My name is Daniel O’Neil.
I have been fortunate enough to have been employed by the LADWP since 1998. I was 19 when I was hired. I started out as exempt working as an Electrical Craft Helper. I am currently the Toolroom Keeper at Haynes Generating Station working for PCM. Along with employment, the Department has also assisted me in getting my Bachelor’s Degree from Pepperdine University, and has provided support in a myriad of other areas. The main area being a serious battle with alcoholism over the years.
Without getting into great detail, my problem was and is like so many others. I could not stop drinking once I started. My whole life was built around drinking. It is how I learned to cope, celebrate, mourn, and deal with all the things in-between since the age of 13. Alcohol was definitely my best friend, and it worked perfectly, as if it was designed specifically for me.
In 2002, I was in real danger of drinking and using myself out of an amazing career. I had no idea there was a thing called “sobriety,” and I had never even considered it being possible. I had no family or friends that had ever attempted to stop, so I had no clue what a life without alcohol entailed.
In an effort to save my job and appease extremely scared loved ones, I ended up agreeing to go to EAP. The woman I met there spoke about things that were completely foreign to me. I reluctantly agreed to check into a residential treatment facility for a month. Part of me wanted to go as well. I was spiritually broken and at the end of my rope. I was tired and willing to try anything, even though I had no idea what that meant. I had even considering resigning from the Department. In treatment, I ended up meeting people with the same exact problems as me. Before that, I had always felt alone, misunderstood, and dangerously unique.
Life got extremely better and I was excited about the path I had embarked on. A few years went by and I decided to test the waters again. Doubts had set in as to whether or not I was actually an alcoholic. Even with my history and all evidence to the contrary, I decided that I might not be. After 4 years of sobriety I tried to drink again. This time things got much worse.
I spent the majority of the next 8 years unsuccessfully trying to get sober again. I could not go a day without drinking. The only sober breaths I seemed to draw were when I would have to check myself into the hospital. I would hold things together at work, but the second I got off, I would drink to blackout. My body could not keep up.
I wound up in the hospital at 35 with doctors telling me I was going to drink myself to death. I had a laundry list of serious health complications, some of which were life threatening due exclusively to my drinking. Even this warning was not enough to stop me. I started drinking again immediately after leaving the hospital. Eventually I tried to give life one more chance. Finally, I had become more afraid of dying than actually living. I decided to check into treatment one more time in a last ditch effort. Long story short, that was 4 years ago, and I have not had a drink since. It has been the most difficult and rewarding thing I have ever done.
I have decided to break my anonymity because I feel like I can identify and empathize with people who have the same problem I do. I also firmly believe in the mission of Peer Volunteer Program and wish it was around when I would have undoubtedly benefitted from using it. That is why I am choosing to use it now. Today I am extremely active in my recovery, and am the happiest I have ever been. If you’re reading this, you most likely are at a turning point in your life. There is a solution out there, and I truly believe that if I could stop drinking, anyone can. I urge you to call me day or night if you need someone to listen.