fbpx

The Nameless Recovery Show
Episode #4 RJ Orr & Estil Wallace

Cocaine, Strippers and miracles. In this episode, Estil and RJ get real about recovery from alcoholism and some of the crazy shit that happens along the way.

Estil Wallace:

All right, well RJ, officially welcome to The Nameless Recovery Show. Today, if you don’t know this handsome fellow in front of me, this is RJ Orr. He is founding member and partner at bluemedia, he’s my friend, colleague, and in many ways my mentor. So happy to have you on here man.

RJ Orr:

Thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Estil Wallace:

Awesome. I really just want to talk about drug addict shit, man. I know that you’re in recovery. Been recovered for a long time.

RJ Orr:

Yes, just celebrated 23 years.

Estil Wallace:

Congratulations.

RJ Orr:

I get the math wrong, but just had that.

Estil Wallace:

Congratulations.

RJ Orr:

Doesn’t mean a whole hell of shit, except it’s cool to say.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, well you’re aging nicely in recovery.

RJ Orr:

Thank you.

Estil Wallace:

You look great. Well, so you got sober young.

RJ Orr:

23 years old. So I’m now sober the same amount of years as I was alive when I got here.

Estil Wallace:

Was it weird getting sober young?

RJ Orr:

It was only weird in the respect that you saw so many of your friends that were living a lifestyle that you felt you wish you could do. You’re 23, so it wasn’t like I had a drinking and drug problem and I was my age now, 46 years old with three kids. I was 23.

RJ Orr:

So I was around a lot of hard partying people, so that was the weird part about it, that you’re like, “Do I really have a problem?” Because you’re comparing yourself to those you’re hanging out with, but you got to a point where you’re like, “Yeah, I actually really do have a problem.”

RJ Orr:

So that was the hardest part about getting sober young, but then on the flip side of it, it was the coolest thing about getting sober, because… Oh, go closer.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah. There you go.

RJ Orr:

A little better.

Estil Wallace:

Oh yeah, I can hear you so much better.

RJ Orr:

Okay, but the flip side is, it was the cool part about getting sober at that age, because there were a lot of young kids that got sober and they’re around my age. I was lucky that my class, if you will, of that year had a lot of cool guys around it, that were my same age.

RJ Orr:

Liked to hang out. They were of the opinion that just because I’m sober doesn’t mean that I don’t get to have fun anymore. So we would hang out and do a bunch of stuff and still have fun, which for me, that’s really what bridged the gap between my previous life and thinking that the only way you could have fun is just to go get loaded and act crazy and do crazy stuff.

RJ Orr:

But getting to the point where I was able to have a lot of fun and really enjoyed being in life, was huge for me at that young age.

Estil Wallace:

It seems to be a theme, the last couple of people I’ve talked to have said the same. I talked to Aiden Fishbein on the last episode, and he got sober at 18, and he said the same thing. He said he was surrounded by a group of guys that just had a lot of fun and it was like a whole new adventure.

RJ Orr:

I mean we had a sponsor, a lot of my friends we had the same sponsor, at least a few of my tight guys, we all had the same sponsor. And he was young-ish too. I think he was probably six, seven years older than all of we were, but he would just make us do the craziest stuff just for the fun of it.

Estil Wallace:

Like what?

RJ Orr:

So I mean, for example, he had a company that does flooring and he was doing this huge commercial job on the West Side, and we always used to hang out at coffee houses and stuff in Scottsdale.

RJ Orr:

And so we’re hanging out one of the coffee houses and he calls up my buddy, Jeff, and he’s like, “What are you guys doing? He’s like, “I’m just with RJ and some friends, blah, blah,” and he’s like, “All right, cool. I need you to go down to this particular coffee house down in downtown Phoenix, get me this particular drink and drive it out to me,” at this place he was doing this job.

RJ Orr:

And so we’re like, “All right, what the fuck? Scott’s making us do this.” But just the fact that we went to this other coffee house, got him this particular coffee, drove it out, we were just listening to music, having a good time. I mean just hanging out and having fun, just real fun, like genuine there’s no strings attached to it.

RJ Orr:

Because that’s the thing obviously when you get to the end of your drinking and drug career, it’s not as much in the beginning, but it graduates to this point. It graduates to this point where you’re not forced into, but you forced yourself into situations where those relationships have strings attached to them, and it’s one way or the other.

RJ Orr:

Typically alcohol starts small, but it’s not that hard to pick up a 12-pack, but when you start doing cocaine and starting to get into really fun stuff, then it really comes down to the people that you’re hanging out with or the people that are hanging out with you, it’s dependent upon who’s supplying those drugs.

RJ Orr:

So I found myself, and not to say that they were bad people, but you hung out with particular people because of what they could give you. I didn’t have any money at the time, so I was on that end, that I pinballed around to people, because I wanted what they had and usually that was, for me, cocaine.

RJ Orr:

That was the driving catalyst towards the end, and so now you’re in these relationships you’re like, “Hey, what’s going on here?” And to not have that and have all of that removed, and you hanging out with friends that just really enjoy your company and like you for you, it’s pretty cool.

RJ Orr:

It’s sometimes a little bit harder to recognize when you’re younger and more probably something that you graduate to when you’re older, but that was the difference. And having those kinds of friendships really helps solidify me in early sobriety, because it’s hard when you’re 23. it’s hard when you’re 18, 23, because you’re like, “Hey, maybe I just ran on a streak of bad luck. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was those people I was hanging out with.”

RJ Orr:

Always trying to find a justification for your alcoholism and your drug addiction, and when you’re getting yourself into a situation in early sobriety and you don’t have that outlet, it’s tough. I feel now that I’m older and I’m sponsoring people that are older as well that are in the same situation, because you’re always attracted to a sponsor that has what you want.

RJ Orr:

So I’ve graduated sponsors over the years to people that are like, “I want that. I can relate. They’ve got family, a job, et cetera.”

Estil Wallace:

I picked one of those guys right out of the gate.

RJ Orr:

Right. That’s what you do, right? So with that said, now I’m not sponsoring 18… not that I won’t sponsor 18, but the majority of the guys I’ve sponsored are a little bit older, because they’re gravitating towards me as a 46 year old with three kids.

RJ Orr:

And for those guys, they don’t need that as much. They do need the camaraderie, but they get a lot of that from the meetings. They don’t necessarily need the post meeting camaraderie, because for them the reward is what they get at home. I’m sober now, I go to meetings, and I come home and my wife enjoys when I come through the door, my kids are happy I’m there.

RJ Orr:

That’s what they get that inner feeling of sobriety from, whereas when you’re younger you don’t have those things so you need to have a good group of other young people around you that you’re happy to hang out with.

Estil Wallace:

I totally agree. I got sober at 26, so still youngish, old enough to be beaten down, but young enough still that I was the same. I needed some a kind of social connection, I needed some shit to do besides go home to four walls. I found myself going to the halfway house where I got sober.

Estil Wallace:

When I didn’t live there anymore, I would get off work and I would just go back there. Just hang out, smoke cigarettes, and talk to new guys.

RJ Orr:

I’m going to keep remembering the… so Jamaican Blue, that was the Scottsdale, Jamaican Blue.

Estil Wallace:

Yes. Dude, we used to get high in the parking lot. I had a friend that served coffee there when we were in high school. I used to hang out at Jamaican Blue all the time.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, Jamaican Blue, that’s where we hung out a lot.

Estil Wallace:

That’s where I got this phoenix on my arm done.

RJ Orr:

Really?

Estil Wallace:

Yes.

RJ Orr:

That tattoo place right next to it.

