Conquering A 50-Year Addiction
If you follow the VRC blogs, then you’re well aware of our Spotlight Series; where we highlight inspirational recovery advocates and the work they’re doing to promote sobriety. Sometimes it’s a politician, sometimes it’s a celebrity and other times, it’s an everyday person who has an extraordinary story to share. This week’s profile happens to fall in the latter category.
Clinton Lanier’s road to recovery is important on many levels. A Vietnam War veteran, he battled addiction for 50 years and, at the age of 70, made a conscious choice to get clean. Now he’s become a vocal advocate of sober living, speaking with the press and showing seniors that it is possible to beat addiction at any age.
It’s extremely rare to come across someone who has dealt with substance abuse for over five decades. Tragically, for many, addiction can claim their life much sooner than that. But, like Clinton, there are others who suffer in silence and continue to function, despite a crippling abuse cycle.
Drugs happened to be Clinton’s vice and they first got a grip on him in 1966. Back then, he was an 18-year-old private serving in Southeast Asia. While overseas, he was introduced to illicit substances and was never able to let them go until last year.
Amazingly, Clinton was able to hide his 50-year habit from both family and friends…Not that it wasn’t serious, of course.
“When I’d get high, I’d say, ‘God, please, don’t let me do this anymore,’ and wake up the next morning and go buy more dope,” he told The Savannah Morning News. “My family actually never knew. I never really hit bottom. My bottom was mental, not physical.”
But he does admit that his habit cost him a lot of things in life. Though Clinton was able to hold a job and provide for his family, he claimed to have spent up to $2,000 a week on cocaine. Admittedly he could have gone a lot further with his career, had drugs not gotten in the way.
When the time came to make a change, Clinton used his military support system to help see him through. Through his local VA clinic, Clinton was able to get into treatment and ultimately kick his habit. Now, he’s using his notoriety to help seniors and, particularly, older veterans who are using to cope with the trauma of war.
“A lot of vets, they need the program,” he added. “They need recovery, but they don’t want it. They want the pain to stop, but they don’t want to put in the work. We have a disease. It doesn’t make us crazy and it doesn’t make us bad people.”
We applaud Clinton and the great work he’s doing to promote sobriety from age 70 and beyond.