Sober since May 15, 1975
Kathryn has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at the Men’s Center since 1986. At first her choice was a matter of finding a meeting on Sunday night within the Loop. Then she came to admire the meeting leader, Francis Y., who is remembered long after his death as a great teacher in the AA community.
She also came to appreciate the atmosphere of The Men’s Center meetings. Kathryn likes the wide variety of people attending. She calls it everyman’s meeting, professionals sitting next to day laborers, all equally affected by the disease of alcoholism, coming together with the same intention, to stay sober one more day.
People who knew Kathryn when she was a teenager probably thought she just liked to party. In fact, her binge drinking was an early indication that she had no control. When she entered college, she added heroin to the mix and developed what she calls a middle class addiction. She had access to drugs, the money to buy them, and was even able to succeed in school until a serious illness interrupted her college career.
She had also been arrested and placed on probation by the time she was twenty three. Fear of the legal consequences of her habit and its effects on her health motivated her to want to stop using. But the psychological addiction was too strong for her to walk away.
Fortunately, she still had insurance, and her mother encouraged her to go to a treatment center. When Kathryn left rehab, she went to live in a halfway house. The time she spend in the halfway house stays with her today, reminding her of the seriousness of her condition and what could happen if she relapsed.
AA and the Palmer Drug Abuse Program kept her sober after treatment. At PDAP she found a group of young people where she could talk about her heroin addiction. Her counselor gave her the book Day by Day and the prayer “God help me stay clean and sober” stayed with her through recovery.
After working her way out of the halfway house in a job where she was mentored by a woman with forty years sobriety, she eventually returned to college. She has spent her life in the addiction treatment field and has served on the board of The Men’s Center.
“Not everyone can afford treatment or has insurance coverage,” says Kathryn, “and The Men’s Center provides a place where men can go when they don’t have money for treatment.” When she attends an AA meeting that includes these men without means, Kathryn finds she can be down to earth and less concerned with the things of the world. Her everyman’s meeting always reminds her to keep making the right choices.
Although our stories are true, names and photos have been changed to preserve anonymity.