Kevin, with 28 years of sobriety, takes us through 9 years of active drug and alcohol abuse. At the age of 13 Kevin begins drinking and smoking pot. By the age of 18 he drops out of high school and registers into a technical trade school where he befriends the local drug dealer and promptly begins using cocaine and dropping acid daily. Though his drug of choice was alcohol, he would indiscriminately take drugs from anyone who would offer them to him.
During those 9 years, he becomes the only white member of an all-black soul band, gets rejected by the Navy, arrested multiple times for public intoxication, kicked out of his parent’s home, and tormented by paranoid delusions due to massive amounts of hallucinogenic drugs. Broke and alone, Kevin hits rock bottom. One morning after he awakens from a black out Kevin finds an AA Big Book miraculously sitting on the floor in front of him. He picks it up, takes his last shot of tequila, and reads the entire book in one sitting. Kevin never picks up another drink again, his story is amazing… join us now!
SHAIR – Sharing Helps Addicts in Recovery
Here are Kevin H.’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Clean Date: 1/29/1986
Tell us about your life today. Your hobbies, what you do for a living. Take us into your normal daily routine including recovery?
Kevin: My normal daily routine, including recovery – I wake up and I will usually chat online with some people and catch up with some old friends and such. We’ll talk a little bit later about how I don’t really follow the concept of the Christian God anymore so unlike most, I don’t do a prayer in the morning although I did for years until my view of a higher power changed. I teach English at night for open English. I do that online. During the day I usually catch up on news and work on music. I play in a band. I play the bass and I sing and I play a little bit of guitar so I’ll work on vocal exercises or work on new songs. That’s basically it for me for a day. I’m an extremely lazy individual and always have been. I spend a lot of time not doing things.
“O” Are you exercising? I know we have discussed diet and exercise on numerous occasions?
Kevin: Because of a lot of music lately I’ve only been going to the gym twice a week. I like to go to the gym. I like to lift weights and do machines. I like to do very different types of programs that I come up with in my mind. I’ve been going for about seven years now so I kind of improvise at this point.
“O” What’s the name of your band?
Kevin: Richard Burton and the Glorious Bastards.
How old were you the first time you drank or did drugs? More importantly, how did that make you feel?
Kevin: I had very small amounts of beer from the age of seven when my father or mother would send me to the refrigerator to get them a beer. I remember it was Schlitz and I’d pop the top and suck the foam off the top before I gave them the beer, but the first time I actually drank to get drunk was at the age of thirteen with friends. I was in the church choir and an older guy there got a couple of six packs and I drank about two beers and I remember sitting out in a field with a ring around the moon, there was a big white ring around the moon and I felt like I finally felt whole and complete inside and all those fears and all those immense over coming feelings of not fitting in, of not being part of the human race, those were gone and I thought I had finally found the cure to what was wrong with me.
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Kevin: I could not conceive of not drinking. I did not have a vision of how I could exist without a drink. I know drinking didn’t work for me, but it did not seem physically possible to stop drinking. That’s why I didn’t do it earlier I suppose, but really reading that big book opened up to me exactly what my problem was. I did not realize that my problem was I was an alcoholic as much as I thought I was insane. I’m going to say not having enough information was what prevented me, but also I had to be ready and willing. I had to feel so hopeless inside that I was “willing to go to any length” to get sober to use a cliche.
At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that “ah-ha” moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol and for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Kevin: That question is not quite going to work so let me explain. First off when I found hope is when I read the big book on the day I stopped drinking. At this time, it took a while, it probably took me most of a year to realize that I was powerless over drinking because I thought I had done it on my own for five months, no matter how miserable. My first sponsor in my group of Nazi’s would say “Kevin, you only came into AA because you don’t have any friends” and for a large part, that was true. I was so craving some kind of human contact that it took me awhile to realize just how powerless I had always been over alcohol. Plus I had to clear up physically. My mind had to clear out a bit. I felt a hope and I guess the joy on the first day of reading the book, but it was over time, the first 6-9 months that I really realized I was powerless.
Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a new comer that you read in early recovery?
Kevin: Yes I do. I read the “Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book” the first day, but I promptly forgot it because my mind was floating in alcohol, but anyway, “Acceptance: The Way to Serenity and Peace of Mind”
It’s a small pamphlet. I kept that in my back pocket. I took it out often because I was angry. Stuff will run come up. Why did I have to do this? Why did people do this to me? I had constantly turned to the pamphlet “Acceptance, the Way to Serenity and Peace of Mind” and I kept that with me.
What is the best suggestion you ever received?
“Take the cotton out of my ears and put it in my mouth.”
Kevin: I remember my first week in my home group, I was speaking in a meeting and there was a guy there, Dick. He had probably 16-17 years at the time. I talked. I don’t know what I said. The first weekend he told me his story about what had happened to him and at the end he said “but this doesn’t matter because you’re probably just going to go out and die anyway” and I thought “you son of a bitch. Here I am, making all these sacrifices and you’re going to tell me that”, but it really, really got my attention and he ended up being a good friend for many years up until I left Atlanta. That was the thing, I needed to learn that my brain didn’t work properly and what I thought needed to be run by other people because a lot of times it was faulty and was not the best thing for me so I needed to listen to other people.
If you could give a new comer only one suggestion, what would it be?
Suggestion’s for the Newcomer!
“It’s going to be one day at a time, which ties into keep coming back.”
Kevin: That was really stressed in my early sobriety. If you want to drink, just put it off for the next hour. Then if you want to drink again, put it off for the next hour. Just make it through a day. I knew some people, that’s the only thing that kept them from going back out. It was very common to hear stories about people just putting off that drink for another hour or putting it off until they could go to sleep and get up for the next day. It is one day at a time and it is also to do the next right thing. The next right thing being not to take a drink and that’s a very slow process for me to do the next right thing being the lazy bastard that I mentioned in the beginning. To do anything, it’s getting started and taking that first step. I know it’s more than one thing, but another cliché is, what is it? Wait for the miracle?
“O” Don’t leave before the miracle.
Kevin: The problem for new comers is they see all the people around them that are happy and very content and they don’t believe that shit. I didn’t believe it. I thought these people are full of shit. They cannot be this content or this happy. They can’t be like me because it takes time and it’s a process and so it’s to stay and to come to meetings as often as possible until you can believe what you see around you. It’s to gain the trust that yes these people really are happy and content and it’s just logic. It’s just pure mathematics that if you do what they do, you get what they get. There’s as much in this program as anyone wants, but with the work they get results. It’s not mythical. It’s just math.
“O” Before we say goodbye, I have one more question for you. Of all the meetings you’ve attended anywhere in the world, which group is your favorite and where is that group located?
Kevin: The Zu Group in Costa Rica.
The Zú Group Escazú – Guachipelin, Costa Rica
Thanks again for your SHAIR Kevin!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.