver, I had been in contact with Dave on a more or less daily basis. I had rushed to Bangkok at the time of the emergency, visited with him in hospital, and visited him regularly thereafter and called him every day when I didn’t see him.

As ever, he had made yet another remarkable recovery, although for a brief period the doctors thought that he wouldn’t make it this time. But make it he did, and as I have previously written, I cannot help thinking that there must be a Higher Power out there somewhere, who for some strange reason, is keeping Dave alive.

Recovery was slow but sure, and after he was discharged and went home, he gradually got his health and his strength back, and even started working again. With Bob, my friend from Australia, I met Dave when he was still recovering and in a weak state, and told him that we would be supplementing his income with a small monthly allowance, and that I would be taking care of the renewal of his retirement visa in Pattaya, as soon as he was fit enough to travel.

We reiterated what the doctors told him that if he took one more drink he would be dead, as his liver was shot and couldn’t take another drop of alcohol. Dave assured us that he completely understood the position he was in, and promised us that he would do his utmost to never drink again.

We suggested that if he drunk again then we would cut the money off, but he became very agitated and accused us of “blackmailing” him, and putting him under undue pressure, so we said no more about that.

So over the past few weeks I have been talking to Dave on a daily basis, and occasionally visiting with him in Bangkok. The last occasion was the Wednesday before last, when I passed through Bangkok on my way to Phnom Penh for a week. I met with Dave at lunch time and we had a meal together at one of his favourite restaurants. He looked incredibly fit, had lost some weight, and I was pleased to note that his appetite had returned to normal. He seemed very happy and content, and told me he was busy working in his recording studio, and we had a very pleasant lunch. I took him back home, and one last cup of coffee, before setting of for Phnom Penh.

I did not call Dave when I was in Phnom Penh as he had seemed so happy and fit that it just didn’t seem necessary any more.

So yesterday the call from his lady came like a bolt from the blue. She told me he had been drinking since the previous Sunday and was in a very bad state. She said he had been defecating and urinating all over the house and was currently lying on the bed in a mass of feces. Naturally, she sounded very distressed and asked me to go to Bangkok straight away and somehow get him back into hospital. I tried calling Dave but his phone was off, so I called her again and she put me onto Dave.  Dave was extremely drunk but he managed to tell me that he had only been drinking for 2 days, and that he had already stopped. A few minutes later, his lady called back to tell me that he had been lying to me and that he had been drinking for 6 days and was still drinking. I told her I would call her back after I had spoken to his doctor friend who had always taken charge in these circumstances. I couldn’t get hold of the doctor, so I called her back in the afternoon to tell her this. She reported that Dave had finally passed out but that he had behaved very badly, had shouted and abused her and his bodily functions were still out of control.

After this, I spoke to some of my friends in AA to get advice on what to do, and then called Bob in Australia, and eventually made contact with Dave’s doctor friend. Everyone was telling me the same thing. Do nothing. They told me that we had all done enough, if not too much, and we were only propping him up and enabling him to keep on drinking. I was told that his only hope for survival was for him to reach his own “rock bottom” and then genuinely reach out for help. If he continued to refuse to stop drinking, go to hospital or accept the help of AA members then it was all over and there was nothing more we could do. It was time to walk away, as he was only dragging ourselves into his own misery and “using” us.

Finally I called his brother in England and recounted to him the situation. I told him that the likelihood was that his brother would die if he didn’t stop drinking soon, but that we could do nothing more for him. He thanked me for the information, accepted and agreed with what I had told him, and asked to be kept informed.

So I called his ex wife, and told her that I would not be coming to Bangkok and the reasons why. I also told her that she must make her own decisions on what she should do, and if she decided to leave him, then no one would blame her. She had already been used and suffered far too much. It was time to put an end to it one way or another. She told me that she would think about it, and that we would chat again the next day – today.

When I related what had happened to my sponsor today, he was vociferous in his condemnation of Dave, told me that not only should I refuse to  go to Bangkok now, but that I should never go to see or help Dave again. He told me that Dave had been using us all, and that he had been very selfish, and we had our own lives to live and must leave him alone to come to his own conclusions on whether he should live or die. He knew the options, and no one could decide for him.

I made my final call to Dave’s lady, and eerily she asked me when I was coming to Bangkok as she couldn’t cope any more. It was as though we hadn’t had the earlier conversation. She told me that Dave had slept fitfully, and was now drinking again. It was 10.15 a.m. I reminded her that I had already stated that I would not be coming, and told her the reasons very clearly. I also told her that she should consider her own situation very carefully as she was suffering and she was only prolonging the inevitable by staying around and being his servant. She told me he couldn’t even go to the bathroom by himself. I said that when he’s run out of booze, and sobers up, he will be able to make it to the bathroom, and that she should leave him to it. She said she would think about it and let me know if she decides to go.

