21 Days on the Path to a Sober Firefighter – Finale

by | Behavioral Health, Everyday, For the Firefighters

If you have been following the journey of this firefighter committing to his marriage, career, and family by getting sober, you know how powerful his story is. If you need to catch up on the previous posts, read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

DAY 14

I think I know why this is getting harder. It’s because as the time goes on and the symptoms are all gone I feel I’m passed the hump. I beat the hurdle. Like it would be no big deal to have one drink one time. Then my conscience gets to me, like I would cheat myself. So I push through. Me and little man are home again today, and its still freakin’ cold out. I’m sick of staying inside. It’s killing me. He’s so tired of being cooped up inside that he is really being bad. I’m so sick of telling him no. I can’t blame him. I’m ready to get out and stretch my legs too. My son is sick tonight, and he is crazy. A long weekend lies ahead, and it should wear him out. I feel guilt and pride at the same time. Guilty that I’m doing all this during this time of the year, and guilty that  I’m so occupied with myself I haven’t spent the time to figure out indoor activities for him. Pride in myself that at the end of this journey it will only be positive for myself and my family. So much more energy, especially at night in the summer when we have more daylight and can do more together, instead of me planning the night around a drink and supper.

DAY 15

Duty day. What a weird shift. I don’t know if it’s the weather or the full moon making people crazy, but I had a lot of bizarre runs today. Child abuse cases are always hard, especially when you are unaware that what you are walking into. I almost put hands on that guy. One more smart ass comment and the medic would have taken him in for sure. Those are the runs you wanna drink to forget about. I chose to talk through it this time. I talked to my wife and God about it. Prayed for the health and safety of the child, and the max for the father. We have a busy weekend ahead of us, with almost every hour planned out. Im hoping for a little sleep tonight but judging by this day I don’t have my hopes up.

DAY 16

Just as I figured it was a long night. Off late for an early service run and I’m running behind for an already rushed day. My son is so excited for hockey this morning. He’s 3 so its really just basic skating practice while I hold his hand, but he thinks he’s in the NHL. Leave hockey. Go get new couch. Get home, some amazing friends come over for lunch and to hang out. Had an awesome time exchanging stories and listening to two seasoned fire service people talk. It was a breath of fresh air hearing another couple talk and realizing that my wife and I have had the same exact disagreements. As soon as they left another friend comes over to pick up the old couch. Its now supper time. I’m tired, hungry, and would love to sit on that new couch with a nice cold glass of whiskey and the tv. Now the other set of people pull in. Time for my wife to get her hair done. I need pieces of tape to hold my eye lids open. 12:30am and my door finally shuts with the last visitors gone. Successful day of entertainment.

DAY 17

Up early for church. No complaints on going to church. I’ve really enjoyed the words that have been spoken lately. I’m just so tired, I hope I can remember what they say. As soon as church is over, myself and another fire husband take off for lunch and outdoor store shopping. Pretty big change of pace for both of us but we had a great time. The sad part is the reason we are doing it. Our wives are hosting a makeup party at my house so I’m not allowed home. He felt bad for me so he took me out on the town for a little bit. We talked, laughed, and talked techniques the whole time. He’s a wealth of knowledge, so I always love to pick his brain. I realized the saddest part of the weekend wasn’t that I didn’t have a drink in my hand on a 3-unit weekend, but the fact that my son’s godparents kept him overnight and I got no alone time with my wife. I’m not mad, but man it would have been nice to sit and relax together without the tornado running around. Well, I thought I was gone long enough, but I walk into 12 women and a pile of makeup, champagne, and other girly drinks on the counter. I stare at it and have to walk past. All I know is there is a bunch of women cackling at my table, and a drink would help drown that out. Its ok, I love to see my wife with a smile on her face and having such a good time.

I love to see my wife with a smile on her face and having such a good time.

DAY 18

Duty day. I’m freaking exhausted. I feel like I didn’t get any sleep rest this weekend, probably because I didn’t. We were slammed all day, Mondays are always busy with long checks and admin stuff anyway, but we got banged out all day long. Really the only good thing that happened today was the talk about a possible SOG change that we can work out before 1600. I know, I know. That sounds like a stupid reason to be excited, but have you ever worked out an hour before supper on your cook day? So I did get a good workout after lunch. Im teaching Ice Rescue tomorrow so I need to try and get to bed early. I tossed and turned. I’m so tired I can’t sleep.

DAY 19

Not a bad night, no complaints. Teaching Ice Rescue today to some guys that have never been in a mustang suit before. I love the look on their face when they hit the water for the first time. Almost as funny as the look friends give me when I tell them I don’t drink anymore… Tonight as usual will be tough after a 36, especially since I only have 2 days left. Then what? I’m still trying to figure that part out. I feel so good during the day, I sleep so good at night. It’s just still hard to disconnect when I get home and can relax. I feel like I should be doing something. A drink always seemed to hold me in my seat.

DAY 20

I’m refreshed and determined. I’m knocking out my to-do lists slowly but surely, pushing my body to the max and my endurance shows. I was supposed to to be on duty tomorrow, but I’m off on training time. SWAT school this weekend! It will be a busy day running around to get things I need for the weekend. It’s TECC instructor school and the equipment list is pretty slim, so I’m just gonna guess and hope I’m right. This was thrown on me at the last minute so I feel behind the ball a little. No worries though, having a much clearer and sharper head helps with these things.

DAY 21

Well I did it!! I had no doubt I could, more of a question of if I would. Firemen can do anything they set their mind to. That’s what makes us great, and a pain in the ass. We are too stubborn for our own good. Its 0330 in the morning and I’m hoping they just threw the last flash bang in our bunk room for the night. It will be a long day tomorrow full of shotgun blasts and tourniquets, but all in all SWAT school was fun. It was a cool way of capping off and finishing this journey. I think I’ll wait a few days to really reflect on what I learned.

Firemen can do anything they set their mind to. That's what makes us great, and a pain in the ass.


I can’t say I like the way the alcohol made me feel, I liked the way it made me not feel. The time-consuming properties made me shut off certain things. I look back at all the things I could have or should have done differently without that burden hanging over me of habit. Both personally and professionally. I missed so many things. I can’t count how many times I had a glass of whiskey in one hand and a radio in the other listening to a fire I should have been on. How many times I sat in the chair and listened to my son splashing and laughing in the bathtub when it should have been me sitting in the bathroom with him. So fast forward a few days after I finished. I got home from SWAT school and felt like celebrating. I went to the liquor store and got a bottle of whiskey, and a bottle of wine for my wife. I felt guilty as I handed over my card and checked out. Felt like I was cheating myself. I can’t lie and say it didn’t taste good. It tasted great. The euphoria wasn’t the same. How did I used to enjoy this? I had no energy, no drive. It’s 6:30 at night and I’m ready to turn on the tv and space out. How is this fair to my family? The next day was the real wake up call, the real telltale sign. I woke up late, I feel like crap. Are you serious? This is the way I used to feel every morning? Before I poured a cup of coffee I dumped out the remaining whiskey in the bottle. There is no reason to have this in the house, no reason to entertain the temptation. It will just lead to a wasted night, a wasted next morning, and a disappointment the remainder of the day. I have no regrets for the last 30 days, the last 7 years I do though. It was an eye opening experience that showed me through church, physical activity, and conversation you can achieve an ever greater euphoria then you can with any glass of whiskey.

So to my wife and my son… I’m sorry.


A Sober Firemen

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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.

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