Archive

Recovery

Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

Remember when old people used to give you advice?

I certainly do.

When I was young, I dismissed much of that as poppycock – but I was an entitled little prick back then.

It’s not that I was arrogant or mean. In fact, I played the game perfectly. I was a good kid. A sweet kid. It seemed to whomever was dispensing wisdom at the time that I was really listening.

My body language was in line with those moments. I looked people in the eye. I nodded and smiled and thanked those old farts for their sage advice.

And then I went on doing exactly as I pleased.

And it’s generational. My daughter just admitted to me that she did the same thing – but I was on to her long ago…

Just like my sister was on to me – and (sorry, man) my brother.

Chris doesn’t remember, but I do. Maria bought us t-shirts that said: “Sorry If I Look Interested. I’m really not.”

She pegged us.

Hubris coupled with good manners. What a strange cocktail. Passive rebellion.

But now, much of that unheeded advice is biting me in the ass.

The importance of having a nest egg, for instance – what Napoleon Hill called The Habit of Saving…

I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I failed to understand that saving just a little bit of everything I earned could have put me in a good position in later life. It could have, in fact, made me rich. I’m talking about a forty-year span, give or take. Compound interest would be doing its job and I would have been sitting pretty.

And how about drugs, alcohol and the time wasted in those pursuits…

Not merely the act of drinking and drugging, but the ill-advised hanging out – talking about nothing for hours, as if this were important. Babbling, waiting for the next bump or the next drink. Spending time with folks with nothing more in common than our addictions…

…and thinking too much about getting laid.

YOLO went haywire. After all, was this really living? And if we live only once, shouldn’t I have been building a life that I could be proud of?

Carpe diem probably meant something other than what I was seizing. I can see that now.

Hard lessons learned the hard way.

Procrastination also took its toll, with my incessant can-kicking. I wish the can got kicked down a dead-end road instead of an endless expanse. At least I could have retrieved the can and set it right.

I might have believed it, but I never came to terms with how short this life really is. When older folks told me things like that, I lacked the perspective to grasp the wisdom that was being dispensed.

There is a cliché to the effect that life would be so much easier if we listened to the advice of our elders, but the vanity of youth overrode this truth. I would do things my way.

What an idiot.

Photo by R. Fera on Pexels.com

I was recently impressed with a quote from Jason Leister that went like this:

“You do not need permission to be who you are here to be.”

Sounds compelling, doesn’t it?

Why is it that so many of us feel as if we need a nod from others before we embark on our genuine lives? Why is it that we transfer our innate power to others? Why do we leave it up to others or so-called fate to decide which is the best direction for us?

Why do we play the waiting game?

Why do we hitch our wagons to the stars of others instead of forging ahead in our pursuit of the hopes and dreams we cherished when we were young?

Did somebody important to us – a parent, a sibling, a close friend, a boss – squash our self-esteem?

Did something someone said or did take the wind out of our sails?

Did a major setback, loss or disappointment take all the fight out of us?

Did we settle?

Did we abdicate the throne of self-direction and choose instead to live as subjects to a new monarchy of control, restriction and suffocation?

Did we buy into the trading-time-for-money paradigm for so long that its walls closed in on us?

Did our past decisions lock us away in a prison of despair and self-doubt?

Did we decide to numb the pain of our abdication with drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, shopping or ambition?

Do we expect to buy our way into heaven with good deeds?

Do we think God is punishing us?

Do we harbor bitterness and resentment?

Did one too many gatekeepers deny us entry?

Do we make too much of small things?

Do we overreact to perceived slights, only to realize that the offending party isn’t even aware of having caused any harm?

Were we programmed early on by school, church or state to obey others in “authority” before ever considering the malign motives at play?

Do we long to break out of our self-imposed prisons?

We must bake the file into our own cake. We must not expect others to “bust us out.”

God does not punish us.

We punish ourselves.

Ever since I met him, Casey King has been all about changing the face of recovery.

King, a physics professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Myrtle Beach, founded and launched the college’s Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series in 2008. He was also HGTC Professor of the Year in 2019.

He has been sober since 2005.

