We Are the Luckiest: An Interview with Laura McKowen on the Magic of a Sober Life
Addiction affects a staggering number of lives in the United States; not just those who use substances, but family, friends, co-workers and society at large. According to Defining the Addiction Treatment Gap, a CATG review of the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other national data sources, addiction continues to impact every segment of American society.
“Drug use is on the rise in this country and 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs,” said Dr. Kima Joy Taylor, director of the CATG Initiative. “That’s approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 — roughly equal to the entire population of Texas. But only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment. It is staggering and unacceptable that so many Americans are living with an untreated chronic disease and cannot access treatment.”
Laura McKowen, MBA, is a no-holds barred, calls it as she sees it (a.k.a. kick-ass) writer, speaker, podcast host, and former PR professional. Her life story is related in her book entitled We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life. It reads like it was written on one of those Viking ship gondola rides. The reader goes waaaay up and then waaaay down with her, holding on for dear life as if any minute they could be tossed off and into the abyss as she had been countless times.
Laura found alcohol to be, as is true for many in recovery, both friend and enemy. Saying farewell to it was not easy but lifesaving and soul nourishing. She pays forward the support she received to sustain her sobriety by writing about it and offering guidance in online and in-person platforms.
The book begins with the description of the experience of being lost in the fog of alcohol and black-out drunk at her brother’s wedding in 2013. By all appearances she had an enviable life as the mother of a delightful daughter named Alma, a large circle of friends, a successful career, a beautiful home, as well as substantial income that afforded her more than a comfortable lifestyle.
At the end of the book, she speaks of meeting with a friend from AA and they talk about the kind of life one can live, when alcohol is no longer at the center of their world. The woman told Laura that she has a “nice little life,” which initially dismayed her since she imagined it to be boring and limiting when compared to the high intensity, albeit unhealthy and dangerous one she had lived. She wanted an expansive existence, one filled with color and pizzazz.
I am sober by choice. I have a rich, full life and alcohol plays no part in it. Most of my friends either don’t drink, either because it doesn’t feel necessary, or because they are in recovery. Those who do, generally drink occasionally, and I have never seen them majorly intoxicated. I am also an addictions counselor and I choose to be in solidarity with those who refrain.
I had the opportunity to interview Laura and was delighted that she shared her journey, not just in her book, but beyond the pages.