Estil Wallace:

There’s been a tattoo shop for 15 years.

RJ Orr:

Has it really?

Estil Wallace:

Long time.

RJ Orr:

So Jamaican Blue, I’ll try to remember… The Willow House.

Estil Wallace:

The Willow House.

RJ Orr:

I’m on point, Willow House is where we had to go to get the coffee first.

Estil Wallace:

I used to go to Willow House when I was new.

RJ Orr:

Because they had meetings in the little garage behind back.

Estil Wallace:

The city closed that place. The building’s still there.

RJ Orr:

I’m not sure. [crosstalk 00:08:40]

Estil Wallace:

It’s something else now.

RJ Orr:

That’s interesting, because the Willow House is good connection to me in early sobriety and my first real big trial and tribulation as far as being sober, and the testament to those guys that I was talking to.

Estil Wallace:

What happened?

RJ Orr:

So it was Halloween. I got sober May 23rd, 1997, and it was Halloween of that year in ’97. And Halloween for me had always been a difficult holiday in the respect that that was my New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve for me wasn’t really the party day. I was actually a lot more reserved on New Year’s Eve, for whatever reason. I would still party, but Halloween was my let’s go get it holiday.

Estil Wallace:

Same, I loved Halloween.

RJ Orr:

Loved Halloween.

Estil Wallace:

I think I was just as crazy on New Year’s Eve, but I loved Halloween. Halloween was a party day for me.

RJ Orr:

Halloween was [crosstalk 00:09:36]. So we’re sitting in Jamaican Blue, it was me and Jeff and my buddy Brandon, and we’re all sitting around and just this overwhelming feeling came to me of like, “Holy shit, I’m 23 years old and this sucks and I’m sober.”

RJ Orr:

Because people are running around, still, it’s not Jamaican Blue was this only sober coffee house. People were walking, I mean it’s in Old Town too. So people were coming in and I just was like, “I’ve got to get to a meeting.” And I think it was 9:00 or 9:30 at night and the only meeting really rolling was at 10:30 down at the Willow House.

RJ Orr:

And I just looked across the table, I’m like, “I got to go to a meeting. I’m freaking out right now.” And got in my car and drove down to the Willow House to the 10:30 meeting, and sat down. Five minutes later they all walked in.

Estil Wallace:

That’s so rad.

RJ Orr:

They’re like, “We’re not going to leave you alone dude. You need help.”

Estil Wallace:

And you made it sober to the pillow one more time.

RJ Orr:

Yep, absolutely. But that’s a testament to 12-step programs and the meetings that they provide. And I say this all the time, especially the new guys, I’m like, “You can’t pick a better town to get sober in than Phoenix, Arizona.” I mean it’s just an amazing place to be sober, because you’ve got just run the gamut of meetings that you can go to.

Estil Wallace:

Every fellowship.

RJ Orr:

Every fellowship, just great people in this sober community here. And the fact that there was at 10:30 on Halloween night at the Willow House and then that all my buddies, it was like 10 people came in to support me. So that’s a big deal, because I’ll be honest with you, had I not really had a good core group of people, sponsors are great, I think in some respects close friends and sobriety are even better, you know what I’m saying?

RJ Orr:

Because you need both, but having that core group was great, because if that meeting wasn’t there and if those guys hadn’t come and supported me, I can’t promise that I’d still be sober today.

Estil Wallace:

And I couldn’t agree more. There’s been multiple times where fairly significant things, at least to me, happened in early recovery, and guys that I knew that I got sober with had my back. And if they hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have made it.

RJ Orr:

Absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

And like you already said, it wasn’t that they were supporting me any other way but just emotionally. They were just holding my goddamn hand while I went through something tough.

RJ Orr:

They just showed up and they just sat next to me. I mean it doesn’t have to be this burning bush type of thing, and even being a sponsor, you don’t have to be this… like you’re a great sponsor and there’s a lot of greats, but you don’t have to be this guru. You don’t. You don’t have to be a guru to be able to take somebody through the steps and be there.

RJ Orr:

It’s a safe space, you pick up the phone when they call you, you’re available, and that’s what a lot of it is all about. At the end of the day, you read about the history of 12-step programs and everything else, and it’s predicated on just people being available and accountable to other people.

RJ Orr:

Because they know where you’ve been, they understand that feeling, they understand what it’s like, and they can recognize it too. I mean that was the one thing, when I looked across the table and told them that, they could tell it wasn’t just a normal, “Hey, I’m going to just go to the Willow House and catch the 10:30.” That wasn’t what it was.

RJ Orr:

Because I didn’t go into a huge statement about Halloween, they could just tell in my eye, “Let’s go with him. Let’s follow them down there.”

Estil Wallace:

It’s priceless. I had the misconception for a long time, especially in the later years of using and drinking, that I didn’t need people, people just got in the way, and that it’d be a lot easier if I just wasn’t close to anyone.

Estil Wallace:

And I think those of us that struggle with addiction go through variations of that, of isolating and self-isolating and pushing people away. People pushing us away is part of it too, but I got so accustomed to that, I didn’t think I needed people, or I told myself I didn’t need people.

Estil Wallace:

And when I found connection, and it wasn’t just somebody willing to say hi to me, it was someone else that understood the fucking burden I was carrying, and could just hang out with me, understood my pain at a core level, and was on the same path to the promised land that I was on, or at least I thought I was on.

Estil Wallace:

I realized I had this whole paradigm shift and I realized that human relationships are actually the fabric of my entire existence.

RJ Orr:

I mean, that’s another one of the great things about being sober in Phoenix, is the fact that you’ve got so many people in the community that number one, it doesn’t matter when you decide that now’s the time to get sober, and it also doesn’t matter if you’ve gone all the way to the other extreme where you’re like, “Shit, no one’s been here before,” you know what I’m saying?

RJ Orr:

That, “I’m the only one that’s done this.” I mean your story is great, I mean living on roofs and the whole thing, I mean there’s just so much-

Estil Wallace:

Hey, you’ve got a good memory.

RJ Orr:

Hell yeah, and the AK-47, and I mean there’s just so much cool shit in it, but you might be like, “I’m the only one that’s never done that.”

Estil Wallace:

I thought so.

RJ Orr:

Right. And then you get here and then dudes are like…

Estil Wallace:

10 meetings in I was like, “Holy shit, there’s a bunch of people just like me.”

RJ Orr:

Absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

Or close enough to like me.

RJ Orr:

Sure, and that’s the cool thing that everybody has something to give. And I even tell new guys in here, I’m like, “Even if you have one day or two days sobriety, you have more than the guy that just walked in and has one day. So you can be of service, because you’ve been to a meeting before and you can say, ‘Hey, by the way, here’s a meeting list and there’s the coffee.'”

Estil Wallace:

If you don’t have a sponsor, they’re probably going to tell you to get one.

RJ Orr:

Right. Yeah, exactly. There’s always a way to be of service in this program, so that’s a great thing about it and really helps the world go around and keep this thing going as well as it does.

Estil Wallace:

It’s a beautiful thing. Let me ask you this, prior to getting into recovery yourself, did you have a vision in your mind of what an addict was?

RJ Orr:

Absofreakinlutely.

Estil Wallace:

What was it? Give me a description?

RJ Orr:

Sure. So as far as an addict, well, you know what is funny, I wasn’t as hung up as much as who the addict was, it was I was hung up in my preconceived notion of who the one in sobriety was. Who are the type of people that are in a meeting? That’s what I was really hung up on.

Estil Wallace:

What did you think? Did you think they’re a bunch of fucking weirdos?

