Clinton Lanier has led an eventful life.
But recently, the Vietnam War veteran passed a new milestone: One year of sobriety. It was not a short journey. It’s one that took Lanier 50 years.
“I feel a lot better than I used to,” Lanier, 70, said recently at the Savannah VA Outpatient Clinic. “At this point, I can say that I’m sober. That’s a good feeling. I take no credit for that because I couldn’t have done it by myself.”
In November 2016, Lanier finally decided enough was enough, and he paid a visit to the VA clinic.
“I started getting high when I was in Southeast Asia in 1966, and I hadn’t been sober since,” Lanier said. “But I finally got tired of being sick and tired, which is something I’ve heard many times. I made up my mind that it was time for me.”
He became the first person to graduate the newly added Substance Treatment and Recovery — or STAR — outpatient program at the Savannah VA clinic, and he’s been going to group meetings there ever since. Now he hopes his story can inspire others who feel ashamed or scared of asking for help.
“I’m through hiding,” Lanier said. “That’s part of the process. The more I can do to help someone else — I think that would help me.”
Lanier said telling his family was hard, but he’s glad he did it. There are still people who don’t know, but Lanier says he’s ready to go public. He hopes his story will provide hope in particular to addicts like himself who are adept at hiding their addiction from their closest friends and family.
“Most of them didn’t even know that I got high,” he said. “In that sense, that’s what elongated my stay — I got so good at it that only I knew the secret and the guy who sold me dope or the guy who did dope with me.”
Lanier says he got by undetected by friends and family because he never let drugs interfere with his ability to keep a roof over his head, and he says he really only got…