Louisiana — November is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, and here in Louisiana, those trying to stay sober said it's a lot tougher than other places in the country due to our “party culture.”
It's an all-too common scene in south Louisiana - friends and family getting together and involving alcohol.
“It seems like that alcohol is a big part of the culture. Everywhere you turn, it’s about drinking,” stated recovering addict “Greg”.
That's the way it was for Greg for years. We are not revealing his last name because of the anonymity of the program's he's in - Alcoholics Anonymous; he has been it AA for the past 15 years.
Greg said even before he got into AA, he noticed alcohol was everywhere, especially here in south Louisiana. He stated that was part of the reason be used it so frequently.
“You're super conscious of that stuff,” stated Greg. “You notice every billboard. Every time you pay for gas you recognize there’s beer in the cooler. You are constantly having to remind yourself, ‘I'm not going to drink today’.”
Many alcoholics trying to recover said they have to remind themselves not to drink more often due to the tailgates, the crawfish boils, and the parties that are all too common here. They said that getting and staying sober is much more difficult just because of where we are - the culture that surrounds us.
“Frankly, it surprises me that anybody stays sober. “It's incredibly difficult and its takes a lot of sacrifice.”
Sacrifices many give up on because alcohol is so prevalent. In Louisiana, the sacrifices could mean cutting all ties with friends and starting over from scratch, then making that conscious decision to stay away from it.
Greg stated that was one of the biggest hurdles. Although dealing with the distractions is a lot easier today, it's a slow process.
“The billboards are still there. The culture is still the same,” said Greg. “I’ve surrounded myself with healthy people, so it doesn't occupy a lot of my thinking anymore.”
So while the tailgates and partying continues across south Louisiana, people like Greg say sticking to their plan is critical. As tough as it can be in Louisiana, that plan can work.
“Fifteen years ago, I couldn't imagine being sober for fifteen years.”