Gifts of Sobriety

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my all-time favorite movies. In the ’80s, it would often play on multiple channels during the holiday season. I would channel hop and keep watching different parts of the movie. Why did I like it so much? Was it because the main character’s name, played by James Stewart, was George? After serious thought, I realized that I was attracted to the focus of looking at what life would be like without us in it. George Bailey had a chance to see what his life was without him ever being in it.

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It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my all-time favorite movies. In the ’80s, it would often play on multiple channels during the holiday season. I would channel hop and keep watching different parts of the movie. Why did I like it so much? Was it because the main character’s name, played by James Stewart, was George? After serious thought, I realized that I was attracted to the focus of looking at what life would be like without us in it. George Bailey had a chance to see what his life was without him ever being in it.

I have had a similar blessing to see what my life had become at age 19. I had hit bottom due to a serious drug and alcohol addiction. I am now sober for over 29 years. When I was under the influence, I didn’t think I would live past age 21. Fortunately, due to many consequences and legal problems, I was introduced to treatment and recovery on October 12, 1981.

The funny thing about addiction is we typically don’t find true recovery because we “see the light,” but rather because we “feel the heat” of the problems that we are causing. It was the consequences and leverage along with the wonderful counselors and people in recovery that helped me “see the light.”

Is recovery from addiction easy? Absolutely not, because it takes a spiritual transformation, an acceptance, a willingness, a discipline, an accountability and much more. I also gained a passion for living life fully engaged with out the assistance of mood-altering substances, including alcohol.

Has my sobriety always been wonderful? Absolutely not. I have had many struggles, especially when I am further away from my spiritual self and I allow my personal defects to guide me.

I was introduced to a wonderful fellowship of amazing people who, like me, when sober and spiritual, do and create some extraordinary lives for themselves and those around them. We are also the ones who can help those lost in addiction the most. We are like survivors of a shipwreck who have an amazing bond. We are also the ones, if we continue to use, who cause chaos and havoc in society and in the lives around us. The faces of recovery may change, but basically these faces are a resource, a power that is stationed almost anywhere in the world if we reach out for them. This is a comforting sense of security. Too bad we don’t have a secret visual presence or sign on us to know who we all are. We do however have a few code words we can use like, “Are there any friends of Bill W. here?”

Now, the real reason I wanted to write this particular blog is that I have been so blessed and humbled by the life I was given in sobriety. I would have missed so much if I had died at 21. How would the lives of those who know me been affected without me? It’s been a wonderful life.

I am writing this pool side at an incredible resort celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary. My amazing wife, Tricia, and I exchanged vows again on the beach. To go from near death to having a wonderful family with Tricia and my kids, Ella Grace and Ethan, is unbelievable when I think about where I was in 1981. I have a wonderful business that helps people through addiction. I have extraordinary friends and a fellowship that loves and supports my sobriety unconditionally.

There is always hope for those dealing with addiction for what is on the other side if they are willing to surrender and accept help like I have.

Blog written by George Joseph, LCDC
George Joseph is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor who began his career in 1983. George is the CEO of The Right Step,...