WIESBADEN, Germany - From turmoil, tragedy and ruin a world-renowned comedian etched a testimony to sobriety to inspire Army Soldiers struggling with alcohol abuse.
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Bernie McGrenahan used comedy as a bridge to provoke introspection among Wiesbaden-based troops and civilians Nov. 10 at the Tony Bass Fitness Center.
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He described how he overcame alcohol and substance abuse in his presentation of Happy Hour Comedy.
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"Being that I've been there, I was trying to give them insight of the patterns and signs of a problem drinker," said McGrenahan, who struggled with alcohol abuse from 13 to 26 years of age and currently celebrates 22 years of sobriety. "The therapeutic value of one problem drinker reaching another is without parallel."
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Jokes rooted in reality ranging from the use of public restrooms to the disproportioned guy in the weight room, Facebook etiquette, celebrity baby names to McGrenahan's undersized stature lined the path to the comedian's poignant testimony of alcohol abuse, personal loss and eventual sobriety.
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As the laughter died down, McGrenahan's shared that his road to recovery was filled with failed relationships, blown educational opportunities, time in jail, job loss, indebtedness and the loss of a brother to suicide.
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"My blood alcohol content was higher than my GPA," said McGrenahan reflecting on his time in high school when his 4.0 grade point average and status as a highly sought after standout athlete diminished because he said he was drinking just about every day.
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He said he tried to cover up and control his problem a number of ways. "My boss noticed I was using a lot of mouthwash to cover up the fact that I was drinking on the job," he said. "I would stop drinking for a month at a time sometimes, or set special rules about when I would drink. I would tell myself that I was only going to drink on weekends."
McGrenahan was not compelled to quit drinking until his father, who was sober for 10 years at that point, confronted him.
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"He made it impossible to stay in denial," said McGrenahan. "He said 'It's not the girlfriends, the job or stress. The alcohol is creating all the problems.'"
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Because some problem drinkers were still in denial, he pointed out a few signs that would clarify if one has a problem.
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"You're me if ... you're blacking out, making rules about drinking," said McGrenahan. "Don't fool yourself by thinking you're not like me and think you can handle going out and getting wasted."
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Individuals who struggle with alcohol or substance abuse can seek help from the Army Substance Abuse Program by calling mil 337-1710 or civ (0611) 705-1710.
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Learn more about the tour at www.comedyisthecure.com.

Page last updated Thu November 25th, 2010 at 08:59