Admissions Splash

by Officer Leo Petrilli

Let me preface this missive, by categorically averring that this is not meant to be used as an excuse, but more of an explanation. At a very young age, I quit swimming in the ‘ocean we all share’ – that is life.

I chose to drink my feelings away. As a child, I was born into a strict European family, first generation in North America. My parents were indeed from the ‘OLD COUNTRY’. My mother had some issues of her own to be sure, and I bore the brunt of a lot of them. My abuse was multi-faceted – verbal, physical and especially emotional. Fortunately, I was never exposed to any sexual malfeasance; from my parents, or anyone else. However, my self-worth was erased. When I was in grade 3, I discovered my dad’s homemade wine and I had my answer. I didn’t start out as a blackout drinker. But I became one by the time I got to high school; and I had money in my pocket. Inside, I was hollow, angry and empty. Good or bad, I didn’t want to feel anything.

Suddenly, I was eighteen, and living on my own, and no-one knew anything about my being a drunk. Except me and God, and I didn’t care. It was so easy to be ‘gone away’. I was out of control, and without a care in the world.

Detox, the hospital, and finally a rehabilitation facility became the order of the day. My higher power had a plan for me, and fate smiled. When I was on program (for 90 days), my group leader was just amazing in helping me get “back on track”. Those three words – “back on track”, they are just a cliché – were foreign to me. But they fit. One time in group, he asked me if I loved my ex-wife. I answered immediately, without emotion and whatever honesty that I had in me, with one word – NO. My ex had found my booze stash four different times. I chose alcohol over her and my children.

I had been a blackout drinker for a very long time. And I was able to hide it. At work, people talked, but there was nothing substantial. After my divorce, when my children stayed with me, I would drive my kids to school (still drunk from the night before) a thousand times without being caught.

One year, I was fired from a job, got divorced, had a heart attack, and then a car accident – ALL of it related to my booze. After the accident, I lost 37 days of my life. It had been a roll-over, and I, along with the vehicle, ended up in a ditch. My seatbelt had saved my life, and I was just hanging there. There was some trauma to my brain that resulted in a loss of memory, and when I became lucid, reality was evil once again. When I awoke, my right leg and hip were in a partial body cast. They were held in place, immobile, with a rigged up sling in that hospital bed. I had to go to the bathroom while I was there, in a bedpan. It was de-humanizing for me, but bless those ladies, they allowed me to keep what dignity I had left. NURSES ROCK !!!

The doctors said I wouldn’t be able to walk on my own for at least a year. I couldn’t even sit up by myself in bed without keeling over, as I began my therapy. I healed, physically. Inside, I was still a wreck. I then began to really lose what little control of my life that I supposedly had.

Fast forward to the last two years of my drinking. I would inhale a forty ounce bottle of vodka every 8 hours and pass out. Three times a day, my “RUSSIAN FRIEND” never failed me. Like clockwork; [Remember] – a broken clock is still right twice a day.

This idiocy and mania caught up with me and, of course, I ended up in the hospital. AGAIN ! I was in the same hospital, some twelve years later for the same reasons. However, there was NO blood, and I lied saying it was a heart issue and that I had fainted. Did I mention, that I am a very ‘ skilled liar’ ? NO blood, therefore no toxicology report. Three months later, that would change.

The date was September 17th, 2011. I awoke in that hospital. AGAIN ! The night before, I had gotten up off of my couch to go to the bathroom, and fell straight onto my face. I was so drunk, I didn’t even put my hands out to break the fall. I came down like a tree, and there was physical damage to my face. There was a gash near my eye, and I couldn’t see. My brother drove me to the hospital. This time my blood was drawn, and after reading the toxicology reports, I was caught. My blood alcohol, approximately 9 or 10 hours after I had passed out, was 5.3 % – whatever that means. Two very popular musicians who had died as a result of their alcoholism, merit comparison in this discussion. I won’t mention their names, but I will mention their numbers. One had died, and his blood alcohol level was 4.2%. The other had also died, his was 5.8%. And I was between them, some nine hours after my episode – who knows what I was the night before.

From the hospital, I went to detox: there were thirteen guys in my intake group. I was the only alcoholic, everyone else was on the needle, the pipe, the straw or ingesting their coping mechanisms however they could. To this day, I still attend both Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly.


I watched a police show a little while ago, and an officer was questioning a lady regarding a murder. He arrested her, and during the interview, she was adamant about her innocence. The law man said, “I know you did it, I have your blood on the scene”. The suspect said three words – I’m a CUTTER…

The cop had no idea what she was talking about, and the girl lifted up a pant leg. She was bleeding on his carpet. I’m a CUTTER…


When I had to tell my children that I was a drunk, I destroyed them. I still hate myself for doing that to them. Today, my reliability and honesty are giving them back some solace in their lives. I can never put back what I took away from them. I can only show them by my actions that I am a different person. My disease is in remission, the reality is that it will never go away.

About the Author: My name is LEO, and I have been a LEO [Law Enforcement Officer] for 34 years. I was an alcoholic, long before I had my badge. I am currently enrolled in college, seeking accreditation in addictions counseling. I am a 56 year old father of two wonderful people who have allowed me back into their lives. And for that I am so very grateful. I thank my higher power, and those around me, for their understanding of what I was, and. what I am trying to be. You may contact Leo through his email or 519-564-3085

You have to believe it, if you wanna receive it.

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