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Tom Arnold Cleans Up

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By Kristen McGuiness

09/11/12

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And then you had to get sober from the pills even though you needed the pills, correct?

Yeah, it took me some time to get through the other surgeries. I had to use some hardcore medications so I had a sober companion who would help me manage and hide the prescriptions. I had to believe again in something greater than myself and I had to stay busy. I continued to work—I did three comedy specials for DirecTV—and I would have to bring a nurse with me. I learned that even if no one is calling you and offering you a job, you need to always be working. Whenever I create a schedule and do something about my career—writing, creating, focusing on my own projects—an opportunity always comes up.

And what is life like now?

The good thing is my ego will never get too big—that’s part of being in sobriety and that’s part of being me in this business. If you believe in something and you trust it and you get up off your ass in the morning, you can make something happen. I am still very dedicated to service today—whether through the program or through charities I support. I work with children who have heart disease and have undergone heart transplants and when you meet one of them, they’re not looking at the past or the future, they are digging the present, they are grabbing life by the balls. Any kind of service is always of more benefit to me than the person I am serving, because it reminds me not to be such a grumpy asshole. It reminds me of everything I have to be grateful for.

Kristen McGuiness is a freelance writer and regular contributor to The Fix who wrote previously about old timers in AA and sober travel, among other topics. She is the author of 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life

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