10 Years Sober!
I’ve lived an adventurous life, playing professional baseball in the Dominican Republic, harness racing professionally, and miraculously surviving 24 years as a cocaine addict. I am now humbled and thrilled at the same time to announce my 10th anniversary as a sober person on December 8! I’ve dedicated my time and energy now to speaking to groups, particularly younger athletes, to help them avoid addiction and face their challenges responsibly.
Contributor: Alan S. Charles
About: Growing up in a small garden apartment community, me and my brother lost our father at a very young age. Trying to manage in the wake of this tragedy alongside an emotionally destroyed mother and a brother who spiraled downward into mental illness, I navigated in the only way I knew how: throwing myself into before and after school jobs, playing baseball and going to the track to bet on the harness races – anything to stay out of the house.
As baseball became increasingly important in my life, I found my way to college, playing baseball at the University of Miami and as a starting pitcher at the University of Tampa. When arm surgery for tendonitis and bone chips reduced my pitching speed from 90mph to the mid 80’s, my hope of playing professional ball for a major league organization seemed lost.
Still a talented pitcher, I signed a contract with a major league team in the Dominican Republic. Realizing I had gotten as far as I could in baseball and living a dream, I joined the workforce. After a series of interesting sales jobs, I decided to pursue another dream – harness racing – and took a course at the International School of Harness Racing at Roosevelt Raceway. With no experience, I landed a job as a harness racing trainer in Maryland, finally moving on to become a fully-licensed professional harness racing driver. From 1987 to 1995, I drove in harness races all over New York and New Jersey, making a name for myself as a regular driver on the circuit. In 1995, after a couple of serious harness racing related accidents, I retired from driving.
During this time, the pain of my dysfunctional upbringing caught up with me. Seeking relief from my lifelong feelings of anxiety and loneliness, I became addicted to cocaine in 1983, which ultimately caused me to lose it all including every relationship I ever had. Over a period of 24 years, I struggled with my addiction, eventually believing that this is more than likely how I would die.
In and out of rehab and countless meetings at Cocaine Anonymous and Alcohol Anonymous it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally hit bottom. Deciding once and for all to battle my inner demons, I was determined to become sober and change my life. As of December 8, 2007, I got clean and remain sober to this day. With a combination of CA and AA, an amazing therapist and friends who believed in me, I am happier than I have ever been.
At the urging of friends, I told my story and all of the painful details in a book titled “Walking Out the Other Side: An Addict’s Journey from Loneliness to Life.” It along with my speaking is what helps me give back to help others.
Most importantly, I am the proud father of two daughters whom I enjoy a great relationship with. I continue to take life one day at a time, enjoying every moment, drug-free.