Published January 2013.

January 2014: Sober So Young

He got to AA at 19, but learned the hard way to let go and grow up

I had my first drink around the age of 3, which was a shot of whiskey. By the time I was 19, I was suicidal and had blown every opportunity that came across my plate. I had a long resume of drinking screw top wine, dingy $25 motel rooms, vandalism, drunk driving (even before I had a license), and a feeling that the world was a harsh, aggressive, hostile place. I grew up in a pretty rough area in New Jersey. I was very small, as well as sensitive and artistic. This is not a good combination, and was enough evidence for my alcoholic mind to convince me that I was fundamentally flawed and did not belong. As my friend Robin always says, “I was ready for a drink by the time I hit the third grade.”

I was Twelfth-Stepped by a guy who got sober when he was 16 and had five years when I met him. I was 19. He and a group of ragtag young people near my home introduced me to AA. I like to say that I came in through the back door. Spiritually fit people who were “fresh-skinned and glowing” did not usher me into the program. My angels were troubled “kids,” bouncing in and out of the program throughout their teens. They all had court dates, house arrests, you name it. They were not the “winners” they tell us to stick with, but they gave me two things I will be eternally grateful for: they introduced me to meetings, and they made me feel comfortable. So I don’t judge where the message is coming from. Sometimes the “mess” gives us the message. If any of you healthy, sober and spiritually fit members had approached me first, I might not be writing this article now.

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