12 Steps to Christ: An Alcoholic’s Faith Journey

Hootie and the Blowfish drummer Jim Sonefeld shares how Alcoholics Anonymous led him to Jesus Christ.

Jim Sonefeld

Jim Sonefeld had a problem… and everyone knew it but him.  As the drummer for Hootie and the Blowfish, he was able to indulge in the drinking habit that he’d developed in high school. When he realized it was a full blown addiction, he had to look beyond himself for help.

Before you were 18, you’d already been exposed to alcohol?

Oh, sure. As soon as I got out of Catholic school in the summer of ’79, I started hanging out with kids from the public school and from the neighborhood. Somebody had some beer. I didn’t have an answer called “no”, so I drank it and that was the beginning. I was 14 years old. And as I learned later, with a slightly addictive personality, I took it in and it went to excess immediately.

How were you able to function in high school already addicted to alcohol?

As most good alcoholics do, we surround ourselves with people who are like us. In my case, I surrounded myself with people who were a little more reckless. It makes you feel like, ‘Wait, I’m not doing anything that’s too wrong, because the guy next to me is in more trouble.’ It gives you this false sensation of ‘I’m okay’. I functioned well. I was an athlete. I played soccer – ended up going off to college to earn a scholarship when I was 18. Looking back, the situations I got in were alcoholic’s performances – either drinking to excess on the weekends or, even if I didn’t drink for a couple of weeks, when I did drink, it would be late and with some consequences. For me, the big consequences escaped me. I didn’t have to go to jail. I always stayed under the radar just enough to feel like I’m not in that much trouble.

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When did Hootie and the Blowfish become part of your life?

I was 25 years old. I had college just behind me. Music had reentered my heart. I was a musician as a kid, playing drums. It was something I wanted to take to the next level. So, we did what most desiring bands do, which is buy a van and go see who wants to hear you.

Isn’t drinking just part of the lifestyle of being in a band?

Sure. With the exception of me who took it all the way to alcoholism, it’s a great lubricant to be social. It’s that common denominator in our society— when you’re meeting new people or celebrating something you pop champagne or open a beer. It works for a lot of people. My problem was I didn’t have the capacity to be honest with myself, and say, “Wow, I don’t seem to be able to say no.” I want to start early, I wanted to finish late. I want to take it to the next level more often than anyone.

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