RJ Orr:

Yeah, so it wasn’t as much as I’m like, “I’m not an addict, because I’m not as bad as that junkie that’s behind a garbage dump or whatever, or a garbage can.” I never drew that comparison. I thought that I’m not at the point where I would go into a meeting, because I’m not those guys, and those guys were Hollywood’s portrayal of people in a 12-step recovery meeting.

RJ Orr:

So it was always like a bunch of old pissed off guys in a dimly lit room in a basement of a church smoking cigarettes, complaining about how their life sucks because they can no longer get drunk. That’s really kind of, I’m like, “I’m not…” and think about that. If that’s my preconceived notion and I’m 23 years old, the last place I’m ever going to be caught is inside a 12-step meeting.

RJ Orr:

I mean regardless of what it is, regardless of what program it is, I’m never going there, because I’m not them, right? I’m 23. So that was the hard part about it, but you get to the point where I had beaten myself down so much that I really didn’t want to live anymore, but I was too chicken shit to kill myself, was basically what I got to. That’s where it came down to.

Estil Wallace:

And thank god for that place. I feel like that’s what a lot of people in recovery talk about. They talk about that place, that jumping off place near the end, and for everyone the circumstances are a little different. It’s a little nuanced per person that has that experience, but by and large most addicts or alcoholics have that experience where they’re not dead yet, not entirely welcoming to the idea of death, but not really that afraid of it either.

Estil Wallace:

It’s kind of like, “Well, I mean I might die and that might be better.” You know what I hear a lot is, “I wish I would just not wake up.” And I felt that for a long time, but in the last 16 years I’ve heard a lot of guys say that.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, but not to the point where they’re willing to take that next step, right? It’s just you’re dead inside.

Estil Wallace:

Passively suicidal.

RJ Orr:

Yeah. I mean the thing that sucked, there were just some moments from people, my mom was one, when she said it, she’s like, “You never look anybody in the eye anymore,” and I would always just look over people’s shoulders, that there was nothing really inside anymore.

RJ Orr:

And then consequently one of the coolest things that I had ever been talked to about in sobriety was Brian Ong, and I think I was probably in the four, five, six months sober, and I was at the Tuesday night and he took a devil take at me and he looks back at me, and he’s like, “Sobriety looks good on you.”

RJ Orr:

I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “The light in your eyes. I like that, keep coming back.” So from where my mother, not even a year prior to that, had talked about just this thousand yard stare and that I would never look anybody in the eye, to that, was pretty cool. And the reason for that, and I think a lot of addicts and alcoholics can relate to this, is that you don’t want to look anybody in the eye because you’re afraid that they’ll then be able to tell really what’s going on inside of you.

RJ Orr:

The hurt, the pain, the just despair, the not knowing, because you just are in this cocoon of selfishness and that you really honestly feel like you’re the only person in the world that feels that way.

Estil Wallace:

It’s crazy how many people feel that same exact way. I thought I was the only person that felt that way.

RJ Orr:

Correct.

Estil Wallace:

Just like you just described, and Brian Ong was a fucking legend.

RJ Orr:

Legend.

Estil Wallace:

Legend. Did you go to his funeral?

RJ Orr:

Yeah, absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

How many people do you think were there?

RJ Orr:

There was 500 at least.

Estil Wallace:

Easily 500.

RJ Orr:

At Scottsdale Bible, I mean it was huge.

Estil Wallace:

It was massive. It was like a rock star died.

RJ Orr:

He was a rock star.

Estil Wallace:

He was a rock star.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, I mean for sure. It’s funny, because Brian Ong spoke from the podium one time, and I don’t know if he meant to do this, but what I took out of it is now my conception of god and how it relates to my higher power and in our relationship, and it came out of his speech.

RJ Orr:

And I don’t know how it came out, but now for me my relationship with a power greater than myself, I choose to call God, I am not hung up on how anybody else likes to characterize it, because when I got here I was a devout… I wasn’t an atheist, but I was definitely agnostic.

RJ Orr:

And I could talk to you about the non-existence of God, because all this bad shit that’s happened in the world and all this stuff. I’m still not a huge organized religion guy, because it’s run by men and women and they’re not perfect and so they have a lot of flaws, and so the whole thing.

RJ Orr:

So at its core, at the base and the theology of it, I get, but then money and greed and power and all this stuff messes with it, so that’s what I have a problem with a little bit on organized religion. But so for me I’m cool with the God concept right now.

RJ Orr:

So the way I look at it, it came out of this Brian Ong speech, is that God and I are riding a tandem bicycle. And for a long time in my sobriety or prior to my sobriety, I basically told God, “I’m going to take the front spot. You pedal if you want, I don’t care. I’m driving.”

RJ Orr:

And now it’s reverse. I’m doing the work, I’m in the back, my handlebars don’t steer anywhere, but I’m pedaling and God’s steering, you know what I’m saying? And that’s kind of that relationship. So because for me a relationship with a higher power is not as much an external thing, it’s an internal thing for me. It’s a huge thing.

Estil Wallace:

Mind blown.

RJ Orr:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

I love this. I’m glad that you’re getting into this topic. It’s a touchy subject with a lot of people, because you have people that are devoutly religious, I don’t have anything negative to say about those people, but in each dogmatic denomination you’ve got pretty strong opinions.

Estil Wallace:

And then you’ve got atheists, which are kind of like on this island over here by themselves, because they’ve got their own devout, really staunch belief. And then you’ve got everybody else. That’s where I came from too. I came in agnostic, not really sure there was a God. I wasn’t into proving that there wasn’t one, but my flavor was, “Well, if there is, fuck that dude.”

RJ Orr:

Right, exactly.

Estil Wallace:

If there’s a hell, if all that’s true, I’ll see all you motherfuckers down there. Everybody. I’ll see you all there. And that was what I thought for a long time, and coming into recovery and talking about higher power and people dropping the G-word, and then the occasional guy talking about Christianity from the podium, and then this other guy over here is Jewish.

Estil Wallace:

And I was just like, “What the fuck is going on around here?” And the guys that helped me early on, the one guy that walked me in was bringing 12-step meetings into Durango Jail, his name is Brad, maybe I’ll get him on the show one of these days. Brad, he talked about the way he felt inside, he talked about not being able to stay sober because he fucking hated himself.

Estil Wallace:

And unable to kill himself, he would drink. And his life would spiral out of control, and so the logical thing would be to get sober. But then the longer he stayed sober, the more miserable he was, and round and round he went. And eventually he joined a 12-step group that introduced him to the 12-step program, and through that process he found a relationship with a power greater than himself who he chooses to call God.

Estil Wallace:

So when he walked me through that, I was like, “Okay.” I went to the Tuesday meeting for one of my first meetings out of jail. I saw him across the room, I scuttled over there and I was like, “Hey, remember me?” And he was like, “Kind of.” To me it’s like, “He remembers me.” And then we circle up and we do the Lord’s prayer and I look over at him, and I’m not particularly religious at all, but I went to some church when I was a kid.

Estil Wallace:

And I look over, and he’s Jewish, and I’m like, “That doesn’t bother you?” And he just looked at me, this is what he said just like this, he went, “Nah.” And I thought there’s something to this man. There’s something to this. This dude’s been sober for years, I think he was seven or eight at the time, years sober. And to see him so casually shrug off the the nuance of differences between religion, to just be part of something that had saved his life and made his life worth living, it piqued my interest to an obsessive point. It was like, “What’s behind all this?”

