Profiles in Recovery

Mike Barry

Barry was a popular television anchorman in Lexington, Kentucky. But while his public profile was rising, Barry fell deeper into alcoholism – eventually becoming homeless. Now 20 years sober, Barry leverages his remarkable life story to help others overcome drug and alcohol addiction.

Day Job:
CEO of People Advocating Recovery (PAR) – Kentucky’s statewide recovery community organization. Founding board member and former Board Chair for Faces & Voices of Recovery, a national advocacy group.

What I lost to addiction:
I lost myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. I could not comprehend what I had become. I lost my family, my job, filed bankruptcy, lost my home, and ended up in a homeless shelter.

My rock bottom moment:
Looking in the mirror in a sleazy hotel in Florida and wondering what the hell happened. I realized I was finally all alone. Not only had I burned all my bridges, but I had blown them up.

What worked for me:
I tried several treatment centers, churches . . . I was in a homeless shelter that just had started a long-term 12 step recovery program. I went through that program three times before finally surrendering and understanding that only a power greater than myself would work.

Advice to my younger self:
Listen to others who tell you that you have a problem. Drop the ego and be thankful they care enough to tell you.

Rules I live by:
Principals before personalities. Every person has a right to recovery no matter what. I’m open minded and believe that there is no one program that works for all.

Favorite recovery quote:
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

On My Bucket List:
Travel back to Europe while sober to enjoy and marvel at all the things I overlooked on previous trips.

When cravings come:
It’s been long enough now that I find it amusing realizing how the brain disease functions. The thought process will last only for a second or two and there is no action to use. I am fully convinced that I can never do “just one” or that I can ever get back that initial feeling of euphoria.

What I learned about myself:
I love living life without alcohol or drugs and not having to plan my schedule around them.

On my schedule today:
Meeting in the state capitol and attendance at the current legislative session, working on new laws to remove the stigma and barriers to recovery. This evening I’m speaking for a friend’s 25th sobriety birthday.

Best advice for newbies:
Be good to yourself. Forgive yourself. Take it easy and enjoy the process. Life is all about the total journey.

I get inspired by:
The multitude of blessings that come with living life. Seeing the lights come on for someone working to achieve recovery.

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