Ask Me Anything About Addiction - I Was The Least Likely Person To Try Drugs - How Did This Happen?

Alan S Charles
Sep 7, 2018

I was anti- drugs growing up - how could I possibly get addicted?  Lets talk about this and see what can happen to anyone regarding addiction.

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.

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When and where is your upcoming motivational speech?
Sep 9, 4:01PM EDT1

I am waiting on a date to speak at Monroe College to talk about National Recovery Month- which is going on now - September.  I will alos be announcing a weekly radio show within the next 2 weeks!

Sep 9, 4:27PM EDT0
Does stigma play a role in facing addiction, compared with other chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes?
Sep 9, 3:59PM EDT0

Some people look at addiction like the addict is someone that is low class, homeless, uneducated or a very week person that just cant so no. Unfortunately this does play into reasons why some people wont go for help.  They dont want to be placed in these groups and think less of themselves.

Sep 9, 4:25PM EDT0
Is "Walking Out the Other Side” more of a serious book or do you have all the elements of emotions in this book?
Sep 9, 11:28AM EDT0

Thanks for asking - my book - Walking Out the Other Side - An Addict's Journey from Loneliness to Life - is my real story.  The curtains and mask are pulled back ands I share the joy and pain of my entire life.  From what I have been told - it is a pretty inspirational story and I am proud to share it to give others hope!

Sep 9, 12:14PM EDT0
What have you learned about yourself through your addiction?
Sep 8, 3:55PM EDT1

I learned that I am not the person that was going through addiction. I am a dependable, caring, loving and trust worthy person.

Sep 8, 10:02PM EDT0
What would you tell someone who looks at you and wonders if he will ever get to where you are now in his recovery?
Sep 8, 1:45PM EDT0

All I have is today.  I did this one day at a time - just like everybody else who is sober today.  That in my opinion is the best way to go about it!

Sep 8, 4:09PM EDT0
At what point is an addiction beginning to become deadly?
Sep 8, 7:07AM EDT0

That is exactly the point!  There isn't a certain time when addiction becomes deadly - it can become deadly the first time you use!  You never know when the addiction kicks in and you lose the chance to make decisions.  Once addicted - there is no going back.  Many people have died from using the first time. If you use - you are playing Russian Roulette.

Sep 8, 10:57AM EDT0
Alan, do you think addicts easily believe and listen to a person who understands what they are going through?
Sep 8, 5:01AM EDT0
Do you think people need to stop looking at addiction as something that affects others since it could knock on anyone's door at any given time?
Sep 7, 8:20PM EDT0

Addiction could happen to anyone.  Older people have operations and/or dentist work and take pain killers and then become addicted.  There is no prejudice - any color, race religion, economic background - everyone is susceptible to this disease of addiction.

Sep 7, 9:32PM EDT0
We know lost time cannot be recovered but so many things can be reversed despite the time that has passed. What are some of the things you had lost when you were lost to drugs but managed to get back during recovery?
Sep 7, 2:47PM EDT0

Things that I lost during my addiction that I was fortunate enough to get back in recovery (It took quite some time):

Money, a job, relationships with friends and some family, trust from others and finally getting  back my life back!

Sep 7, 4:39PM EDT0
What was it that made you never give up from going in and out of rehab? What was your biggest challenge of going to rehab?
Sep 7, 2:20AM EDT0

I had an inner survival desire.  It sure was tested on many occasions.  I initially went to rehabs and out patient programs to save jobs and/or repair relationships.  I eventually went to save my life.

Sep 7, 4:18PM EDT0
How have you gotten your life back since being sober from drugs? What hobbies do you enjoy?
Sep 7, 2:01AM EDT0

Yes I have gotten my life back.  I work out 5-6 times a week.  I am a big baseball fan - watching on TV and going to games.  I also drive racehorses as a hobby (I was a professional Harness racing driver)

Sep 7, 4:03PM EDT0
How are you using your addiction story to help uplift people?
Sep 7, 1:48AM EDT0

I speak to junior high schools, high schools and colleges.  I have spoken to groups of all kind as well as businesses.  I write a few blogs and participate here on AMA.  In the very near future I will be announcing a new platform!

Sep 7, 4:01PM EDT0
Why was cocaine your drug of choice? How do you deal with not going back to the comfort it gave you?
Sep 6, 11:11PM EDT0

Cocaine made me feel better - it took all the anxiety away as it made me feel like I had nothing to think about.  I had to do quite a bit of work on myself so I didn't have to depend on cocaine to numb me.  I am always a work in progress.

Sep 7, 3:59PM EDT0
How can eating well, and changing your lifestyle help deal with one’s recovery from being addicted to drugs?
Sep 6, 5:33PM EDT0

Eating healthy and making good lifestyle decisions is essential for ones recovery.  Most people that have the disease of addiction stop taking care of themselves and their life becomes very small.

Sep 6, 6:47PM EDT0
Why do you say you were a person least likely to try drugs?
Sep 6, 5:18PM EDT0

I was totally against drugs growing up in high school.  All I cared about was training and taking care of my body as I dreamed of playing professional baseball.  I continued with a very healthy life, working out all the time in college and went on to play professionally.  I had been offered drugs my entire life and always said "no".  I had a very weak moment at 24 years old and was addicted from the very first line.

Sep 6, 6:46PM EDT0
In your opinion why do you believe so many people do not see addiction as a disease?
Sep 6, 2:55PM EDT0

In my opinion - unless you walk in someones shoes - you do not know what they are going through.  Doctors, therapists and other recovery/rehab providers have all been taught about the disease of addiction.  There are some who are just part of the "regular population" that believe that someone that is an alcoholic or addict are weak, irresponsible and could just stop whenever they want.  They are unfortunately off base.

Sep 6, 4:17PM EDT0
What is your advice for someone who has recently gotten sober, but is struggling with their sobriety now?
Sep 6, 2:33PM EDT0

If someone recently got sober and is struggling - that is not surprising.  We don't get better by ourselves.  Are they going to meetings?  Are they calling and reaching out to others in recovery?  Are they going for therapy?  Those are places to start which are very helpful.

Sep 6, 4:13PM EDT0
What have you come to understand were the origins of your drug addiction?
Sep 6, 12:28PM EDT0

My addiction like so many others, I believe is the secondary problem.  Growing up I was riddled with fear, anxiety, depression and not feeling good enough.  Eventually those feelings led me to medicate myself which is where the addiction came in.

Sep 6, 12:35PM EDT0
What do you believe kept you alive during all those years of drug use? What is your purpose in live now?
Sep 6, 12:18PM EDT0

I believe there was an inner desire to survive - mixed in with a higher power/God belief that someone or something is watching over me - mixed in with a tremendous amout of luck!

My purpose is #1 - to take care of my 2 daughters and be the best father I can be.  #2 Help those who are suffering with the disease of addiction and help educate so others dont have to suffer like I did.

Sep 6, 12:33PM EDT0
How long did it take before you were addicted to drugs? Why did you try drugs to begin with?
Sep 6, 9:11AM EDT0

For me - I was addicted from the very first line.  I was 24 when I tried cocaine for the first time.  Why I tried drugs and what happened is a very long story.  The underlining factor was anxiety, depression and fear among other things.  The whole story could be found in my book:

Sep 6, 10:09AM EDT0