RJ Orr:

Yeah. I mean that’s the power of the 12 steps, and the reason for them. I mean for me there’s obviously millions of reasons along the whole path, but the two big ones are an ultimate connection to a power greater than yourself that’s going to be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

RJ Orr:

Because no matter how good your sponsor is, how great your network of friends are, there’s going to come a time where it’s just you and your relationship with your higher power, because ultimately for me that’s what keeps me sober. That is the secret sauce, that’s the secret, is that power.

RJ Orr:

And then the other big one is this idea of getting you out of yourself and helping another human being, unselfishly helping another human being. It’s really difficult.

Estil Wallace:

It works like nothing else does. Let’s dig into the secret sauce a little bit. So you made a comment when you were talking about higher power, not out here, in here. Can you elaborate on that?

RJ Orr:

Yeah. For me, it really is tapping into the soul, if you will. Because the soul, for me, is really what was broken when I was really in the depths of my alcoholism and drug addiction. The soul was the one thing that I didn’t want anybody to see, henceforth why I never looked anybody in the eyes.

RJ Orr:

And that enlightenment of the soul, that inner core, that burning center that really resonates is what now people can see in my eyes and understand through sobriety what it’s like. So for me it’s just a feeling of being on that… and I feel we always have it. That we have it from birth, that it’s in there, that it’s in us as part of human beings, it’s what separates us from other living organisms, is this inner existence.

RJ Orr:

So when I pray, I’m inwardly praying, which is weird. Everybody got this vision of what they’re doing, and some people pray externally to the heavens. But I’m not a big heavens and hell kind of guy, that’s why it’s really this more inner centered process.

Estil Wallace:

I love that. Very similar view from me, although it’s reverse on the other living creatures. In my view, I think when I look at my cat, I don’t have a cat now, he’s dead, but I’ve had a bunch of cats and dogs over the years.

Estil Wallace:

When I look at my cat, I’m just thinking about my last cat, Merlin, super dope cat. I look at him, he seems like he’s got it all figured out. He’s dialed in. He doesn’t care about his credit score. He doesn’t give a shit what anybody else thinks. He’s got a little swagger in his walk.

Estil Wallace:

I mean he cares a little bit, but not that much. At the end of the day, if he hacks up a hairball on the carpet, who gives a shit? Somebody will clean it up, and he just goes on with life and wants to love. And I feel when I meditate, I’m trying to get like the cat, or like the dog.

RJ Orr:

Well, I know my dog definitely has an inner sense of right and wrong, because I mean he’s a 30 pound Golden Doodle and it has the ability to leap like a rabbit onto counters so he can eat whatever is on the counter, and he knows what he’s done. So I mean, yeah, I guess they’ve got that right and wrong. But yeah, for me I mean it’s just that’s that relationship with my higher power.

RJ Orr:

And you look back on drinking and using and remembering some of the thought processes, and you’re like, “He was there.” That’s why I love the footprints poem, the footprints prayer. I mean it’s great. I mean you’re like, “Shit, I get… damn it, that’s good.” There’s always those ones, and that’s the whole thing a lot of with the sayings and the little isms that you hear around 12-step meetings, they’re there because they’re true.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, the cliches are true.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

That’s why they’re cliché.

RJ Orr:

Yeah. The whole concept, I mean I said it earlier, I got 23 years, it’s cool, but it is that one day at a time. Who gives a shit that I’ve got 23 years and a couple days up to this point if I go out and drink tonight? It doesn’t mean shit. 23 years doesn’t mean I’m immune from-

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, if you’re not there to walk your daughter down the isle, she’s not going to give a shit what you did in recovery.

RJ Orr:

Not at all. Absolutely not. So the 24 hours a day, the one day at a time, that was one of those ones that really stuck with me early on, and it really does. And I think it’s really good for people that do have a lot of years to think that way, because I’ve known a lot of people with a lot of years that-

Estil Wallace:

Disappeared.

RJ Orr:

… disappeared. I mean I don’t want to get off into another tangent.

Estil Wallace:

Tangents are good.

RJ Orr:

Okay. Well, my tangent for guys and girls that have had a lot of sobriety and not really working it as a one day at a time, continuing to stay in the program, connected to a sponsor or sponsee type relationship, sponsoring other people, staying in it, shit happens when we get older.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah.

RJ Orr:

Doctors prescribe us crazy shit.

Estil Wallace:

The older you get, the easier it is to prescribe.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, and then all of a sudden you’re like, “I just stubbed my toe,” and the guy gives you a script for Oxycontin. You’re like, “Okay,” and then you go fill it.

Estil Wallace:

I’m 42, but I’ve got to tell you, I can name a dozen opioid addicts that are over 60. If you saw them in Walgreens, you’re not thinking that’s the opioid crisis on aisle two, but it fucking is.

RJ Orr:

For me, that’s probably one of the scarier ones. I got my wisdom teeth taken out late. I was in my 30s and sober for 10 plus years, and got my wisdom teeth taken out and they gave me a prescription for Vicodin, and they also gave me a prescription for 800 milligram Ibuprofen.

RJ Orr:

I gave my wife the script for the Vicodin, I don’t even think we filled… we might have filled it, but I gave her the pills. And I’m like, “All right, those are yours and only if my ass has fallen off will I ask you for one, but I’m going to take these 800 milligram Ibuprofens first and let’s just see how it goes.” And I never needed the Vicodin.

Estil Wallace:

You made it.

RJ Orr:

Yeah. The Ibuprofen was freaking killer. I mean you get to the point with some of those you got impacted, you might need it, but that’s what advise a lot of people to do. If you’re ever given a script, it’s not to say that you can’t take it, but you are not responsible enough to make that decision. Give it to somebody.

Estil Wallace:

Pain medications are a really slippery slope and this is actually a great tangent to go on. So I had a wisdom tooth that was impacted, removed four or five years ago. So yeah, double digit sobriety and he said it was just going to be a quick yank. He said he was going to knock it out.

Estil Wallace:

Of course he had to cut, he had dig, and he’d suture me up and all that. And same talk, he wrote me a script. I told him I didn’t want it, he wrote me the script and gave it to my wife. And you know what my wife did as soon as he walked out? She just tore it up through it in the trash.

Estil Wallace:

I was like, “You could have filled it and hung onto it.” She’s like, “No, not worth it. Don’t care.” And I got through it with 800 milligram Ibuprofen.

RJ Orr:

It’s good stuff.

Estil Wallace:

It’s good enough. I mean, look, getting a wisdom tooth out, it sucks. Having surgery in your mouth is no fun, but at the end of the day, a painkiller is not going to make it hurt that much less. It’s just going to start to get you fucked up.

RJ Orr:

Right. Yeah, because it doesn’t really isolate that exact thing. It’s a whole body. And at the end of the day, here’s what being sober and having that connection to a power grid in yourself that we talked about and why I love in some other certain fellowships, they put on things that are all mind-altering substances.

RJ Orr:

Because for me, alcohol is by far my number one. If I’m going out, I’m getting a drink. Period. I’m not smoking a joint. I’m not, even though I loved doing blow, blow was just really an add-on so I could drink more and not black out. That’s why I liked doing cocaine. That was the miracle of cocaine.

RJ Orr:

There has been a couple miracles. Miracle number one was when this hottie 16 year old handed me my first beer on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida when I was 13 years old. It was a Miller Lite and she’s like, “You drink, right?” I’m like, “Hell yeah, I do.” And I drank that and it was a fucking miracle.

RJ Orr:

And then the first time that one of my roommates in college was like, “You want to do some blow?” And I’m like, “All right,” and then I did it and I’m like, “Fuck. This is freaking awesome.” That was another miracle. And then getting sober. I mean those are my miracles.

