National reports estimate over 25 million Americans have a substance use disorder. This includes illicit drugs, prescription medications, and alcohol. In fact, when it comes to alcohol it is estimated that one in eight American adults have an alcohol problem.
On December 11, 1934, while under treatment at Towns Hospital for alcoholism, Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, experienced a profound and lasting spiritual experience. This intense and life-changing spiritual awakening left Bill with an overwhelming sense of well-being and freed him from his obsession and craving for alcohol. Bill said this about his “hot flash”, “I knew I was a free man”.
I found sobriety in the summer of 1978. I had been severely addicted to mood altering chemicals for six years. I hit bottom, went into a Substance Use Disorder treatment center, and started practicing a recovery program in August of 1978.
Here we are… months after the world became an unknown place, and many of our creature comforts, things we took for granted, turned into vast luxuries. I dream longingly of a haircut or sitting in a café with a dear friend over a steaming cup of bad coffee…or, hardest of all, receiving a hug at an AA meeting. I am getting accustomed to my new masked reality, the shouting at friends from a distance when I have the rare pleasure of seeing them. And, somehow, it is all ok. Really ok. And that is because I watch my mouth.
A definition of the word sponsor published at a time when the A.A. program was in its infancy states: “Sponsor - One who assumes, or one to whom is delegated, responsibility for some other person.” Webster, circa - 1936
Thanksgiving weekend 2019 brought 17 inches of heavy wet snow to northwestern Wisconsin, a special place where our family cabin sits, on the Minerva chain of lakes. As I looked out into the yard this past Sunday morning, I was startled by the sight of our many pine trees – white, blue spruce, and jack pine, all sagging towards earth with heavily burdened branches carrying the weight of nature’s winter storm. Concerned these trees might topple or at least suffer the damage of broken branches, I donned Sorel boots, jacket, hat and gloves and set out intent to remove some of the 17 inches of ice crystals these trees of ours were carrying.
I woke up this morning and my wife sent me a post that she had shared/read about someone who decided to not let drugs and alcohol numb them, to not just say that they are fine when things are really upsetting them or they are having a hard day. I told her that honestly that was the same reason that I decided to get sober so many years ago because I was numb for so long and I really like feeling all of the emotions good or bad that come with life and it makes me feel strong to face them everyday and not give up.
During the past several weeks we all have been thrown into a sea of unknowing, with no knowledge of the shore- where it is, when it will rise in our vision, when we will rest knowing it’s popping up in our horizon.