Dick Charron

Dick Charron is a contributing writer to this blog. I met Dick through email and eventually we spoke on the phone. Dick contacted me after reading my website, but our communications have been about a subject unrelated to sobriety – the publishing business. The topic of our sobriety really never came up, we were discussing business. It’s nice to talk with someone who is so comfortable with their sobriety that it’s not the focal point of every conversation.

I found that Dick is a well-versed and well-rounded individual. He has 29 years of sobriety under his belt. I wondered, “What’s it like to be sober for 29 years?” So I tasked him to write an essay for my blog. I am honored to have Dick Charron as a contributor. – Mark Tuschel

29 Years And Still Counting

By: Dick Charron

(08/18/12)

Here’s the good news. It does get easier and you will actually begin to wonder what the fuss was all about. I keep it very simple; I just don’t drink or do drugs because I can’t. There was a time that I envied people who could have a beer or two, or a mixed drink and not have to consume the whole case or bottle. Now I wonder why anyone would even consider taking any type of substance that would bend their mind. My only regret is that for twenty seven years I walked around in the euphoria of drug abuse and missed so much of what life is really all about.

The night before my discharge from a treatment center, I attended an AA meeting which was comprised of long time recovering addicts and alcoholics, as well as recently discharged recovering drunks. Needless to say the stories varied from some who were having an easier time, to those who were still sweating it out after ten plus years of sobriety. I latched on to the latter with my questions because it scared me to death to think that after ten years of sobriety, they still fretted on a daily basis as to whether this would be the day when they would “fall off the wagon”.  One individual told of attending his son’s wedding after twenty three years of sobriety. When the time came to toast the bride and groom he figured that after all these years he could probably just have a glass of champagne and be ok. I won’t bore you with all the details; suffice to say he woke up in a motel in a bad section of town surrounded by empty beer cans. The only reason he sobered up was he ran out of money. As he told his story I began to shake and cry because I realized that I wanted his twenty three years of sobriety so badly that the mere thought of someday losing it made me ill. Here he was starting all over at two weeks of sobriety. The key of course, was that he was there starting over.

One of my fears was how I would deal with all the new found time available to me. When drinking and drugging make up all of your free time it is understandable that you are left with a big hole to fill. As I awaited discharge from the treatment center in which I had spent the last thirty days, this was my biggest concern. Would my friends treat me differently? Would I still run into my old drinking buddies who would cajole me into having just one drink for old times? How would my wife and children feel about the new me? Would they welcome me back into their lives in a different light? All of these questions plus hundreds more were flying at me so quickly that I was actually afraid to leave the treatment center.

Between a regimen of attending AA meetings twice a day for thirty days, my life slowly coming back to me, having time on my hands to get bored was the least of my problems. I began to savor my new life as I reacquainted myself with family, true friends and my business.  I was one of the fortunate drunks who succeeded in business while walking around in a state of numbness. I attacked my restaurant business with a new creative fervor and newfound energy. Of course there were hiccups along the way. My wife of twenty three years and I agreed, the new me was so different from the alcoholic she had married, we were no longer very well matched. We quickly agreed to a divorce and in the state in which I live, it was all done in thirty days. Although it saddened, me it did allow me to concentrate on keeping myself clean and sober and to work on other health issues caused by a total lack of exercise and a poor liquid diet.

I was also able to shop around and found an AA group in which I was very comfortable. It consisted of business people with various years of accumulated sobriety. I quickly established a circle of new friends from this group and never looked back at my old friends who were still drinking, drugging and otherwise wasting their lives away. Could I have remained friendly with the old group? Perhaps, but I was enjoying my sobriety so much that I refused to take the chance. I can honestly say that moments of temptation never hit me. I understand and have accepted that I am an alcoholic and I just don’t drink. In fact I am not very comfortable around people who do. I find their intellect usually disappears after a couple of drinks and they bore me. I received my five year sobriety chip in AA but frankly I have not attended any meetings since. Our group broke up as people were succeeding and moving around the country leaving only a few of us behind with no new members coming in. We agreed to disband and I never searched for a replacement group. One of the members became my mentor and we corresponded long distance for quite a few years until after fifteen years of sobriety he decided he could handle his scotch again and ended up being institutionalized.

Since achieving sobriety I have remarried, have had two successful careers and am now fully retired. I attack life every day with excitement while looking for a new adventure. Writing a memoire is in the works at the moment and I have several other subjects on which I will be writing. We are also part time food vendors and attend the various fairs and festivals in our area. My wife also holds down a full time job. As you can see we do keep busy so thinking about that next drink never even happens.

I wish the best of luck to all who are beginning on their own adventure and if I can be of any help you can contact me at dickcharron@tampabay.rr.com . It really is fairly simple, except that we addicts tend to take simple things and make them more difficult. JUST DON’T DRINK OR DRUG. As one of the old sayings at AA went “If your ass falls off don’t drink”. Stick with these thoughts and you will be ok.

Dick Charron