RJ Orr:

But mind altering substances, for me, it doesn’t matter, because I never liked smoking pot. I think I really got high high maybe once or twice where it was like giggles and I’m like, “That was awesome.” Every other time I’m just not a good pot smoker, because it makes me tired, it’s not a good feeling for me.

RJ Orr:

So I addictively never used marijuana ever in my whole life, but that doesn’t mean that I have the ability to use it, because it’s a mind-altering substance. And for me, if I get into mind altering substances like, “Hey, I can smoke a joint,” or a doctor prescribes me Vicodin or an Oxycontin, that mind altering substance will then take me off my path with my higher power and cut off that relationship.

RJ Orr:

And then what will ostensibly happen is I will go, “Where’s the thing I love the most? Okay, let’s go get a drink.” That’s what it’s going to be. That mind altering substance can also happen with dangerous situations. The other thing about being sober younger is you had a core group and I called it extreme sobriety.

RJ Orr:

They literally partied, they partied on this edge, but never got loaded. But they were on the edge, there were tons of strippers around, there was lots of drinking around, there was a lot of fucking blow around. They were there, but they weren’t getting loaded, until they did get loaded. They were just right on this edge the whole time just going 100 miles an hour, right on the edge of the cliff.

RJ Orr:

And then eventually they didn’t make it. Those types of things are mind-altering as well. Strippers are mind-altering.

Estil Wallace:

It can be.

RJ Orr:

Putting yourself in those situations, not to say that you can’t go to a strip club in sobriety. I’ve been to many a strip club in sobriety.

Estil Wallace:

Likewise, I’ve been many times.

RJ Orr:

I’ve been to many parties in sobriety.

Estil Wallace:

That’s a whole other topic we can get onto too, strippers.

RJ Orr:

Sure. But after a while, it’s mind altering, you know what I’m saying? And then all of a sudden, that hot 16 year old that gave me a beer when I was 13, turns into this hot ass stripper that’s like, “You want to do a line of coke off my titty?” And you’re like, “Yeah, I do.” You know what I’m saying? So it’s a strong motherfucker dude, I’m telling you.

Estil Wallace:

All right, we’re going to come back to strippers.

RJ Orr:

We don’t really have to.

Estil Wallace:

I want to go backward a little bit to the pain medication, because my friend Andy calls it the roaring 2000s, when Purdue and all these big pharma companies were really pushing Percocet and Oxycodone and all these really strong narcotics.

Estil Wallace:

It’s like if you hurt your back, if you had a fucking headache, you could get a prescription for an opioid, something really strong, and it’s like half the country got hooked on this shit. It created this tidal wave of addiction and changed the way drug addicts look, because there was a time in American history, if somebody was the worst of the worst, you could spot them.

RJ Orr:

Sure, because usually an opioid addiction meant that you were shooting heroin.

Estil Wallace:

Yes. I think New York City, ’70s, ghettos-

RJ Orr:

Track marks.

Estil Wallace:

… track marks, easy to spot. I’ve got to tell you, 2010, 2008, you got full-blown junkies driving around in a Mercedes, driving around in BMW’s, C-suite executives in companies, organizations all over the country, all over the world, getting hooked on pain medication.

Estil Wallace:

And it seems fine until it’s not, and it’s like how many months, how many years go by undetected, until finally the guy taking him says, or the gal taking it says, “You know what? I don’t really know if I want to keep taking this stuff,” and what do they find out? Can’t stop.

RJ Orr:

Or what’s even worse is it really led to the resurgence of heroin in the United States. I’ve had many a sponsee, you don’t run across a lot of just pure alcoholics anymore.

Estil Wallace:

I see a few. I mean I work at a treatment center.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, but I mean a lot of them are like, “Hey, what’s your story?” “Got hooked on pain meds, was getting prescribed, then I was doctor shopping, then I had to start buying, and then my tolerance level is so high I could not afford the dollar a milligram that I was trying and I was getting to 100, 200 milligrams a day on whatever, on oxy or whatever. Then somebody’s was like, ‘For 25 bucks you can just get heroin.'”

Estil Wallace:

It’s so much cheaper.

RJ Orr:

So much cheaper.

Estil Wallace:

And you don’t need a prescription. [crosstalk 00:40:07]

RJ Orr:

In many instance it’s a lot easier to get. So then all of a sudden you’re like, “Shit, yeah.” And then you throw fentanyl in and then I mean, Jesus.

Estil Wallace:

2020 we got fentanyl in everything. So yeah, I think about Chuck, you remember Chuck?

RJ Orr:

Yep.

Estil Wallace:

He died a few years back. I met Chuck in jail, in county jail here in Arizona, in Maricopa county, and I was talking to him and I said, “What’s your drug of preference?” He says, “Strangely enough, heroin.” And I said, “Why is that strange?” He says, “Because I’m almost 50 years old.”

Estil Wallace:

I said, “Why is that strange?” He’s like, “I’m not a drug addict.” He said, “I joined a 12-step group a gazillion years ago in my 30s when I was a drinker, and I got sober. And I sobered up and I went on and lived my life for a long time, and I had a career, and I hurt my back. And he went through the litany of what you just described. He hurt his back, he eventually started doctor shopping, got cut off everywhere, and eventually black tar heroin, which is cheaper and easier to get.

Estil Wallace:

And here he is locked up, and you’re 50 years old, wearing stripes and pink underwear, going to 12-step meetings talking about, “I guess I’m a heroin addict.”

RJ Orr:

I mean I had a grand-sponsor that was a big time legend in this program, and he got something fucked up with his toe and got prescribed oxy.

Estil Wallace:

Taken out by the toe.

RJ Orr:

I mean it’s because, you’re right, in that early 2000s, it was you went in there with a headache and you got oxy. It’s crazy that… and just everything else, I mean it’s big business and not that many people have fallen as a result of it, but it was 100% legal drug dealers.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah. And it’s just starting to halt now. I mean we’ve seen a couple of big big pharma companies get nailed and go under in preparation for all the lawsuits that are going to come now.

RJ Orr:

Right, exactly. But the doctors, I mean they did, but there’s a lot of people on that chain that are culpable for what happened.

Estil Wallace:

Absolutely.

RJ Orr:

But at the end of the day that’s the problem, it’s all about money and power and greed and strippers.

Estil Wallace:

And strippers. So here’s my two cents on strippers. I never really went to strip clubs prior to sobriety, primarily because I was broke. I think I went maybe two times or three times, and then in sobriety I’ve been to bachelor parties.

Estil Wallace:

My friend’s getting married, we’ve been to Vegas, been to the Spearmint Rhino. And I’ve got to tell you, the first time I walked into Spearmint Rhino, at many years of sobriety, I was like, “Whoa, this is crazy. Didn’t know this existed.” The strip clubs I went to back in Phoenix, not this. This is amazing.

Estil Wallace:

And the weirdest thing happened, after about an hour, hour and a half, the magic of it sort of wore off and I just saw a bunch of broken chicks in their undies and I was like, “I think I’m done. We’ve got to go pull Johnny out of the back room.”

RJ Orr:

The champagne room.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, we’ve got to get him out. “Let’s go man.” And I think I’ve been three times maybe in sobriety, and I don’t really have an issue with going if we’re going for a good reason. Buddy of mine’s going to get married and he’s like, “Man, I want to go see some boobs.” It’s like, “Okay, we’ll go.”

Estil Wallace:

But I have this same phenomenon every time I go. The first 10, 20 minutes it’s like, “Whoa, there’s pretty chicks with their shirts off everywhere.” And after about an hour, it’s like, “God, I’m raising two little girls at home.”

RJ Orr:

Yeah, that’s where you’ve got to just act like they’re all in the medical program at Yale and they’re just paying their way through college.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, sure.

