Ask Me Anything About Addiction - From Someone Who Has Lived As An Addict For 24 Years And Survived!

Alan S Charles - Walking Out the Other Side
May 31, 2018

Alan S. Charles, author of “Walking Out the Other Side” has lived a remarkable, diverse, and full life. Perhaps most remarkable is that he is still alive after beating a 24-year addiction to cocaine. Clean and sober since December 2007, he is grateful to be alive today to tell his story, sharing his message of recovery as a motivational speaker. As someone who has lived through the horror of addiction, his presentations are honest, gritty and inspiring. His motivational message of empowerment, prevention and education can be yours, too. 

Alan would love to answer some questions about the disease of addiction, what helped him survive and how you can help yourself or others.

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Do you think more needs to be done in the community to bring drug awareness to the fore?
Jun 7, 11:51AM EDT0

I believe that early education continues to be the most needed part of drug awareness.  Constant reminder and all the new imformation leads to early intervention and education being critical to turn the direction of addiction.

Jun 8, 9:31AM EDT0
Why is addiction considered a disease?
Jun 6, 6:39AM EDT0

I am not a doctor so I pulled up the following explanation for you.  There is plenty of other info online to help you with this question.ADDICTION AS A DISEASE

Addiction is a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences. Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. It damages various body systems as well as families, relationships, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.

Addiction is defined as a disease by most medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental and biological factors. Genetic risks factors account for about half of the likelihood that an individual will develop addiction.

Jun 6, 12:14PM EDT0
Do you think addiction can ever be really cured?
Jun 5, 7:56AM EDT0

Can addicting be cured??  Thats a great question and just to be clear - I am not a doctor.  My feelings and what I have experienced as well as witnessed make me believe that you can stop using but there has to be some kind of plan in effect.  I like to look at it that I have a daily repreive and if I continue to do all the things I have been doing (working a program, calling my sponser, calling frioends in the program, letting other in to know what I am going through) it is pretty unlikely I will use today.  

I haver read about that there is work in place to develope pills to stop addiction - just have to wait and see.

Jun 5, 8:23AM EDT0
Why do you think you were blessed to live through 24 years of addiction and survived?
Jun 4, 3:23AM EDT0

Blessed is the a very good way of putting it.  The thing that I believe is that I was given so many opportunities and surviverd so I can give back and help others.  Hopefully I can help those who struggle so they dont have to go through 24 years of pain like I did.

Jun 4, 8:14AM EDT0
How’s your relationship with your family now that you have recovered?
Jun 3, 7:49PM EDT0

I do not have much family.  My relationship with my ex-wife has gotten tremendously better and I have both my daughters back and they are the most important thing to me!

Jun 4, 8:11AM EDT0
At this point of your life, what are you most thankful for?
Jun 3, 4:14PM EDT0

I am most thankful for my 2 daughters.  There is no comparison with anything else but what I will share with you is - If I didnt have sobriety and my recovery - I would have nothing!  If I dont stay sober - I would lose everything again. So I am pretty thankful for recovery!!

Jun 3, 7:19PM EDT0
How would a former addict know for sure he won’t relapse?
Jun 3, 3:51AM EDT0

A former addict (Or as I like to say - I am an Addict in Rwecovery) the answer is:  You dont know for sure.  There are many yets out there - meaning - I have not done that yet (both good and bad).  This thought process,  I believe to be healthy because it gives a great deal of respect to the disease of addiction.  The disease is a monster.  I continue to work a program every day.  When I get up - my desire and work will be to have a great day which includes not relapsing.  If I practice what I did yesterday - there is a very good chance I wil have another sober day to add to my recovery!!

Jun 3, 9:24AM EDT0
Is rehab helpful at all for addicts? Is there any other way to recover?
Jun 2, 10:01AM EDT0

Rehab is helpful if the addict wants help.  From my experience I would say half the people in rehabs arent ready to do the real work to get better. (May even be higher)  

I would believe there are other ways to recover.  Some people get to a point where they are able stop the behavior and drug/alcohol usage.  I think that is a very small group.  The best way to do it - which has helped most people that recover - is working some kind of 12 step program.

Jun 2, 10:23AM EDT0
Do you still get any discrimination from others when they know you’re a former addict?
Jun 2, 8:34AM EDT0

It has actually been the opposite.  Maybe it has a bit to do with writing a tell all book about wht I went through and how dangerous addiction can be..  The response - at least to my face - is how inspiring it is that I overcame addiction and the work I am doing now to help.  The one thing I would correct in your question is (even though you are correct - I am a former addict) I will always be an addict - but now I am an addict who has a daily reprive from his disease.

