So, the plan for today was to write a post about recovery. Unfortunately, I’m in a different kind of recovery mode today—recovering from food poisoning!
What that means for you, the reader, is I’m going to keep this short. Really short.
I took my last drink 30 years ago, which means I got into recovery in 1989 at the age of 24. As surreal as it is to write or even say, I reached the milestone of three decades of continuous sobriety this past February.
You Mean This Stuff Works?
Alcohol solved a lot of adolescent problems for me: asking a girl to dance, anguish over being bullied as an even younger adolescent, family drama. You name it, alcohol helped to numb the pain…for a while.
Thing is, I didn’t realize it was doing something special for me. I just figured that was the normal effect. By the time I realized it was doing something to me, it was way down the line—about ten years down the line, to be precise.
Booze seemed to help for a period of years, and so did the use of a few other substances. Once it no longer worked reliably, I needed something better. Something real.
The Recovery Racket
I’ve heard comedian and podcaster Marc Maron refer to recovery as “the recovery racket,” which is always amusing to me—not only because he’s also, like me, in that racket, but also because of the implication that there’s big money being made. Big money is being made, but not by 12-step programs.
Treatment centers, doctors, counselors, even the court system…everybody and their brother makes money off the problem of alcoholism (not to mention the booze industry itself). But the “secret society” doesn’t get rich, because it’s kind of the opposite of a cult. No one can kick you out, you’re a member if you say you are, and the organization collects no dues or fees. They just pass the basket.
In 1989, the average person threw a buck in the basket when they passed it around. And in 2019, the average is—you guessed it—a buck. Not exactly raking it in.
Yet the program continues to work for those who want it and are willing to do the work. There are other options out there, and maybe they’re effective for others. I don’t pretend to know. Yet what worked for me 30 years ago still works today, and I’m grateful for that.
Staying sober is the longest thing I’ve done consistently throughout my entire life. That says more for the program than it does for me, but it’s not an accomplishment. It’s a gift.