RJ Orr:

That’s just all it is.

Estil Wallace:

For sure. Sure. But I start to think about my daughters and it just sucks the magic and the fun out of it. I’m just like, “I’m over this. Let’s go.” I’m that way with gambling too. I know that there’s a whole 12-step fellowship around gambling, and my heart goes out to the guy that suffers with gambling.

Estil Wallace:

I’ve been lucky to never… I’m just not a good gambler. I have an intuitive repulsion to gambling the same way I do with the strip club. It seems really exciting if my wife and I are like, “Yeah, let’s go hit the casino and go play some blackjack.”

Estil Wallace:

I’ve got to tell you, as soon as I’m down 200 bucks, I’m like, “Man, fuck gambling.” I’m ready to go spend money on food.

RJ Orr:

That brings up a good point, because I talk to a lot of people and they’re like, “How did you get started in drinking and et cetera?” And I’m like, for me, the reason I got to it, was awesome for a while. It didn’t suck right out of the gate.

Estil Wallace:

If it did, nobody would do it.

RJ Orr:

Granted, I had my first beer at 13 and my last at 23, so I didn’t exactly have the longest tenured career as far as an alcoholic and an addict. But I murdered it in those 10 years, but it was awesome. There were a lot of years where there weren’t a lot of consequences. There were some stupid that happened, yeah, I got a DUI, yeah, I did get arrested for dumb stuff every once in a while, but for the most part it was freaking pretty awesome.

RJ Orr:

I mean I would just be loaded and fall ass backwards into hot chicks and just be the rap was rolling and I mean there were many a points where you could point to, I’m like, “That was awesome. That kicked ass.” So it just didn’t all suck. For me I’m with you on gambling, I never had that with gambling. I never wasn’t like the first X amount of times I went and played blackjack, I walked out with 10 grand and I’m hooked forever. I got my ass kicked right out of the gate, gambling.

Estil Wallace:

Me too.

RJ Orr:

I like to gamble, but I’ve gone to Vegas many a times with my wife. We love going up, hanging out at the pool. Like you talked about it, going and eating, going to some shows, having a great time.

Estil Wallace:

That’s what me and Nicole do. We tear it up in Vegas. I just don’t drink.

RJ Orr:

And she’s not a gambler, and we walk past, and never give a shit. I think we gambled together once. So it doesn’t have the allure for me, but it kicked my ass right off the bat, whereas drinking and drugs never did that. It didn’t start kicking my ass till later, so that was the big thing.

RJ Orr:

So I can romanticize drugs and alcohol. Even though I got my butt kicked, if you asked me to, I could romanticize drugs and alcohol.

Estil Wallace:

You know what, I was talking to this guy one time and he said, “I don’t think I can get sober.” I said, “Well, why not?” He said, “Well, I actually like smoking methamphetamine.” And I was like, “News flash Dave, everybody likes smoking methamphetamine.”

Estil Wallace:

The only people that don’t like it are people ho haven’t tried it. It’s fucking amazing. He’s like, “Oh, really?” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s why it’s a epidemic man.” Smoking methamphetamine is so fun, I spent the best years of my youth locked in the bathroom smoking it. Getting fucked up is fun.

RJ Orr:

But you know what, it is funny, because it is the romanticizing of drugs and alcohol. I heard one lady, and it wasn’t even in a meeting or something, she was just talking about cigarettes and smoking. And she’s like, “The best part was going and getting a fresh pack, unpacking it and undoing it and opening it up and then all 20 cigarettes are there and you’re taking out that first one.”

RJ Orr:

It’s not the I just have the soft pack, because I couldn’t get the fucking hard pack and it’s all fucked up, and I bring it out and the cigarette’s all crumpled. A lot of in anticipation of the party, in anticipation of the drink, in anticipation of going and getting that eight ball with your friends and coming back.

Estil Wallace:

A lot of it is ritual.

RJ Orr:

Dude, like still today, I mean I’m getting a little goosebumps even thinking about that. And so you get the goosebumps about that preparation and the anticipation thereof, but I don’t really get the goosebumps of… the greatest thing that I have still going for me right now, 23 years in, is the ability to play it forward.

RJ Orr:

My tape doesn’t stop there. It then can continue to play and go like, “Yeah, remember that time you came home all fucked up from the bars and your roommate was out of town and you didn’t have your key to the house and you punched through the window to get into your apartment and you damn near bled out, because you cut the shit out of you?”

RJ Orr:

I mean just dumb shit, you know what I’m saying? Those stories are in there too, so dumb stuff. I mean I remember waking up strapped to a hospital bed at Tempe St. Lukes and coming to, and the nurses go, “Oh, the asshole’s up.” And I’m like no effing idea how I got there.

Estil Wallace:

So good.

RJ Orr:

No idea how I got there, you know what I mean? And so the tape still plays forward, which is good. So it just doesn’t stop at the-

Estil Wallace:

And that’s what I think when people are struggling to get sober and they’re struggling with, “Am I? Am I not?” I think that’s one of the big hurdles is like, well, there were good times. Of course there were good times, getting fucked up is fun.

Estil Wallace:

Whenever I’ve spoken to youth or anything like that, I’m like, “You guys probably think I want to get up here and talk about drugs being bad, but they’re not. Drugs are fucking awesome,” and I use the F-word and everybody giggles.

Estil Wallace:

And they’re like, “Yeah, okay, this guy’s cool.” It’s like they’re so awesome that you’re going to waste your life doing them. And you’re not going to have a successful marriage, and you’re not going to have a successful career. Or you may, but you may not enjoy it. You may go on and just have a whole checklist of things in life that you won’t do, because you’re going to be getting fucked up.

Estil Wallace:

And you’ll be too fucked up to do most of those things. There are some men and women who are fortunate enough and skilled enough to pursue a career and have some material success, but even those cases, I mean I’ve sponsored a couple of guys that play guitar for a living and are very, very wealthy, and I was with them on their first day of sobriety.

Estil Wallace:

And they were, just you were describing, “I’m not ready to kill myself, but I kind of wish I just wouldn’t wake up tomorrow.” So I think once you can really come to that realization like, “Yeah, I do kind of still want to, but I want to live my life.” It becomes something that instead of I want to try and get away with, it’s something I want to get away from.

Estil Wallace:

Can I get a day off maybe? If I could take a week off from drinking and drugs, that would be cool, and then maybe check it out a little bit, but that’s the thing, I don’t really have that option. It’s all in or all out, and getting all out isn’t as easy as just saying that. Getting all out, it’s hard.

Estil Wallace:

It’s hard, it’s like you jump yourself into some fucking prison gang when you’re a teenager and you can’t get out of this fucking thing.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, without a doubt.

Estil Wallace:

It was all fun and games and then years go by and you’re like, “Maybe I should grow up a little bit,” and you find you can’t get away from this shit.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, I mean more so than any time in history, you’ve got access to successful drug addicts through social media. So we’re not all Snoop Dogg. We all just can’t smoke weed 24 hours a day and be a multi-millionaire and have all your shit together. We’re not.

Estil Wallace:

It would be nice.

RJ Orr:

Those are unicorns. They literally are unicorns, and like you said, it’s like, okay yeah, they may seem like they got it all together, you don’t know what like it’s on the inside. You don’t know what their life is like truly, right? But everything’s romanticized to this… you’ve got a lot of factors fighting against you. We have forever.

Estil Wallace:

And I think you’re touching on something important, I think it’s very easy to take the shit show that is my life in active addiction and try and compare it to like a fucking highlight reel I see on social media and be like, “I could pull that off.” No, I can’t right. If I could, I would.

