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My Name Is Marty Walsh, And I’m An Alcoholic

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Marty Walsh-Boston-Mayor-AlcoholicThe U.S. presidential race is in full swing, and late last month the Democratic and Republican parties officially announced their candidates at their respective conventions. At the opening night of the Democratic Convention, one speaker quietly made his way to the stage and started his speech with a familiar refrain:

“My name is Marty Walsh, and I’m an alcoholic.”

Mayor Marty Walsh: Sober for 21 years

Marty Walsh has been the mayor of Boston, Massachusetts since 2014, and he’s been sober since 1995.

Before running for mayor, Walsh was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. And before that, he had worked in the Labor Trades, becoming president of his local union at the age of 21. By 22 though, he had found a fondness for alcohol and began drinking heavily.

In his speech, he credits his recovery to the support of the labor movement and his family. “On April 23, 1995, I hit rock bottom,” he told the audience at the Democratic Convention. “I woke up with little memory of the night before and even less hope for the days to come. Everybody was losing faith in me, everybody except my family and the labor movement.”

He hasn’t had a drink since, and more than 20 years into recovery, he still reportedly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Shedding the stigma

Mr. Walsh is a supporter of Hillary Clinton, and voiced his support throughout his speech. As there always are in politics, there will certainly be critics. But politics aside, people like Mayor Walsh are helping to shed the stigma of addiction.

Boston Magazine ran a follow-up feature on Walsh’s speech a few days after it aired. In it, they spoke with Lori McCarthy, director of clinical outreach at the Cape Cod addiction treatment center where Mayor Walsh sought treatment decades ago. During the interview, Ms. McCarthy explains that more than anything, Mayor Walsh’s speech represents hope for those with substance abuse problems.

“Someone like Mayor Walsh, who is so openly proud of his recovery, not only reaches out to the recovering community,” she says. “But it also gives so much hope to families and individuals that are still suffering the consequences of addiction.”

And more than support, she told the magazine, his candidness can go a long way in encouraging people to get people the care they need. “The more people that are known—CEOs and presidents of colleges and clergy and the mom or the dad—[the better,]” she says. “If we can be more open about recovery, then it’s going to be easier for people to accept treatment.”

Getting treatment when you need it

Our society and justice system still has a ways to go as far as reform. It is unfortunate but true that, because of the structure of our legal system, many addicts receive punitive sentences instead of the treatment they need to get better.

But with conversations like those from the Mayor Walshes of the world, there is hope for change.

Still, even without immediate justice system reform, all is not hopeless for addicts. If you’re suffering from substance abuse, we can help you. If your family is suffering because someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, we can help you. We have a care team that is both knowledgeable and compassionate. Recovery is possible. Call us to learn how we can make it happen with you: 1-800-861-1768.

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