Through his work with the series, he hopes to reduce the stigma that society places on those in recovery.

My first experience with him was in 2016, when I covered the series for The Sun News, a McClatchy newspaper here on the Grand Strand. That year, actor Danny Trejo was the keynote speaker. I have had the pleasure of covering him and the series in subsequent years as well – and it’s an honor to count him a friend.

You can read some of my previous coverage HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

The Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series is a popular event that has included a growing “Who’s Who” of featured celebrity speakers – from actors [Louis Gossett, Jr., Mackenzie Phillips, Danny Trejo] to rock stars [Everclear’s Art Alexakis, Bob Forrest from Thelonious Monster] to medical professionals [Dr. Drew Pinsky] – and more.

The series also features presentations and panels including college students, recovery advocates and spokespersons from local recovery groups, rounding out a lecture series that shines as a beacon of hope for those still struggling with addiction and a lamp on the path of those on their recovery journeys.

The program is set to continue this year in a virtual setting on the Zoom platform, beginning on January 28 and continuing every Thursday until February 18.

Throughout the COVID-19 situation, King has hosted recovery meetings on Zoom with attendees as far afield as Berlin, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Tenerife – featuring some of the folks slated for the series. He cites these online meetings [what he has called a World Home Group] as pivotal in the decisions of some speakers to commit.

It seems that the pandemic is not going to get in the way of the series this year. It’s just a change of venue from physical to virtual.

This year, the series features an astounding celebrity lineup including Craig T. Nelson, Carnie Wilson, Paul Williams and more [see above graphic].

My brother and I recently had a conversation with Casey on EPISODE 22 of our podcast, and we’re glad we did. Casey opened up about the history of the series, his own recovery journey, how things came together for this year’s event and much more.

Rock on. We do recover.

For more information, click HERE.

Larry David Photo: Sports Illustrated

I have written before about the fear of my intentions being misunderstood, and some of my friends responded that they felt the same way about theirs. It’s a thing, and there must be a basic human need to be understood. We have societal structures in place: language, manners and nonverbal cues. These things can help us avoid being misunderstood.

But it happens to me quite often.

Just when I think I have gotten over one misstep, another one comes along to start me back down the rabbit hole of uncertainty, overthinking and loss of sleep.

I believe in being positive, but I also aim to be truthful about this. I don’t want to sweep this under the carpet or grit my teeth and try to will it away.

Related to this phenomenon are what I call Larry David moments. These are not so much about being misunderstood, but rather the awkward moments, mistakes and misfires in my daily life that make me want to crawl under a rock.

These are not game-changing life events, either.

I know from experience that many of these moments are mountains-out-of-molehill situations, but for me the discomfort is very real. And because I am sober, I need to find ways to deal with them.  Maybe writing about them will help.

Here are a couple examples of what I am talking about from the past week or so – but there were more than just these two.

THE WRONG WRIGHT

My last blog post, “Is 56 the New 12?” featured an excellent rendering of Harry Potter’s Professor Snape with my face edited into it by my friend and fellow writer Brendan Wright.  I credited another friend, Bill Wright, with the photo. It was only after Brendan saw it and reminded me that he had created it did I remember where and when he first showed it to me a couple of years back.

The memory is a funny thing, and to say I was chagrined is an understatement.

In my mind, coming back from something like that is tough. For other people, an apology would suffice. For me, the need to overexplain reigns supreme. Of course, I apologized and made a quick change to the post, but that’s not the point. For me, the damage had already been done.

I lost face. The only logical end to this would have been for Brendan to cut off my head after I gutted myself. Seppuku.

Why didn’t I remember…

SOMEBODY STOP ME: THE MASK INCIDENT

Photo: Brendan Wright

I was taking a break at work the other day, sitting in the closed cigar lounge at Tinder Box Myrtle Beach with my girlfriend, Brenda. A mask was dangling by a loop my right ear.

“So what,” you might say…

Here’s what sent me into a tizzy:

Our friend, Meghan, came to see us. She was outside lounge door, which was locked. Brenda let her in while I remained seated.

