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Bardstown man discusses alcoholism recovery

Kentucky Standard, The (Bardstown, KY) - 6/19/2016

Michael Burba knows the challenge of overcoming addiction and is attempting to help those who are undergoing problems similar to what he experienced.

Burba, a Bardstown native, described himself as a person with a promising future in a statement to The Kentucky Standard. However, he began drinking alcohol in high school on the weekends as a social engagement.

"Prior to my first drink, I battled with underlying issues such as fear, self-esteem, inferiority, anxiety and social pressures. But when I took that first drink, all of those fears and anxieties went away," the statement read. "I could escape. I was able to come out of my shell and be somebody else for a while. I had found my medicine, which cured all of my issues."

Burba, 29, struggled with alcohol addiction for close to eight years before it consumed him. Burba said he knew he was in trouble when he found out he couldn't stop drinking on his own.

"Every time I would try to quit, I would have a tremendous amount of physical pain as if I was dying," he said in the statement.

Burba said the addiction caused him to lose friends and hurt his family repeatedly. Burba also got in trouble with the law, getting charged with DUI and theft.

"A lot of people assume that we are weak, or have no willpower, and that we should just stop. But what they do not know is I was battling a complicated and devastating addiction. I was suffering mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I was in for the fight of my life, and my addiction was winning," he said.

Burba tried to overcome the addiction on his own, but couldn't.

"There are no words that can express the sadness, despair, bewilderment and loneliness on those last days of my addiction," he said. "I couldn't see any way out, and it was sure to kill me soon. Then one day when I was finally out of options, tired of running, and tired of fighting, when I was close to giving up, my family intervened."

Burba's family convinced him to receive help from the Healing Place in Louisville, an addiction recovery program that models a 12-step program. Burba was there for several months from 2014 to 2015.

"The recovery process was the hardest thing I ever had to do," Burba said in an phone interview.

Burba said the program changed his behavior and his way thinking. According to The Healing Place's website, classes and meetings are offered as a way to help addicts recover.

Burba is now working at Recovery on Chestnut, a 30-day residential program for men with extensive after care modeled after The Healing Place. Burba said it was satisfying and rewarding to be able to help people who went through similar problems such as him.

"It's the most beautiful thing I've ever gotten to do," he said.

Burba said he is continuing his education to become a certified drug and alcohol counselor and wants to help others like him.

"I am finally happy, joyous, and free from the bondage of addiction," he said. "I have a life that is indescribably wonderful, a positive attitude, and living life one day at a time."

What should you look for?

According to The Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit medical practice and medical research group in Minnesota, the symptoms of alcoholism include:

? Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol a person drinks

? Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so

? Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from alcohol use

? Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol

? Using alcohol in situations where it's not safe, such as when driving or swimming

How can you help?

According to, suggested actions family members or friends can take if someone they know has an alcohol or drug problem include:

? Reading about the signs and symptoms of substance abuse.

? Observe the person's behavior closely over a period of days or weeks to understand what leads you to think there is a problem. This information will be good to have if you decide to talk with other family members about the situation, seek advice from a professional or speak directly with the person.

? Contact a substance abuse professional, mental health professional, physician, employee assistance professional, guidance counselor, clergy person or other helping professional to help you. Describe your family member's substance use pattern to see whether the professional would deem it a problem. Provide details such as the type of alcohol or other drugs, how much the person is using, how often, how long the pattern has continued, negative consequences and the person's response to discussions or confrontations about substance use.

? Ensure that you and other family members are safe from potential physical or emotional harm. If there is a threat or fear of physical violence, develop a safety plan.