"You want to get a drink?"

Six words. Six little words casually spoken by an innocent man without any idea of their implications.

"You want to get a drink?"

It was only a reunion with an old friend; it was not supposed to become a battlefield. One moment I'm strolling down the street chatting light-heartedly with a mate from school, the next my world is threatening to crash down around me.

"You want to get a drink?"

To him it may mean nothing but a simple boy's night out, but to me it means much, much more.

"You want to get a drink?"

Anxiety, depression, obsession, not caring what I did, who I hurt, how much I lost as long it got me a pint. Bystanders attacked and robbed when cash ran low, barmen beaten and stabbed after refusing to give any more, and every last cent, possession, and shred of dignity sacrificed.

"You want to get a drink?"

Often I woke in pain, sometimes in strange places with no memory of how I got there, sometimes in ER. It was terrifying, horrifying, and killing me, but I couldn't stop.

"You want to get a drink?"

And even when I finally did, it never quite left me.

"You want to get a drink?"

They say half the battle is lost with the first sip. That the taste can never be forgotten, that the thirst and the craving never disappear. Those six words, and I am suddenly very aware of the dryness of my throat, the longing in my belly, the need in my body.

"You want to get a drink?"

But I also remember what I've gained. The steady job I finally attained after years of unreliability, the spacious house I only just finished paying off the previous month, the wonderful son who admires me and looks up to me, and the beautiful wife who loves me despite everything I'd done and was the one to first help me stop.

"No thanks, I don't drink."

Half may be lost, but half is still being fought. There will be no end, no final battle; I'll never stop wanting just one more drink.

But I have too much to lose now, and if I have to fight for the rest of my life, I will do it.