Without Sobriety, You Will Not Have Family: A Father’s Day Reflection

Sobriety has allowed me to be present, build meaningful relationships, and become the father my children deserve.

Man being present in his sobriety, fishing with his son on fathers day Jacob Lund | Canva

Father's Day is a time for celebrating the bonds we share with our fathers and children and reflecting on the moments that define our families. For me, these reflections are deeply intertwined with my journey to sobriety. Without sobriety, I wouldn't have the family I cherish today.

I was born in Inglewood, California, and moved to San Diego when I was just six months old. My early years were spent in Claremont, a small community in Los Angeles County, where my childhood was marked by a significant event: my parents’ divorce when I was 10. My mother moved us into a tiny two-bedroom duplex, barely 700 square feet, where my brother and I slept in one bedroom, my sisters slept in the other and my mom slept on the couch for 6 years.


Despite our struggles, my mom was my hero. She passed away 18 years ago, but her strength and love continue to inspire me. 

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As a teenager, I faced a fork in the road that would shape my future. At 15, I chose to grow my hair long and party with friends rather than play baseball. This decision led me down a path of substance abuse that started innocently but quickly spiraled out of control.

Weekends of smoking pot and drinking with friends at Mike's house became my norm. Depression was a constant companion, exacerbated by a family history of addiction and mental health issues. By high school, I was experimenting with speed and other substances, using the money I earned from mowing lawns.


My life took a darker turn after my stepfather gave me an ultimatum to cut my hair or move out, so at 18 I moved in with my girlfriend’s family and started working as a busboy at a local restaurant. This period marked the beginning of relentless partying and deeper substance abuse, including cocaine and later, crystal meth.

Addiction consumed my twenties. I was arrested twice for possession but managed to avoid jail time. My life was a mess, but I believed I was in control. Alcohol became my constant companion, helping me cope with the chaos. My first marriage ended in divorce due to my addiction, leaving my children to witness the fallout.

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At 31, I entered treatment, where I met Scott H. Silverman, former addict, crisis coach, counselor, author, and the Founder of Confidential Recovery and the Veterans Navigation Center. At the time, Scott was a volunteer who would become a pivotal figure in my recovery. Scott emphasized the importance of building a support group and working the 12 steps. His tough love approach was exactly what I needed. He taught me that sobriety must come first if I wanted to rebuild my life and family.


The concept of prioritizing sobriety was initially difficult to grasp. I thought family or God should come first. However, Scott and my journey through the steps revealed that without sobriety, I couldn’t be present for my family or connect with God meaningfully. Sobriety had to be the foundation upon which everything else was built.

Through the ups and downs of recovery, including multiple deaths in my family, Scott was always there. His wisdom and support helped me navigate the challenges and stay committed to my sobriety. I’ve been sober ever since, and it’s a firm foundation for my new life.

I eventually met my second wife, Lynn, through mutual connections in recovery. Our relationship, built on a shared faith and commitment to sobriety, has been a source of strength and joy. We prayed together on our first date and have been together ever since.


Reflecting on my journey, I realize the profound truth in the statement: "Without sobriety, you will not have family." Sobriety has allowed me to be present, build meaningful relationships, and become the father my children deserve.

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To those struggling with addiction or who have a loved one battling this disease, I offer these pieces of advice:

1. Prioritize sobriety

Understand that without sobriety, you cannot be the parent, child, or partner you want to be. Sobriety must be the foundation of your life.

2. Build a support network

Surround yourself with people who understand and support your journey. Find mentors and friends who will hold you accountable and offer guidance.

@thesoberplug Recovery is often times a group effort. We need help and guidance along the way. #recovery #support ♬ original sound - Connor

3. Embrace honesty and vulnerability

Recovery requires honesty with yourself and others. Share your struggles and victories. Vulnerability will help you connect and heal. I always say, “Pride says I'm always right; humility says I need help.”

4. Seek professional help

Don't be afraid to seek treatment and professional support. Rehab centers and therapists can provide the tools and strategies needed to achieve and maintain sobriety.

5. Stay committed

Recovery is a lifelong journey. Stay committed to the process, even when it’s tough. Remember why you chose sobriety and the life you want to build.


This Father’s Day, I am grateful for the gift of sobriety and the family it has allowed me to have. My journey has been long and challenging, but it has also been incredibly rewarding. Sobriety has given me the chance to be a better father, husband, and person. I hope my story inspires others to take the first step toward their own recovery and the family they deserve.

Drug and alcohol addiction is incredibly common. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that approximately 20.3 million people above the age of 12 have suffered from a substance use disorder in the past year. According to SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, close to 2 million people of the same age bracket have suffered from opioid use disorders and 14.8 million from alcohol use disorders. 


If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, there are resources to get help. 

The process of recovery is not linear, but the first step to getting better is asking for help. For more information, referrals to local treatment facilities and support groups, and relevant links, visit SAMHSA’s website. If you’d like to join a recovery support group, you can locate the nearest Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings near you. Or you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-799-7233, which is a free 24/7 confidential information service in both English and Spanish. For TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, call 1-800-487-4889.

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Paul Tabb is a recovering addict, celebrating 36 years sober. Paul pastored a church for 11 years in San Diego and has sponsored many community members to help them on their path to recovery. He has three children, and he is grateful his sobriety has allowed him to be a better father over the years.