This weeks Recovery Rocks interview is with the co-founder and editor at large of the online addiction magazine The Fix. Joe Schrank has been clean and sober for 17 years and he describes himself as someone who really, really should not drink. In addition to alcoholism he has also battled depression and anxiety disorders which would prefer to have him isolated and alone in a room with a bottle of scotch and Dylan a CD.
Thankfully for us, Joe Schrank is not alone in a room somewhere but instead is a large part of the recovery community. He spent years working in rehabs, detoxes and delivering interventions. He is also the CEO of the Core Company, a consultancy firm that addresses all areas of addiction and recovery from interventions and crisis management to court consultation and treatment.
Becuase of his sobriety he has the greatest girlfriend (TV Presenter Laurie Dhue) in the world who totally over looks his refusal to comply with accepted manners of dress. He is also very proud that his kids have never seen him drunk.
Joe loves journalism which is why he started The Fix in order to start a dialogue about addiction and recovery.
Note: This is an exceptional interview and I’m extremely grateful that Joe took the time to participate. The answer he gives to question 6 just blows me away.
1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
My rock bottom was very emotional, baffled at my inability to perform in the world, stuck in a cycle of pouring alcohol on depression and resentful that I could not seem to achieve anything other than verbally assaulting people and getting drunk, I somehow knew I could not feel like that anymore. I knew I had to make serious changes or it would only get worse.
2) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
My first 30 days were like going to kindergarten everyday for the first time. Everyday was the first day of school, fearful, anxious, uncertain, and lost. I was also struck by how much better I felt physically, I immediately took to the gym and took up running. I was shocked by how large an impact drinking had on me
4) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself that it is ok to not have all the answers or a clear path. Not everyone has the same starting line, some of us have things to overcome.
5) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
I have learned that the right number of drinks for me is ZERO, there are some people who can tolerate intoxication, I can not. I have learned that with all of my flaws there are good things about me too. I have learned that I am a totally urban person, I don’t like to be out of cities.
6) Tell me about something wonderful that happened to you recently that never would have happened if you had been drinking.
Last Thanksgiving my girlfriend and I went to Nairobi, Kenya to meet a young boy who was being brought to NYC to attend a prestigious boys school. We were able to truly be partners in this project and to help him come here. He lives with us and is flourishing in school, on the soccer team, and in becoming an American teenager. It may be the best thing I have ever done. Drunk depressed people don’t help someone out of third world poverty and guide them through the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood. It is a true gift of recovery and not just for him. There has never been a better solution to the complexity of my struggles than helping someone else, it has been the best way for me to stand myself a day at a time. He offers that chance everyday and I am very grateful. I also have a really solid relationship with a woman I adore. She is my preferred company which is really lucky. She is also exceptionally hot (google her, Laurie Dhue) and not just in that way that all guys have to say that about their girlfriends, in that “no way you have even met her” kind of way. Aside from all of that, she could gain 50lbs and I would feel no differently about her. That is a real miracle for a guy like me.
7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?
I kind of hate recovery slogans, I find them trite, antiquated, and corny. The trouble with dismissing them is they are often true. The one I often apply, is not widely used for recovery, it is a quote from coach John Wooden. “Things work out best for people who make the best of how things turn out”. The other one I really like is also not a traditional recovery slogan but the Jesuit motto :Ad majorum Dei Glorium, The greater Glory of God
8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Recovery rocks because it is authentic. The authenticity of a life not distorted by intoxication is an amazing journey. Active addiction is just a pursuit of the erroneous entitlement that we can correct our feelings to our liking, when the truth is, emotions are best when comprehensive and true.