03/10/2014 04:32 pm ET Updated May 10, 2014

To Everyone Still Suffering, I Am You

It's easy for someone who is the depths of addiction... who is physically, mentally and spiritually empty to look at those in recovery and think that they will never have the happy, joyous and free life that so many in recovery possess. I was that person. I thought my pain was different. My story was different. My addiction was different. The happiness and joy I saw in others couldn't possibly apply to me.

So, I am here to tell you, I am not different. You are not different. I am you.

Our details may vary, the decade may be different, but I am you.

I am the 80-year-old man with 45 years of sobriety. I am the newcomer with less than 24 hours clean. I am the person struggling day after day, not understanding why I can't just stop drinking and ask for help.

To everyone who blacks out and wakes up morning after morning with the guilt, shame and remorse from your behavior the night before, I am you.

To everyone who thinks their friends won't like them anymore if you stop drinking, I am you.

To everyone who thinks you can't possibly live a life without your best friend, alcohol, I am you.

To everyone who thinks you can't get sober through a 12-step program because you hate God and you are unworthy of His love, I am you.

To everyone who thinks you are worthless and a lost cause -- who has become comfortable in your misery, I am you.

To everyone who doesn't understand why you just can't drink like other people, I am you.

To everyone who has lost interest in everything and everyone except alcohol, I am you.

To everyone who thinks somehow, someway, today will be different -- you will control your drinking, I am you.

To everyone who looks at the mirror and doesn't recognize the person looking back, I am you.

To everyone who drinks to escape the pain of feeling anything, I am you.

To everyone who walks around day after day, week after week, month after month, in silent desperation, I am you.

I am you just 21 short months ago. I am not special. I am not different. I am not smarter. I don't possess anything within me that isn't within you. I don't have magical powers. I don't hold a secret key to sobriety.

Everyone in recovery has a story -- what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.

You are at the beginning of the end of what YOU used to be like. YOUR "what happened" is next -- and it won't be long till you're living in "what it's like now."

You can do it. I know this to be true, because I am you.

Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.