On the Road Again

Carrying the Message

After a much-needed break, I was back on-the-road this week “carrying the message” of hope, help and healing that is the essence of Hazelden Betty Ford’s mission.

First stop: Normandale Community College in the Twin Cities for a community forum. I was surprised by the big turnout. But even more impressed with the depth and breadth of questions from the audience, which included college students, parents with children still under the influence, couples in recovery, counselors and other professionals, a clutch of aspiring writers and those always-affirming friends and fellow travelers.

A few of their thought-provoking questions:

Question: What should Big Pharma’s responsibility be in helping to curb the nation's heroin and prescription opioid epidemic? 
Answer: Perhaps a dedicated tax on pain medication sales to fund education for doctors, nurses and pharmacy students.

Question: Can you still drink or smoke in recovery? 
Answer: Yes, I suppose I could. But the outcome would be messy. So I don’t.

Question: Why are all the candidates for president talking about drugs now? 
Answer: Because they’ve finally realized that addiction doesn’t discriminate.

Question: What should the next president do about the “War on Drugs?” 
Answer: End it by embracing the reality that recovery shouldn’t discriminate either, and that treatment can work.

This is What We Look Like

William discusses the new national conversation that is happening around addiction. He spoke Feb. 10, 2016, at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn., as part of the college's Slice of Life lecture series.

Grabbing the Hand of Help and Hope

William discusses the day he finally became ready to accept help and hope, drawing from his bestselling memoir, Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption.

Question: What do you tell your own children about your past drug and alcohol use? 
Answer: Everything. My kids, like all kids, want their parents to be their No. 1 go-to resource for accurate information about these things. Who better than me and their mom to honestly tell them what it was like, what happened and what it is like now as a parent in recovery from addiction?

Question: What is recovery? 
Answer: Hope. Striving for a better life without substances getting in the way. Progress always, because nobody does it perfectly.

Question: Are you going to write another book like Broken
Answer: Yes, that’s my plan. Along the theme of “Beyond Broken: The Rest of My Story.” Because I’ve lived the highest of highs and lowest of lows, often of my own making, since I wrote Broken a decade ago. I’ve hit bottom stone cold sober too, and that’s a story many of us have in common further along the journey.

Question: What’s the best part of your job? 
Answer: Being with audiences like this one. Down in the trenches in the community where these issues really matter. Everywhere and every time I speak, people ask for help. And helping people helps me. There’s nothing more important, nothing better.

At the end of the evening, my legs and feet hurt. I’d been standing for three hours straight. But home was only 12 miles away. There’s nothing finer than being on the road to carry the message and, when it’s done, still getting to sleep in my own bed. I’ve got the best job in the world.


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