NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — On a crisp fall morning, Patrick Riggin chased his son Rowan around the park before pre-school. It’s something he never could have done 14 months ago.

“Even 13 hours sober sounded like a death sentence,” he told 10 On Your Side.

Riggin told us he started drinking in his teens. “I was always there on the weekends partying with my friends but what they didn’t see was I was always still downing at least a six-pack by myself in my dorm room.”

Riggin said he did it every night and eventually, he couldn’t get out of bed without it. “I would always make sure I had something I could drink first thing in the morning,” he said.

Alcohol addiction affects men more often than women. A 2019 report showed 14 million people over the age of 12 had alcohol use disorder. 9 million of them were men.

“Males are more likely than females to try a majority of different types of illicit substances so they’re at an increased risk due to their willingness to try,” said Riverside Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Omari Peterkin.

Peterkin told WAVY that it also puts men at a higher risk for overdosing and hospitalization.

“Risk factors out there for these behaviors, the main one that’s out there is family history,” Peterkin said.

Other risk factors include:

  • Starting at an early age
  • Depression or mental health problems,
  • History of trauma
  • Poverty

Riggin’s drinking led to a diagnosis of liver disease, however, his addiction was stronger than the threat of death.

“I pretty much lost everything the ones who loved me most couldn’t have me around anymore I was a liability,” he said.

It wasn’t until he could no longer see his son that his eyes were finally opened. Patrick then checked into a psychiatric hospital and started on the road to recovery.

Now Riggin has gotten into a new healthy hobby. The multiple weeks of rehab and months of support group meetings have given him the tools to tackle his cravings and navigate difficult social scenes.

“It’s kind of silly but I’ve really gotten into RC racing,” he told us with a smile.

Now instead of reaching for a drink each morning, he reaches for Rowan.”My son yea, that’s what I start my day… every day… with a hug and a kiss from my son.”

Riverside Behavioral Health Center offers both in-hospital and outpatient services for those battling addiction.
Alcoholics Anonymous also has dozens of support meetings every single day in Hampton Roads both in person and online.