Recovering Addicts Back Boston Mayoral Candidate

By Victoria Kim 07/19/13

Could being 18 years sober help Martin Walsh get the votes he needs to win?

Many of Walsh's 2,000 volunteers are in
Photo via

Support from Boston's under-the-radar recovery community could help Martin Walsh, a 46-year-old recovering alcoholic, in his bid for mayor. Bostonians account for about 18,000 admissions each year to substance abuse programs, and Walsh estimates that as many as one in six Bostonians has been touched—directly or indirectly—by addiction. The State Representative from Dorchester, who has been sober for 18 years, is known as a pillar of support in the recovery community, and he gets about 20 calls a week from people seeking help for their loved ones. Since announcing his candidacy in May, Walsh has not contacted those he has helped to request their political support, as that would go against the principle of anonymity central to 12-step programs like AA. But he doesn't have to, since many of them have reached out to him first—he acknowledges that "a lot" of his 2,000 volunteers are members of the recovery community. And in a city where roughly 200 Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings take place each week, this body of support could make Walsh stand out in the crowded field of mayoral candidates. Walsh says his staffers urged him to change his cellphone number to one that isn't being circulated among recovering addicts, but he refused. As far as his own battle with alcoholism, if he wins, he says being sober for nearly two decades will be an asset. "Being in recovery is going to make me a better mayor," says Walsh, "It gives me that edge every day when I get up and go out the door."

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr