Pastor’s son shares story of recovery from alcoholism - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Pastor’s son shares story of recovery from alcoholism

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Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2007 3:24 pm | Updated: 7:44 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The son of the Rev. Guy Davidson, founding pastor of two of Tempe’s largest community churches, has come forward to share his story of alcoholism and illegal drug use amid the pressure of being a “PK,” or “preacher’s kid.”

The son of the Rev. Guy Davidson, founding pastor of two of Tempe’s largest community churches, has come forward to share his story of alcoholism and illegal drug use amid the pressure of being a “PK,” or “preacher’s kid.”

“My life revolved around a bottle of vodka. I slept with a loaded gun under my pillow,” writes Carey Davidson, who now credits his parents and his faith for his eventual recovery.

Carey Davidson, now a substance abuse interventionist in Prescott, tells his own story, “My Name Is Carey. My Dad Is a Pastor and I Am an Alcoholic,” in the July issue of Church Executive, a business magazine for large churches published in Phoenix. His father, who founded Grace Community Church in 1966 and Arizona Community Church in 1997, has written an accompanying article.

In it, Guy Davidson, now retired, says he and his wife, Martha, were unaware of Carey’s binge drinking in high school, and it wasn’t until their son was found in a stupor on a Denver street in 2002 that they learned the extent of his alcoholism. Their initial attempt to enlist a professional for an intervention failed.

“My parents, going back seven or eight years ago, hired an interventionist who really didn’t know what he was doing,” Carey said in a phone interview. “I talked my way out of it. In the process of that. I dug my hole deeper because it wasn’t nipped in the bud.”

“I didn’t know that I would crush and embarrass those who loved me, ruin a lucrative television advertising career, lose most things that mattered, accrue three DUIs, be hospitalized numerous times and have an armed standoff with the police and end up in jail, looking at more than 20 felony charges to hit my 'bottom,’ ” he wrote. “It was from 'my bottom’ that I would have to look up and find my loving God I had pushed away for so many years.”

He went to jail for three months in August 2002 for possession of a controlled substance.

“When I was in the thick of it, I asked my dad not to tell anyone,” he said. “No. 1, I did not want to embarrass him, and No. 2, it is tough to air your dirty laundry. We all want to put on a facade.”

While his parents did not drink, Carey said the choices he made in high school led him to alcohol. He said he was curious when he slept over at friends’ houses. “I would watch my friends’ parents coddle, mix and ritualistically partake of that magic liquid that was never in my home,” he wrote in his story. “I would watch the friends’ parents change in the next few hours.” It made them relax, laugh more easily and “hold the secret to this transformation in a glass in their hand.” He wondered why “church people” would “deny themselves the simple pleasures provided by alcohol.”

Carey, 42, said he drank alone, although he was beset with shame and guilt that “ate at me like a cancer on steroids. I knew that God loved me, yet, I didn’t feel worthy of any love, let alone love from the creator. When I would drink, I didn’t have to think.”

He was able to earn a degree from Northern Arizona University, go into advertising and move to Chicago for a fresh start, but lost his job. He moved to Denver, but quickly lost his job at a TV station there.

Guy Davidson said he was never embarrassed by his son’s actions, but “the choices he was making would shatter his life dreams and mine.” The pastor searched the past about what they might have done differently and developed a desire to particularly help pastors’ families avoid a similar fate.

Treatment and rehabilitation came after Carey’s jail term. The elder Davidson attended group recovery meetings with his son. That his son eventually faced his addiction created for Guy Davidson “jabs of pain and pride — pain that his life was diseased by alcoholism and pride that he has renewed relationship with God, and he is now living sober one day at a time.”

Nine months ago, Carey Davidson founded InterventionASAP and has helped more than 20 people. He calls it “finding great reward in the firing line of life.” He is working on a master’s degree in addiction counseling.

“I applaud my dad for being able to say, 'Hey, this is my son,’ ” Carey said. His father allowed him to make mistakes as an adult, but was there in crises. “He is a good man. He is a living example of a guy who walks his talk.”

Carey took his story to the magazine “in the belief that it was time to share his story with others in hopes of helping other pastors’ families cope with the addiction that affects even their families,” said Ron Keener, Church Executive’s editor.

The magazine package includes a third article by the Rev. John Vawter of Scottsdale, former pastor of Bethany Community Church in Tempe, who, with his wife, Susan, leads You’re Not Alone Inc., an online and radio ministry to clergy dealing with drug and alcohol abuse in their families. Parents of a daughter who was once on drugs, they told their story in a book, “Hit by a Ton of Bricks: You’re Not Alone When Your Child’s on Drugs.”

The articles can be read at online.

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