I started using alcohol at age 15 and it felt like the perfect solution to my childhood trauma and dysfunctional home life. My values changed almost immediately, and I went from having LDS background to the other end of the spectrum. I got a DUI when I was 16 and many underage alcohol misdemeanors. I was kicked out of high school and was ashamed that I had a GED and not a high school diploma. I was pregnant at age 18 and was able to stop drinking but started again shortly after my daughter was born. I didn’t have any more legal consequences after that first DUI, mostly because of luck. My biggest consequence from drinking was that it stunted my growth as a human being.
My recovery from alcohol has really been about recovering from the reasons why I drank, which I can address now that I am not drinking. My threshold for being unhappy was fairly low, in comparison to others’ stories. This is not to undermine or deny what I went through. I had withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, shitty relationships, and no sense of self. When people in AA say, “If I drink, I will die,” I don’t entirely relate. If I drink, I may die eventually and my disease will continue to progress, but more likely, I will be miserable in my existence. I won’t achieve my purpose, be connected to a higher power, or have fulfilling relationships. I have learned that my addiction to alcohol is a symptom of trauma, and drinking was merely a coping skill. Alcohol worked very well to numb my pain and it helped me disassociate. I didn’t even know I was disassociating until I started my recovery journey. It becomes more and more apparent that I didn’t know how to cope with my feelings or know how to be comfortable in my skin.
My personal work and successes have been on self-forgiveness and love, forgiving others, learning healthy boundaries, and being the best mother possible. I am in recovery from alcohol and co-dependency. I am learning how to feel my feelings, cope with life, and stand up for myself and my worth. I live in Idaho, and I am a single mom to 3 amazing, beautiful daughters. I am so proud of myself for breaking the intergenerational patterns in my family.
My curiosity about sobriety started about 3 years ago. I started listening to podcasts in the beginning of my recovery and found The SHAIR Podcast with Omar Pinto. I loved his voice and his energy. I have found his interviews to have a profound impact on my ability to see my addiction as an opportunity and not a dirty secret. I eventually became a member of his FB group and then joined the SRC where I have connected with so many amazing people in recovery. I feel the SRC group has kept me sober.
I can access meetings via Zoom which has been crucial to me since I am at home with my kids and haven’t found an AA group in my community where I feel connected. The connection with others in the group has saved me from loneliness and isolation. I have found a sponsor in one of these groups who was willing to complete the 12 steps with me which has been transformational! I am almost 5 months in my recovery from alcohol and 95% of the time, I don’t even think about drinking. I am so grateful for the SRC, the SHAIR podcast, my sponsor, the step work, and online recovery.
Tom Coderre is a former US Senator who was progressively losing everything to addiction until a humiliating arrest lead him to recovery in 2003. Tom thought his life was over, but little did he know it was just beginning.
Today, Tom can’t believe how his life has transformed. He was featured in the film, The Anonymous People, and works on the frontlines as a positive face and voice in recovery. Tom is a passionate, politically aware advocate who is also a humble traveler, son, brother and uncle trying to make a difference.
Tom Coderre is a living example how a person can go from drowning in hopeless addiction to thriving in long-term recovery. Don’t miss this incredible story!
“When we get into recovery, everything changes around us.”—Tom Coderre
Mr. Coderre currently serves as Senior Advisor to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo where he serves as a liaison to the General Assembly and coordinates the state’s response to the opioid crisis.
In 2014 he was appointed by President Obama as chief of staff and senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). While at SAMHSA, Tom led the team which produced “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health,” the first report from a U.S. Surgeon General dedicated to this public health crisis.
He is the former National Field Director of Faces & Voices of Recovery and has an extensive background in government, serving as a member of the Rhode Island Senate from 1995-2003 and as chief of staff to the Senate President from 2009-2014.
“I am part of—not in charge of—this world.”—Tom Coderre
The Anonymous People
THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE is a feature documentary film about the 23.5 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction. Deeply entrenched social stigma and mass participation in widely successful anonymous 12-step groups have kept recovery voices silent and faces hidden for decades. Just like women with breast cancer, or people with HIV/AIDS, courageous addiction recovery advocates are starting to come out of the shadows to tell their true stories.
Faces and Voices in Recovery
Faces & Voices of Recovery is dedicated to organizing and mobilizing the over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, our families, friends and allies into recovery community organizations and networks, to promote the right and resources to recover through advocacy, education and demonstrating the power and proof of long-term recovery.
Tom Coderre’s Links