Meghan made some awesome masks for us to help us through this time of social distancing, and we’re grateful for them – but when she came in that day, the mask that was dangling from my ear was not hers. Rather, it was made by another friend, Karan, who was kind enough to send us a few great masks as well.

Based on my anxiety level, you would have thought I got busted sleeping with somebody I shouldn’t have been sleeping with.

I was speechless and my mind was racing. What course of action would be best? All I could think to do was quickly unhook the mask, let it drop it into my seat and try to play it off the best that I could.

What was my motivation in that moment? Why was I so awkward?

Did Meghan notice? I don’t know, but I continued to babble. I realized even then that I should have addressed what was, to me, the elephant in the room.

Seppuku, anybody?

Why didn’t I just say something…

Like, would Meghan really care that I wasn’t wearing a mask she made and opted for one of Karan’s that morning? Unlikely.

Would Brendan lose sleep over the fact that I made a mistake about a photo he made for me in fun? I wouldn’t think so.

Nothing in these events would indicate that my friendships with Meghan or Brendan would suffer – but in those moments, I feel like it’s curtains for me.

I asked my daughter to take a look at a draft of this post, and she said, “Wow. I really am your daughter.” She went on to tell me that she once texted an apology to a friend who didn’t even realize there was an issue.

My Larry David moments border on the pathological.

Does anybody else feel this way?

What is old?

Photo Work: Brendan Wright

I’m 56, so I guess that depends. To a teenager, I’d be ancient.

I don’t feel much different than I ever have, and God knows I act like the perennial 12-year-old – albeit with the weight of decidedly adult stresses and the consequences of the decisions I have made over decades bearing down on me – contributing to what might be a low-level but persistent depression called dysthymia.

But is that it, really? Dysthymia is defined as a mild, chronic depression – less severe and with fewer symptoms than major depression. And it can continue for years.

If you know me, you’d hopefully see a positive and upbeat person. That’s true, too. We humans are complicated. Every new day brings a chance for new vistas of opportunity and renewed hope.

If I were to experience a sea change in my finances, I suspect I’d be even more upbeat. It’s not money that is the root of all evil, after all – just the love of money…

My mother’s first husband, I have been told, had something to say about this – a riff on the old quote about having been poor and having been rich, and rich was better: “I’d rather cry myself to sleep on a silk pillow,”

I always found that to be amusing.

But a good friend of mine told me that he went to a high school reunion, and many of his peers who had made the “right” decisions – perhaps pursuing “The American Dream” by finishing college, dutifully working a solid career path, marrying and raising a family, saving for retirement and buying a home – perhaps enjoying the finer things in life – looked old, played out and decidedly unhappy.

Why?

Of course, many others are completely happy and fulfilled.

Still others peaked in high school. You know the ones.

I have zig-zagged my way across the country, worked jobs that make no sense on a linear resume, and have lived in major cities and rural areas. I have been addicted to drugs and alcohol, and I need to get over my fear about giving voice to this, because there is a lot of ground to cover.

I was a single parent for many years and have been sober for nearly six years.

But for more than a decade, I have been fortunate enough to be engaged in the things I love, namely writing and music. Sure, the paychecks could be vastly improved – but I am happy to be writing, playing and singing.

Without a doubt, I am most grateful for the relationship I enjoy with my twins – a son and daughter, now 26. I don’t know if I could have gone on if not for the absolution they seem to have granted me. They love me and I them, forever and always.

So far, I have none of the aches and pains that many other men complain about after 30. I am as inflexible as I have always been, and I have been doing my part to make sure I exercise and stretch. I hope I have been given some sort of cosmic dispensation; that because I am attempting to take care of myself, the universe is responding in kind.

My reflection in the mirror – this 56-year-old man looking back at me – betrays a still-youthful twinkle in the eye, the corners of his mouth ready to curl upward into a smile – the laugh lines growing deeper with each passing day.

The other night, I watched a film called “Bob and the Monster.”

On the face of the title alone, you’d likely expect some sort of story about a monster that lives under Bob’s bed. Bob could be a child, and the monster could come out to introduce himself. Perhaps they become friends – or maybe the monster comes out to scare the shit out of Bob.

Not quite.

