When I joined Google as a site reliability engineer in 2018, I wasn’t a typical Noogler. I was 40 years old, seven years sober and starting my first-ever engineering job. At the time, I chose to be transparent to coworkers about my recovery from drugs and alcohol which was critical for my recovery. This National Recovery Month I’m sharing my story to convey how important finding a supportive community is to sobriety — both at work and outside of it.
I’m thankful to work for a company that supports people like me with compassion and respect. Google shares its commitment to helping all people lead better lives with its Recover Together website, which includes a searchable map to find nearby recovery groups and support resources for people in recovery and their families.
The Google Recover Together website includes a searchable map to find nearby recovery groups and support resources.
My journey to sobriety
Before coming to Google, I worked as a lawyer. But my life wasn't what you’d imagine for a young attorney building his career. I had a serious alcohol and drug problem that started in high school and continued into my early 30s.
My addiction made me unreliable to my family, friends and employers. This situation played out countless times. At work, my manager would ask me, “What’s wrong? What can I do to help?” I once caused a scene on a business trip and had to go to the hospital for stitches which left me feeling shame and despair. My employer gave me an ultimatum: get help or be let go.
Still, I cycled in and out of rehab and resumed alcohol use multiple times. Eventually, my family had an intervention, and I entered rehab once again. I felt like such a loser being back in the same place as before, feeling like I had learned nothing. In retrospect, I know that setbacks are often a part of recovery. It’s not a moral failing to have to work at sobriety before it sticks. I went back to drinking alcohol once more before I achieved continuous sobriety.
I’ve now been sober since I was 33 years old — a little over 10 years ago. For me, finding a community to support my recovery — from my recovery community and its regular meetings to family and friends and my coworkers at Google — made all the difference.
Recovering together: Getting sober for good
There’s a safety and an openness at Google that makes it easy for me to get help without feeling bad about it. When I’m around coworkers who are drinking, I’ll let them know why I don’t. After I assuage my coworkers’ concerns about whether their drinking in front of me might upset me (it doesn’t), they’re always quick to offer a non-alcoholic beverage. I remember when my team at Google had an offsite where drinks were served, a teammate quickly pointed my wife and me to the plentiful selection of non-alcoholic drinks.
Nick Arduini in front of Charlies cafe on Google's Mountain View campus, lit purple in support of international recovery day.
That’s not to say things were always easy. Early on, I suffered from imposter syndrome. Unlike other jobs where I felt I couldn’t tell my manager what was going on, at Google I was able to get the support I needed to function effectively at my job and, more importantly, to be happy as a person. A coworker recommended our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that gave me access to therapy to help manage imposter syndrome. Recently, I was feeling burned out from working from home during the pandemic, and went through another round of therapy through EAP to better manage work-life balance. Through it all, my colleagues have been nothing but supportive. I feel like I landed on the best team in the best company.
I’m not alone in my need for a community to maintain my sobriety. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted those struggling with addiction. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a 12-month record high of more than 93,000 drug overdose deaths. People with substance use disorders feel more isolated and desperate, and mental health services are strained to meet the demand. In fact in 2020, when Covid-19 restrictions impacted in-person support groups, searches for virtual connections were trending with queries like Alcoholics anonymous (AA) virtual meetings and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings on zoom.
Knowing you’re not alone can help make recovery feel possible. For the more than 23 million Americans living in recovery, I hope they can all find the communities they need to feel supported.
In support of National Recovery Month, Google and YouTube are providing financial and technical support for Recover Out Loud, a livestream event taking place in Las Vegas on September 30. The event features artists and performers who are in recovery, and it’s part of a nationwide recovery initiative supported by iHeart Media and Variety and produced by Mobilize Recovery.