The latest episode of the video podcast “Intersections: Policy, Program and Practice Exchange” features Gerald Arthur Cooney, former professional boxer, discussing his struggles with alcoholism and his road to recovery.
The podcast is hosted by Lawrence T. Force, a Psychology professor at Mount Saint Mary College and cofounder of the college’s Center on Aging and Disability Policy; Mount grad Andrew O’Grady ’88, LCSW-R, CEO of Mental Health America of Dutchess County and Mid-Hudson Alcohol Recovery Centers; and Elisa Gwilliam, founder of the Hudson Valley Healing Center.
All episodes of the podcast, including Cooney’s, can be found at www.msmc.edu/Intersections
In the podcast, Cooney noted that he has been sober for 32 years. He grew up on Long Island, and took his first drink at the age of 12.
“That night I got so sick to my stomach and I thought to myself ‘I’m never going to do that again,’” Cooney explained. “But the next day when I woke up, I forgot about that part, and I remembered about how I felt at peace with the world. I felt attractive, I fit in, people liked me, I was funny… and unfortunately that [motivated] me to drink for a lot of years.”
Recovery was not an easy process, but Cooney tapped into the same determination that served him well as a boxer. Cooney competed from 1977 to 1990 and challenged twice for world heavyweight titles in 1982 and 1987. Out of a total of 31 fights, Cooney suffered only three losses.
“We have to show love and caring for people, and that’s been my experience,” said Cooney. “Listen: it’s a lonely, scary world being out there by ourselves, especially with not the greatest of upbringings. We’ve got to find a way [to help people struggling with addiction].”
“Intersections: Policy, Program and Practice Exchange” was launched by The National Organization of Adult Addictions and Recovery (NOAAR) to highlight the concerns and solutions surrounding the issues of addiction, recovery, and mental wellness. It is circulated locally, statewide, and nationally. For more information, visit www.intersections-exchange.org