Sam Mooney’s not writing a bestselling book or running a marathon. He’s not a celebrity or a pro-athlete. He’s a salesman who plays and coaches softball in his small town. He’s a husband to his best friend for 18 years and a father to 4 kids. Sam’s the average dude next door.
But Sam was an alcoholic dad who would get so drunk that he couldn’t be trusted home alone with his kids. He would drink to the point of blackout and his wife would have to scoop the vomit from his mouth so he wouldn’t choke to death. He would get violent, and it got to the point where his family was scared to death of him.
Now Sam is more than 8 years sober and celebrates his recovery every day. He volunteers at drug court and human services to prevent youth drinking in his area and cherishes every moment with the family he so nearly lost to his alcoholism.
CLEAN DATE: APRIL 25th, 2010
Listen to Sam’s story!
Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!
It all started when Sam would go into his dad’s refrigerator. Alcoholism ran in his family, and his dad would always have a case of Old Milwaukee Light on hand. Once when Sam was twelve years old, he swiped a few cans of beer and drank them in secret. They were warm by that time and awful tasting, but the sensation was something that completed him. Each day he’d steal more beers and tuck them away in his closet. By the time the weekend came around he’d accumulate ten or twelve beers.
The drinking continued into adulthood. He was a huge football fan, so Sundays were heavy drinking days for him. He’d start with a beer at 8 am and be blacked out by the last football game. If he did make it home, it was late. His wife, Audrey, and oldest son would stay up to see who won the games and guess what kind of mood he’d be in that night.
One night, Sam got so drunk that he blacked out and woke up in his toddler’s bed. He had no recollection of what happened and discovered he was home alone. Audrey later told him that he went into a drunken rage over the game and started punching holes in the wall. She took the kids and checked into a hotel. They were terrified.
Those days waking up alone in complete silence were the worst.
It’s a miracle Sam survived. He threw up in his sleep multiple times and only survived because his wife cleared his throat. He smashed into parked cars, blew stops signs and red lights, and got into bar fights. The decision he made at twelve years old to try that first warm beer led to more than 20 years of addiction that he had to fight every day of his life.
Then one night, Sam experienced a painful life-changing moment. He and Audrey were fighting and she said to him, “How would you like it if somebody treated your girls the way you treat me?” Sam knew he treated his wife horribly for so many years, and the change in perspective hit him hard.
Then one night he had a draft party and was sitting in his recliner and looking around at the people at his house. They all had a few empty cans or bottles next to them. When he looked over at his accumulation, he counted 17 beer bottles next to him. It finally dawned on him that this was not normal drinking. He had a problem
The next day he went into the kitchen and announced to his wife that he was done. He would never drink again. He took a week off of work and detoxed by himself in his room. As he went through withdrawals he thought about how he could be holding his kids instead of holding onto the cold, porcelain toilet as he dry-heaved.
But he made it out the other side and kept at it one day at a time, determined to become a good husband and father. In Sam’s days of drinking, he’d disappear. His family would have to frantically search for him in police stations and hospitals. Now, his father-in-law and mother-in-law come over and bring him a card, his wife bakes a cake, and his kids get balloons to congratulate him on his sobriety day.
He doesn’t take for granted one day of sobriety. At the time of this interview, Sam had 2,955 days sober. He knows that one drink is all it would take and all he’s accomplished would be gone.
Not a day goes by that I’m not proud of my sobriety.
What kept Sam from getting clean?
Sam didn’t know what sobriety was. He’d never been around it. He didn’t know it was a possibility.
That Aha moment
When I got sober nobody told me I was going to have to feel.
Sam realized that he would have to deal with his feelings from now on—happy or bad. This was a big adjustment for him and one of the biggest aha moments ever.
Sam remembers his wife, Audrey, told him.
When are you going to be a man and break the chain?
Could he stop the cycle of addiction in his family for his kids’ sakes? Those were life-changing words for him.
Suggestion for Newcomers
Celebrate every success you have. Celebrate early and celebrate often. Go out for dinner, pat yourself on the back. Reflect.
See you then!
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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.