As of 9.30 p.m. I have not received a call from her, so I can only assume she is still with him. That is her choice.

I have no idea how this will all turn out, but of course we all fear for the worst.

It must have been at least 15 years ago when this wretched business first started – Dave’s first dice with an alcoholic death that had us all rushing to Bangkok from all corners of the world, paying his hospital bills, setting him up in business, buying all manner of things for him, and generally supporting him and urging him to change his life around. And it has been happening regularly ever since. The only difference is that his circle of “helping friends’ has got smaller and smaller and now that circle  consists only of Bob, me, and his doctor friend. All his other countless friends and acquaintances have long since abandoned him, in the certain knowledge that it would all end in misery.

I don’t know why it has taken all this time for me to see this, but I have no regrets. I did what I did because I wanted to, and in spite of everything I still love the old bastard. He is more than a brother – he is a soul mate, and when he goes it will be one of the saddest days of my life.

But I have to desert him now, because it is the only hope left for his salvation.

Please God, that he sees the light in time.

6 thoughts on “Jomtien, 28th November, 2009”

  1. While the circumstances of Dave seem to be grave, you have to remember one very important thing. The most important thing in your own life at this time is your own sobriety. If you loose your own sobriety, you will not be in a position to help Dave if he asks for help. You have and still are a good friend to him but unless Dave starts to make a decent effort on his own and is being propted up all the time he will never reach his rock bottom. He has your phone number, let him ring you himself if and when he wants to stop drinking. Dave will have to want to stop drinking for his own reasons to get sober. We all probably believe in a higher power, so when and if we speak to our higher power, lets say a little prayer to him for Dave. I wish ye both well.

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  2. mobi, it’s probably not possible for those of us who haven’t gone through this experience to truly understand what you’ve done and what you have decided to do to help dave. from what i’ve read from you so far,you come across as someone with the best of intentions. i hope you stick to your guns here. as cruel as it might seem to others, your approach to dave seems to be a reasonable one considering the circumstances. good luck, mobi and congratulations on your 90th day of sobriety.

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  3. I’m not sure about that … I understand not giving any money and all the other material support, but not visiting a good friend when he may be on his death bed seems very unkind. The odds are, from what you’ve been saying is that he is a lost cause – that he’s going to die from his addiction this time or the next. You’re not enabling him by showing compassion to a friend during his last few hours or days alive. People make their own choices and eventually you say, well it’s up to you, if this is the way you want to go out so be it. That doesn’t mean he has to die alone. I hope his ex does stay with him. To die as you’ve described alone in Bangkok is a very sorry way to go.

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    1. You seem to have missed the point.

      The only hope for Dave’s survival is for him to hit “rock bottom”, realise that he is at last on his own without any support, and then cry out for help. If we go and help him now and sit with him and comfort him, he may sober up for a while, then he will have to go into hospital, spend his last 200 -300,000 Baht on expensive doctors and detox treatment. And within a few weeks he will be back on his death bed again. Every crisis gets him closer and and quicker to the end.

      We all want him to live, but the only way to save him is to be “cruel ” to him.

      This is a very well documented and sometimes successful way to bring alcoholics to their senses, and has worked in countless cases throughout the world. By propping Dave up, we are only committing him to yet more hell. He must make that life changing decision for himself – nothing else will work. He is not a fool, even in his current sate he knows he has a choice.

      I have already reported that every single person I have consulted, including AA members with 30 years plus of sobriety and ongoing success in bringing others from the brink to sobriety, his English doctor, and even his own brother agree it is the only course of action left to us.

      If you don’t think this is all breaking my heart then you have no understanding of what I have been writing, and while you are entitled to your opinion, which I respect, I suggest that your reaction to the crisis is overly emotional and does not take into account the extreme circumstances under which I am obliged to take this desperately sad action.

      Added to which, my sponsor advises me to stay away for the sake of my own life and sobriety. I am not exactly the most stable of people to deal with something like this, and if we are not careful we may have two people on their death beds.

      Part of me hopes that his ex stay with him, and the logical part of me hopes that she doesn’t, because it is only when he is totally alone, with no one to help him that he may finally come to his senses.

      Of course, if I hear that he is completely beyond saving and has only a short time to live, then I will go to him and make his final hours as comfortable as possible.

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