Getting Sober at any Age
…and finding happiness & success too
If you’re someone who has discovered that they are either too young to get sober, or perhaps too old, I can assure you age is not a factor, but merely an excuse. Don’t allow your disease to talk you out of this. I’ve heard countless people praise young members within the recovery community for having found sobriety in their youth. You can feel their deep desire to have had the courage to do the same. What I notice is their longing to have the years they wasted back, and to be able to reverse all of the damage they have done in that time.
Let’s not assume that “late” even merely refers to age. I’ve known many alcoholics and addicts who by all accounts seemed far past the point of saving. They had habits that should have long ago killed them, despite their youth. Yet, I’ve witnessed some of the most severe cases return to sanity. You can find plenty of these inspiring stories in our Big Book, which gives any suffering addict hope that it really never is too late to recover.
Granted, getting sober at a young age will strip you of some of the wilder times you may have waiting ahead. And often, that is a deterring factor. Or perhaps you’re worried life won’t be enjoyable any longer without the drugs and alcohol. But if you’ve reached a point, like the majority of us, where your use is inhibiting you from the joys in life, your ambitions, is ruining your relationships and preventing you from most if not all of your goals, then you will find that sobriety will not hinder your life, it is actually the only thing that may save it.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have climbed down the ladder to rock bottom at a young age however. An older member of our fellowship, a gentleman at the age of 75, shared one day that he had recently celebrated an anniversary. Assuming he had many years, the group members were surprised to hear him say he was celebrating 1 year sober. The man stated that the last year had been the happiest of his life. He had reconnected with his children, his grandchildren and had found a completely new level of happiness he had never imagined for himself. This story, and many others like it, are the tales of inspiration that keep many members spiritually connected to the promises of our program. It also reminds us that we are never too old to experience self-discovery, true happiness and to learn.
If you’re still not convinced of the irrelevance of age, here are a few other success stories reached at an unlikely time:
• At age 7, Mozart wrote his 1st symphony
• At just 17, Joan of Arc led an army in defense of France
• At 21, Fred DeLuca co-founded Subway Restaurants with just $1,000 in the bank
• At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh picked up a paint brush for the very first time
• Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was 40
• At age 45, George Foreman recaptured the heavyweight championship with a 10th round knockout, becoming the oldest person ever to win the heavyweight championship
• Ray Kroc founded MacDonald’s at age 57
• At 86 Ruth Rothfarb ran the Boston Marathon in just over 5 hours
No matter what your age is, embracing recovery is like hitting a “restart” button on your life. It is a spiritual rebirth. Our fellowship gives us a perfectly designed plan of action to remain teachable, to practice honesty and to clean away the wreckage of our past.
It also allows us to build a future of our dreams. If you’re young, our program enables you to journey through life with integrity and gives you the optimal environment to succeed and to look back with gratitude. If you’ve spent many years in your disease and have reached a mature age where the future doesn’t seem as bright, don’t be deceived. By this point, having had real-life experience, you’ve been given the opportunity to discover what your needs, desires and tastes are in addition to understanding what it feels like to fail.
I recently heard another member share that he had experienced great wealth and success, but was failing in the game of life. When he got sober, he humbled himself by taking a low-level job and working his way up again, much like he did for his personal life by working the 12-steps. By the time he got sober, he knew what his tastes and interests were. He knew what it felt like to fail, which made it easy to do things differently this time. He also experienced re-growth, having built his life back up from the foundation. Without having had a lifetime of experience, he would not have so successfully trail blazed his sobriety and shared his story to other alcoholics.
Remember, it’s never too late to change your life if you are still alive. Each of us has a desire to win the lottery in life. So often we hear stories of amazing success, joy and happiness. Often, especially as a suffering addict, those dreams seem completely unrealistic. But in reality, recovery – at any age – is practically guaranteed if you follow this simple plan of recovery outlined in the 12-steps. Diane Ackerman once said “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. While you may not achieve great fame or release a Nobel Peace Prize winning novel, you will give yourself the opportunity to live a life that you never thought imaginable – a sober one.