For the past week the death of actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman has been all over the news. His funeral was held here in NYC two days ago.

His death came as a shock to many because it seems he was a star whose work was not finished. For those of us who are older than his 46, we know that he left this world a lot earlier than he should have.

The news reports have leaked some of the details of his death and the one thing that stood out was that he died as a result of a drug overdose. It appeared that he had been clean and sober for over 20 years and something took him back to that negative life style. His relapse may have fueled his demise.

I don’t know him and this post is not about him. What I want to discuss is my feelings and thoughts as they relate to the subject of relapse.

As most of you have learned from my many posts is that I have almost 22 years of sobriety behind me. Living sober has been the best thing of my life. It has really made my life worth living.

 There is one thing that those who travel this road really fear. That fear is returning to that lifestyle that we left and the word that is associated with that fear is relapse.

Those last 5 or 6 years of being an active drinker and drug user were the worst years of my life.

At that time I felt that there was no way I would be able to shake that monkey on my back. He was becoming heavier and heavier after each time I took a drink or ingested a mind altering drug.

Thoughts of suicide were there but it was always in the back of my mind. That action was never something I seriously considered. The thought, as with all who suffer from addictive behavior, is that this time it will be different. This time I will have more control.

I did not realize until I had been sober and clean a few months that the more I used, the more I needed to use. I’m sure that this statement makes no sense to most of you.

Let me see if I could make it easier to understand. In the beginning of my drinking career a small glass of liquor would have me feeling OK. During those last years I needed a pint by myself just to get started. It did not end there. I can remember many times by the end of the night or day or evening or morning when I would look at the empty half a gallon of whatever I was drinking and say to myself “Wow, I have to get some more”.

I never want to go back there again.

There was a point in time during my first 5 or 6 years of sobriety when I would have drunk dreams.  These dreams were so real. I could taste and smell everything that went along with being an out of control drinker and drug user. It would take me sometimes a half an hour or more after I woke up to fully understand that it was only a dream. I didn’t get drunk. I didn’t relapse.

The one thing about living sober and clean is that one has to take his/her new life very serious. Over these 22 years I have seen many who have succumbed to the “R” word. Some of them went so far as losing their lives.

When I first got sober there were a few tricks I learned that I still use today that keep me from adding the “R” word to my resume. Those things include not going into bars, not hanging out with people who go to bars and staying away from issues that might affect me emotionally. There are some who experience the “R” word after going through a difficult emotional issue.

Another thing I learned during those early times was that I was not the center of the universe.  Everyone around me was negatively affected by my negative lifestyle. I also learned that I could positively affect those around me by continuing to live a sober life.

As a positive parent I feel it is my responsibility to my kids to stay on this sober path.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman left three young children behind at his death. I pray that their mother and others around them will protect them and teach them about the disease of addiction. Sometimes these things travel from one family to another. They need to know that they have choices.

Although his death was a great surprise to many, it has reminded all who are recovering that we must continue to work hard so that our name is not associated with the word relapse.

None of us ever want to go back there again.

I am the guy whose glass is always ½ full.



  • Dear Wendell,

    You probably know there’s a reason for everything that happens in life. The story I just read is also a story from my own life, – one of many.

    I too was an addict for about 16 years, used everything I could get my ‘hands on’. I’ve lost so many friends due to abuse of both alcohol and drugs. So many who died at such a young age.

    I’ve been clean and sober for over a decade now, and I’ve never felt better in my life than the past few years. Currently I live in a mental hospital, but I’m part of that 1-5% who actually makes it out of addiction for the rest of my life.

    The reason why I made it, was because I began to understand myself, and why I was using alcohol and drugs. What it was I wanted to escape from. It was my own life in my ‘own world’ I wanted to escape from. But that’s impossible.

    So I decided to change my life, change ‘my world’. First by admitting my flaws and accepting myself as who I am, and accept others for who they are, no matter how different their lives or ‘their worlds’ were from mine.

    Every life on this planet is here for a reason, and we have to accept that fact, and not fear things we don’t understand. We are not supposed to be alike, what would be the purpose of that?

    I enjoy living in a ‘multi-culturel society’ and I enjoy talking to other humanbeings, who have a differnt cultural upbringing or a different ‘world’ than I have. Share knowledge and get to know other people in sharing my knowledge with them, and normally get amused to find out we have so much more in common, than we realized before we began to communicate.

    Communication is ‘key’ to humankinds survival on this planet, together with all other life, which we are all part of.

    Thank you very much for sharing my friend.

    We will talk again soon.

    Greetings from Denmark,

    David 47 yo.

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