Sober Cleveland Police Officer Gives Back To Local Recovery Community

By Kelly Burch 08/02/18

After a lengthy battle with alcoholism, a Cleveland detective got sober and inspired those around him to change their lives.

Detective Chris Gibbons
Detective Chris Gibbons Photo via News5 Cleveland

Today, Cleveland police detective Chris Gibbons puts the bad guys in jail cells, but in 1992 he was on the other side of the law, sitting in a jail cell soaking wet and shivering after being brought in for public intoxication. After seven years of battling alcoholism, Gibbons had hit rock bottom. 

“How did the son of a policeman end up here?” Gibbons said to News 5 Cleveland

After that night, Gibbons was determined to turn his life around. He became a police officer just like his father and grandfather had been. And he inspired his sister, Erin Becker, to start her own path to sobriety. 

“Most of my struggle was internal,” Becker said. “I just got to a point of hopelessness.”

Gibbons has been sober for 26 years and Becker has been in recovery for 17 years. Now, the siblings run a sober house together, helping women start their lives in recovery. Becker co-founded the Edna House, which has grown over the years, helping woman with limited means get sober. 

"It started with three women. Now we have 40 women,” Becker said. “The women that come in, they see that the people that are here helping them, the staff, the woman that runs the program, we’re all in recovery. That catches their attention. Nothing is asked of them here. When they come to Edna and the only thing that is asked is, ‘Do you have a willingness to work on your own recovery?’ They know something is different.”

Gibbons is on the board of directors for Edna House and volunteers with men’s recovery programs though the area. He enjoys seeing the transformation of the 300 women who have graduated from Edna House.

“They’re almost unrecognizable when they’re done. They look so much better. They feel so much better,” Gibbons said. “You can actually see the happiness and the glow on their face whereas when they came in they were totally broken.”

In addition, Gibbons serves on the Cleveland Police Department’s Employee Assistance Unit, which helps officers navigate traumatic and stressful situations.

“It gives you a little credibility,” Gibbons said. “When I approach an officer or someone in the community who is struggling with it, I can say I’ve been there and I have a good life today because of my decision not to drink.”

Gibbons has prompted other law enforcement officials to become involved in the recovery community and sponsor events. Some of the people in recovery have even followed Gibbons’ footsteps and started a law enforcement career. 

“Several dispatchers who actually went through this house are sober to this day because of their involvement here,” Becker said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.