Party Time

Randy doesn’t dwell on his past or resent the mistakes he’s made in life. He celebrates how far he’s come in recovery from the ongoing despair of alcoholism and addiction.

It was “party time” in Dana Point, CA when Randy’s father left him and his family at 12 years of age. Randy was about to try alcohol for the first time. Randy and his friends had stolen a bottle of Wild Turkey from his parent’s liquor cabinet. “I remember the feeling I got from it. It took away all the pain and the shame that I had from my dad leaving our family.” The pleasure Randy got from drinking was unparallel, and he wanted to keep feeling the relief that alcohol supplied him with.

“The oldest liquor store in Dana Point, California, sells bumper stickers that say, ‘It’s Party Time in Dana Point,” Randy said. “That was the slogan. It was a party atmosphere. Smoking weed and doing cocaine was kind of the norm.” As a freshman in Highschool, Randy used marijuana and cocaine for the first time. Although Randy was partying all the time, he never did get into any trouble at in Highschool. It was until college that things first started to appear bleak.

While in college at the age of 18, Randy was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was arrested and ordered to a rehabilitation center for 30 days. “I had known that I was an alcoholic,” Randy said. “When I was 16 years old, I had the shakes in the morning. I had to have a couple of shots of whiskey just to calm the nerves.” After leaving rehab, Randy didn’t take recovery maintenance as seriously as he should have. He was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous while in rehab, as well as educated on the disease of alcoholism and addiction. Instead of heeding the advice of his peers, he made his primary focus college. It wasn’t long until Randy dropped out of college due to his addiction to cocaine and alcohol.

Randy’s life was now a progressive cycle of inevitable obsession. For the next 30 years Randy would face an ongoing battle with his addiction. Randy’s been arrested numerous times on drug charges, but most of his prison time stemmed from a trio of burglary charges. “I picked up two strikes real quick,” Randy said. “I was looking at 25-to-life.” Randy attempted to turn his life around while in prison. “There’s plenty of alcohol and drugs in prison, but I never used or got high in prison,” Randy said. After staying sober for 3 years built a relapse prevention plan. After he was released, he began going to recovery meetings, got into a sober living home, and found a job. “I went to meetings and worked the steps,” Randy said. “But I wasn’t whole-heartedly in the program. I’d meet a woman. She would become my focus instead of my recovery. I’d eventually relapse because I wasn’t staying focused.”

After his most recent relapse, Randy had feared for his life. When he used methamphetamine, he felt a sense of foreboding. His last overdose was a wake-up call. As a religious man, Randy called upon a pastor at his church that primarily assisted individuals in recovery. The pastor had referred him to a psychiatrist. Randy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed him medication to ease the cravings for alcohol. “My psychiatrist told me that I’m fighting a battle on two fronts, and I don’t need to fight one of those battles,” Randy said. “The cravings are one battle. The other is learning how to live sober. I’ve never really learned to live sober.”

Randy has been sober now for 44 days and is heavily involved in volunteer work for his church as well as Celebrate Recovery. Randy can’t help but laugh when he talks about his recovery. He doesn’t dwell on his past. He celebrates how far he’s come. It’s because of the attitude and the resources he has now that this time is going to be different for Randy Kemp.


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©2019 by Christopher Thompson.