RJ Orr:

Absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

It would be my fucking music video, or I would be the guy in the movie, but I’m not. I’m just another dude that can’t stop drinking and doing drugs and I’m watching the years of my life just pass me by.

RJ Orr:

And we’re in another 99% just really just can’t do it. And you see it, I mean you’ve seen it play out. I mean you watch some of those people that you might play the compare game with on a longer term scale, and eventually you see that the wheels fall off. It’s a very, very hard thing to do successfully for a long period of time, be a real hard drinker and hard partier.

RJ Orr:

But I mean the book describes things like that. I mean it talks about the differences and having those hard drinkers and hard partiers, and I was around a lot of those guys. That was the hard thing for me at 23. I vividly remember my friend Lance, we went out and just got freaking cross-eyed drunk, and it was a Wednesday, so we both had class that next day.

RJ Orr:

And I remember being in his house and literally just peeling my face off of the carpet of where I had passed out to seeing Lance in the kitchen with his backpack on making himself a traveler cup of coffee to go to his first class. and I had already missed mine.

RJ Orr:

I’m like, “I remember being with that. He was retarded drunk the night before, and he’s up going to class. I can’t even get…” I didn’t go to class that day. And I’m like, “What’s wrong with me? What’s going on? Why can’t I do that?” And it’s because Lance wasn’t an alcoholic. He was a hard partier, but he wasn’t an alcoholic.

Estil Wallace:

At an appropriate age to be a hard partier.

RJ Orr:

At an appropriate age to be a hard partier. Now it’s not to say that hard partiers can’t eventually graduate to being an alcoholic. Everybody’s gestation period is different.

Estil Wallace:

Good use of the word gestation.

RJ Orr:

Mine was fast. Mine was instant. So here’s the deal, there’s zero doubt in my mind that I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict, because I can vividly remember the psychic change that I had after my first drink. Vividly. I know exactly where I was, I could take you to the exact spot.

RJ Orr:

I know, it was a fucking miracle, I’m telling you. It was a miracle in my life. I remember going, “I didn’t know that I needed this as bad as I do right now.”

Estil Wallace:

Where has this been all of my life?

RJ Orr:

Where has it been all my life, and I was 13. My daughter’s almost 13, and the thought of that, I mean it’s just crazy to be like, “I remember,” right at her age, and then going, “Holy crap.”

Estil Wallace:

I’m now doing this every day from now on.

RJ Orr:

Yep ,I’m going to do this as much as I possibly can, and that’s an alcoholic man. I mean that’s why every single thing rang true to me, when I walked into my first 12-step meeting with I’m the only person that drinks the way that I drink, that does drugs the way that I do, that hurts people the way that I do, that feels the way that… I’m the only person.

RJ Orr:

You motherfuckers don’t know shit about shit. Walked into that meeting. All you guys are liars, this is me, and the steps started getting reAd. and then I started getting into the program and reading the book and I’m like, “Holy crap I have that. I have a physical allergy to drugs and alcohol. I really do.”

RJ Orr:

And then if I even muster after… and it usually here’s it, the mustering comes after really a succession of kicking my own ass partying, and I’m just like, “I just bodily can’t even get loaded anymore. My body just needs a break, so I’m getting sober. There’s a burning mental obsession to get loaded again.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, and then I convinced myself that I’m past it, I’m glad that’s over, and then without even thinking about it I’m loaded again. And it just goes over and over, and the mustering doesn’t happen until the consequences start to pile up.

RJ Orr:

Correct.

Estil Wallace:

And that’s the difficulty, I think, with drinkers and druggers that start young particularly. And look, it’s fucked both ways. For young guys you get started young and you’re telling yourself, “Well, I’m just young,” and also a lot of young people party.

Estil Wallace:

Look, if you’re 19 and you’re drinking beer out of a funnel, you’re part of the crowd.

RJ Orr:

Absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

That’s what 19 year olds fucking do.

RJ Orr:

Just follow Total Frat Move on Instagram, you’re going to see it.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah. That’s what you do when you’re 19. You drink like an asshole, but even nested inside of that core group, you can start to see some differences. You can blend in, but then you start to pull away a bit. Like you talked about watching your friend get up and go to class and you’re kl like, “What the fuck? How is that a thing?”

Estil Wallace:

And I had those moments too when I was 17, 18. Look, I didn’t graduate high school and I could say I dropped out of high school, but I wasn’t like, “Hey, I’m not doing this anymore.” I just couldn’t make it to class, because I was fucking black out drunk every day.

Estil Wallace:

And that’s not a conscious choice, and I think that’s where the tripwire is, is none of us do this consciously. Whether it happens when you’re young, or when it happens older, which has got its own set of lies and misconceptions that go with it. “Oh, I’m successful, I have this, I have a house, I have a marriage, I have a business, whatever, so I’m not an addict. I fucking run a company. I have a fucking Bentley outside. I’m not an addict.”

Estil Wallace:

At that level of life, we have all these excuses to try and make ourselves not that, and by the time the day comes where either the old guy or the young guy, older guy or the younger guy says, “You know what? Maybe this is a little fucked up. Maybe I should try and unwind this, walk this back a little bit.”

Estil Wallace:

That’s when you first find out it’s not that easy, and then you get your ass kicked some more, and then you come another mustering. Well, maybe I’m going to put it down for real this time. And it’s once that process starts, very few people seem to get sober the first time they have a oh shit, aha moment, those epiphanies, those experiences.

Estil Wallace:

I don’t know how many I had. A couple dozen easily, where I was like, “I’m not doing this anymore. I’m changing my life. I’m going to move across the country. I’m going to get rid of this girl. I’m going to do whatever.” I don’t know if there’s any magic age where one age is better than another. I think if you can do it at any age…

Estil Wallace:

I’m working with a guy right now, he’s in the treatment center, he’s in his 60s, he’s got terminal cancer, he’s stage two or three colon cancer. He’s been given 13 months to live. We are working on step three right now. I was talking to him just before you got here, I was choking the tears back, because we’re talking about him reclaiming his life, what’s left of it.

Estil Wallace:

And he wants to. He’s telling me, “Goddamn it, it’s I deserve better than to die on the street corner. My family, even though I’m not married anymore, my ex-wife and my kids, they deserve better than to think that I died on some street corner.” And I had to choke back the tears, I said, “Yeah, you’re goddamn right you deserve better than that.”

RJ Orr:

Absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

And they deserve better than that. So no matter what age or stage of life we’re at, there comes a time where it’s clear that we need to get off of the ride and go on with life, and that can be more difficult than it seems.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, I mean really, for me, there was a window where I could no longer come up with a good justification to pick up the next drink or drug. In that window, I’d beat myself down pretty hard. I could not make a justification as to go why to pick up another drink. In that moment, I told somebody I need help.

RJ Orr:

That led me to my first meeting. It wasn’t a burning bush moment, it was literally just a moment in time. Everything stopped for a second and I really couldn’t come up with a good justification, because that’s what we always do. We always justify. I’ve justified lots of things. I justified that hospital bed. You know what the justification was?

RJ Orr:

I’ll tell you exactly what it was. I remember it. A couple months prior to that night I was at a Grateful Dead concert, drinking drinking with my buddies-

Estil Wallace:

Super rad.

RJ Orr:

… out at whatever, it was Cricket pavilion at the time. So it was ’93, drinking with my buddies, they had introduced me to this guy who was a drug dealer and he gave us some drugs. I think he gave us ecstasy or something. Something cool for the Dead concert.