Jun 2, 10:15AM EDT0
Where did you get your strength from when you finally decided it’s time to stop drugs?
Jun 2, 1:37AM EDT0

At the time I hit my bottom and was finally willing to follow what others who knew better told me.  As I started to get some time under my belt - the internal inner strength that I had built inside from my childhood started to kick in and my recovery was on it's way!

Jun 2, 6:47AM EDT0
What is the best thing one can do if they have a family member who is an addict?
Jun 1, 10:40PM EDT0

You can talk to them if you feel comfortable and safe.  Someone that has an addiction tends to get defensive and then angry.  Share your concern but ultimately it is the person who is the addict that will have to decide they have a problem and that they want help.

Jun 1, 11:21PM EDT0
Did anyone mentioned in the book have an issue with it? Did you have to change names and places to keep peoples privacy?
Jun 1, 8:22PM EDT0

Everything in my book is exactly how I believed it happened.  I did change some names.  If I couldnt reach the person to ask permission or the person wasdnt talking to me anymore - for the sake of privacy I changed their name.

Jun 1, 8:45PM EDT0
When you feel the urge to take drugs again, how do you stop yourself?
Jun 1, 7:10PM EDT0

If someone feels the urge - the best way I have found to get through it is - call someone in the program (Cocaine Anonymous or Alcohol Anonymous)  and tell them what is going on.  You can also go to a recovery meeting and talk to people there about it.  If you dont expose the urge - it will fester until you finally pick up again.

Jun 1, 8:09PM EDT0
Has drugs affected your mental or physical abilities at all now that you’ve recovered?
Jun 1, 3:03PM EDT0

I am very fortunate.  At the time I was using - I was a mess and it did affect everything.  My addiction didnt affect my mental or physical abilities in the long term and I am in a very good place.  

Jun 1, 4:19PM EDT0
What was the point you started fighting back? Was it a definitive moment?
Jun 1, 2:29PM EDT0

There wasn't a defining moment when I started to fight back.  Addiction is a progressive disease and as I continued using I lost more and more until there was nothing left.   I do have a story about a "moment of clarity" that happened right at the end - getting a message from my therapist.  It's to long to write about but it is in my book:  Walking Out the Other SIde - An Addict's Journey from Loneliness to Life   available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all online book sites;)

Jun 1, 4:17PM EDT0
How did writing the book feel? Was it therapeutic in a way?
Jun 1, 1:44PM EDT0

Writing the book did turn out to be theraputic in some ways.  It was a long journey to write and edit the book.  I spent 3 years putting everything together.  I was very proud that I set out to write a book and then completed it and had it published.  The best part of this is - I have gotten tremendous feedback from many people that read the book and thery shared how the book helped them in many ways!

Jun 1, 4:13PM EDT0
What was the hardest part of the book to write? Why?
Jun 1, 7:03AM EDT0

The hardest part of writing the book was when I had to face my addiction and the pain I caused to friends and family.  I can remember being depressed and in a very bad place for over a month when I was writing and editing all the painful and hurtful things I did to others.

Jun 1, 9:07AM EDT0
Is it true that when you’re high, you just don’t know what’s going on anymore and you don’t have control over yourself?
Jun 1, 4:31AM EDT0

In a sense you dont have control.  For me - getting high was an escape from my problems and reality.  Once I snorted that first line - I knew I was going to continue to use - no matter what the situation or responsibilities I  had.  I did lose all control at that point - I no longer had the ability to make a decision to stop using - the addiction had me in it's grasps.

Jun 1, 9:05AM EDT0
How has it been for your family to deal with your addiction? Did you manage to recover all the connections you had with them and your friends after?
Jun 1, 4:21AM EDT0

I have a very small family.  I lost my Dad early on and my Mom passed over 20 years ago.  I have repaired most of my relationships with friends. It took a lot of very hard work to get friendships and respect back after hurting so many.

Jun 1, 9:02AM EDT0
Do you connect with addicts and work with them on helping them beat their addictions now? What are some good resources online and organisations to turn to?
Jun 1, 3:35AM EDT0

I work a recovery program.  I speak with a sponser daily, I have friends that are also in recovery that I speak with frequently.  We get to know each other so well in case we start to act "off" a bit - our friends know when something is up and catches it before it may lead to a possible relapse.  You can start at my website:  there are recources. You can also google AA(Alcohol Anonymous) and CA(Cocaine Anonymous) for meetings in your area.

Jun 1, 9:00AM EDT0
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