Recovery Rocks: Chip Somers

ChipReally pleased to see the latest Recovery Rocks on the Veronica Valli website. I have a lot of respect for Chip Somers. Here’s what Veronica has to say about her latest interviewee.

‘Chip Somers is the co-founder and CEO of Focus12 Treatment Centre in Bury St Edmunds, UK. Focus12 was the first treatment centre I worked in, and it really did teach me everything I know.

It’s an inspiring place, where no matter what they have done or how low they have gone, addicts and alcoholics are treated with the utmost love and respect. For 16 years they have been putting lives and families back together.

Although they get lots of support from their patrons Russell Brand, Boy George and Davina McCall, as a charity they are always need to raise extra funds. Which is why I’m donating 15% of the proceeds from my book Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom to help support the marvellous work they do.

One of the highlights of working at Focus12 is seeing all the former clients and families at the annual reunion. I’ve attended these over the years and it’s extraordinary to see how former clients have turned their lives around. People change so much physically when they get clean and sober, that I often see former clients and can’t physically recognise them.

When an addict or alcoholic gets clean, it not only transforms their own lives, but the lives of the people who love them also.

I read about the statistics of recovery all the time and they paint such a miserable picture of failure. The percentage of failure is high, and yet when I go to a Focus12 reunion I see hundreds upon hundreds of people whose lives have been transformed. So something’s working.

In fact, it’s working so well that Focus12 have had to regularly move the reunion to larger venues because they don’t accommodate all the people who have got clean and sober there.

There is a plaque on the wall when you enter Focus12 and it sums up the philosophy of its program and the ethos of its staff: “Treat a man as he were and what he ought to be and you help him become what he is capable of being.” Goeth

When you know Chip, it’s hard to believe he was a hard-core addict who lived on the streets and would do anything for his next hit of heroin. I’ve only known him as a respectable and humble recovering addict. Since getting clean and sober several decades ago, he has tirelessly helped addicts and alcoholics turn their lives around

I’m so glad I can share some of his story here.’

1. Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
I was supposed to be looking after my daughter who had come to me saying she was hungry. This was quite difficult for her to do, since she was 8. I eventually managed to borrow a tenner off someone and went straight away and bought drugs with it.

Came home a few hours later to find my daughter crying and frightened, as I had not only left her alone but without food too. I had met a few people in recovery by then so this action hit home hard.

2. What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?
Doing Step 1 in treatment and seeing clearly for the first time in my life the way that my drink/drug use had devastated every area of my life and never benefited me in any way.

3. What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Good. A bit scary. I found social situations hard, but I was so thrilled not to be using and having to hustle every day. I felt a huge weight lifted from me.

I was desperately self-obsessed but everything was novel, every experience was new and I started to realize I was not a piece of shit. People were kind to me and identified with me – that was very important.

4. What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
I have life. I have an amazing career. I have left a legacy of good things. I have a stable home. I have an amazing marriage. I have incredible friends. I am never alone. I travel freely. I am the man I always wanted to be.

5. If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
“You’re not useless! You’re actually quite a capable man and people like you for you.”

6. What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
That it is OK to be flawed. That actually knowing about my flaws and almost finding them humorous has relieved me of trying to be perfect and of course failing all the time. I have learnt I am kind and responsible, with a gift for being able to inspire other people.

7. What are your favorite recovery slogans?
Keep it Simple. One day at a time. Stick with the winners.

8. And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?
Recovery rocks because if you are in recovery you can do anything you want to do. You can see the world, discover new things every day and be a feeling being part of society, and at times be at peace with yourself.

Great stuff, Chip. And thank you for another great Recovery Rocks, Veronica.