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Voices for Recovery

Kelly Kettle (08/08/2012)

Kelly Kettle

Lessons in life can sure be expensive even though my intentions and my family’s were good. When my father first realized I had an alcohol and drug problem after my first DUI, being the good father that he was and with plenty of money to fix the problem, he investigated the best possible treatment.

With an addictionologist examining me and other doctors and nurses seeing to my physical needs, I was apparently healthy in a short time. My lawyer and doctor went to court for me and were able to get me off with no jail time.

I was eager to get on with my life, though those darn doctors tried to put a monkey wrench in my plans. Being 16 years old it was obvious to me that the doctors had misdiagnosed me. They recommended that I go extended care. I could see that my father was considering it. Being the survivor that I am, I threw one of the most amazing temper tantrums I could throw and it worked, as long as I promised to get it together. That was one of many lies I would tell. Looking back it is amazing that I would give a car mechanic more respect, had he told me not to drive my car because it might be dangerous, than I would doctors that had spent so many years specializing in addiction. After paying them 10’s of thousands of dollars for their care and recommendations, to then totally disregard everything they were saying, I now can see, was insane. I was determined to do life my way. And hindsight being 20/20 I can see they were trying to get in the way of me self-medicating. Oblivion worked for a long time though the wreckage was astronomical.

See when I was 12 or 13 my father had me put in an adolescent ward for behavior/ drinking and smoking pot. I know I did not like that because I ran away 3 times. My dad’s chauffeur AJ would find me or I would call and AJ would come and pick me up every time. So when they asked me to go to long-term treatment they called it at the time, I was not having it – and was still young enough and knew that my dad loved me enough (he was in denial as well) that he would give me another chance. So by the time I was 17 I had been to 2 different treatment centers and had been kicked out of 5 different private schools. But my dad loved me and believed that I could change, my brothers and sisters were doing well in life. He did not know I had my mother’s genes. She died of alcoholism when I was 5, she had 4 beautiful kids, plenty of money in the bank (after her and my father got a divorce) monthly alimony checks, at least one house all paid for, a maid, and a gardener.  I know now she did not sit in her room and drink herself to death on purpose. She had untreated alcoholism – and the means to drink around the clock, it was only a matter of time. Looking back now I fully understand.

And there I was a raging alcoholic at 17 years old and my family of enablers to help me get my next drink or drug. They also blew off the doctors recommendations with the hope I would magically get better. I really meant the things I said. And each time I really felt all I needed was one more chance, I swore I would be good.

I will save you from every form of denial and experimentation.

And just share that as years passed, when I was in enough trouble I would agree to go to treatment again, and in the 80’s the selections were much fewer and in a lot of cases more expensive - several cost my family $30,000 for a 30 day stay, extended care programs were almost obsolete and half-way houses were for parolees, or at least so I thought.

All the while my father and I were trying geographical cures – often times my father would buy me a condo and see that I was set up with a car and money, the plan was always to get a job or go back to school. Though the problem was that wherever I went, there I was. And in a short time I would get arrested or have other reasons to leave that city pronto and he kept enabling me.

For a lot of years I knew he would pay me – just not to come home, so on the road my choices for recovery began to cost less and less, I guess I thought I was saving him money, I would make deals with my father and a lot of them I really meant. My problem was I had a serious untreated disease called addiction, the only disease that tells you that you do not have it.

As I got older I would attempt the extended cares and recovery homes, rarely making it more than a few weeks, one place I made it 6 months, I was not working a program though. I was gambling and eventually got drunk again, I spent time in Europe and Africa drunk. There is a paragraph in the Alcoholics Anonymous book that read – “Half measures availed us nothing” and that is what my life was a series of, half measures.

Always calling the shots, and convincing my loved ones that this time it would be different, it never was though, my father died, at the time I was 10 months sober, we had not talked in months, I went to the viewing in Newport, R.I. and then flew back to California where in a short time I lost it, and began a series of bottoms that were horrendous each one lower and more devastating than the rest. My family and my father’s partners made sure I was left out of my father’s will. They tricked me into signing off when I was homeless. By doing this to me when I was homeless they may have helped open the final door that lead to my new life. Happy, joyous and free I now realize that my father helped me most when he died, because in my case - he had to die in order for me to start growing up.

I began frequenting local indigent detoxes, where my perception of the world slowly but surely changed. These people were helping me, and lord knows not for the money as there was none, it was not for any wisdom or great character or pleasant attitude I had.

I was a spoiled rotten homeless guy with a really bad attitude, and I did not get sober and live happily ever after, I had to go out and relapse and go to jail. For several more years though the people in the detoxes kept taking me back and cleaning me up and feeding me and they gave me clothes to wear and rides to meetings. Slowly but surely I was forming my own Identity. And my perception was changing.

On October 4, 2003 I was arrested I pray for the last time. I still do not talk to my family. Slowly but surely I have obtained a new family through work, and meetings and sponsorship. I have a sponsor today I speak to mostly every day, I am redoing the steps with him and am currently on step 8. My life is still filled with challenges, I do not call them problems – if they are, they are quality problems. My house that my wife and I bought 5 years ago is in foreclosure, and my soon to be ex-wife now lives in Canada; I live with my 2 dogs. I work 40 hours plus a week at Sober Living by the Sea. I have a couple thousand dollars in the bank, and get scared at times until I remember how blessed I truly am. In over 8 years over 1000 incidents have occurred that normally I would drink or drug over, though everything is just kind of rolling off my back  I have bad moments – I do not have bad days) – and I suit up and show up and take the next indicated steps. I know very little – though my happiness is not gauged by money, cool cars, or the such. What I really enjoy most is helping people. There is nothing sweeter than to see a young man or woman or even an old man or old woman say, Wow, I think I can do this deal. And I have learned not to get too excited, but as a matter fact, I know you can- if you’re ready to surrender, and get into action.

The things that have helped me most to stay sober are: having a sponsor and working the steps to my best ability, having a home group (The Wed. night 6 pm Men’s Stag) and having a daily routine.

My Higher Power has done other things for me that I could not do for myself.  Yes, I do believe in miracles.  Each morning when I wake up I read paragraphs on pages 25, 45, 60-63, 86-88 out of the Big Book - I do a 3rd and 7th step prayer and some other set prayers, one prayer on my knees and I try to journal. Then I read out of a book called God Calling.

12 Step programs have saved my life many times through the years.

One day at a time I pray I never have to drink or drug again.

My family and my father’s partners were possibly counting on me just going away and dying somewhere quietly from my addiction, they did not count on the rooms and the people in them saving my life and then nursing me back to health psychically, mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually.

I am forever grateful and have no shame in telling anyone - anywhere - what happened.

I did not talk too much about being molested as a child or having many drunk in publics and several DUI's - numerous different possession charges or going to 10 different psych wards or going into seizures or having guns put to my head etc.

I try to share solutions - a man I admire said the stories are pretty much the same. It is people that change.

I have invested everything I have into and and now have another project called  It is designed to be the Robin Hood project to fuel the other two.

We collect stories at and in an attempt to start a wave of enthusiasm about being clean and sober and to help people with untreated addiction identify and seek help.

I am living day by day - with the hope that 12stepplanet and addictstoday will be self-supporting one day. I have been sober long enough - working day in and day out in treatment for almost, 9 years - that, along with my past - gives me, what I believe, a clear perception of the - big picture - when it comes to untreated addiction.

Kelly Kettle
Newport Beach

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