Binge drinking is a growing trend across the nation and right here in the Ark-La-Miss.
Joe Case is living proof that excessive drinking can nearly ruin your life.
“I would just go off and drink for three or four days and not come home,” says Joe Case who is a former binge drinker. “It was hard for me to see how going on binges really affects your family. How it can basically just take you out of realistic living.”
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism define binge drinking as as a pattern of heavy drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol level above the legal limit.
It generally occurs when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.
It’s something Case knows all too well.
“There were other periods where I basically just got so obsessed with drinking that I didn’t care about a job I might start on Monday morning and go for a couple weeks. I just binged like that all throughout life,” says Case.
Doug Pollock runs the New Day Recovery Center and has been sober for 18 years.
The recovering alcoholic says alcoholism usually has a trigger.
“People use or drink because their is an issue untreated in their lives,” says Pollock.
For Case it was the death of his newborn son.
A wound he tried to heal with booze.
Case says, “My son passed away in May of 2005. I decided instead of looking at God first, I put a bottle back in my hand and started drinking and it basically took control of my life.”
Eight years later on December 2, 2013, Case reached his breaking point.
He tried to commit suicide.
Three days later he woke up in the hospital in Shreveport.
He had no idea what had happened until his mom told him on the phone.
“I went in a blackout and actually tried to take my mother’s life with a screwdriver,” says Case. “It just broke my heart to know that I had got that bad. Because of alcohol and drugs that I would try to take the one persons’ life that stood beside me through everything.”
On his journey to beat the demon, Case entered 35 different treatment programs.
It wasn’t until a stint at Rayville Recovery that the counseling finally stuck.
“It had a little passage that said you will learn to give up yourself so that others may rediscover life and you will learn the full meaning of love thy neighbor as thyself,” says Case.
Now after 2 1/2 years of sobriety he is working here at New Day Recovery, hoping to inspire others to overcome their addictions.
The recovery center is a 30-day program to help alcohol and drug abusers.
“Our whole goal is not just to provide an inpatient treatment, but find out what they can do through the course of time so that they can be successful long term,” says Pollock.
The center can house up to 32 patients at a time.
People are coming from all across the country for help.
Pollock says, “We have a program and a curriculum that is very structured from the time they get up to the time they go to bed. They are engaged in their treatment.”
Pollock says at least 75% of the center’s patients have a problem with drinking.
“Alcoholism is probably not always the primary diagnosis. It’s usually a secondary diagnosis and a lot of times people don’t even recognize that is there main problem in addition to drugs, pills or meth,” says Pollock.
He also says that he understands the pressure.
“I lived in Baton Rouge so I know all about tailgating and LSU games and New Orleans and all those things,” says Pollock. “You can’t turn on a T.V. without being persuaded to go buy liquor. You can’t drive by down the road for more than a mile without a billboard advertising vodka.”
Over at Louisiana Tech University, the fight is on to stop students before they head down the wrong path.
“We are an alcohol and drug free campus. We do not let any students at any point have alcohol or drugs here. Not at football games, not at social events,” says Emily Thibedeaux.
She is a counselor and coordinator of alcohol and other drug education and prevention.
But that doesn’t mean students aren’t drinking.
Since January, the university reports that 34 students have been treated for alcohol and drug concerns.
That’s where Thibedaux steps in.
She says, “If you get in trouble here you will have to go in front of Student Conduct. At that point it is an educational type thing where you will have to come see me.”
Administrators say 3-30 students were surveyed during alcohol screening awareness day in 2017.
Of those tested, nearly 75% said they consumed alcohol in the past year and 27% reported binge drinking in the previous two years.
“They don’t really understand what alcohol and drugs can lead to if they go down that path, so education from the beginning when they walk on that campus is imperative,” says Thibedeaux.
As for Case, he is still on the road to recovery after several surgeries and mended relationships.
Finding happiness in a new marriage.
He says, “Me and my wife. When we get up in the morning time it’s about putting God first. We have some little devotional books. Reading the bible. Things of that nature just having some prayer time.”
By keeping the faith, the two are hoping to change the world one life at a time.
He says, “They walk through the door and they might say Mr. Joe your story inspires me and I want to be like you and have what you have. And I tell them you can have it, it just takes a little work.”