Profiles in Recovery

Bill Dinker

College graduation is a big moment for most millennials. But Dinker, who had graduated magna cum laude, had little time to celebrate. He was headed to jail the next day for an alcohol-related DUI, which led to a crash that injured four people.

Dinker’s alcohol problem progressed to a painkiller addiction and later, regular heroin use. He got clean and sober after intensive rehab and today helps others through his work at Discovery Place, the non-profit treatment center where he recovered.

What I lost to addiction:
There are two things that pained me like no other – losing my freedom and the trust of my family.  I’ll never forget the look in my mom’s eyes when I told her I was addicted to heroin and needed help.  She later confessed that she felt like she was “sinking in quicksand.”  Ironically, I felt the same way.

On relapse after incarceration:
I quickly learned jail wasn’t the place to be around Christmas and New Years.  Fights took place almost daily.  But despite losing my freedom, I started using as soon as I was released.

That’s the disease of addiction. It knows no logic, no rhyme, no reason. It just consumes. Everything.

At my worst, I was:
A zombie. Literally. I remember my roommates approached me after finding drug-related items in our bathroom. Both of them agreed I was far removed from the person I once was . . . my roommates talked about how I never laughed or joked around anymore. “You used to do that all the time,” they said. There wasn’t anything to laugh about.

Favorite recovery quote:
“If I always do what I’ve always done, I’ll always get what I’ve always got” ~ Mark Twain

What worked for me:
104 days at a residential recovery program (Discovery Place), three months in sober living while continuing to participate in treatment, 12-step meetings, daily mindfulness meditation, consistent work with a sponsor.

Best advice for newbies:
There’s no one who can recover for you. It’s not for people who want it. It’s for people who do it.

I’ve spent thousands of hours talking to people considering recovery or new to it.  My best advice? Stop fighting the process, listen to those who walked the path before you and do the work they suggest. If you do, you’ll get the result (recovery). If you don’t, you won’t.

Thoughts on sponsorship:
You have to hold your sponsor just as accountable as he/she holds you.  I demanded recovery.  If I had a sponsor who wasn’t working me through the steps, I found a new sponsor.

What I learned at rock bottom:
When I was an active dope fiend, I thought withdrawals were the worst possible thing that could happen to me.  When I looked in the mirror one day and didn’t recognize the person I’d become, I discovered there were far worse things than withdrawal.

How I get through the holidays:
First, I call my sponsor.  Second, because I have a family that drinks at parties, I always make sure to prepare myself mentally and immediately ask for a non-alcoholic drink.  It’s works so far 🙂

What I value most in recovery:
The obvious answer is my sobriety because everything depends on that. But really, it’s the joy of helping people in need.

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].