Six & A Half Years Clean!

Extra Extra Addiction News

It seems like only yesterday I was celebrating two years free from alcohol and drugs, since time goes by so quickly for me when I am clean and sober!

I woke up this morning with six and a half years now clean, and to say it feels good would be a major understatement.

When I go to deliver a motivational & inspirational speech at drug treatment programs, jails, schools, and other venues, one of my favorite lines to demonstrate how far I have come in life is this: “I have been to hell and back so many times that the post office started forwarding my mail there without requiring a change of address form filled out first!”

While this, of course, is not literally true, it does represent how badly my life had become when I was actively drinking and taking drugs.

I destroyed my career in broadcast journalism, ruined relationships with family and friends, harmed my physical health, and managed to get locked up behind bars for nearly six long years, all because I was living with such low self-esteem and didn’t care enough about myself as a human being.

It wasn’t until October 31, 2007 that I finally decided to turn my life around, once and for all, and voluntarily walked into the Coney Island Hospital Chemical Dependency Program in my hometown of Brooklyn, New York, and asked for help.

I had to swallow my pride and admit that my addiction was more powerful than I am, but I can say today that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

However, although I have now been clean and sober for these six and a half years, I am also well aware of the fact that true recovery is more than just abstaining from the use of alcohol, drugs, or any other mind-altering substance.

Recovery includes repairing one’s negative character defects, which, in my particular case, means refraining from having a temper, thinking that I am better than everyone else, being selfish and only out for myself, isolating, instead of spending time with others, cursing, littering, and just not acting in a professional manner in general.

In this respect, my recovery is a lifelong process, and helps keep me grounded on a daily basis.

Furthermore, by sharing my story and helping spread the message of recovery, it provides unlimited amounts of positive self-esteem, both for myself and others, which is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know several things.

Firstly, I am definitely not the same person I was for many years of my life, which I am very proud to say.

Secondly, I refuse to dwell on the past, on what my life could have been, had I not become an alcoholic and drug addict, since that is not only water under the bridge, but would serve no useful purpose either.

Finally, I feel good knowing that I am waking up each and every morning clean and sober, ONE DAY AT A TIME, and have people in my life who trust me and value my opinion on things.

It’s all about self-esteem and feeling worthy of another human’s love that fuels my desire to be the best person I can possibly be.

We only go through life once, and for this former alcoholic and drug addict, doing it right is what it’s all about!

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About gman18

I came into the world on October 18, 1961. John F. Kennedy was President of the United States. The film West Side Story was released, and would go on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Major League Baseball was celebrating Roger Maris of the New York Yankees, who hit a then-record 61 home runs that season. I was an excellent student, although a bit of a class clown too. I spent a majority of my time playing sports, but fell in love with newspapers, which was how I was initially introduced into writing and storytelling. While attending Kingsborough Community College from 1979-1981, I served as editor-in-chief of the school's paper, and then joined the staff at Long Island University's Seawanhaka for my junior and senior years. At L.I.U. where I earned my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism in 1983, I was also a selected member of Sigma Delta Chi, as well as Who's Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. My last year in college included an unpaid internship at WCBS-TV, Channel 2 in New York City, where I learned so much about the television business. Upon graduation, I landed a job at the network, starting as a news clerk for The CBS Morning News with Diane Sawyer, and also weekend shifts for The NFL Today with Brent Musburger. After quickly rising in the ranks to producer, my life suddenly went on a downward spiral due to addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling, which ultimately led to nearly six years behind bars for robbery. My time incarcerated gave birth to my first published book, Jew in Jail, which tells my true story of how I finally decided to deal with my addictions and turn my life around, all the while under the toughest conditions imaginable of being a minority in the prison system, forced to fend for myself. Writing Jew in Jail - as I was doing my time - allowed me to become very introspective, and realize that I could help others in similar situations of being an addict and/or living with low self-esteem. Today, I still reside in my hometown of Brooklyn, New York, where I am working on my next book project, continuing to promote Jew in Jail, and always helping other addicts through my motivational and inspirational speeches, and one-on-one consultations.
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8 Responses to Six & A Half Years Clean!

  1. Laurel Sneed says:

    You are a miracle. I am a miracle. I have 18 months and 4 days (551 days clean). You are truly an inspiration!

    • gman18 says:

      Thanks, Laurel. You are always so positive, and just the type of person needed by other sick & suffering addicts to help spread the message of recovery!

  2. Keri B. says:

    Congratulations!

  3. tjbrearton says:

    Congratulations, Gary. I was just reading this morning in Twenty-Four Hours a Day: “When I was drinking, I always tried to build myself up. I used to tell tall stories about myself… I used to hang around the lowbrow barrooms so I could feel superior to other customers. The reason I always tried to build myself up was that I knew deep down in my heart that I really didn’t amount to anything. It was a kind of defense against my feeling of inferiority.” That really struck a nerve with me. I have five and a half years of recovery. Recently I’m enjoying some humble success with fiction writing – in fact, today, my crime novel topped the Amazon charts at number one in the Free Kindle section. No, this is not a clever plug; I share this because, for me, today’s events further evidence a great Love and Reason in the universe – I read that passage this morning and maybe it helped keep my ego in check as the day unfolded. We’re always challenged. Again, congratulations to you. Hell and back? Oh yeah man. Oh yeah. -TJB

    • gman18 says:

      Thank you so much, Timothy. I really appreciate your vote of support, especially since you know exactly where I am coming from. I also want to congratulate you as well. Keep in touch. Gary

  4. iris says:

    Gary, your work is beautiful, like you. Thank you for sharing so well, and congratulations.

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