Blogger Chaz Stevens: How I Stay Sober

 

BY CHAZ STEVENS

 

 

My name is Chaz, and I am an alcoholic.

Today, I’d like to share my tale of experience, strength and hope to others who are trying to recover from alcoholism.

The statistics for the disease are staggering. One in 13 adults impacted, and only 10 percent chose to address the problem. In Alcoholics Anonymous, supposedly the best program available, there is a one-year churn rate of 97 percent.

It’s quite obvious that getting sober is the “easy” part. Living clean is much more of a challenge.

When folks come to me wondering if they have a problem, I ask:

  1. Do people who love you worry about your drinking?
  2. Do you continue to drink even though it is causing you harm?

As for me, I spent the better part of a decade searching for the answer – a magical number of shots, martinis, or beers that would keep me from “becoming an alcoholic.”

And only after I hit rock bottom, my health impacted, business in tatters, life a complete wreck, did I finally become “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Confused, frightened and unsure, my rebuilt left elbow, damaged from boxing, hanging painfully in a sling, in desperate need of help, and with nowhere else to go, I turned to AA, and a quiet little church room located in the heart of Boca Raton.

That meeting, like most others, begins with a reading from the 1947 AA Preamble. Here’s a portion from it:

There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

When I heard the preamble for the first time, I panicked.

Membership?

Oh shit, would they require references or a credit check? Would they consider my drinking problem so outlandish, they’d turn me away? Was there no hope for me?

Turns out, all you need is a desire to stop drinking.

From those weekly meetings, I’ve learned many things.

1. Alcoholism isn’t about how much, when, or what you consume. Rather, it’s what you do after the fact.

2. There is no shame admitting to being an alcoholic.

3. While AA is a program of 12 steps, mine involves only three. Get clean, get honest, and help others.

Today, after more than four years sober, I cannot imagine returning to the life I once lived. Unfortunately for me, like many others, that nightmare is only a drink away.

If you find yourself looking for answers, drop by a meeting. AA saved my life, and maybe it can save yours.

Visit AA.org or WeAgnosticsBoca.com to learn more.

XXXXX

Chaz Stevens

Chaz Stevens is a well known Broward blogger who has used investigative skills to uncover wrongdoing. He recently made news by placing a festivus pole made out of beer cans at the state Capitol to protest religious holiday displays on government property. See an earlier post about Stevens here. 



34 Responses to “Blogger Chaz Stevens: How I Stay Sober”

  1. Bill's Friend says:

    I am happy for Mr. Stevens finding his path to recovery through AA. It has also saved my life along with millions of others. However I would like to remind Mr. Stevens of AA’s eleventh tradition which states: “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films”. There is a very good reason why AA encourages personal anonymity in public and maybe Mr. Stevens should talk to his sponser about that.

  2. Marty Kiar says:

    Thank you Chaz for posting this. It takes much courage and a strong desire to make a difference to let folks know about difficulties that you have overcome. I am hopeful that your post will serve as inspiration to folks who are in need of help.

  3. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    Chaz thanks for sharing that with us. You are right, “There is no shame admitting to being an alcoholic.” The shame is on society for not recognizing it as a disease. My family has been fortunate, no one has suffered from any form of addiction. I do not understand much about addiction, but I recognize it as disease, that people battle everyday

  4. Chaz Stevens says:

    First of all, I don’t have a sponsor. The idea of getting help from another drunk really never interested me. I’ve done just fine without…

    Did my guest editorial violate the 11th tradition? I spent considerable time reflecting on my words, and came to this conclusion. Is what I did attraction or promotion? What were my motives? Was I doing it for personal gain or stature? Am I acting as the spokesmodel for AA?

    When the 11th Tradition was written some 60 years ago (10 years or so after the Steps,) the founders of AA could not have foreseen the advent of the electronic media—the Internet. Chat rooms, blogs, articles, social and sexual contact sites all offer ways in which the individual person in recovery can “publicly” break their anonymity.

    Look at Facebook, and you’ll see lots of folks discussing their sobriety via status updates.

    Faces and Voices, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group has recently suggested that we no longer describe ourselves as “addicts” or “alcoholics,” but simply state that we are people in “long-term recovery” not mentioning the particular fellowship that we attend. To me, that bypasses the potential 11th Tradition pitfalls while still letting people know that we’re PROUD of our recovery.

    Today we have the potential to give “the gift of HOPE” to those that are still struggling with their addiction, but in order to do so, I believe that we must take a risk and break our own anonymity. I further believe that we need to do so responsibly, using similar guidelines presented by Faces and Voices. NOT doing so only helps to perpetuate the myth that alcoholics and addicts simply do not recover. We know today that the lie is dead, we DO recover!

    I concluded my words are a great way of reaching those who can’t be reached in other avenues. Also, in recovery or not, each individual is allowed to make a choice of whether or not to view the information posted, we don’t alienate anyone, even if the are not one of us.

