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Holly Rainwater, a Boeing employee in Bellevue, Wash., isn't the least bit sheepish about expressing her belief that employees with drinking problems need to seek help.

 No More 'Wasted' Time

             For Alcohol Awareness Month, 

                      the story of a Boeing

            employee's courageous recovery


By Mark Ziegler
Boeing News


Something jagged stabbed at Holly Rainwater's back. Her face was blistered from the sun. Literally every part of her body ached.

"Where am I?" Rainwater thought as she gradually awoke that day 12 years ago. "What am I doing here?"

She was lying on the rocky banks of a southern Washington riverbed, passed out from drinking. She had just hit her alcoholic "bottom."

As National Alcohol Awareness Month is observed this month, Rainwater's story is a reminder of the impact the disease can have on employees, their co-workers and loved ones.

"I was drinking before I came to work, I was drinking during work, and I was drinking after work," recalled Rainwater, now a safety and health administrator for Shared Services Group Safety, Health and Environmental Affairs in Bellevue, Wash. "I was withdrawn, did a very minimal job at Boeing, had low energy and was scared to leave the house."

Bruised and frightened by her blackout during that three-day fishing trip to the Cowlitz River, and also mindful that it hadn't been her first, Rainwater went to her doctor, who referred her to Alcoholics Anonymous. She attended four AA meetings that same day.

"I knew that if I didn't get help, I would lose my husband and daughter," she said.

A day later -- at another AA meeting -- Rainwater met a Boeing manager, who referred her to the company's Employee Assistance Program. The program informed her of regular AA meetings at Boeing sites.

Rainwater has attended the meetings ever since, often serving as a facilitator and sponsoring many other participants.

"We're a really close group -- we can call each other," she said with pride, while also lamenting the friends who didn't get help or struggled to overcome their illnesses and later died.

Gone are the days of blackouts and "all that wasted time" -- sadly, she still doesn't remember her wedding.

She now shares a busy life with her husband of 26 years, their Homecoming princess daughter and the 32 animals they raise at their home near Seattle. Two side businesses, soccer games and running marathons fill out her schedule.

"I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired," Rainwater said. "My worst day sober is still better than my best day drunk."


Related sidebar stories:

How Managers and Employees can Help Co-workers with Substance Abuse Problems

Substance Abuse: the Alarming Statistics