RJ Orr:

Fast forward a couple months later, drinking, I’m at a bar in Tempe. downtown Tempe, and I see him again. I’m like, “Hey dude, you got something?” And he just held out his hand, just gave me something. Who the fuck knows what it was.

RJ Orr:

I just took it. I think I was being a dick, so he probably roofied me just because I was being a dick, now that I look at it, and I wound up in the hospital. But I justified that it’s that guy. It was that guy’s fault, not mine, it was that guy’s fault.

RJ Orr:

I justified my DUI, that the reason I got a DUI wasn’t because I left the bar and only turned my parking lights on and didn’t turn the headlights on, because was is back in the ’90s before you just turned your car on your lights went on. You actually had to turn them on.

RJ Orr:

And I just turned it one time. It was an Isuzu Trooper, and you had to hit the button, and I didn’t hit it far enough.

Estil Wallace:

Those were dope.

RJ Orr:

And the cops pulled me over, the guy actually, after he arrested me had said, “You know why we pulled you over?” I’m like, “No.” He’s like, “You were actually driving really, really well, especially for as drunk as you are.” He was like, “You didn’t have your lights on.”

RJ Orr:

And he’s like, “We just followed you and figured, ‘Oh, he’ll notice that he doesn’t have his lights on he’ll turn them on,’ and you never did.”

Estil Wallace:

Your eyes just adjusted to the-

RJ Orr:

But I justified it as really what it was is they didn’t leave me off because my buddies that I drove to the bar had left alcohol in the back seat, and when they came up to the car and they shined their light and they saw that.

RJ Orr:

So that was my justification there. So I was always justifying stuff and I really couldn’t justify it anymore, and had reached out for help and led my way into a meeting, and it just stuck after that.

Estil Wallace:

Even though in your mind that’s anticlimactic, that moment, that’s the linchpin.

RJ Orr:

Sure.

Estil Wallace:

Because most of us, we don’t choose the day we’re going to get sober.

RJ Orr:

No.

Estil Wallace:

I think about that scene in Goodfellas when he’s going to go to prison and he gets in the car and he takes all the pills and he’s like, “All right, take me to jail.” It doesn’t go down like that.

RJ Orr:

No.

Estil Wallace:

You get sober the day you fucking get sober.

RJ Orr:

My last beer is half drank. It still had half a beer in it.

Estil Wallace:

Still out there somewhere.

RJ Orr:

Yeah, I know exactly where it is. It’s in Terrace Park, Ohio, and I know exactly where. It’s a Bud Light and I didn’t drink at all. I didn’t drink it all. I mean think about that. I didn’t fully crush my last beer. I didn’t know it was going to be my last one.

Estil Wallace:

[crosstalk 01:03:51].

RJ Orr:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

If I had known I was going to get sober in hours from now, yeah, I would have tried harder.

RJ Orr:

Absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

It happens when it happens.

RJ Orr:

It happens when it happens. And at the end of the day, that’s what I would love everybody that hears this podcast that’s in sobriety and carrying the message, that the one thing I want people to make sure they bring out there into the universe of sobriety, is when new people come in, don’t fucking beat them over the head.

RJ Orr:

Because you know what? They may not be ready yet. Don’t give them a sour taste of what a 12-step program is about. Give them the fucking best, because most people don’t walk in and stay.

Estil Wallace:

No.

RJ Orr:

I did, and I’m more of an exception to the rule, right? But a lot of things lined up really well for me in order to continue to do that. Most people come in and then they go back out, and that’s okay.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, it’s part of the journey.

RJ Orr:

It’s part of the journey, because a little bit of it is you come in, you hear a little bit, you get it, you’re like, “Okay, all right,” then you go back out and things have changed now, because you got a little programming.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, we ruined the drinking.

RJ Orr:

You ruined the drinking or the drugging. You got a little bit in, so anytime I get… I mean now there’s exceptions to that rule, because I will really give it to a guy after now this may be the 10th time now I’ve sponsored you.

RJ Orr:

I will give it, but the first ones, you’re responsible to give them an amazing version of a 12-step program, because you just never know. They may never come back to you, they may get sober in another town, there may be that point where they wake up and they’re like, “I can’t fucking do this anymore. You know what? I’m going to a meeting.”

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, they need to remember the meeting they went to and the dude they met wasn’t the black and white dimly lit round circle like you see in the movies. They remember that it’s not like that.

RJ Orr:

That it’s not like that. They’re like, “You know, that Estil guy was really cool. That’s not somebody I perceived as being in the program,” and here I am a couple years later and I’m picking up the phone or I’m going to a meeting and it’s because of that. And I think sometimes there’s people that it’s a sense of power sometimes for them being in the program and being a sponsor.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, we could go on that tangent too.

RJ Orr:

Well, you had to figure. I mean a lot it’s bad copies of bad copies.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, well, and the next time I have you on, maybe we’ll beat up overzealous 12-step members. So if you were going to say something to the new person, let’s say there’s somebody listening to this that’s recovery curious, they’re interested in the topic of recovery, they’re probably drinking while they listen to this, and they’re trying to make a decision, “Should I? Shouldn’t I? Should I try this recovery thing? What would you say to the guy that’s struggling right now?

RJ Orr:

Number one, that they’re absolutely not alone. They’re absolutely not alone. As much as they feel like they are in that cocoon of their world and that they’re the only one in the world that are feeling the way that they’re feeling right now, that they’re absolutely not, and that the greatest thing about 12-step recovery is that it is organized by, put on by, and attended by people that were in the exact same situation that you are right now.

RJ Orr:

That’s why it works. That’s the great thing about it. I don’t walk into a meeting and it’s being put on by some person that has a PhD from Harvard that really doesn’t know what it’s to live on top of a roof, or wake up strapped to a hospital bed. That it’s people that understand exactly what that feeling is, exactly what that mental obsession is, and so that’s the one thing I want somebody that’s young and curious or thinking about sobriety, whether you’re young or old, is that come in and just listen.

RJ Orr:

Because at the end of the day, another cliché, we’ll gladly refund your misery. That it’s out there. And here’s the other thing too, and for me, especially as a young person, this is a really big catalyst to keep going, and that’s the FOMO, the fear of missing out.

RJ Orr:

I swear to you that right now what’s going on tonight in Old Town, Scottsdale, was going on 10 years ago and will be going on 10 years from now. It will always be there. The same exact scene, the same exact party, the chicks are just as hot, it’s all there.

RJ Orr:

So if you’re there and you’re like, “Yeah, but…” whatever your “Yeah, but…” is, will always be there. Give this a chance, just come in and sit down and listen for a second. Because you’ll find that if you’re at a point where you’re able to listen a little bit, you’ll find out that there’s something to it, and it’s just really about having that positive experience for people.

RJ Orr:

So outlets like this that might be able to get to people are great. Calling the hotline, great. You know I got here from the hotline? That’s how I got to my first meeting.

Estil Wallace:

Really?

RJ Orr:

Yeah. Got here from the hotline. And it was because I was like, “I’m going to go into Banner, some fucking bougie treatment center, and I didn’t have the insurance to get in. So there was a girl that I was dating at the time, my college girlfriend, she’s like, “I think you should call 12-step hotline.” And I called and they directed me to my first meeting. So it’s a pretty powerful thing.

Estil Wallace:

It really is man, and you’ve gone on to live an extraordinary life. I thank you for your service to our community, obviously to your family, and thank you so much for coming on and talking with us today.

RJ Orr:

Thanks Estil.

Estil Wallace:

Appreciate it.

RJ Orr:

Bless you brother, appreciate you man. Love you.

Estil Wallace:

Love you too brother.

RJ Orr:

Thanks man.