Holiday brings different thanks for writer – Empty Nest by Curt Swarm

Curt Swarm - Empty Nest


Thank Goodness It’s Thanks Giving! I know, Thanksgiving is one word, but I wanted to do a spinoff of TGIF.
November is a memorable month for me, and I have a lot to be thankful for. 28 years ago this November, I was so drunk in my own home, I fell and crashed through the glass top of my coffee table, cut myself to smithereens, and nearly bled to death. Outside of that, I didn’t have problem with drugs and alcohol.
Turns out, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a wake-up call. God grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, tossed me into AA, and my whole life turned around for the better.
Which brings up a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about—the opioid crisis in the United States. Opioids are killing more people than car accidents. I’m a little confused when I hear such statements as, “What is the government going to do to handle this crisis? We do not have treatment facilities or government funding needed to handle this crisis in addiction.”
Chances are you have the most successful treatment program in the world right there in your own community, and it’s free. It’s called AA—Alcoholics Anonymous. In my 28 years of being clean and sober, I have seen many, many hardcore drug addicts find relief and recovery through this 12-step program. Alcohol is a drug. Its chemical formula is C2H5OH. Just substitute the word narcotics for alcohol and it’s the same 12-step program.
If you’re fortunate enough to have Narcotics Anonymous in your community, utilize it or start a NA program. There is no better treatment in the world than one addict helping another.
I just read an article in the newspaper by Dr. Oz, about how the opioid epidemic is costing the country 500 billion a year and that the government needs to spend so many millions of dollars to cope with the emergency. Not a word was mentioned about AA.
C’MON PEOPLE, WAKE UP! Every in-patient treatment program I know of, and I’ve known quite a few, state bluntly that continued sobriety and happiness following release from the treatment program is only achieved by continued attendance in a 12-step program.
Note: Treatment centers can be a Godsend, especially for the hardcore addict, in that they offer a safe place to detoxify.
There may be some stigmas associated with AA. (1) That AA is for “low-bottom” drunks, those people you see with the bottle in a brown paper bag. Addiction does not discriminate. I’ve known doctors, lawyers, and world-famous people of all races in AA, as well as Skid Row drunks and everything in-between. And I’ve seen the Skid Row drunk help that doctor or lawyer.
(2) AA is for alcohol addiction only. An addiction is an addiction whether it’s alcohol, narcotics, sex, food, gambling, work, smoking, you name it. It’s the same 12-step program. True, AA has a “singleness of purpose.” However, in my 28 years of sobriety I have never seen anyone being asked to leave a meeting because he or she wanted to talk about their problem with food or any other addiction.
(3) You’re an atheist or agnostic and don’t like the use of the word “God.” No problem. Use “Higher Power.” Surely you can think of some power greater than yourself, like the “Universe” for example. Use it like your life depends on it, because it probably does.
Check out the meeting schedule for AA, NA, Al Anon (for spouses of addicts), and Alateen (for children of addicts) in your local newspaper. In the phone book, look under the “A’s” for AA or “alcohol.” Help is as close as your phone.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

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