“Bob and the Monster” is a 2011 documentary by filmmaker Keirda Bahruth – a look at rocker and recovery advocate Bob Forrest, longtime frontman for punk outfit Thelonious Monster but perhaps best known to the general public as the shoot-from-the-hip counselor on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

The film is the story of Forrest’s transformation from dangerously addicted indie rock star to the respected beacon of recovery he is today.

I decided to put this film into my queue after talking to my friend Casey King, a physics professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College here in the Grand Strand area. King is also the organizer and founder of the college’s long-running Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series – which for 12 years has featured an impressive roster of celebrity speakers, most of whom have overcome the burden of addiction.

We’re talking about folks like Louis Gossett, Jr., Mackenzie Phillips, Danny Trejo, Everclear frontman Art Alexakis and many more. This year, Forrest spoke on March 5, followed by Dr. Drew Pinsky on March 12.

For the past few years, I have had the opportunity to write about the series in The Sun News, a McClatchy paper here in Myrtle Beach. This year was no exception. CLICK HERE for the February 19 story. I was able to speak with Pinsky via telephone, and Forrest got back to me with some awesome email content – thanks to King.

King has said many times that he wants to change the face of recovery – and that change is happening as more and more professional people come forward in their recoveries and make their stories known.

“It no longer has quite the stigma that it had 15 years ago as I began my journey,” he said.

He has always been gracious enough to make sure I got seats for the recovery events I covered, but this year my gig schedule conflicted with the Thursday events – and I wasn’t able to see either man’s presentation at the college. Because I am moving toward six years of sobriety, these events are important to me – and King knows this.

I was happy when he told me about a talk Forrest was to give at the C3 Coffee Bar in Conway (right up the road from Myrtle Beach), presented by Lighthouse Behavioral Health Hospital. I’d be there with bells on.

When I arrived, I found King, and there was Forrest – unassuming and real. From what I gathered, the crowd was made up mostly by mental health professionals – and Forrest delivered a compelling talk, not only about his struggles with addiction, but also about the problem of how to reach today’s young people who are struggling with substance abuse, a decidedly entitled demographic.

What struck me was how ardently Forrest pursued the sex-drugs-rock ‘n’ roll thing. There was a good deal of cache attached to it, especially if you were a young rock musician in Hollywood. I daresay many of us went into that lifestyle with our eyes open. Forrest himself said in “Bob and the Monster” that it was his goal to eventually shoot heroin.

Today’s dynamic is not so straightforward but every bit as deadly.

My “inspiration” was a biography of Jim Morrison called No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman. I was a happy kid. I wonder what my life would have been now if I hadn’t decided to drink and do drugs.

After Forrest’s presentation at the coffee bar, he and many of us convened for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant called El Patio in Conway. It’s good to know that there are folks who give a damn about recovery in our neck of the woods. Methodologies and approaches may vary, but hope remains that folks can and do recover.

Forrest’s advice to those in the throes of addiction is this:

“First and foremost, don’t die. Especially nowadays, with fentanyl in almost everything and tens of thousands of people dying of overdoses every year, being safe and not dying is the absolute most important thing.”

He said he had overdosed and been revived a few times and was starting to think things were not going to end well for him.

“But of course that wasn’t true at all.  What I figured out is that as long as you don’t die, amazing things can happen.  It takes time, but life becomes this amazing adventure.  I was able to be there for my son, and I have two more small kids now. They’re my life, and they remind me what’s important.  It comes down to love – and to just being here with each other.  Life can be brutal and harsh, but it can also be such a beautiful, poetic experience.  And it doesn’t last long.  So we need to forget about all those BS trappings of ‘this car is going to make me happy’ or ‘this toy is going to make me happy.’ I think a lot of us who’ve come through recovery know that better than ‘normal’ people do. It’s relationships. It’s music. It’s nature. It’s experiences. It’s love.” 

Forrest now has his own recovery center, Alo House. It is his hope that anybody who needs help knows that they are there and that they really care. Reach out by clicking the link above.

Alexakis HGTC1

With Casey King and Art Alexakis Photo: Gene Ho

On February 21, I went to see Everclear’s Art Alexakis tell his recovery story at the 12th annual Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series at Horry-Georgetown Technical College.

