Charles Slack – My History of Drug Abuse and Recovery

At age 26 I was a proud psychologist with a Ph.D. from Princeton, teaching in Clinical Psychology at the Department of Social Relations of Harvard University and drinking heavily on weekends.  In the early 1960s, when it was still legal, I began experimenting with the drug Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD).  At first, my drug use could be called genuine research.  Timothy Leary and others at Harvard obtained the drug from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland, administering it, initially, under controlled conditions.  However, as history relates, things rapidly got out of hand.  Personally, the results were disastrous.  I took other hallucinogens and graduated to opiates, barbiturates and larger quantities of alcohol.  During this period, 1961-76, my career went into reverse.  Working my way down the academic ladder, I finished up in Alabama writing test items for a medical school. They gave me a title but the job really consisted of ghostwriting exam questions.  Through drug-addict doctors, I got the supplies my habit demanded.  Finally, I lost even that job.  From being a clinical psychologist, I had become a mental patient, spending the night in the drunk-tank of the Birmingham City Jail where I amused guards with stories about once being a Harvard professor.  .

Through the efforts of an old friend (criminologist Professor Alex Bassin of the University of Florida), I found my way into Twelve-Step programmes.  Although I had initial difficulty identifying as an addict/alcoholic – after all, I had a Ph.D and they didn’t – nevertheless, I became abstinent:  no mind- or mood-altering chemicals for me since 3 March 1976.

In October 1976, when I was seven months off drugs, I migrated to Australia to work in the Welfare Department of the State of Victoria.  It was not easy to adjust to a new job, a new country, and a new state of mental health all at the same time.  Even after four years’ abstinence, I lacked nous and charm and was professionally inept.  It was said that I was a dry drunk who needed to join the human race.  Nevertheless, by God’s grace I was able to keep my job.

In 1980 I became a born-again Christian, received the Holy Spirit, and at long last found comfort and release from guilt and shame. When I first got clean and sober, I thought I had turned my will and my life over to God but actually I had only handed over my alcohol and drug problems.  And I lacked that all-important relationship with the One who had freed me from the compulsion to drink and use drugs!  In the centre of a footy oval in Blackburn, Victoria, at five in the morning, I sank to my knees and told Jesus that I could not continue to run my life.  He must take control or I would lose my sanity.  I was willing to do anything Jesus wanted.  At that moment, when I finally resigned as general manager of myself, Jesus set me free indeed!  And I continued to make spiritual progress, becoming an elder in and treasurer of my church (1991-97).

Over the past thirty-one years, the Lord has often used me to bring drug addicts to Him.  I have worked extensively in rehabilitation programmes and groups of all kinds including drug rehab centres and the Department of Corrective Services of Western Australia where I held recovery meetings in the historic old Fremantle Prison.

Until recently, my wife and I were co-pastors of a small church in Green Head WA 300km north of Perth.  We have also conducted seminars on recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse for church leaders and pastoral workers.

A Joy filled Charles

Now at age 82 and going strong, I love to give testimony to the miracle Jesus has wrought in my life.  God has restored me physically and spiritually.  I can’t claim to be “normal” (whatever that means) but, praise God; I enjoy fellowship with Christians and am considered a role model among recovering addicts and alcoholics.   I have the joy of the Lord and am the happiest person I know! □