Growing up in New York City as a stutterer, John Lavitt embraced writing as a way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John Lavitt’s published work includes several articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. As a journalist, he has worked as the Treatment Professional News Editor and an Investigative Journalist for The Fix where he has written over 550 articles about the latest issues in the world of addiction and recovery. John has two book deals with Hazelden Publishing, and the first book, Without Shame: The Addict’s Mom And Her Family, is due to be published on Mother’s Day 2019.
Q. If you are in recovery, what was your DOC and when did you discontinue its use?
A. My drugs of choice were a combination of smoking heroin and smoking cocaine. The first call in the morning was to the heroin dealer and the last call at night was to the cocaine dealer. I stopped using heroin and cocaine in 2004. My sobriety date is February 9, 2008. After my first three years, while I was working in a treatment center, I relapsed on alcohol and marijuana in Las Vegas because, as we all know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Not quite. I continued to occasionally drink or smoke pot off and on for the next year until experiencing a psychic change and embracing the program again. By working a 12-Step program, I found a methodology of living that works for me and had worked for countless others.
Q. Do you believe artists are made or born?
A. I believe it is a combination of both. Some people are born with a specific talent that comes from God, their genetic pool, or whatever else you wish to call it. However, having talent does not make them an artist. In the vast majority of cases, such talent needs to be honed and refined through hard work. Artists are made through persistence, dedication, and a motivation that transcends casual failure. I love the metaphor provided by baseball: The best hitter of all time had a batting average of just over .400, which means he failed every six out of ten times. In other words, failure is a part of the game. Through determined efforts plus a willingness to innovate and work consistently, artists are made.
Q. What is your preferred form of artistic expression?
A. I am a writer, but my preferred form of artistic expression within the context of my writing is poetry. Although I artistically express myself in my journalistic writing and now in my book writing, it is not the same as my poetry. With the poems, there is something magical as the first line falls from the sky and the rest of the words flow forth like a sudden burst of magic. At the same time, poetry is more about rewriting. Do you have the ability and internal discipline to return to that magical state later in the day or the week or the month or even years later to hone and refine?