For decades, Jim Anders was an advertising copywriter, a bartender and a blackout drunk, he said.
That doesn't mean he passed out when he drank to excess, which was every night, the 63-year-old said.
"After the sixth drink or so, I was fully conscious but my brain was incapable of forming and storing memories," he said. So he would continue to drink, and interact with others, but never remember what he had done.
After being unable to find where he parked his car one night, he stopped driving.
"It dawned on me I could have killed someone or myself. A reasonable person would think, 'I have got to stop drinking,'" he said. "I said, 'I've got to stop driving.'"
Anders, of Atlantic City, has written a book about his life as an alcoholic, several attempts at sobriety, and his last 10 years free of alcohol.
"All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal," is autobiographical fiction that follows his "descent into alcoholism while three alter-egos discuss his prospects for recovery," Anders said. It is available on Amazon for $18.95 and Kindle for $8.95, and at the shop at the Noyes Arts Garage Stockton College in Atlantic City.
Anders couldn't do a chronological autobiography, because too much of his life is lost to blackouts.
"The progression of the book is more the emotional progress of going downhill and finding recovery," he said. "It's divided into 90 chapters, each chapter like a book in itself."
Anders grew up in Bethlehem, Pa., and graduated from Moravian College in 1972, he said. He moved to Atlantic City in his 20s, and eventually started and lost his own advertising company, then worked for a casino, in a bar and in other jobs.
"I couldn't imagine being happy without drinking every day," Anders said. "I'm just short of 10 years continuous sobriety after several relapses, and I'm in daily maintenance of my sobriety. I go to meetings. I don't socialize with drunks."
He said he decided to write the book after being sober for a few years, and began keeping notes and collecting quotes. He hopes it will be read by friends and relatives of alcoholics, to help them understand what their loved one is experiencing, as well as by those in recovery or considering becoming sober.
Anders said he didn't appreciate much of the beauty of life until he stopped drinking - such as listening to birdsong and simply enjoying the moment.
"When you are addicted to a substance, your brain is waiting in anticipation for the next drink or drug to return you to a maintenance level," Anders said. "I didn't know it was possible to live free of that. Today I am able to live fully in the present, and life is so good."
Nutritional Services cook Joan Pote, of Villas, is Cape Regional Medical Center's Service Excellence Award winner for April.
"Joan brightens the day with her great sense of humor and smile. She is consistently happy and friendly to her customers," wrote her nominators, Kevin Smyth, Marjorie Madonna and Carolyn Richards, from the accounting department.
Pote has five children, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
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