  5. richard r says:

    Which part of ‘anonymous’ dont you comprehend? What you have done here flies in the face of the very foundation of our organization. The advent of social media has ZERO to do with maintaining your anonymity. Actually, less than zero.

  6. Bill's Friend says:

    Mr. Stevens: The vast majority of people with long term sobriety that I have met in AA have a sponser, but not all. Electing to have or not have a sponser is a personal choice and if not having one works for you than great. As far as the 11th tradition goes it is my understanding that its main thrust is that personal anonymity should be maintained in the press. I don’t think the advent of modern media has changed that. I believe the fear is what happens if a celebrity or person of public interest publically credits AA for their sobriety and than just as publiclly relapses. The danger is that someone out there might see that and say to themselves “see that guy was full of crap when he said AA got him sober” and decide to not give AA a chance.

  7. tell the truth says:

    Thank you Chaz!

    And especially Thank You for having the integrity, conviction, courage and guts to stand up to the corruption and theft of honest services by electeds!
    Feds know where Broward County is because of you!

  8. blivet hopper says:

    Your being an alchoholic certainly explains your lawsuit against Deerfield.

  9. Chaz Stevens says:

    @Richard

    Actually Sir, you are wrong.

    The “inviolable” anonymity part was added around 1953.

    Since A.A.’s 1935 beginning, the idea of anonymity has been anything but rigid. Bill Wilson’s observation that perfection comes through trial and error is especially relevant when it comes to anonymity’s many changes.

    The first mention of anonymity in A.A. has nothing to do with self-protection or a response to the shame of being publicly identified. “It is important that we remain anonymous,” the founders wrote in the preface to Alcoholics Anonymous, “because we are too few, at present, to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which may result from this publication. Being mostly business or professional folk, we could not well carry on our occupations in such an event.”

    Everyone in recovery in the public eye has developed their own way of talking about being in A.A—with results that are often more vaudeville than secret society. Serious people—leaders and professional people who are publicly admired—rarely mention that they are members of A.A. while silly people break their anonymity left and right. For any alcoholic who needs help, this can be devastating.

    ***

    To the commenter about my Deerfield Beach lawsuit, two thoughts.

    1. I have concrete evidence that Jean Robb traded her vote for favor.

    2. I have original emails that she altered and/or destroyed.

    If you have issues with this, then you need to rethink your position on clean, open, transparent government.

    My role is to hold those in power accountable for their actions.

    As George Washington said, “trust those in power less.”

  10. Wake Up Broward says:

    Great job in Coconut Creek. LOL

  11. Alice McGill says:

    Yawn!

  12. City Activist Robert walsh says:

    Well, well, well. The “HeeTHEN” REVEALS HE’S AN addict. .Notice that he went to a church that conducted AA meetings. I thought God is useless, not accepted in Gov’t(w/ your beer tower exhibit). Yet , he had the audacity to state that our Mayor Jack Seiler sits around “eating cheeseburgers(@ least he’s not a drunk-Oh My late father Bern-you got plenty of company) and is overweight. #1 Mayor Seiler doesn’t sit around period. And Mr. Stevens he has lost a lot of weight and excerices regularly(and Art Seitz its none of your business how much weight he has lost). It’s funny Mr.Stevens see you on the Daily Show, to this national news show etc. Ok so the entire country knows your a Heathen. Maybe if you got on your hands and knees and asked God for forgiveness you would not be struggling w/ booze. Such” Poetic Justice”, esp. on Christmas. That ‘s what I should do become an addict (huh).I toast my champagne cocktail here @ the beach Mr.Stevens, again I toast my champaigne cocktail to you Chaz Stevens. Coming from a convicted felon Chazzie(I’m better than you are)……

  13. BoBo says:

    It is brave to expose major flaws about ones self to the public.

  14. Your Right To Vote says:

    Would-be Fort Lauderdale commission candidate loses voting November 5, 2012|By Larry Barszewski, Sun Sentinel

    FORT LAUDERDALE — —City activist Robert Walsh has plans to run for the city commission in January, but he isn’t being allowed to vote this Election Day.

    It’s not likely he’ll be able to run for the commission, either.

    The state says Walsh, convicted of a non-violent felony in 2001, never had his voting rights restored. Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes made the decision to remove Walsh from the voter rolls after an Oct. 25 hearing on the matter.

    “You may re-register to vote once your voting rights have been restored,” Snipes wrote to Walsh following the hearing.

    Walsh, an activist who regularly speaks at commission meetings, has opened a campaign account to run in an upcoming special election. However, the state requires candidates for elective office to be registered voters.

    Walsh was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $2,527 in restitution after pleading guilty in 2001 to third-degree grand theft. Police said Walsh would get a job at a store, gain the trust of the owner, get the keys to the store, steal money from it and then disappear, usually only spending two or three weeks at any job.