When he was growing up, Alexakis went through more than a kid should ever have to go through – raped by neighborhood teenagers when he was a pre-teen, a father who abandoned him and his older brother’s fatal overdose when Alexakis was 12. Not long after this, his girlfriend committed suicide.

He started shooting up at 13 and suffered a near-fatal cocaine overdose when he was 22.

Alexakis got his shit together well before he enjoyed success with Everclear, which was a staple on alternative rock radio in the 1990s with such hits as “Santa Monica (Watch the World Die)” and “Everything to Everyone.”

Event organizer and HGTC physics professor Casey King did a terrific job yet again this year. The event was well-attended, and Alexakis fielded thoughtful questions from audience members after his talk. It was also good to see photographer Gene Ho there again this year – memorializing the moments of the event and snapping attendees with Alexakis afterwards.

Gene was also Donald Trump’s campaign photographer. He is currently on a tour to support his book, TRUMPography, which chronicles the campaign with behind-the-scenes stories and, of course, photos.

Alexakis shared much of his story in a piece I wrote for The Sun News, the McClatchy affiliate here in Myrtle Beach. You can find that story HERE.

The Addiction and Recovery Lecture series is a four-part weekly event every year. It usually includes speakers, student panels and other presentations focused on recovery – with one night handled by a group called FAVOR, or Faces and Voices of Recovery, which is headed up by Dr. Victor Archambeau.  See my previous blog post for a FAVOR event last year.

Last night marked the third such event I have covered about Casey King, et. al., for The Sun News. Last year, it was Mackenzie Phillips and the year before, Danny Trejo.

I’m well into in my fourth year of recovery. Alexakis has been clean and sober since 1989. When a man with so much recovery time speaks, it’s a good idea to listen.

My takeaways from his talk included the importance of being present and aware, no matter how hard that may be. That rung a bell for me, because I catch myself overthinking “what-if” scenarios or “time traveling” – thinking about the future, say, a deadline or an upcoming gig – or beating myself up over some event in the past.

Alexakis also talked about channeling addictive tendencies into creative pursuits. I am on board with that, but sometimes that channeling impacts my ability to be present.

 

 

 

FAVOR - Concert of Hope

My friends at the Grand Strand chapter of Faces and Voices of Recovery – or FAVOR – are working tirelessly to remove the stigma attached to those in recovery, and I have always loved their mantra: “We do recover.”

The advocacy group recently moved into a new space in Myrtle Beach, located at 4953 US 17 Bypass South.

According to executive director Nicole Criss, FAVOR recently took over operations for the Refuge of Hope transitional house in Myrtle Beach.

“It’s a house on Third Avenue North,” she said. “There are 12 or 13 guys living in it, and we were officially given the OK from the landlord to take it over.”

The recovery house had plans in the works to present an event at Chapin Memorial Park, called Concert of Hope. By default, according to Criss, this is now a FAVOR event.

“They already had that in the works, and they needed a 501(c)3. They wanted us to umbrella the event as well,” she said, adding that proceeds would go to FAVOR to be distributed where appropriate.

The Concert of Hope will take place on Saturday, July 21 from 11 am to 10 pm, and will feature Christian artists such as Josh Paul, Charles Scarlette and Doug Corum – with a special appearance by pastor and author JP Miller – and more.

Happy to say that The Yale Brothers will be performing from 4:15-5:00 pm.

FAVOR will be selling raffle tickets for $10. First prize is $500 cash. Other prizes include gift cards for restaurants, zipline, golf, and more.

For more information about the wonderful work being done by FAVOR, click HERE.

FAVOR - Logo

 

 

 

 

 

roger-with-casey-king-and-danny-trejo

(With Casey King and Danny Trejo. Photo: Gene Ho)

On Sunday, February 12, The Sun News published my profile of professor Casey King, founder of the Horry-Georgetown Technical College Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series, which kicked off last Thursday and will continue for three more weekly installments.

King teaches physics at both HGTC and Coastal Carolina University, and has been organizing this series since 2008. He will be the first to tell you that the series has very little to do with him and that it has taken on a life of its own.

