By Francheska Taveras

As a young boy growing up in Berks County, Nicholas Piccone, 52, enjoyed many hobbies with his father, including golfing, hunting and fishing. His admiration for his father grew from his fathers’ occupation. His father was a steel worker and his mother worked at Western Electric, Reading, Pennsylvania.

As a young man, Piccone shared his parents’ determination to succeed. Piccone worked as a batboy for the Reading Phillies, and as a lifeguard and maintenance worker at the local swimming pool. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Marines and later became a reservist. However, behind his work ethic was always the temptation of alcohol and drugs.

“As a young man growing up, I had easy access to alcohol and other street drugs. At first it was at a party, and then as I got older and my depression kicked in, so did my alcoholism and my addiction to drugs,” said Piccone.

Piccone’s anecdotes constantly begin with, “I bought a case of beer.” This led to numerous occasions where he recognized his depression; however, he never sought help. Alcohol wasn’t his only release. He defines cocaine as his old “secret mistress.”

In 1993, Piccone’s depression deepened when his mother passed of colon cancer, his wife filed for divorce and his father had begun to lose his sight due to diabetes.

Three years later, Piccone sought help for the first time. Although he deemed himself successful for a while, he constantly relapsed every time he would try “just a couple of beers.”

May 9, 2016, was Piccone’s most recent relapse. Instead of calling his sponsor after being kicked out of Camp Joy, a men’s recovery housing program in Berks County, he decided to buy a couple of beers, chose to be homeless and utilize a credit card to live in a hotel and, as he stated, “got drunk.”

Photo of Nicholas Piccone

I didn’t have the guts to put a gun barrel in my mouth.

“My ego, my anger, my pride and my arrogance got me drunk again because I wasn’t willing to follow directions and ask for help,” said Piccone. He felt that he couldn’t move forward, but at the same time, he didn’t have the ability to end his life. “I didn’t have the guts to put a gun barrel in my mouth.”

After weeks of constantly running out of money, Piccone realized he had to change his lifestyle and on August 1, 2016, Piccone stopped drinking. Yet it took him three weeks to motivate himself to attend a meeting.

“The drugs weren’t working, the alcohol wasn’t working, but I can tell you what works: recovery,” Piccone said.

On August 26, he attended his local church — where his home group resides — and listened to stories he hadn’t heard in awhile. On August 31, Piccone entered Easy Does It., Inc., where he tries to maintain a positive attitude.

“I have to start all over again, so it’s very humbling; I have a lot of humility and a lot of hope,” said Piccone. He describes his current recovery as a “long road” but believes it will be his last recovery because he is no longer afraid to ask for help.

“This disease does not discriminate. [Addiction] happens to people in all walks of society,” said Piccone. “I come from a great family, and I didn’t realize that this would have happened to me, never in a million years.”