In 2013, my wife Priscilla persuaded me to write a book, that I called “Being Sober and Becoming Happy.” I had worked at the Hazelden treatment center for 19 years, as Director of Spiritual Guidance. I did a lot of patient lectures, and had developed a long list of lectures. Priscilla kept saying “You have to write these things down.” I said, “I’m a talker, not a writer.” She kept after me. After about a year, she said “You’re getting old. Eventually you’ll die. All the lectures will be lost. You should write this stuff down.” So, I agreed.
I grew up in Mtn. View, California and at the age of 17, I found myself at a crossroads. Once my addiction had reached the point of requiring professional help, my Mom and I went to see a doctor that specialized in chemical dependency. When the doctor came to greet us, he was not what I expected. He was an older gentleman that appeared as if he only knew medicine rather than being able to possibly comprehend what I was going through. He sat us down and said to my Mom…”You are basically putting Band-Aids on the problem…if your son does not stop what he’s doing…he’s going to die.” I could tell my Mom was fighting back the tears and doing her best to remain strong. The doctor went on to tell us about a treatment center in Minnesota that could help.
"I've got to stop auctioning myself off to the low bidder."
All of us, or nearly all of us, are sober when we read this essay. For us, getting sober is no longer the issue. Staying sober is. Alcoholism and addiction are chronic illnesses, and relapses are common. Staying clean and sober requires an ongoing participation in recovery. The best recovery is in Twelve Step programs. Meetings are good. Step work is better. Working with other alcoholics to help them get sober is best. A.A.’s “Big Book”says "Nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” (p.89) I know that this is true for me.