    Walsh said he registered to vote in January 2008, thinking his voting rights had been restored because he had paid the restitution and completed parole. He said he applied through his probation officer to have his rights restored in 2003 or 2004, but state officials say they have no record of that request.

    “If they don’t give me my clemency certificate, than I’ll file a suit against the governor and let the courts decide,” Walsh said.

    Walsh has voted in elections since 2008, but state officials say he didn’t apply to have his rights restored until January 2011.

    By the time the Office of Executive Clemency reviewed that request, new rules had kicked in that barred Walsh from having his rights restored. Those rules require that a felon seeking the right to vote have no criminal charges for a period of five years, officials said. Walsh has a 2008 misdemeanor charge for disorderly intoxication.

    Walsh plans to fight the decision and said he will ask for an emergency hearing before the state’s clemency board, which is made up of Gov. Rick Scott and Florida’s Cabinet. The board doesn’t meet until Dec. 13. Even if Walsh could get on its agenda, it would still be a week after the anticipated qualifying period for the commission race.

    Jane Tillman, communications director for the Florida Parole Commission, said the board doesn’t hold emergency sessions.

    “He has no basis to request anything before the Board of Clemency,” Tillman said. “He has no standing. The rules of executive clemency are quite clear … He has not remained crime and arrest-free for five years.”

    Walsh wants to run for the seat held by Vice Mayor Charlotte Rodstrom, who is being forced to resign her seat under the state’s resign-to-run rules. Rodstrom ran unsuccessfully for Broward County Commission this year, losing an August primary. Her resignation takes effect Nov. 19.

    Besides Walsh, the announced candidates for the District 2 race are Rodstrom, former Commissioner Dean Trantalis and businessman Chuck Black. Officials expect a January primary, with a runoff if needed between the top two vote-getters in March.

  15. richard r says:

    Chaz looks like rob ford on a bender

  16. Tits McGee says:

    Ah Timmy. It’s always about him. His traveling freakshow got some buzz, now he needs to feed the fame machine with a personal feel good story. A hurt little boy seeking the attention of someone he will never receive.timmy, all the Busch can poles and dick nose pictures will never fill that hole in your heart. Here’s to your continued sobriety. You boob.

  17. Rub Roh says:

    Four years sober? Does this mean you were a raging alcoholic when you started MAOS and nailed “Fu*ktard” & Co.?

    Then IMHO, you were better at corruption hunting (and blogging) when you were abusing the bottle than what you are now. Today, your blog reeks of the self promoting “Look At Me, I’m Famous” bullsh*t plus asking for donations constantly you’d make Kim Kardashian appear less of a gold digger.

    I pondered about making a donation to your website, but now that you have disclosed your pass proclivity to the bottle, I will withhold any donations to MAOS.

    I would not want to be responsible (monetarily) to any future alcohol fueled bender you might have, when you give into the urge

  18. City Activist Robert walsh says:

    #14-“Your right to vote”. Notice how they hide behind these alias’. Why not show your face. You coward. That was then, this is now. My voting rights will be restored. Since you know so much call Ms.Deason w/ the Clemency bd, I mean since you know everything. And I did file w/ my probate officer. My name got mixed up w. some other Robert walsh. Check- there are quite a few Robert walsh’s . At least I’m not a crack head. I’m not HIV positive. I’m not a drunk. I’m in better physical shape than guys half my age. I’m better than you. And that is what pisses a lot of you off……

  19. me too says:

    “business in taters”…I know you meant “tatters” but that is a pretty funny image. Haha. I have been sober for six years. Mostly people who know me well know that I’m sober and much the better for it. It’s really not that big a deal. While I don’t always enjoy your shenanigans (you’re a bit of a bully), congrats on your sobriety.

  20. Real Deal says:

    Who drank the beers on the festivus pole?

  21. Chaz Stevens says:

    Actually Walsh;

    There’s not a single thing about you I find myself envying.

    And truthfully, like other Internet commenters who can’t seem to resist the urge to nip at me, I have zero emotional consideration towards you, or them. You really don’t factor into my life.

    You cut hair for a living. I’m envious about that why? Cause I dig the smell of perm?

    As to being a bully, of course I am, it is required for my job. A thin-skinned wallflower wouldn’t get it done.

    Finally, to the cheap bastard who would never, under any circumstance, donate a penny to MAOS, you keep believing what you believe. It’s your lie, tell it anyway you like.

    In the coming weeks, when City Manager Jon Allen is arrested for felony corruption due to my efforts, you keep saying to yourself, “Chaz’s best days are behind him.”

    And when Mayor Jean Robb is jacked up in my civil case, I’m sure you’ll find a reason to down that win.

