Interview with Robert Boich: ‘An addict only has to change one thing – everything’
Robert Boich standing at Chateau Eza outside of Monte Carlo
“…I knew I had to go someplace where it would be virtually impossible to find anymore drugs. I spent three days and nights in Munich, mostly in my hotel room, contemplating wht lay ahead of me. It wa sa very difficult time, much toughter than my previous attempts at sobriety. I was alone. My wife was in rehab seven thousand miles away. There was really no one to talk to…as I began to examine my life and the situation I was in, I started to realize some of what I had put my family through. It was the start of the process of owning up to some of my deficiencies as a father, a husband, a son, and a person.”
This is extracted from Robert Boich’s powerful memoir/self-help book, Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting: A Bridge from Addiction to Early Recovery.
As Boich says, “Making a resolution to address an alcohol or substance abuse issue is only the beginning. The real work begins when the alcoholic or addict acknowledges that something has to be done. As one counselor put it, ‘An addict only has to change one thing: everything.” More than mere abstinence or simply eliminating certain people and places from one’s daily routine, a successful recovery requires a brand-new approach in dealing with life.”
In this compelling, intimate narrative, Boich shares his struggles, and insights encountered during his first six months in recovery.
We interviewed Boich to find out more about his rivoting new book.
Thank you for this interview, Robert. Your book, Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting!, must have had some painful memories to write. Was it all based on your own life story?
Yes, it was.
When was your first experience with drugs or alcohol?
There were occasions growing up when my parents or a relative would give me a sip of wine, or I would suck a little foam of my grandpa’s beer, but my first real experiance was when I was fourteen. I think it was the summer before my freshman year of high school. A cousin and I got into our grandfather’s fridge and grabbed a six pack of his beer. That was my first WOW! moment with drugs and alcohol; where I really felt the effects of it, and more importantly, when I realized that I liked the way it made me feel.
Why do you think it spiraled out of control?
Looking back at things now, I realize it was out of control early on in my life. I drank all through high school; not a lot at first, just at parties on the weekend. I started smoking pot, which I really liked, during my first year of high school as well. Weekends turned into weeknights and by the time I graduated from high school I was smokong and drinking on a daily basis. At the time– the mid seventies–it seemed like everyone was doing it. It wasn’t until I got sober that I realized it was really only the crowd that I hung around with that was doing it all the time. I began experimenting with othr drugs as well. My consumption and variety of substances kept increasing through college and into my adult life. As to the final days, or years, the death spiral, I don’t know? At the time I had some excuses I would use, but in reality I think everything just kind of caught up with me. The signs were there for a lot of years, but I ignored them. I’m no different from most addicts and alcoholics: it wasn’t that something bad happened evertime I drank or used; but everytime something bad happened I was under the influance.
Do you think it’s hereditary or do you feel you fell victim to society’s pressures?
I feel there is most definately a hereditary factor to the problem. It’s a disease, and like a lot of diseases it can be passed on through the genes. That’s not to say that I don’t also beleive that an individual can be driven to addiction. Substance abuse offers an escape from the difficulties that life tends to rain down on us at times. The problem is that it never solves any of life’s problems. It usually just creates more problems.
When was the turning point? When was it that you said enough was enough and I’m going to seek help?
It was actually more of a process for me. I had already failed at my first two attempts to get clean; the first was a traditional thirty day rehab, and the second was a self-administered attempt at changing my routine. My wife actually got the ball rolling this time around. She had decided that she was going to go back to rehab. Her initiative forced me to take some action. The first step was to get semi-cleaned up. I thought I would be able to continue drinking and smoke a little weed if I stopped using other drugs. At the time I thought cocain was my real problem, and if I could kick that then all would be well.
I agreed that I would enroll in an intensive outpatient program when my wife got out of rehab, but I still thought that I could pretty much do things my way. I talk about all of this in more detail in my book, but the real turning point came out of the blue. I came home from a dinner shortly before my wife was due to be released and realized that I just wasn’t happy, even when I drank. I had been exposed to 12-step meetings during my first rehab and would occasionally attend one; not for me but because I thought my wife needed them. The day after the dinner I went to two meetings. I didnt’t know it at the time, but I was surrendering. I had had enough and I was ready to listen. That was April 4, 2007, probably the most important day in my life.
What advice can you give families who are going through what your family went through?
Unfortunately, its not good. In my experiance, you can’t force someone with a substance abuse problem to get clean. The addict has to want to change. I would reccomend that family members learn as much as they can about the disease.Talk to professionals in the field. Al Anon is a good starting point for information, especially when alcohol is involved, although the program can be applied to any substance. If you can get the person into rehab then do it. It might not take the first time, but it may at least plant some seeds in the addict’s head.
Who are what do you blame for this disease?
That is a real explosive question, and I’m not sure how I want to approach it. From the disease standpoint, its a medical issue. If someone has it, they have it, case closed. Does our society have a tendancy to glamorize alcohol and drugs? Yes, sometimes that is the case. But, keep in mind that the problem of alcoholism has been around for a long time; probably since the time that the first grapes were crushed. I’ll leave it at that for now. Maybe we can continue this one at a later date.
I thank you so much for this interview, Robert. Godspeed to you!
Thank you for your interest in my story and the opportunity to do this interview. I would be more than happy to address any questions from your readers. You can reach me through my website at http://www.rwboich.com/ .
Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com are the best way to obtain your copies, although you can order it in in most bookstores. You can visit Robert’s website at www.rwboich.com for more information about the book.