A conversation with Chris Aguirre
I met Chris Aguirre in May in the wonderful on-line world of addiction recovery. His site The Recovery Revolution Online is outstanding and fast becoming one of the ‘go to’ on-line recovery destinations.
Addict2016: My first question is generally the same: are you currently using (I presume not) and, if not, what were you using when you stopped?
Chris: I am not. I used alcohol and ecstasy supplemented by cocaine and freebase. On occasion, mushrooms and acid.
Addict2016: What was the catalyst for your sobriety? Was there a defining moment?
Chris: There was. The simple answer is I was sitting in my car – drunk and high – outside a club one night when I had a moment of clarity that I couldn’t go on as the embarrassing, shameful mess I had become.
Addict2016: You are a motivated man. The work you do on Recovery Revolution is inspirational. How did it all start?
Chris: By chance I found myself with a small handful of friends and family who had come out to me as struggling with substance use issues. I became more than a little frustrated and disillusioned when, despite my years of sobriety, I seemed unable to help any of them in any meaningful way. It was then that I realized I had a lot more to learn about addiction, sobriety and recovery. So I decided that if I couldn’t help those close to me I would try to help others.
Addict2016: It is difficult to help a loved one. It’s funny, as soon as I mention my alcoholism or recovery everybody has something to talk about. True help is harder to give, as an addict rarely listens to good advice. Being a musician I have known many people with addiction issues. It is hard not to come across as preachy, or holier than thou. The best and essential thing that we can do is tell our stories.
Chris: That’s exactly why I started the podcast. It allows me an almost steady stream of consciousness vis-à-vis my mental health and what I know/believe/feel about addiction/sobriety/recovery.
Addict2016: So you are not An AA/NA man?
Chris: I am not. I am not ‘anti’ anything out of hand. I recommend AA to people on the reg. I try to include multiple perspectives on the site, which is continually evolving.
Addict2016: I love Recovery Revolution. How long has it taken to build and do you do all the work yourself?
Chris: Since June 2014. I do everything but write the posts and even some of those are mine.
Addict2016: All this is very scary as a parent.
Chris: Yeah, I know there’ll be little I can do about it if things go that way. How old is yours?
Addict2016: She is ten but very curious. She came top in her class in a recent quiz about drugs. My addiction scared her though. To my shame.
Chris: Well, last night we were just telling my six year old that the only mistakes are ones you don’t learn from. Living with Daddy’s job being about recovery, she has a loose grasp on the concept.
Addict2016: Were you a father when you were an addict?
Chris: No, it was well after that. I had been sober nine or ten years when she was born but I’ve been a father through some brutal bouts of depression, which is its own beast.
Addict2016: Was your addiction due to self-medication? So many people’s are.
Chris: I think so. I was a socially anxious, depressed kid; uncomfortable in my own skin.
Addict2016: I can certainly relate to that. My recent alcohol years were definitely due to stress coming from all directions. I needed to bring down the curtain.
Chris: I just wanted to be all the things I wasn’t. Or at least thought I wasn’t. Mad, bad and dangerous to know…and rich and popular and, and, and
Addict2016: I think I score three out of five. Not bad. Rich I can live without.
Chris: I’ve learned that I cherish life with as little drama as possible now, which is distinct from excitement. Though I need far less of that too these days.
Addict2016: I find my recovery exciting. My blog, being back in a band, Djing again.
Chris: That’s exactly it!
Addict2016: I don’t want to think about turning stuff down. I want to say yes to everything. I used to be like that about drugs.
Addict2016: In your darkest days, could you have foreseen your current life?
Chris: Never. I thought I was going to go out in a blaze of pathetic ignominy. A blasé of glory. I was terrified of ending up in prison for a bit.
Addict2016: I too got into many scrapes…one including ten thousand ecstasy pills.
Chris: Shiiiiiiiiiitttt. It’s always the DJ.
Addict2016: Do you have any ambitions…dreams for the future?
Chris: I would love to able to have what I’m doing contribute to the financial bottom line of my household without doing it on the backs of people that need what I am doing. It’s a predicament but I’m working on a solution.
Addict2016: Indeed. How about for Recovery Revolution?
Chris: I haven’t really stopped in two plus years to consider how to steer it once it took. I’m trying to keep my ego in check and not say I want to be the biggest or best recovery destination on the web. After all there is room for all of us. I think I’d just like to be well-respected and not let it get ‘safe’…maybe even get ‘edgier’.
Addict2016: Is your abstinence absolute or is there any drug you would feel ‘safe’ taking now?
Chris: I take Rx (prescription) meds for depression and anxiety but I wouldn’t risk anything else. I could barely be convinced to take the Rx.
Addict2016: My doctor found it amusing that I didn’t want anti-depressants, despite everything I had stuffed into myself with impunity. He actually laughed.
Chris: My neurologist is the one who got me to take them when he asked the most un-doctor-like question: ‘What’ll it matter in 10,000 years?’
Addict2016: Some of them are cool…like humans. What would your advice be to an addict seeking recovery?
Chris: I still feel woefully unprepared for that question. But what I find is true of all situations is much what my neurologist said to me. I suggest: You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.
Addict2016: Many thanks. It has been a great pleasure to talk to and learn more about you. I greatly admire your work.
Chris: Terrific. Thanks so much. I’ve enjoyed the chat.