I am grateful to King for his candor during the process of putting together the story, as well as for contributions from Dr. Victor Archambeau, local chapter chairman of Faces and Voices of Recovery – or FAVOR – as well as the heartbreaking input from a young man by the name of Dylan Parker, an HGTC student who lost his brother to the heroin epidemic in 2013 – and for a couple of to-the-point quotes from actor Danny Trejo.

Danny Trejo? “Machete?”

Yup.

Trejo was the series headliner, slated to kick off the event on Thursday night at the Burroughs & Chapin Auditorium on HGTC’s Conway campus.

I was bummed out that I was not going to be able to attend that event because of a weekly gig I play at House of Blues with my brother – but as fate would have it, I got a message from King. It turns out that Trejo was also set to speak in a classroom setting at HGTC’s Myrtle Beach campus Thursday morning, and King offered to save me a seat.

roger-and-trejo

(Photo: Gene Ho)

Thankful to have been included, it did my heart good to hear Trejo speak. For an idea of what he was talking about, go here.

And here is my Sun News article:

‘Machete’ star to make appearance as HGTC’s Addiction and Recovery Lecture series headliner

On Thursday, February 16, actor Danny Trejo will kick off the 10th annual Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, bringing his story of personal transformation to the Grand Strand.

Trejo’s iconic rugged demeanor has served him well over the years, and he has appeared in dozens of films from “Desperado,” “From Dusk till Dawn” and “Con Air” to the “Spy Kids” trilogy, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and of course “Machete” and “Machete Kills.”

Trejo, now 72, struggled with addiction early on and has been sober for a jaw-dropping 48 years.

The HGTC Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series has been going strong since 2008, bringing with it a veritable Who’s Who of well-known people who have struggled with addiction: Louis Gossett, Jr., Meredith Baxter, Steve Ford [son of former President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford], three stars of A&E’s “Intervention” and more.

The series continues for three consecutive Thursdays following Trejo’s event and will include featured speakers and community panel events.

Longtime HGTC physics and natural sciences professor Casey King is the organizer and the de facto face of the series, even though he will be the first to tell you that it has a life of its own.

King has been living and teaching on the Grand Strand for more than 20 years, following a stint in nuclear energy. After finishing graduate school at the University of Virginia, his first job was as a radiation specialist for the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission [NRC] in Chicago.

“That lasted about a year, and I last worked in a nuclear power plant. I was there for about four years until about 1994,” he said.

He said he was miserable.

“I worked in the control room and it was either incredibly boring or intensely manic,” he said. “The job was bipolar.”

King made the switch to academia when a job came open at Coker College in Hartsville and he was accepted to teach.

He went on to other teaching jobs at Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College before transferring to HGTC in 1996. He also began teaching math and physics at Coastal Carolina University in 2003.

“It was like a breath of fresh air, and incredibly refreshing to begin to teach. That’s why I have been in the teaching field for 23 years. I love it, and look forward every day to going to work,” he said.

King has four adult children, three of which he raised as a single parent. He has been in a relationship with partner Jennifer Neafsey for nearly eight years.

King also struggled with addiction. He said he thought he had a lot of people fooled along the way, and that an active addict by his very nature has a way of covering things up.

“When my career with substance [abuse] appeared to be at its end, I knew I had no other choice but to seek some kind of help. It had been suggested to me by some friends that 12-Step programs worked – and I knew enough to do something before it was too late,” he said.

King got sober in 2005.

At that time, he was involved in organizing a general series of lectures on assorted topics at HGTC, but this changed in 2008.

“After we had done this for a few years, my partner dropped out and it was just me. I chose to include the topic of addiction and recovery because It because it was near and dear to my heart,” he said. “It was something that I had decades of experience with.”

King knew plenty of people in recovery and was already in the position to reserve the auditorium.

“I don’t think I have any special ability, but it just seemed like I was in the right place at the right time to do this lecture series.”

But he had no funds to work with, and relied for the first few years on local counselors and doctors to speak – sometimes more than once.

Eventually, HGTC got behind the series with the funding he needed to ramp things up.

The series has always been free and open to the public.

