Profiles in Recovery

Paul Churchill

How does a closet alcoholic hold himself accountable in recovery? Paul Churchill went public, starting a weekly Internet podcast to bolster his sobriety.

During his 20s, Churchill owned and operated a bar in Granada Spain, and was blacking out 5-7 nights each week from heavy drinking. He also spent a night in jail after being arrested for DUI while driving to work. Churchill recounts his struggles and successes on the “Recovery Elevator” podcast. The popular program, which also features weekly guests, is nearing 250,000 downloads on iTunes. “I never imagined it would connect me with alcoholics all over the planet,” Churchill says.

What I lost to addiction:
I lost my mind . . . well, the ability to rationalize what my mind was telling me. I was being lied to by my own voice over and over. My mind still lies to me, but now I am able to decipher what inner voice is speaking.

At my worst, I was:
In a spot where ending my life was the best option and that’s what I unsuccessfully tried to do in August 2014.

What worked for me:
Accountability. I didn’t see progress until I started telling people closest to me the truth about how serious my drinking was. That’s how I managed to get one month of sobriety. How I have made it over 20 months is with the Recovery Elevator podcast (launched the first episode in Feb. 2015).

Stigma I faced:
I felt ashamed and defeated when I went to AA meetings. I wanted to run from tree to tree so I wouldn’t be spotted entering an alcoholics meeting. It seemed like I was the only one with a drinking problem and that is simply not the case. The stigma is dangerous, extremely dangerous.

Advice to my younger self:
Hey Paul, are you dizzy? You’ve been trying the same tactics to get sober without success for a long time and you’ve done a lot of circles. Paul, listen closely. This is a disease. If you want to see your 33rd birthday, throw your pride and “genius ideas” out the window and start working with other alcoholics who have gotten sober.

Favorite recovery quote:
“Must go through it to get to it.”

On my bucket list:
Travel the world speaking to schools, groups and others about alcohol. I want to use what nearly took my life as my rocket fuel to help others.

I get inspired by:
Hearing people’s stories. How they got sober and how they got back up after a relapse. People in recovery are the most courageous people you will ever meet.

In a hypothetical world, if I had to take over the Roman Empire hundreds of years ago, I would do it with an army of people in recovery. We simply don’t accept defeat and keep fighting!

Proudest moment:
When I received my first email from a listener about 2 weeks after I launched the podcast. It was evident the podcast was really helping people. Since then, I have received thousands of emails and messages from listeners. It never gets old and it helps me stay sober.

Thoughts on relapse:
Relapse was a huge part of my story. I have been sober for over 20 months and the thought of a relapse terrifies me, but if I do relapse then who cares. I would be accountable, tell the world via the podcast, not beat myself up, and start over again on day one.

This is a powerful disease, not a matter of will or weak character.

Follow Churchill’s free podcast at: http://www.recoveryelevator.com.

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