Life-gripping addictions knocked them down, but they’re back on their feet again

Published 11:12 am Thursday, September 5, 2019

“If you think you have a problem, you probably do and it doesn’t have to get to a point where you can’t stop,” Peters said. “Alcoholics do a lot of isolating. At a certain point, people you normally hang around with don’t want to hang around you.

“Your family will also be on you, and you have to get away from them. You need to know you are not alone. It’s a really good feeling when you realize that.”

Dark times

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The story of Peters’ substance abuse starts in the kitchen. In culinary school, he immersed himself in the culture, and drugs and drinking were a major part. He was good at the work, though, and started cooking in fine dining restaurants in Dallas, making $70,000 a year as an executive chef.

It was a high-pressure job, and vodka became his crutch. He’d stash bottles of it along his route to the station where he would catch the train to work every day.

“I got drunk taking the train to and from work,” Peters said. “I got drunk at 6 a.m. and I passed out on the train. I barely woke up in time for my stop.

“I was just unhappy with life and couldn’t deal with anything, especially with the drinking, which just made everything worse.”

From there, things got really dark for Peters. He was drinking all the time. Going through multiple fifths a day isn’t conducive to holding down a job, especially for someone leading a team. It’s also not helpful when you’re a husband and father.

He and his wife had a son before moving to her hometown of Jackson. She became pregnant with a second son, born 16 months after the first. Meanwhile, Peters kept on drinking. They moved back to Dallas, but he kept drinking there, too.

His wife left him, took their sons and returned to Mississippi. Peters moved back to his native Kansas and lived in his parents’ basement. He kept on drinking. Though he was there only six months, he lost four different chef gigs after his bosses asked about his alcohol problem.

“So, the heat is turning up a little bit,” Peters said. “I decided to move to New Albany, where my wife and boys were to try put my family back together. That lasted about a month. Then I moved into Haven House in 2014.”

Peters’ first attempt to get clean at Haven House didn’t take, despite spending 90 days in a treatment program. He stayed sober for about six months, moved back in with his wife and got a job inspecting cars for water leaks.

One beer, cracked open on a whim, undid all his progress. The next day, a bottle of vodka in hand, he slid back into the drinking life again.

Down in detox

His wife kicked him out again. He moved into an apartment, where he drank for two solid months until he called his dad one day to ask for a ride to the emergency room. Peters wanted to get clean, but he was afraid to stop drinking because he had a seizure on one previous detox attempt.