    Forget me being on Colbert, CNN, and the Washington Post … Salon, Rachel Maddow, Fox News, Drudge, ABC, NBC, NPR’s All Things Considered, Huffington Post, USA Today, and lots of others.

    That doesn’t matter now, right? It must be some liberal media bias that made 18 stacked cans of beer into a famous international news event.

    My 15 minutes of fame, ending in 2009 as you said it would, somehow continuing into a 2013 two-week news cycle.

    You keep thinking to yourself … Chaz is nothing, nothing you say.

    Where as you … you, on the other hand, you’re something. You comment anonymously, cheat my kid out of child support, cheat on my spouse, and rob businessmen, But no need to fret over that.

    You’re something, and Chaz is not, because this is what you believe, therefore it must be true.

  22. Rub Roh says:

    @ 21 Chaz Stevens

    You wrote ” It’s your lie, tell it anyway you like.”

    Actually, it is my opinion and my observation and not a “lie” as you state. Judging your reactionary response to negative posts, you appear as “thin-skinned” as your “haters

  23. me too says:

    No, Chaz, you don’t have to be a bully to be “successful” at fighting public corruption. That’s for amateurs and people who aren’t very smart. I think, however, one reason you have been able to stay sober is that you are channeling your rage into being a bully, which will eventually eat you up. Look in the mirror. Is that guy still chasing you? Being a bully is completely at odds with finding serenity and until you find a semblance of that, you will continue to fall off the wagon.

  24. me too says:

    And are you really going to leave the word “tatters” misspelled? How lame. Get your shit together, homey.
    http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/taters
    Again, amateur.

    FROM BUDDY:

    I corrected it for Chaz. Nobody is perfect. If misspelling was a crime, I’d be doing life.

  25. me too says:

    Oh, I would as well, Buddy. But you and I don’t hold ourselves out as standing for all that is good and right in the world. If you do that, you better damn well be able to spell.

    Later Tater

  26. Broward Voter says:

    @20, That’s a good question, who did drink all those beers?

  27. Chaz Stevens says:

    @me too

    Those that can’t, comment.

  28. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Good for you Chaz. CNN, NBC, this show ,that show. Ok. Your beer collection got you some track. Good for you. Do you notice w/a lot of these people(comments) it always goes back to that felony. I mean ,that’s all they got. Who cares. Everyone knows that I’m a convicted felon. So this is nothing new. Debate me on issues or on the merit of my comments. No its always the same ammo. That is why this bill in the State House(SB38 or whatever. It states felonies will not have to be reported on a job app. I mean talk about discrimination. I hope this passes. This felony was back in time to 1999. Also to point out from these above comments my God do you know how many times I poop also(eat it). No, what I have experienced is not right. I have a job though don’t I fat boy, don’t I. Again anyone, what does Mr.Stevens do for a living(job). You certainly are a fan Buddy. Well, Buddy what does Chaz do for work?? Nothing, ring a bell. My landlord(commercial) is bringing up this BS(felony). Plenty of time he had to do a back ground check etc. Maybe if you took care of your property I wouldn’t be so far up your ass. Huh, now we go before the Magistrate, since father-time thinks code violations are a joke and don’t pertain to him because he lives in the nicest bldg. downtown(Water-garden). Do you see the hiprocrisy Judge. I can’t wait. I’m a felon but you felt safe enough to have me over for dinner though huh. Back up North we call people like this “Slum-lords.. People be prepared. I know my shit. Can sustain everything. I present facts, figures, you name it. I want to prove(sustain) my allegations. Watch me “shine” people….

  29. Wake Up Broward says:

    Nothing will happen to anybody in politics in Broward. Wake up Timmy. You haven’t done dick (maybe you have) lately except annoy people with your beer pole.

  30. Wobert Ralsh says:

    Poor Robert Walsh. Cannot even string a coherent sentence together. To many years exposed to hairdresser chemicals and dyes methinks.

  31. Real Deal says:

    The beer pole thing is not famous. It is infamous. Infamy is easy but quickly dismissed. Fame has to be earned the hard way and it lasts. A fool confuses the two.

  32. Anonymous? says:

    Hi. My name is Timmy and I can’t follow simple instructions.

  33. jojo jackson says:

    People like to throw rocks and criticize… as it says somewhere in the bible : he who is without sin throw the first stone”. I’ve been in AA 3 decades without a sponsor… it is not a requirement but it does get some people bent out of shape when they learn that! Watch it when your sponsor starts giving you advice— what is the sponsor’s motive? jealous of your talents? Oh well, it all works out in the end.. and in AA they say it’s better to give resentments than to get one. Live and let live. For God’s sake people… why try to tear someone down? Just get out there and try to improve your own life and society instead of trying to browbeat others.

  34. Bob says:

    Chaz is an overweight crap-stirring slob with some serious mental issues. Who calls themselves Chaz these days unless you are the daughter of a has-been singer?