By Molly Guthrey
Russell Holm was 28 when he nearly killed himself with alcohol. Now, he shares his turning point to help others who are trying to build new and sober lives.
“I was not dealt a bad hand in life. I was born and raised in Edina,” says Holm, 36, of Bloomington. “I come from a family history of alcoholism on both sides. My parents got divorced when I was 1 or 2, but I spent time with both of them. They both remarried. My dad got sober when I was 8, and he has been sober ever since. Things were pretty normal.
“In high school, I started drinking and smoking pot with my friends, like a lot of kids in high school do. The only difference was that I couldn’t shut it off.”
That habit began to catch up with Holm during his college years.
“I drank my way out of school,” he says. “I started to black out.”
When college didn’t work out, Holm took to the road.
“My friend and I started touring the country with the band Phish,” he says.
While his friends matured, graduated from college and started careers, Holm was on a different trajectory.
“The older I got, the more my drinking progressed,” he says. “When I was 21, I got my first DUI; I blew a 0.22.” (The legal alcohol limit for drivers in Minnesota is 0.08.)
“Things got worse. I lost pretty much every job I ever had. I was the king of getting fired. I’d be fired for being late for work, not showing up, drinking on the job.
“It started getting to the point where I couldn’t stop drinking. At that point, I was back here in Minnesota, living in and out of my dad’s house.”
Rehab didn’t take, not at first.
“I kept hitting new bottoms,” he said. “I went to treatment a handful of times.”
One low point was when Holm wandered into a stranger’s house and passed out on her couch.
“I was arrested and woke up in detox,” he says.
Holm’s health began to deteriorate: He lost about 60 pounds and began having
“The turning point was in early 2006,” he says. “I was basically living in my car. I was stealing mouthwash from the store to drink to keep myself from getting sick.”
Then, he lost his last refuge.
“I had been staying at my dad and stepmom’s house,” Holm says. “I had put them through a lot. My stepmom finally told my dad, ‘Look, I can move out, or you guys can move out, or he can go; but I won’t live in this house one more night with him.’ “
His dad gave him tough love:
“My dad said, ‘You’re going to die, and I’m just watching it. I can’t help you anymore.’ He said: ‘I can take you to the bus station or I can take you to The Retreat (an alcohol and chemical-dependency recovery program).’ I said, ‘I’ll go to The Retreat.’
“I finally had gotten to the point where the pain of changing became less than the pain of staying the same.”
Seven years later, life looks much different: Holm is married and has a family. He also has a job, working as the intake and outreach coordinator at The Retreat in Wayzata. He finds it fulfilling to help others with their turning points by sharing his own.
“It’s better than anything I’ve ever done,” Holm says, “to help families in the same situation, especially at the place that saved my life. Anyone who calls looking for help, they talk to me. Please tell people they can call me at 952-476-0566 or find more at theretreat.org.” Article Link…
Share your own turning point with Molly Guthrey at email@example.com or 651-228-5505.