The Share

Day One

We asked a few local sober folks with over 10 years of sobriety to reflect on their first day sober and what life is like for them now.


“I had passed out in front of the Laurel Pet hospital and a woman picked me up and took me home. I call her my crack whore angel, because she was a good Samaritan; apparently we did crack together, and then she tried to steal money from my roommate. I had to explain to him–who was sober for 16 years–why this woman was in our home trying to steal from him. The jig was up. He asked me what I was going to do, and I told him I was going to go to a [12-step] meeting because I knew that was the right thing to do. A friend took me to a meeting on day one and that night I had the best sleep I had in a very long time.”

“You can only go up from a crack whore angel. Where I am today – I’m getting married. That relationship is normal in the sense that it’s healthy. Even through uncertainty in my life, there is stability. When you do the work then everything else falls into place.”

—Michael Patrick Coughlin, sober since November 3, 2005


“On day one, I sat at Starbucks debating on whether to find a trick to mooch off of, or if I wanted to give sobriety a try. I was really tired of my old routine. I was withering away at 130 pounds. I was homeless. I had no friends, and I thought people were out to get me.”

“My sister had just celebrated one year sober. That kind of inspired me to call a friend who took me to a meeting. The applause I heard in my head when I stood up at that meeting as a newcomer was thunderous and the people that came up to me to give me their phone numbers and hugged me—that was what I was looking for. It felt good. That’s what kept me coming back.”

“Life today is amazing. I went back to school to get my bachelors and I graduated with honors. I’m in a loving relationship. The psychosis is gone. I have a better relationship with my family. I have a lot of friends. Oh, and I got to meet Cher. That never would’ve happened if I wasn’t sober.”

—Stephen Malinaro, sober since September 11, 2005


“I was fresh hot mess at day one. I was living in New York and ended up in a treatment center in Minnesota. When I told them I was coming, I was high out of my mind. I checked in and slept. And when I woke up the next morning, I was like, ‘Oh my God. What have I done?’ I thought I overreacted.

I woke up in an institutional hospital-style bed in this crappy building. At the time I was a fancy New York executive and the guy in the bed next to me had just got out of prison. But I stayed and I did what they told me. It was the first time I ever told the truth about my drug use. I admitted I smoked cocaine and the shame cascaded out of me. I never told anyone I smoked a lot of crack with horrible people.”

“Today I feel very grateful to be free from the obsession to drink and do drugs. life is life. Life is hard. Life is great. It can be easy and fun and complicated sometimes and I just take it as it comes. Somebody made a dumb statement to me in the beginning that life gets better in sobriety, but the truth is, we get better and the better we get, the better we become at dealing with life.”

—Kevin Chase, sober since September 19, 1999.