By Katie Lutz | firstname.lastname@example.org
Students of Nease High School grew silent as Toren Volkmann proclaimed his not so secret life, “I’m Toren, and I’m an alcoholic.”
Volkmann recently spoke to the students of Nease and Creekside High Schools in St. John’s County. He was also honored as the keynote speaker in the September Town Hall Meeting for St. Johns County, “Be a Parent, Not a Friend: The Dangers of Underage Alcohol and Drug Use,” on September 20th held by The PACT Prevention Coalition Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
Volkmann is the co-author, alongside his mother, Chris, of the novel, “From Binge to Blackout.” The novel highlights his teenage and early adult life and the path that led him to alcoholism.
He began drinking at age 14. Although he was blacking out on a regular basis and dealt with the cops more than once, neither he nor his parents believed these were serious problems.
After high school, Volkmann left Olympia, Washington to attend the University of San Diego. There, his drinking became worse. Social situations and the people he surrounded himself with were alcohol centered. At the end of his freshman year, someone suggested he seek help and required Volkmann to attend AA meetings in order to return to school.
Senior year he noticed he was more than just socially dependent on alcohol. He was physically dependent.
“By the end of senior year I started experiencing sweats and shakes at night after a three day binge,” Volkmann says.
Still assuming he would grow out of it, he graduated at 22 and received his BA in psychology. By this point, Volkmann had decided he wanted to be a part of something greater than himself and joined the Peace Corps.
In Paraguay, serving for the Corps, Volkmann recognized his problem. He had decided to reinvent himself, and was concerned when he was unable to stop drinking.
“I couldn’t figure out how to drink like a normal person, I had never sat down and just enjoyed a drink,” said Volkmann.
He soon realized that being an alcoholic did not mean that you are constantly drinking, but that you drink in a way that is unhealthy. He spent 30 days in treatment and six months in a halfway house. Volkmann is now nine years sober.
He and his mother co-wrote this novel after he was released from rehab. They hope the novel will help young adults as well as their parents recognize early on when there is a problem with binge drinking.
To learn more about Toren Volkmann and his struggles with addiction visit. To learn more about PACT visit http://www.pactprevention.org/.