Denver DJ Gets Candid About Alcoholism On The Airwaves

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Denver DJ Gets Candid About Alcoholism On The Airwaves

By Paul Fuhr 11/27/17

“You can get your life back. And I’m going to pass that message on to everybody now.”

Image: 
Dj working in front of a microphone on the radio, from the back

A popular Denver radio DJ is airing out his struggles with alcoholism—literally. In his first year of sobriety, Senen “Slim” Rodriguez has shared his story over the airwaves with his radio listeners. In fact, his decision to open up about his problems has been as much about educating others as it has been to ensure that he doesn’t fall back into old habits.

“I needed everybody to know that I was an addict,” he told KVUE. “I needed to make sure I could go nowhere without people knowing that I have a problem so that people could be aware.”

As a DJ for both the hip-hop station FLO 107.1 and adult-contemporary Jammin’ 101.5, Rodriguez found his alcohol-fueled lifestyle impossible to maintain. “I’m coming home for the weekend, and I’m buying [alcohol],” he recalled, “I’m getting into my bed at 8 o’clock on Friday and I’m holding that bottle and I’m drinking that bottle all weekend long. Not even leaving the bedroom.”

Rodriguez, who hails from San Francisco, lost almost everything on his journey to sobriety. “I’ve gotten a DUI. I’ve lost numerous relationships,” he admitted. “I lost the job that I got when I came here to Denver because of alcohol.”

His behavior during periods left his subsequent radio gigs in jeopardy, too. When he wasn’t hiding out in his bedroom, he was constantly waking up with hangovers that he’d have to solve by stopping at liquor stores, sometimes on the way to the studio.

“I was putting a smile on my face in an effort to entertain the city,” he claimed, observing that his private life was quite the opposite of what he was broadcasting to others on a daily basis. “I got off work at 6 o’clock. And by 7:30, I’m passed out drunk in my house,” he said.

According to the KVUE feature, Rodriguez’s moment of reckoning came during a verbal spat with his roommate and his mother. “My mother turned to me and said ‘You know he’s right. You’re a drunk. And you’re a loser. And you’re going to kill yourself,’” he said. “My mom doesn’t think I’m a loser. She was trying to get through to me.”

He then challenged himself to get through 24 straight hours without a drop of alcohol.

Terrified of treatment or an intervention, the story said, Rodriguez locked himself in his house until all the nearby liquor stores closed. Those 24 hours eventually turned into a full year, though the victory was hard-fought all the way.

“I went to my boss and I said, ‘I’m over 24 hours!’ and he said ‘No way!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah! I’m over 24 hours!’ And it was just so amazing.” Rodriguez credits AA meetings for helping him get through early recovery and continuing on a positive path he never thought possible before.

“You can get your life back. And I’m going to pass that message on to everybody now,” he said.

To that end, Rodriguez created a Sunday-morning radio program called “Sharing Our Stories” that welcomes on-air guests to open up about their individual struggles and successes in recovery. (The show airs on both of his stations.)

“If you have a dream, you can achieve that dream. If you have an addiction, you can beat that addiction,” he said. “I felt shame at first when I said that I’m an alcoholic. And I shouldn't feel any shame.”

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at paulfuhr.com. You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.

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