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Stephen King’s Story: Why Recovery is Worth Your Career

“Only a lunatic—a masochistic lunatic—would make booze a regular part of his life.” –Stephen King

One of the most common reasons for refusing treatment is work responsibilities. For many, going to treatment is a sacrifice that is too great, too humiliating or too scary. But for Stephen King, sobriety was more important than everything else, even his writing career, because it was the only way he could keep his life.

At a time when his career was most promising, King made the decision to put something else, somebody else ahead of his budding success. He chose his family—a choice that required sobriety.To him, sobriety was worth even more than his career because it enabled him to be with his family, watch his children grow up and fully delve into his passion for writing.

Sobriety was so important to him because it gave him his life back. That’s what recovery is really all about: getting your life back. Addiction takes away, but recovery gives back.

In the following excerpts from his autobiographic book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King tells how a family intervention helped him make that important choice:

“My wife, finally convinced that I wasn’t going to pull out of this ugly downward spiral on my own, stepped in. It couldn’t have been easy—by then I was no longer within shouting distance of my right mind—but she did it. She organized an intervention group formed of family and friends, and I was treated to a kind of This Is Your Life in hell. Tabby began by dumping a trashbag full of stuff from my office out on the rug: beercans, cigarette butts, cocaine in gram bottles and cocaine in plastic Baggies, coke spoons caked with snot and blood, Valium, Xanax, bottles of Robitussin cough syrup and NyQuil cold medicine, even bottles of mouthwash.

“The point of this intervention, which was certainly as unpleasant for my wife and kids and friends as it was for me, was that I was dying in front of them. Tabby said I had my choice: I could get help at a rehab or I could get the hell out of the house. She said that she and the kids loved me, and for that very reason none of them wanted to witness my suicide.

“I bargained, because that’s what addicts do. I was charming, because that’s what addicts are. In the end, I got two weeks to think about it.

“In retrospect, this seems to summarize all the insanity of that time. Guy is standing on top of a burning building. Helicopter arrives, hovers, drops a rope ladder. Climb up! the man leaning out of the helicopter’s door shouts. Guy on top of the burning building responds, Give me two weeks to think about it. I did think, though—as well as I could in my addled state—and what finally decided me was Annie Wilkes, the psycho nurse in Misery. Annie was coke, Annie was booze, and I decided I was tired of being Annie’s pet writer. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to work anymore if I quit drinking and drugging, but I decided (again, so far as I was able to decide anything in my distraught and depressed state of mind) that I would trade writing for staying married and watching the kids grow up. . . 

“Little by little I found the beat again, and after that I found the joy again. I came back to my family with gratitude, and back to my work with relief—I came back to it the way folks come back to a summer cottage after a long winter, checking first to make sure nothing has been stolen or broken during the cold season. Nothing had been. It was still all there, still all whole. Once the pipes were thawed out and the electricity was turned back on, everything worked fine.”

How about you? How long will you stand on top a burning building, or watch your loved one stand there? Will you be the helicopter offering help for your loved one to get their life back? Start by downloading our free intervention guide, or call us to schedule a visit. Whether it’s for yourself or a love one, recovery is worth the investment.