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Hitting Bottom at 65 and Celebrating Sobriety During the Golden Years

Matilda K., a retired financial analyst who lives in Boise, Idaho, is recovering from drug addiction. She knows what it means to get sober later in life. Here, Matilda tells her personal story of addiction and her experience in recovery. Matilda considers herself a sassy sixty-something gal who still has a lot of life left to live – someone who wouldn’t dare refer to herself as a “senior.” Matilda admits she still has her demons to battle and secrets to reconcile. She is currently working on Step Four with a sponsor in the program of Narcotics Anonymous and says she intends to work all 12-Steps if it’s the last thing she ever does. Matilda realizes getting sober late in life is a blessing. Here’s more on Matilda……

Matilda Gets Sober at 65

Hi, my name is Matilda and I am a recovering addict. Even my name sounds old, doesn’t it? Matilda. Today, people have names like “Taylor” or “Britney,” right? I don’t know, I guess I just feel super sensitive these days when it comes to my very existence, especially my age. It’s no surprise that suddenly I would resent the sound of my self-proclaimed old-sounding name. Getting sober later in life may be a blessing, but it comes at a price. Anyway. I am 65-years-old. I have six months and eleven days clean. By God, I am proud to say that. This is not the first time in my life I have gotten sober. But, I hope it is the last. I realize my days are numbered and I want them to count. I want to meet my Maker with clear eyes and a straight soul. So, there it is. And, here I am. I will tell you that one of the things that help me get by is knowing a lot of favorite musicians who have gotten sober later in life. I am not the only one in my sixties trying to get my life straightened out. A lot of people my age are in recovery.

Matilda Talks About Hitting Bottom Later in Life

To give you a quick recap of my lifelong addiction, I started using dope when I was 21. I was a college student at a major university in California. It started with the reefer, but before long, I was trying everything I could get my hands on.  I never really settled in on one drug. I did what was available. I had my “phases,” as I would call them. You know, there was the cocaine phase. The Quaalude phase. The crack phase lasted a lot longer than I planned. Whew. Barely made it out of the 80’s alive. If you looked at me, you would have no idea that I was a hardcore junkie for most of my life. I was the vice-president of a bank and I am a grandmother. I live in a nice house, drive a nice car, and I live off my hard-earned 401K. That’s the thing. Addiction doesn’t discriminate, although some people think it does. But, there’s something I want to point out. You don’t have to lose everything to get clean. So many people associate hitting bottom with homelessness or prison. Sure, addiction does take people to those places, but it doesn’t have to. You know you have hit bottom when you stop digging yourself into a deeper hole. For me, hitting bottom happened when I put my loaded .357 Magnum to my head after waking up on the bathroom floor on the morning after my sixty-fifth birthday. I was hopeless. Powerless. Unmanageable. I checked myself into a 60-day inpatient treatment center. I stopped digging.

Matilda’s Advice for Seniors Early in Sobriety

I get asked a lot to give advice to other seniors who are getting clean later in life. I hate it. Stop calling us seniors, you young whipper-snappers! We are people. We just happen to be older than you. The only thing that makes older people different than younger people is that we have seen more days begin and end than you have. We are further down the road, yes, but we’re not dead yet! I don’t just have a story for so-called seniors. My story is universal. It is the story of the disease of addiction and the battle to overcome it. Simple as that. What I will say about getting sober later in life is that it sucks. Almost every person at the meetings I go to is 30 years younger than me. I have kids older than most of the young people who go to my home group. The age difference makes it difficult to connect. Although I am very close to a number of recovering friends I have made in meetings, they cannot relate to what it means to be sober at 65 because they cannot relate to being 65. They haven’t had the experience yet. I want to be clear. The people in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous have always welcomed me with hugs and love. No one has ever discriminated against me because of my age. I just feel out of place.

Matilda’s Advice for Youngsters Early in Sobriety

I think I have more to offer young people than I do people who are my age. Men and women who are also getting sober later in life…..well, they just kind of have to figure it out like I have. Young people are different. I want to shake them and say, “Wake up!” Don’t spend your entire life drunk or drugged like I have. Now, I am filled with regret and remorse. I have squandered sweet time and no amount of money in the world can buy you more time. One thing I would tell anyone who wants to get clean in Idaho is that there are a lot of in-patient centers. Make sure you pick the right one. I started out in a dump of place when I went to detox. I stayed one night and checked myself out. Thankfully, a family friend recommended the rehab I ended up going to, which was an answer to prayer. I guess you could say I got sober in style. The treatment center was an upscale place with good food….. and I am still clean all these months later. Do you have an addiction? Don’t wait until you are 65 to get sober. Do it today. Are you getting sober later in life? What’s your experience?