Incoming Manhattan city commissioner Aaron Estabrook said he’s learned a lot over the past seven months and is in a better place than he was earlier this year.
As The Mercury has reported, Estabrook was arrested in April for driving under the influence, his second such offense. The incident took place shortly after he declared his candidacy for city commission.
Estabrook, who was elected city commissioner Nov. 5 and sentenced just a week later, described the April DUI as a rock-bottom moment. But despite all the negative consequences, he said the incident ultimately helped him turn things around, and he hopes to use it to do something positive for others.
Since the day he received the DUI, Estabrook said he has not had a drink. He has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and seen personal growth.
“I went to AA a couple of times, and I’ve gone and I know that everybody’s rock bottom was different,” Estabrook said. “For me, this was definitely a rock bottom because of the lapse in judgement. I was getting ready to plan our wedding and had been drinking. I was excited, but not making right choices.”
He married his wife Dantia on July 6. Estabrook also has two daughters.
Estabrook said his wife probably thinks the arrest was a good thing in a way, because it meant he wasn’t drinking anymore as they prepared for their wedding.
“It was one less thing we had to deal with,” he said.
Estabrook talked about the nature of his problem and how he’s handling it.
“We’ve had alcoholism in our family,” Estabrook said Thursday. “In part, I had been able to go long periods of time without drinking, but also my alcoholism isn’t the same as everybody else’s. If I have a couple of drinks, I’ll want to have a lot of drinks, so it’s not that I need to drink every day. It’s that stopping myself once I start is where the problem resides. I do have an issue. Just not drinking is my way to deal with it.”
He said he believes his addiction is at a “very low level.”
“I’m not having cravings or anything,” he said. “It’s more that I would drink socially and then go too far.”
It hasn’t been easy, he said. And he’s still facing his sentence, which is 48 hours in jail, followed by house arrest and community service. He said he expects to serve the jail time right after Thanksgiving.
Estabrook said the stigma around people with drinking problems can make it more difficult for them to seek treatment.
“It’s probably rightfully so, but that makes it harder for people to get help sometimes,” he said.
Because of that, Estabrook wants to be involved in getting the VA or other organizations to provide more support for veterans who are dealing with drinking problems.
“The vet center has different groups, but there wasn’t something like that just specifically for veterans and soldiers,” he said.
He said he is thankful for support from the community during his time of growth, and is looking forward to serving his constituents as a city commissioner in January.
“I was in a very low place,” he said. “Coming out of that now over eight months, getting myself into a position to be clean and sober and thankful for the things I do have, things that are around me, and now being able to serve our community — I’m very thankful.”