Profiles in Recovery

Robert Hammond

A best-selling author, screenwriter and producer, Hammond enjoys a life of creative achievement. It’s a radical change from his drug-addicted past. Hammond was often in prison, homeless, or cycling through rehabs from ages 14 to 42. Today, as he approaches 20 years of recovery, Hammond reflects on the power of self and the joys of his second act.

Day Jobs:
Author of self-help and consumer finance books, including Life After Debt, which sold over 100,000 copies. Film and television writer/producer (Hammond’s script “C.B. DeMille” won Best Screenplay at the 2011 Los Angeles New Wave International Film Festival). Former spokesperson for Capital One Financial Corporation.

What I lost to addiction:
My health, material possessions, jobs, relationships, and self-respect. I compromised my values and lost time that I can never get back.

At my worst, I was:
Addicted to heroin, heading to prison, suffering from depression and a host of physical ailments. On death’s door.

My turning point:
As part of my treatment plan, my counselor arranged for me to write out my moral inventory in the form of a memoir. For more than an hour a day I poured out all my thoughts and memories. The result was a catharsis that led to emotional healing and spiritual insight . . . writing transformed my life and I have seen it transform the lives of countless others. Stories heal. Stories change lives.

Favorite recovery quote:
“The first step to peace is to stand still in the light.” ~ George Fox

When cravings come:
I practice a form of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy that helps me stay centered in the present moment and be aware of my thoughts and feelings.

On My Bucket List:
I’m currently developing a television show about early Hollywood that will highlight many of the stars who were caught up in addiction and other self-destructive behaviors. I want to show how these problems are not new, and how people now have many more opportunities for recovery.

What saves me from myself:
The light within is a quiet source of truth and guidance. The key is to be still and know. If I am quiet for just a moment and listen and wait, the inner wisdom reveals the next indicated step. Some would call this God or a higher power. Some might call it their conscience. I just refer to it as the inward light.

Proudest moment:
On the eve of Easter, 2013, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. granted me a full pardon.

Best advice for newbies:
Spend some daily time in quiet reflection, surround yourself with positive people, eat healthy food (reduce sugar and processed carbs), exercise, and spend time in nature. Share your story and help others.

Thoughts on relapse:
I spent nearly half of my life either addicted to drugs, in jails, prisons, or in various rehabs. It took a long time for me to finally hit bottom and say “enough is enough.” For anyone who thinks it’s too late for them, just know that as long as you still have life, there is hope. It’s never too late.

Follow Hammond on Twitter: @roberthammond

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