“There has never been a charge for any of this over 10 years. No money has ever been involved from the attendees,” he said.

The first Hollywood-connected speaker came in the form of screenwriter William G. Borchert, who lived in Little River at the time and wrote the 1989 film, “My Name Is Bill W.,” based on the true story of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and starring James Woods and James Garner.

King’s networking efforts paid off next when he secured cast members from A&E’s “Intervention” for speaking slots in the lecture series – and his relationship with them has grown into a valuable resource to the point where he calls them whenever he needs to.

“There are people that come to me for interventions, and I will farm it out to one of them. It’s networking at its best,” he said.

Locals might remember the billboard on U.S. 501 touting the arrival of academy award winner Louis Gossett, Jr. last year. His speaking engagement was so full that some attendees had to use an overflow area.

This is shaping up to be the same scenario with Trejo.

“We’re making plans to accommodate a large crowd. There will be closed-circuit television in five rooms,” said King.

King just got word that a film crew will be on hand to grab footage from this event for a Trejo biopic currently in production.

“I want people to see that there are multiple paths to recovery – and when Danny Trejo comes, he will tell his story and how he did it. On the second night [February 23], there will be six to eight students – all local and in recovery – who are going to tell you their stories.”

On Thursday, March 2, William C. Moyers will tell his story.

Moyers is VP of public affairs for community relations for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and son of journalist Bill Moyers. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption.”

The final installment of the Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series on March 9 is sponsored by the local advocacy group Faces and Voices of Recovery – or FAVOR – and will include the showing of a film called “Generation Found,” which focuses on youth addiction and recovery in Houston.

Local FAVOR chapter chairman Dr. Victor Archambeau said he met King in more than three years ago, when FAVOR was being formed on the Grand Strand. The group has been involved with the lecture series since then.

“Casey joined FAVOR and asked how we could help,” he said. “He offered to extend the conference to four nights and let us have the fourth night for a program of our choosing.”

Archambeau is a family practitioner who said he has been in recovery for 23 years.

In addition to sponsoring the showing of “Generation Found,” Archambeau said FAVOR members will help with the dinner service for all four nights.

archambeau-and-shirley

(FAVOR Chairman Dr. Victor Archambeau and FAVOR Secretary Susan Shirley. Photo: Matt Silfer for The Sun News]

King’s efforts in the name of recovery are not lost on Archambeau.

“Casey is passionate about what he does and really wants others to get the message about recovery. This program is a labor of love for him and requires a huge commitment of time and effort to make it work,” he said.

HGTC student Dylan Parker is not in recovery, but he will be telling his story on February 23.

Parker lost his brother to a heroin overdose in 2013, when Parker was 15.

“My brother Clay was someone I always looked up to dearly and loved,” he said. “He was my best friend, and we connected on so many things that we were almost twins. I don’t remember exactly when Clay first admitted his addiction. After his death, a lot of things went blurry on me.”

Parker said his brother’s problem started with the abuse of pills – first taking them orally and then injecting them – ultimately moving on to heroin and the black tar that ended his life.

“Clay’s death showed me that drugs are a disease,” he said. “It’s one that people don’t want to realize or acknowledge. I was once one of those people. Drugs not only took my brother. They’ve taken away a part of my mom and dad. When Clay passed away I didn’t want to keep quiet about his addiction. I wanted people to know that drugs are a real problem and they show no discrimination.”

Parker said his brother’s death gave him the ability to share this story with The Sun News and to speak at the lecture series.

“If this could help or save someone then by all means I know my brother is proud of me. It’s time to speak up and help those that are in need,” he said.

Although King is the founder and organizer of the lecture series, he strives to keep himself out of the picture as much as possible.

“I am not an expert. I am a physics professor and just happen to be in recovery. It’s not about me. It’s about the series,” he said.

In a statement, Trejo told The Sun News that he has never been to Myrtle Beach before.

The focus of his message is to the point:

“Never give up on someone.,” he said.

And for those thinking about getting help, Trejo had this to say:

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train.”

For more information about the HGTC Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series, email Casey King at casey.king@hgtc.edu or call 843-477-2154.