From the March 2012 magazine.

My Chains Are Gone

AA relieved him of his alcoholism and self-destructive behavior

I was born in the small town of Chester, Pa. My mother and father each worked two jobs to provide for my sister and me. My parents tried to teach me right from wrong, but I could not see the forest for the trees. When I was 19, I got married and had a son and daughter. Then I got into alcohol and drugs and put my wife, children, parents and sister through hell because I did not have God in my life. My marriage ended after 18 years.

My parents tried to help me with my alcohol and drug problems. Eventually, they had to wash their hands of it and let me go. That was very hard for them to do. When my dad became ill with cancer, I was still deep into alcoholism and drug addiction. I wasn't there to help my mother and sister take care of him. My drinking was out of control and I desperately wanted to stop. My mind, body and soul were being controlled by alcohol and, of course, drugs. My father passed away on May 14th, 2003. Soon after, I moved to Tennessee. My plan was to change my life and spend more time with my son, Charles Jr.

-- Charles M.

Clarksville, Tennessee

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